Parenting Ponderings

When the kids were littles, I always said I would write a book and I would title it, “Mommy! I Dropped Your Bible in the Potty!” The book would have been the honest storybook of a weary, yet exuberant young mom, adventuring through the terrific, terrible, and sleepless years of raising babies and preschoolers. 

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I never wrote the book. Not sure how I thought I would attempt to secure a book deal with my dial-up internet connection, 3 babies wiping snot all over me, and not a single story actually written down. You see, we were on the accelerated plan of growing the Hoover fam. In under 3 years, we read 3 positive pregnancy tests from Eckerd’s Pharmacy and we delivered 3 little sweet Hoover babies at Harris Methodist Fort Worth. YUP. In under 3 years.

My memory tells me Madison was the the one that dropped my Bible in the pot; I’m still presuming it was an accident. It happened on a Sunday morning. When I was inattentive. Because I was frantically trying to Sunday-dress and spit-clean a 1, 2, and 3 year old. On my own. Chris has always needed to leave for church super-early, so the Sunday kid dressing and church prepping were on my honey do list, not his.

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When they were young, I could never have foreseen such a thing as mommy bloggers, but they are doing a smash-up job in our time. They are reminding the “seasoned moms” like me what those now-distant days were like, as well as helping young moms feel known and understood. They are vulnerably chronicling some of what seems like MY stories from the early 90’s: “I’m sooo tired. I’m so overwhelmed. I don’t know how to do this. I’m so crazy in love with these little humans. I’m so mad at these little humans. I’m so bad at raising little humans.”

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Truly, I cannot believe we somewhat-successfully parented 3 kids! The other day Chris looked at me, as we were standing in our messy kitchen. (PLEASE! When you envision Chris and me empty-nesting, you shouldn’t imagine a Pinterest-worthy living space, but instead envision something more like a college-guys’ bachelor pad. Devoured chip bags on the couch, dirty dishes on the coffee table, and maybe even an empty wine bottle on the counter. We can resort to being straight-up slobs who frantically clean before people come over so we won’t be outed for our sloth!) He looked at the embarrassing kitchen mess and exclaimed, “HOW on EARTH are we mature enough to own and maintain a home and numerous cars??” I quickly retorted back, “Are you KIDDING me??? The house is easy schmeezy!! Can you EVEN BELIEVE we raised 3 decent, responsible, witty, fairly well-adjusted humans that ended up actually liking us???!!”

One thing I know. I am in the position in life right now that gives me a tiny bit of perspective. I did NOT know what I was doing when we started. No one does. We made tons of mistakes. 

But we DID do some things right. We kept on learning. We kept on working on our marriage. We kept reading books on how to grow: spiritually, emotionally, relationally, financially. We continued to prioritize laughing and playing and not taking ourselves too seriously. We continued to walk in faith, even when we felt hopeless. We offered buckets of grace to each other. We visited grandparents as much as possible. We repeated gazillions of times, “Relationships and people are more important than stuff or things.” We cooked pot roast for new friends and college kids on Sundays after church. We practiced how to ask good questions. (“Have you ever broken a bone?” was our family favorite!) We prioritized our history friends. We worked to listen more than we lectured. We served people who were hurting and forgotten.

And yes, we could have done more and we could have done better. But Soul Adventurers, if your goal is perfection or control, or getting every decision right, you will be eaten ALIVE by fear and anxiety and regret. Trust the process. Hard things come their way to all of us. Get some good people around you. Enjoy the ride. And don’t fuss too much about messy kitchens. Or Bibles that get dropped in potties. 







What Matters Most

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I love the view from my back porch on a rainy day, even though the yard is messy this time of year. Our nicely manicured, green summer lawn has quickly morphed into a soggy brown field covered in a blanket of leaves. The rain makes me feel contemplative, as I sit with a blanket around my feet. It has me pondering the important issues I help people process through almost every day: relationships.

Connected?

Isolated?

Distanced?

Intimate?

I am passionate about these issues. You know the feeling that washes over when you feel truly connected to someone? When you feel known and cared for? Or how about the opposite? The jarring, piercing feeling when it appears as if others are connected to someone and you are left feeling rejected and alone. These are the moments that delight us deeply and hurt us intensely. We were made to be in meaningful, connected, engaged relationships with others. And there are tremendous obstacles in our world that keep those relationships from staying intimately connected.

