Happy Summer

Dear Friends,
Summer is just around the corner.  The longest day of the year is about to arrive.  With that in mind, I will be living in the moment more then usual.  I will be stepping away from my writing, blogging  and schedule to prepare for the next season in my life. 

I have learned to use summer as a time of resting, though I have not been this intentional.in the past.   As I have shared with many of you already, the stepping away from social media was in preparation for such a time as this. 

My mind is clear and my calendar is white.  This leaves me with room to pack, plan and dream about what tomorrow will bring.  Life beyond the front porch is what I am calling the next season. 

We are putting our home on the market and looking to move in the next several months.  Our first grandchild is due any day now and we have a desire to live in community with the family as a whole.

Learning to listen, ask, pause and repeat has trickled from the front porch into our extended family life.  We are seeing the benefit of living the front porch philosophy of creating community one conversation at a time in our relationships under the roof.

So, as I step away from my keys and step into the summer, please keep me in prayer.  I will be revamping my blog and launching a website towards the fall.  Keep an eye out for The Front Porch coming this fall!!!!


Dear Courageous, Brave, Beautiful Me....

Greetings from The Front Porch,
Friends, sometimes I write to myself to remind me of where I have been, where I am at and where I am going.  I thought that I would share today a brief little letter I wrote to myself as I walked through the parenting process of letting go.

The good news is, I am still in a season where they return.  My girl is home and tomorrow night my boy arrives back in California just before midnight.  What a lesson I continue to learn.  And, my grandson is due any day now!


Dear Courageous, Brave, Beautiful Me,
I know without God's help you would be totally and utterly lost through this process of letting go so they can grow.  You have also learned that just because you are  hurting does not mean you are hurt.

I am proud of the way you have listened well, asked good questions and paused on purpose through this process.  Parenting is not easy and your heart will hurt but you can do this.  Look around, be thankful for those who have joined you on this journey, you are not alone.  Two are better than one. 

As you feel the strain of your mama muscles start to pull every time you let go, remember it is just that, a strain not a break.  This lesson will carry you through as the process looks like your past, but it is not.  You were created to let go.

Being a parent does not make you a victim but rather a victor. Like you, your children were made to fly.

You are courageous, brave and beautiful!


Copyright 2012 Chaplain Cris Nole www.crisnole@blogspot.com Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact crisnole@hotmail.com

I Did Not Sign Up For This....

Dear Heart,
I am writing to warn you that you will be leaving my body once again.  I know it feels like only yesterday when I placed you on a plane and said goodbye.  It feels that way because it was almost yesterday when I did.  I wanted to give you a heads up so that you would not go into shock at 5PM tonight as I wave goodbye to you, promising to be here when you get back.

Friends, I do not remember signing up for this 15 years ago.  Today at 5PM, I will be dropping my teenage boy off at the airport with a group from our local middle school.  They will be heading to Washington D.C. and the Big Apple.  Yes seemed like the right response when he presented me with his request to join the tour,  two years ago.  

Little did I know how hard it would be on this mama’s  heart.  What was I thinking when I agreed to let him go?  Not to mention, he will be gone on his 15th birthday, a first for the both of us.

So many circumstances 15 years ago around his birth, which led me  to hold on to him and not want to let go the moment the nurse placed him in my arms.  When I first made eye contact with his big blue eyes, the thought did not cross my mind that one day I would be required to love him enough to release him.  

Nope, I did not sign of for this.  I will say though,  that my heart has been preparing for this moment in time more then I realized.  It is a bittersweet moment when I want to hold on but I know I must let go.  There have been many benchmarks over the last decade and a half that has prepared me for today.  Looking back allows me to be confidant in the way I will choose to let go today. 

 This morning I had the most beautiful conversation with a friend of mine.  We have a standing date every Wednesday to chat by phone.  She lives on the other side of the nation but it always feels like we are on the front porch together as we share our struggles, victories and future dreams.  We fold into our conversations as if we were in the presents of one another, and if my eyes were closed, I would think no different.  As we started our typical conversation, with the how are things going?  

I almost decided not share with her how tender my heart was feeling as I was preparing to let another child go within a matter of a week.  My vulnerability made me feel like a pathetic parent, and I was afraid that she would think less of me. Not that she has ever given me reason to believe she would think way, mind you.    I stepped past my fear and decided to share and what do you know? My sweet friend had experienced the same emotions, the same tenderness too as well to the letting go so they could grow part of parenting.

The front porch has become more then a place.  It is an attitude about the truth of two.  Two are better than one, there is a greater return for our work and when wee fall down there is always someone there to help us back up, even from across the nation.  

My sweet precious friend encouraged me today with her own willingness to share her stories of letting go and holding on.  There was a greater return for our work, as we shared our struggles,  the work of being a wife and a mother in a time when the value placed on both roles is so low.  She helped me up and out of the pit, I felt like I was falling into because I did not feel strong. 

