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The change of Seasons.

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It’s so amazing that God gives us seasons to enjoy.
It’s a tangible gift from him to help us remember that things in our lives are suppose to change.
They aren’t suppose to stay the same.
As we can count on the weather shifting and the colors changing all around us each season,
we can also know and expect that our lives bring us new chapters…new stories…new journeys.
new seasons.
I’m in a brand new season of parenting with a certain awesome twelve year old.
It makes not one bit of difference that we were in youth ministry for nearly a decade.
Every bit of knowledge left the building when he started going through puberty.
Andy and I both have said countless times how much we don’t know that we thought we knew.
I sure hope some of the parents we ministered to in that season are reading this.
I’m sure it’ll be sweet vengeance validation for them.
When we were in youth ministry, our boys were tiny, so basically, we didn’t have a clue.
They were all very gracious to us.:)

I remember so many of the parents we ministered to really didn’t enjoy their teenagers at all.
It used to hurt my heart so much, and I swore I’d never let that happen with my own kids.
I’m just now realizing how easy it is to take so many of the things they are going through personally.

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A shift started happening sometime last year, but because we home schooled, it seemed totally doable.
Well, he went to 7th grade almost 6 weeks ago, and let me tell you, I’ve cried rivers.
I’d love to say that most of my melt downs were after the kids were tucked safely in their beds.
But, that would just be too easy and a total lie.
You need to picture me acting like a total twelve year old girl.

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I finally reached the end of me trying to do this on my own and threw my hands up in surrender.
I knew I’d hit rock bottom when I was crying more days than I wasn’t.
God is always so faithful to speak to me through his Word.
He reminded me of John 15.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit.
While every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
You are already clean because the word I have spoken to you.
Remain in me as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.
Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches.
If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

When we do anything in our own strength, we become very “us” centered.
This is definitely what has happened in my parenting.
 Most of this isn’t about our son at all.
He’s supposed to be moody and hormonal and awkward.
I’m not.
I’ve been feeling rejected and under appreciated,
and I’ve become too consumed with my feelings and not consumed enough with the Lord.
There are things in me that need to be purged in this season, and even though it’s hard, it’s a true gift.

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He needs me to learn the balance of being a safe place for him
while maintaining biblical authority in his life.
He needs me to be less of a manager in his life and more of a consultant.

It’s so much easier said than done.
I’ve been a wonderful manager for nearly 12 years, if I do say so myself!
And the hard part is, I’m still managing two other younger children that require being managed.
It’s hard to manage some and consult another, but I’m gonna die trying
 because our relationship is more than worth it.
I’m determined to see these years as beautiful and fun and full of growth for all of us!

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Here are some things we’re being very intentional about in providing that safe place for Luke.

We’re allowing him to feel what he is feeling without taking offense.

So much is happening in him.
His body is changing, he feels like everybody can see what’s going on inside of him..awkward!!
He suddenly doesn’t want us to talk to him around his friends and for the love of all things holy,
he doesn’t want mama hugging him in public.
I’ve learned that one the hard way.  (ouch!)

We’re teaching him to cope with his feelings without sinning against others.
It’s important that we help him when he doesn’t know how to help himself.
Sometimes just allowing him to feel what he’s feeling in his room makes all the difference.
I know I sure need that for myself at times…can I get a witness?  
We shouldn’t think it’s okay to say whatever we’re feeling…it’s called self control.
That one is so hard for outward processors and feelers.  He gets it honest from his mama.

We’re teaching him the importance of testing his feelings against the word of God.
We’re all so good at justifying our feelings and handing the responsibility over to someone else.
It’s so important as believers to learn that it’s not okay to feel how we feel if it’s contrary to the Word.
I want my kids to learn this NOW and not when they’re my age.
It’ll serve them well in all of their future relationships.

We’re loving him deeply because love covers over a multitude of sin.
Lets face it, none of us are always lovable,
but we cherish the people who love us beyond our worst days.
You’d be surprised how much easier it is to love someone who seems unlovable at times,
when you aren’t getting offended and taking everything so personally.

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There is a world of difference in how things work when we stop doing it on our own.
When we realize that we weren’t created to do it apart from God.
I’m so thankful for those of you who’ve prayed for me as I’ve reached out to you for wisdom.
The body of Christ is a beautiful thing.