I love helping people reconnect. It feels like a sacred job. A few of years ago I was working with a married couple of over 30 years who stormed into session; they were angry, defensive, and isolated. At one point in the session, I offered a reflection of how their partner must have been feeling. I noted each of their defensive and withdrawing patterns that left both of them feeling isolated and far apart. When they heard me, a neutral 3rd party, describe the pain each of them had been in, they both spontaneously grabbed each other’s hands and squeezed, with tears in their eyes. A moment of reconnection. A moment of shared empathy and understanding. That is sacred space, and I am honored to walk with people into that space.

Not every story has a happy ending. It is hard work to forgive, to repent, to draw close after hurt. It is scary space, for sure. It takes courage to look into our souls to see how we affect others.

The more I learn about the neuro-circuitry in our brain, the more I am CONVINCED that God built redemption into our DNA. He made a way for our disconnected relational patterns and emotional reactivity to be restored. Restoration in the way we think, feel, and act. We are made with the capacity to be rebuilt. To be made new. To be transformed. From the inside out.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

Soul Adventurer, your relationships are what matter MOST. Not your stuff, your house, your success, your status. What steps do you need to take toward healthier, restored, and connected relationships? What obstacles are keeping your relationships from staying intimately connected?

The Waves of Fear

Anxiety threatens to beat up our world, our nation, our families, our lives. One fear at a time. One panic at a time. One “what if” at a time.

The onslaught of issues we have to fear is like the waves crashing on the beach. One after another. The next one brings the next one. They crash on us with overwhelming force and we begin to feel sucked under.

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“Anxiety…

threatens to beat up our lives. One fear at a time. One panic at a time. One ‘what if’ at a time.”

We were never created to live in a STATE of fear. The anxiety systems in our bodies were designed to handle an incoming stressor, take care of it, and settle back down. Our souls cry out for us to live in a more settled state.

But instead, we often believe the anxious whispers that we SHOULD dread what has NOT yet happened. We listen to the dark murmurings convincing us we are INCAPABLE of handling whatever comes our way. The waves keep coming.

Instead of being beaten up by the waves of fear, we must face them. We must choose to silence the voice of this anxiety. We must stop waiting for the voices to simply go away but instead decide for ourselves that we will walk by the guidance of a more trusted Voice.

“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still.’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’” Mark 4: 39-41

Soul Adventurers, if you are being beaten up by the waves today, sit down and make a list of all that you fear. All of it. Get it out of your head where it swirls around, threatening to paralyze you from living your life. Take a deep breath, then remind yourself to take your life one moment at a time. One step at a time. One day at a time. Face ONE thing on your list. Claim the truth that you do not have to live in the fear but choose instead to believe the Voice of the only One who truly can calm the storm.

The Evil Twins

Greetings Soul Adventurers!

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Six years after a deep hurt sure seems like a long time, doesn’t it? But it took me grieving the loss of many things in my life and in the rebuilding process, I have finally come up from the ashes with more freedom and with new courage. I had to learn to enter that dark hole of pain and betrayal so I could go with others into that cavern and hold space for them to explore their own hurt and loss. I see now that it HAD to happen this way. I could not have said that 6 years ago. But before my own loss experience, I’m sure I would have just quoted scripture at people, secretly judged them for being overly-sensitive, or simply told them I would pray for them. Gosh, that makes me flinch thinking about it.

I didn’t just “wake up” and feel better one day. It has been many wake ups and lots of processing. But I’m realizing something new this morning about the “why now?” question of feeling healthier, both spiritually and emotionally.

For most of my life, I have been secretly afraid of these evil twins: 1) the need to be liked or 2) being completely ignored. Those are some scary twins, right??!! So how do those evil twins keep us paralyzed? On one hand, needing to be liked is terrifying because we are then imprisoned to KEEPING people liking us. (Now that, honestly, sounds exhausting.) On the other hand, being ignored or not seen would stir up that fear we have of being insignificant or unimportant. Do you see the enslavement of both sides?? The tragedy??

Either way, those siblings have silenced me by causing me to care too much about other people’s response to me. But now, instead of them silencing me, I am silencing THEM by walking in faithfulness and “reclaiming my birthright giftedness” as Palmer Parker calls it. I LOVE THAT IDEA of birthright giftedness. The truth of embracing who God made you to be and walking in it; knowing your true God-woven-self and liking who you are INSTEAD of despising who you are. In your place of self-condemnation, disgust with yourself, or falsely imposed guilt of who you think others say you should be, how much of your unique gifting is held back from being offered to your little slice of this world?

Don’t get me wrong. I still care waaaay to much about what you think of me right now. But I’m a little bit closer to caring more about what my Heavenly Father thinks of me, which I know for sure is not based on my performance. And I care about relating in freedom to others. We are in bondage when we let false guilt, or “I don’t want them to think __________ about me”, or when we try to please everyone all the time. We lose ourselves and forfeit that beautiful birthright in which we have been entrusted.

