Lessons Learned 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

WOW, they say as we get older time seems to fly by even faster.  I am officially older because this was the fastest year I can ever remember. 

As I bring this year to a close I cant help but think about all the lessons I have learned and all the memories I have made.

The greatest lesson I learned this year came in the form of allowing my children to fail forward, fall well and be there to help them up with no strings attached.

I learned that they need to know that falling down and getting back up is not a one time event in the process of growing older.  By my own example you would think they would have learned that by now J

But, this year in particular I watched as my two teens would try, fail, fall get back up and try again.  What that has produced in them both is strength, faith and perseverance.

God has created them for a purpose and I believe He has a plan for them both and they cannot be afraid of failing or falling to find both of those items in their life.

So as we celebrate the teen years with our two younger ones we have also had the honor and privilege of watching our oldest enjoy the married life while surprising us all in Nov. with the announcement of the pregnancy of her first child.

OK, if time going by fast doesn’t make one feel old, finding out your going to be a grandparent just might.

Well, not old but older, wiser, and blessed beyond words.  I learned that the announcement of your child’s child is even more amazing then the announcement of your own.  I am not sure why at this point but will ponder that through out the New Year.

Tony and I have come to realize how blessed we are with our amazing family, immediate and extended and also the community of friends that has surrounded us over the years.

The year 2012 will be marked by a deliberate and intentionality of creating a culture of community starting from The Front Porch and following us wherever we go.

Please remember, family, friends and those who come to read my blog.  We were created to be in community.  Two are better than one. 

If you find yourself in our neighborhood in 2012 and you see us on The Front Porch, please stop by, we would love to visit with you.

Greetings from the Front Porch: 
Below is an article I recently wrote in regards to walking through the back end of the loss of my mother.  For those of you who have ever lost a loved one, you will know the process it takes to step through all the emotions of grief and the relief when the day finally comes and you find that you can finally let go.  Not of the memories but of the things.  When you can finally laugh and cry at the same time and know that, you will not get lost in all of the emotions.

Letting Go
Living in Her Legacy

The sent of her perfume still lingered on her clothing as if she had just stepped out of the bathroom after dressing for her daily activities.  Tears of joy and sadness rolled down my eyes as I nestled my nose into each one of her shirts hoping to capture her sent forever.  It has taken me 19 months to touch her belongs without feeling the sting of loss stab me in the heart.  It has taken me 13 weeks of sharing and caring with people who started out as strangers and ended up as friends.  

As I placed each article of clothing into the give away box I would allow myself to go back in time, picturing in my mind what the last memory of her in that particular piece of clothing looked like.  I would then occasionally try on an item myself and in doing so I was transported mentally back in time.  I was six years old, playing in her closet trying on her clothes and walking in her heels.  It felt real and familiar and brought me a sense of peace as I pondered all that my mother’s life had represented to me.

Nineteen months later, six boxes, one wheel chair and many tears.  Her clothes are packed and ready to be shipped to their new owners.  My memories will forever be captured in my mind of this particular day when I finally was able to touch my grief as if I had never touched it before.

I find that today I am able to feel the pain without feeling like I might fall apart and never come back.  I am able to dance with my grief and hold on to the memory without feeling as if it just might break me.  

The process has been long and I know I will forever be effected by the loss of my mother but what I do have today that I did not have three months ago are the tools, the relationship and the faith to know that I am not alone and that grief, death  and lose are all part of life.

I am thankful for the amazing legacy my mother has left me.  I am living in the moment trusting god with my future.  I will never forget the sent of her perfume.

Thank You
Grief Share
You all are some of the most amazing people I have ever met, friends for life, I am sure.

Cris Nole

Dwelling In the Desert!

Years ago I was encouraged by a leader to take the last several days of the year off and pull away by myself and plan for the following year.  Below is what came out of my pulling away on the week of December 26 2011.    Here I am almost a year later, understanding the importance of planning, but not holding onto tightly to the plans.
Mark out a straight path and stick to it, it being faith, family and trusting God with my future.  Here I am once again preparing for my days away and grateful to those who have gone before me who have spoken into my life and walked the walk.
Dec. 26, 2010
This is the year I will become an intentional desert dweller, I will reside in the dry lands of what appears to be a barren region. However, I will press into the promise that justice, righteousness and favor are all found living amongst each other in the wilderness.  I dwell in the moment while trusting God with my future.  I will hold the plans I have set before me loosely, knowing that my God has a hope and a future far greater  then anything that would fit in the palm of my hand.
I will intentionally build community in the fertile field of the desert, by listening  good, asking well  and pausing on purpose.  I will come to this land prepared, bringing water and food from the Promise Land Just because this land is hot, I will not be burned.  My shade will be in the shadow of His wings and I will learn to make the most of my resources while sharing with others the lessons I have learned.  
I will not bury, hide or waste what has been entrusted to me but instead I will learn how to make my resources work for me for the greater good of the Kingdom.  I will continue to meditate on His word daily, listening for His still quiet voice directing my path.  Authenticity, integrity and gentle boldness will be a trademark of my character; I will mean what I say and say what I mean.  I will not be afraid to say no and I will live fully in the yes.  I will choose to stay physically, mentally and spiritually fit by working out my body, soul and mind daily, laughter and humor will be a key to balancing all three.
I will promote collaboration, believing that the whole is greater then the sum.  I will encourage and welcome others ideas and insight into my life. I will be intentional about reaching out to the hurt, lost and forgotten of the world not forgetting what true and pure religion is, taking care of the orphans and widows and not allowing myself to be swallowed up by the things of this world.  I will live with a front porch philosophy wherever I go, come as strangers left as friends. I will read study and learn something new everyday.  I will keep a written account of what I have done and I will be the one narrating my story.  
 I will love the unlovable, reach out to the lost and search for the suffering. I will accept, encourage and include others more often. I will look for the good in everyone I meet and make sure they know it themselves.  I will live from the well of Thanksgiving and walk on the path of Faith. I will wear my Jesus well wherever I go. I will find favor, carry justice and right living will is my compass and my companion.  I will walk in the promise as I live in the desert
 Justice will dwell in the desert and righteousness live in the fertile field...
Isaiah 32:16 (NIV)
 This is what the LORD says: "The people who survive the sword will find favor in the desert; I will come to give rest to Israel."
Jeremiah 31:2 (NIV)