I believe my heart can handle this, letting go so they can grow, a theme in my life as a parent who wants to love well.  Thank you my sweet precious friend for joining me on the front porch , there is no amount of miles that could keep the truth of two from happening when two hearts choose to be vulnerable.  And though I did not sign up for this 15 years ago, I will say, I would not change a thing about the journey we have traveled and the new one we are about to embark on.

Mom and Son
June 2012

Dear Blogging Friends,
Thank you for traveling this road with me through my posts. Your words of encouragement, emails and comments help me realize how much we are all alike.   I would love to have an open dialogue in regards to your own experience with coming to terms with the letting go so they can grow part of parenting.  

Please join me today on the front porch as we challenge one another, encourage and inspire each other to listen well, ask good questions and pause through out our conversations.  Building community one connection at a time is how I am finding myself able to let them go so they can grow. 


Dream Big!

Greetings from The Front Porch!

Part 2 Of Letting Go and Loving Well

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." ~ Walt Disney

God has placed inside all of us the capacity to dream big, for ourselves and for those around us. Because he is a big God, our dreams should be big as well. In our genes is the capacity to accomplish amazing things. Look at who created us, the father of all imagination. 

All I have to do is look around me to see what kind of imagination God has. From trees to flowers, people, animals, so many different kinds the variety just is mind blowing. To think of all the billions of people who have ever walked this earth and I am an original a one of a kind there is is no other person like me anywhere, that is pretty spectacular!

So what are some of my big, spectacular, amazing God size dreams? Well,  I dream of one day letting go completely of my children and watching them grow into faith filled, fearless and courageous women and men of God who have a heart for His truth. I know  for this dream to come true that I have to be willing to set the example before them.

Recently I shared the answer to the question “who is the most influential person in my life”. As I reflected on my circle of influence, I came to the answer, by far without a doubt it would be my 16-year-old daughter. I watch how she mimics me, the way she talks, walks, dresses and believes are a mirror reflection of her mama. I watch the look in her eyes when I lack integrity in my words and actions and I realize what a confusing message that sends her. 

I take my role in her life very seriously because I know she is a gift from God to be trusted with, not a possession to be owned. I know that one day I will be letting her go, not with my heart but with my hands. I want her to look back on her years at home with memories not of perfection but perseverance.

When she looks back on her time in the home, I want her to remember how we as a family persevered through some difficult times but by the grace of God, we grew stronger as individuals as well as a family. I want her to be able to look back and remember that our faith was a central theme in our home and lives as well.

Being her mother has been one of the most amazing jobs I have ever had. It stretches me in ways I never thought would be possible. It has broken my heart repeatedly as well because letting go is not easy but holding on can prevents her from growing. 

Like any good parent, I do not want my children to be in pain but the truth is that through the painful experiences in life, we grow the most. That is if we are willing to persevere, that would be my hope in the fact that she is learning those lessons here while she is still under our wings.

Who would have thought that dreaming big meant letting go?

I heard from her yesterday, she said, "mommy, words cannot describe how much I miss you."  Thank you God for giving me the ability to let her go so she can grow!


Letting Go and Loving Well...

Greeting from The Front Porch!

The sound of John Denver rang in my ears as I watched my 16-year-old daughter walk away from me and into the mouth of the airplane.  Though I knew she would be back again, it felt like I was letting her go forever.  I know that I am one of millions of moms around this world who say goodbye for the summer to their child, but that did not make letting go any easier.  I realized 16 years ago that for me to love her well, I would have to let her go.

She was brave, I was scared, she was ready to fly and I was ready to hold her down.  It was a good thing that she walked fast, or I just might have chased after her and stopped her from the take off.  The other passengers blended in with her and all I could see was her back until they all boarded the plane.  I was left standing by myself wondering if I was about to melt into my loss of letting go.

 In fact, I could almost hear her voice as if she was three again, calling me into the room to sing her a song before she went to sleep, “mommy, run along home.”   She was now more of a woman and less of a child and it was time to start learning how to let go.  I was determined to wait until take off before I left my seat, even if it meant I would be a sobbing mess in the middle of the terminal.

As a result of sticking around to watch the giant tin box take off into the sky, I became highly aware of the conflicting emotions I felt deep within my soul.  Loss and gain, fear and courage, hope and despair, they all came flooding at me like a stormy night.  How could it be that the time had finally come?  When did my little girl grow up and when was it OK for me to let her go?

I simply had to embrace the conflict within me so that I could feel her future collide with my faith.  The faith that spoke to me when I was a young mother, struggling with letting her cry herself to sleep.  The faith that spoke to me when I walked her through her first steps, first tooth and first love.  The faith that said, “love her enough to let her go.”  The faith that said, “this will hurt your heart but you are not alone.  Loving well means letting go.

Are you in a season of letting go so they can grow?

Well means doing something good.  How do you choose to let go well?

Encouragement Step:  Next time the loss is because its time to let go, remember for our children to grow they must go.  Feel your emotions, give yourself permission to grief the loss and allow yourself to celebrate the next season.

I am praying for all my readers who are mamas out there who are in such a season as this.  You are not alone.