I’d LOVE to hear your hearts on all of this.
Are you in a new season?  It doesn’t have to be in parenting.
Do I need to turn some cartwheels to get you to leave a comment?
Don’t put it past me…I can totally go twelve year old girl in 2.3 seconds.

{thankful for}
536. prayers and wisdom from friends.
537. the word of God that is living and active, sharper than a double edged sword, and able to divide soul and spirit & joints and marrow.
538. freedom that comes from living life attached and consumed with the Vine.

Stephanie - I just love your blog! My daughter is almost 11 and she’s really started being hormonal and I too need to remember to just be there instead of trying to fix everything. Lucky for my parents I was the perfect kid – not! :) New follower.

Ginger - You tell that big boy of yours that I can still vividly see his mama walking around the Nicholasville WalMart VERY pregnant with him and VERY miserable. He’d better be sweet to you! :) I struggle with knowing where to draw lines with my girls and my oldest is only 6! Maybe girls start the drama earlier? Anyway, I’m watching and learning, friend. Your words are very wise. I’ll probably write those key points down and stick them to my fridge. Y’all have a great weekend!

Wendy - Wow. Thanks for sharing this. It’s like you wrote this post for me! It’s nice to know that I’m not alone. My son is also 12, and we have homeschooled every year until recently. We are going through a similar transition. It’s been a lot to take in, and I was reminded recently that I need to be leaning on the Lord and not trying to do this on my own. Oh, how easily I forget that.
Anyway, thank you for this post. Love your blog.
Hugs to you.

Jessilyn - God led me here today! Your blog is amazing. I have been feeling a disconnect from the Lord because I have been very concerned with trying to fix myself (on my own). I’ve been down right blue and I have been searching every where but God for help. The verse from John hit home! I know the feeling of being an “expert” and not being able to apply it to your own life. I worked in pre-school for a few years, I trained and trained on appropriate ways to handle young kids. My son has thrown all my training down the stairs and out the front door. My ego has been bruised! haha! I recieved praise from my boss and my fellow employers on my “way with young kids” so when my son started to enter this age there was no doubt in my mind that as a mother I would shine. That didn’t happen! haha I feel defeated more days than not! Thank you so much for such a wonderful post. You have given me the inspiration I need!

Alicia - oh sweet thing, i feel like every other month brings another change and yet another season! i SO get you. i don’t have a teenager yet, but i feel a change coming soon enough. i have no wise words, just “trust.” love him and be easy on yourself.

xo,
alicia

Amccall - I’m right there with you. I’m thankful for every moment he wants to still hug me when he knows I’m fighting every urge to strangle him for pushing the limits! My 13 year old is an amazing kid, and I have to remind myself daily of just how much of a blessing he is… And keep myself from nagging him so much about everything!

slip4 - you would think, with two kids (ages 17 and 20) I would have good advice for you. But not really as every kid is different. The teenage years have ups and downs like any other stage, but it’s more intense for some reason. Maybe because they aren’t little kids anymore? Maybe because we feel our control slipping away? It sounds like you are going about it all the right way. I will pray for you and your family!

Bethanie - Hi Tara,
My new season is one in college. While going local and still living at home, it’s still a huge adjustment for her/us. The first weekend as she was melting down about an online quiz, I asked myself, “I wanted her to stay at home, why?!” I was no help with the math that was stressing her, or the “webAssign” that was the real problem. I felt helpless. So unlike her, she’s usually my cool, calm and collected one. We made it, with lots of prayers and tutoring from a friend. Onto my coinciding season being my second daughter who is a junior. She got in the car after school one day this week and totally melted down. I wasnt sure why…it was because I was picking her up. We havent been able to buy her a car yet, and apparently, it makes her the biggest loser in the whole.wide.world. I got my feelings hurt– and am not proud to say, I lashed back. while one child is grateful for everything, wouldnt dream of making you feel inadequate, the other makes you wonder if you do anything right. I ask myself often what do people without great faith do? How do they survive the ups and downs? Through every season, I take heart to know that my girls love Jesus and they have been trained up in His word. I may feel like a failure, but He is there to guide them through every situation….whew!! :)

Cheryl - Tara,
Firstly, you have made me homesick for being back North. I live in humid and hot Louisiana. I miss the change of seasons. Fall and Winter are my favorite. Believe it or not, I actually miss the snow. I know, people think I am crazy when I say that, but I do. : )

Secondly, I think you and your hubby are spot on with how with what you have outlined with regards to your son above. Our children are graduated and in college. This is a “whole other season” you will have to go through. I am going through it now. : ( Anyhow, as I said, I think you both are spot on. We want them to grow and be independent. Learn to think for themselves. We need to “guide” them and not managed. I too though I was the best manager too and my hubby had to point out to me that I needed to pull back and let our kids be independent. I needed to trust God with the seeds we planted spiritually with them that they would continue to cultivate them in their lives with our guidance. Needless to say, I prayed a lot and in allowing them to grow and be independent I think I did a little too….Until they went to college. Then I reverted back into momma manage mode. Again, my husband lovingly pointed out to me to choose my works carefully and step back with them. It’s so hard. Especially when they are far away at college. This whole empty nest thing is a hard journey. : ( Anyone have anyone suggestions to cope with it and get on the other side of it.

Thanks in advance and hugs to you Tara for sharing your heart. The body of Christ always rallies to help a fellow sister in Christ out.
Have a blessed weekend.

Becca Jean - Newer reader here. :) I love that you are determined to enjoy these years ahead. So many don’t and I think it is because they don’t see their children for who God sees them to be. They want them to fit a mold and that just can’t and won’t happen well. I remember being so emotional at that age and fighting with my Mom all the time. She was wise and chose her battles. I am praying for the same wisdom. My kids are fairly young still but I am pinning this post so I can come back to it when the time comes for me. :) Thanks for sharing your heart. It is encouraging to know there are other Christians really seeking the Lord to raise their kids in Him. Our change of seasons will be this winter when our fourth child is born!! Homeschooling the older two and having a toddler and baby. Oh Lord, help me!

Eleanor - This is very beautifully done. You seem to express so many things that I think in such wonderful ways. I remember being told when my kids were babies that you raise kids on your knees. I did not quite get that until my kids hit the teen years. And now my prayers are changing from my wish list, to “God be in control here”. I have realized that I don’t really exert the control that I once thought that I had.

Sheri - wow tara. you have no idea how much i needed this one tonight. A consultant – great analogy. That is going to stick with me. My son asked me to teach him how to shave this week. And let me in on his crush, and a text that she sent him. I am so grateful he comes to me with these things – i know it won’t always be this way. He has his trying moments with me, that’s for sure. Tonight, He accused me of favoring the younger one over him. Up down Up down….Lord, carry me through.

Janie Fox - Oh Tara, I had an argument with my oldest today and she is 30. I had to disagree with one of her decisions and felt led to voice my concerns. This parenting gig is never easy. We resolved it and hugged it out. She calls me one of her best friends…me and her sisters so I know I did some things right! I am grateful that I had a relationship with Christ while I was raising my girls. I cannot imagine doing it without his guidance and my mom’s example of a godly woman too. Parenting is not an easy job but as you know it is the best job in the world. Hang in there. Praying for you. I loved your pix but was hoping they were going to be your house. :)

Megan - The scripture you referenced had me remembering something they talked about in a class at church. They reminded us parents that we are not the vine, but that Jesus is. I needed that reminder. Our children need to be attaching themselves as Christians to the Father, not to my faith or my relationship with Christ.

We are in the new season too. Middle School is a new territory for all of us. I read something in ‘The Gift of the Ordinary Day’ where the author talks about her son and these changes. She writes that as boys go through puberty, they pull away physically from their mothers who have always been comforting to them in physical ways: hugging, cuddling, etc. They sometimes get angry or isolate themselves during this time because they feel so lonely during it. That made a lot of sense to me and it stuck with me even though my son has a few years to go. But it reminded me not to take that pulling away personally, that it is something that we will need to do.

My heart goes out to you friend. You are right about seasons of change. Just as we get cozy in fall, winter will come, then spring, then summer. God is our only constant.

Michele - Love your heart so much friend, and I am so grateful you are walking this path before me. (like so many other things :]) If I have said it once I said a 100 times, I hope and pray I like my own teens as much as I have loved working with others…..time will tell. So hard not to take it personally when we are pouring our hearts and souls into these children of ours. So grateful for His grace and new mercies every.single.day!!!

Mandy - Tara, thank you for sharing your heart! It is not an easy thing to allow God to make us vulnerable, especially in front of distant “friends”. I love how you wrote about “providing a safe place” for your son to experience his changes. I feel that IS God’s purpose for us as parents, to allow our children to make mistakes and make changes with love and wisdom guiding them (Deut 6:6-9). In time, he will see what a blessing your special relationship with him is and God continues to build that trust for you to “consult” him when he needs earthly guidance.

As my boys are still 7 and 4, I look forward to watching them enter manhood. I love John Mayer’s music and reading your post today made me thing of his song “Daughters” where he sings “Boys, you can break, you’ll find out how much they can take. Boys will be strong, and boys soldier on, but boys would be gone without the warmth from a woman’s good, good heart.” And although God breaks everyone of us to show us how we are not to live according to the flesh but The Spirit (Romans 8:5), the thought made me sad to think of how hard it will be to watch my sons be broken to strengthen them. Now I see the hope in it because, as mothers, we are here to help walk them through that and be an example of what they will need one day from their wife, their helper. I pray that you find encouragement from your readers and know that Luke, and you!, are right where God needs him/you to be! (Hugs)

Laura at By the Bushel - Great post Tara. Thanks. Needing this. The ‘Argumentative’ stage is here (at least at our house!). & Parenting isn’t like the good ole days, when you can strap them into the carseat & they just conk out. LOL.
Miss you!!

Jackie at Roots and Wings - Beautifully articulated, my dear. This transition is the beginning of letting go. It’s hard!! I think the key is not taking things personally (which is easier said than done). Your words are truth and I will pray them for you and for me as we walk this road during this season, grateful to cling to the One who doesn’t change.

As far as new seasons go, I think we’re experienceing several at once! ;)

Laura - I can totally relate to what you’ve said in such an eloquent way. My son is 15, and for the most part, he has kept the even-keeled personality he has always exhibited. But I’ve struggled with knowing how to parent him as he matures. Mothering is much different now than when he was 2. I also homeschooled him until 7th grade, and it seems a switch went off when he started school. I’ve mourned how our relationship used to be, but I’ve tried to embrace this new chapter and learn how to love,support, and instruct him into manhood. I’m always looking for wisdom, so thank you for sharing your struggles. You are definitely not alone!

GLENDA CHILDERS - What a beautiful post.

I am still learning a lot as a parent and I learn a lot from my grown kids.

Blessing on your sweet and changing family.

Fondly,
Glenda

thedomesticfringe.com - Oh, my soul! My son is 12 and I had a bit of a meltdown this afternoon. I feel like everything is new and I don’t know how to parent at all. I’ve been doing things one way for 12 years and it worked. Now what????

One day at a time. Lots of prayers.
~FringeGirl

BuffyPalomar - Love, love, love that’s what they need and sometimes NOT a word spoken. That’s what I figured out and looking back, I can totally see the fruit of that, God is so faithful! Sure you still have to parent, but I truly believe we don’t know half of what they are dealing with “out there” because they won’t speak about it for whatever reason. But, if they know they have a safe, loving place to fall, I believe we almost become a refuge in that way, even though they won’t say so and won’t even act like it. Remember, we wrestle not against flesh & blood, but principalities & powers…..and we have power over the enemy in all things. You are equipped to be a wonderful, strong, loving parent, be confident in yourself in the Lord, he knows and loves your son more than you ever could and your son may have temporary amnesia, but he loves & appreciates you and all you’ve done – know that for sure. I am on the other side of parenting and I loved staying home and raising my children, you truly do forget the struggles, doubt, and insecurities and so do they! But, you remember the joy so…..make more joy!

I would give just about anything to have one more day with all my children at age 12 – no matter how they were acting, it goes by much too quickly!

God bless you, you’re gonna do just fine,
Cathy

Kelly - Oh, I am so glad you shared your heart! I have two girls, 13 and 15, and I am determined to enjoy as much of these years as I can, I refuse to throw in the towel and miss my last years of parenting them at home. They still need us as much as ever, just differently. Love your description of being a consultant insteda of a manager, although truthfully, I think I have a ways to go on that one- ha!

Farmgirl Paints - sorry friend…i almost missed this one. i do feel like i’m in a new season and it really doesn’t have anything to do with my girlies. just figuring out what i’m supposed to be doing with myself. figuring out who i am etc…you know mid-life crisis stuff…ha! i do know that when we drop whatever it is at His feet He is swift to pick it up and carry it for us. never any need to freak or fear. He’s got this. btw you sound like such a precious momma. you’ve got some very lucky kids!

Lemonade Makin' Mama - Okay can I just bookmark you wisdom and you can remind me of this ALL in about a year? (I have about a year still right??) You are a GOOD mama.

Tiffini - oh friend have we talked about this?:)prayed about this?
there is no doubt it is HARD..the transition..the shift. You are right where you are supposed to be..we thank our God that His word prevails over our children and that they will continue to be taught of the Lord. Give Tara your peace Father and I read a passage of verses Saturday and I am trying to remember what they were!! I want to share them wit you…I am looking and will send when and if I remember…it seems they are needful for you…:)

Second – when they turn 18 and have their first love…geesh! I am beginning to think you lose your sons in some way…I can see Dakota getting married and their hearts go with their wives…daughters not the same usually. I was mourning this yesterday and it hasn’t even happened. Maybe God is preparing my heart…letting him go to be the man God is calling him to be and also learning to call out the man in Dakota…I know I am not dad and cannot play that role but I am praying on how to parent him alone for the most part…ugh but thankful God has changed our circumstances in an amazing “God only” kinda way.
I love you friend…praying over you
xo

Sarah - Love your honesty and openness, Tara. I am always amazed at how much God teaches me through my children. I think I have learned more about His love and heart through parenting than I have in almost any other way! As you know, my children aren’t this old yet, but I have an older sister whose boys are 22 and 20 and I can remember her having some of these same kinds of issues. You are doing well, sweet momma. I so admire the grace given in your parenting, and I know Jesus will continue His good work in your boy and in you and Andy through all of this. Keep up the good work. He’s working on all of you even through the 12 year old temper tantrums. ;) (and I threw a good one one morning not too long ago so you’re definitely not alone in that. Had to ask for some major forgiveness for it.)

thistlewoodfarm - This post is incredible because it was written from your heart. I have a 12-year-old boy, too…..and it is almost overwhelming sometimes. The responsibility…..the joy…..all mixed together. Praise the Lord there is someone bigger and wiser and much more incredible to put our faith in :)

blessings,
karianne

Dayle @ A Collection of This and That - I appreciate the sincerity of this post. I must be honest. Just reading it made me thankful that my one and only daughter is now 26 and we’re done with the teenage years. Not that they were terrible and traumatic. They weren’t. But they were, at times, hard, and there’s no way to avoid that truth. Teens can go from feeling invincible to feeling like a nobody in two seconds flat. They are discovering so many things about the world and about themselves. It can be overwhelming for both parent and child. Knowing when to let go, when to hold on, requires skill and you’re so right when you say you can’t do it on your own. But the good news is God is there and freely gives wisdom to those who ask.

I was reminded of an article I wrote many years ago for Focus on the Family magazine, in which I offered the results of having interviewed over 300 high-school students, asking them what advice they would give parents about raising responsible kids. Their answers were amazing and revealed that teens really do want boundaries, even if they kick and scream about them. They said they want to be respected, to be praised for jobs well done, instead of constantly criticized for their mistakes. And they want to feel safe within the four walls of their homes.

Your son is blessed to have parents who truly love him and care about his future.

Dayle @ A Collection of This and That - P.S. I love, love your signs.

Kim B. - Honestly Tara, this too shall pass. I am smack dab in the middle of it with boy #3 who just turned 12 & started 6th grade. EXACT same moodiness, life’s not fair, I’m too cool for you guys attitude that I went through with my 2 older ones & guess what? WE SURVIVED & my older boys (18 & 22) both grew out of it, found themselves & went on to have an AMAZING high school experience (18 year old is a senior this year…GASP!) It has helped me TREMENDOUSLY knowing IT IS just a stage & not who they will forever be :) This is a time for them to truly find themselves, experiment with true friends vs popular friends, fitting in. It doesn’t help too that our son does not have a cell phone & has already been forewarned no facebook or instagram till high school & then I’ll have access to both at all times. I still have boy #4 (8 years) coming up & I know I will survive his stage too :) Praying for you!!

Tracy C. - I know this is a late comment, but I just wanted to chime in. My oldest just turned 14 and his next oldest brother is 13 later this month. Then I will have TWO teenagers :0 I think you have a good plan. I have learned to let him have some space, but also not to let him become too isolated from the family. It’s all a balancing act, really. But then- I guess that’s the tension throughout all aspects of intentional living-balance.
Last year I read the BEST advice to moms of teenage boys. Seriously, I am not exaggerating. I printed this out, underlined it and refer to it often:

http://ourmothersdaughters.blogspot.com/2011/02/ask-auntie-leila-10-rules-for-mothering.html

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