How about you silence those twins today, too?

Soul Stillness


Adventures don’t have to be far away or long lasting. We have decided that Soul Adventuring is a way of life, not simply a place to go.

It takes time and space to know your inner world. God calls us to silence. To stillness. To be in awe of beauty. To glory in the simple things. To relate to others from a place of authenticity. To face risk. To love people. And to live lives that display our freedom in Christ.

Rain is in the forecast. The heat index is warmer than average. The temps are dropping tomorrow. But today, we are here. Committing ourselves to the beauty of Sabbath and rest.

Give your soul some rest today, too.

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You are Invited

↠ You’re Invited ↠

I've been thinking about what it feels like to be invited. Don't we love the feeling of being sought after? Of being wanted? Of being included?

After Jesus appeared to the disciples in his resurrected body in John 21:12, HE INVITED THEM TO HAVE BREAKFAST. He said "Come." Can you feel the excitement, the fear, the confusion, the joy, the wonder, the panic, the regret, the uncertainty, the awakening?

He invited them to adventure into the wonder of the mysteries of God: the resurrected Messiah displaying the deep, sacrificial, redemptive love of God.

You are also invited.

↠ I invite you to care about the depth of your relationship with God and others more than the quantity of things you DO for God.

↠ I invite you to care more about the present moment than the anxious “what ifs” that eat away at your soul.

↠ I invite you to care more about God’s vision for growth in your life than numbing your pain.

↠ I Invite you to care more about the depth of your soul than about how fast change can happen.

↠ I invite you to care more about facing uncertainty than trying to control the challenging moments of your life.

↠ I invite you to care more about what is happening inside of you than what those outside think of you.

↠ I invite you to care more about creativity than perfection.

↠ I invite you to care more about having time for your soul to listen to God rather than scrolling and posting.

↠ I invite you to care more about bravery than fearing failure.

↠ I invite you to care more about choosing to explore your shame rather than pretending you are fine.

↠ I invite you to care more about those around you who are forgotten and forsaken rather than obsessing about being important or popular.

↠ I invite you to care more about speaking the truth gently in love more than living in bitterness and resentment.

↠ I invite you to care more about the truth of your sacred value than the temporary jolt of acceptance you feel when you cheapen yourself by allowing the unacceptable behavior of another toward you.

↠ I invite you to care more about walking in truth in the innermost places of your soul rather than denying your self-protective strategies meant to keep others far from knowing you.

↠ I invite you to care more about what God thinks of you than how you sculpt your appearance for others.

God has invited you to take an adventure into your soul. Pick out two of the invitations. Write them out. Speak them out loud. Take a risk and say yes to the invitation to go deeper into what the Lord has for you.

"My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you..Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me." Ps. 42:6-7

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The Gift of Receiving

God built the natural world in such a way that it both gives and receives. The earth receives rain and then bears fruit from that which the rain provides. God made our individual and communal worlds to operate the same way. The natural world puts no judgments on receiving. Neither should we.

We judge ourselves as being weak or needy when we are in seasons of receiving, as if the sum total of who we are is about pouring out. We live in a culture incessantly screaming at us to be productive and get things done, as if that is the priority above all priorities. But the spiritual, emotional, relational, physical worlds do not operate on a GIVE ONLY paradigm. We must create and hold space for time, processing, reflection, sustenance; we must learn to receive and not only give.

I have been in a long season of receiving and recovery. And it has been hard. I’m not writing today to get popular or to become the next greatest show on earth. I’m writing because I finally feel like my time of receiving has turned the corner into a time of giving. I’m understanding the richness of giving away, sharing my honest struggles, and taking vulnerable risks. I know I’m not done receiving. But I have learned what a beautiful teacher she can be and I’m learning to embrace her rather than judge her.

Listen to what Peter Scazzero says about this. “If we are not careful, our experiential sense of worth and validation gradually shifts from God’s unconditional love for us in Christ to our works and performance. But work FOR God that is not nourished by a deep interior life WITH God will eventually be contaminated. We cannot give what we do not possess. Doing for God in a way that is proportionate to our being with God is the only pathway to a pure heart and seeing God {Matt. 5:8}.”

Our family arrived battered and bruised when our moving trucks pulled in to Huntsville five years ago. We were working through a devastating job change, a house move, new community, new church, new jobs, scattered kids - none of which were on our “plan.” I had never felt so lost. Our teenage sons were struggling; I was grieving the first stage of empty-nesting. My new fledging career felt more like a firecracker dud than the fireworks display I expected after graduating with my masters. I wanted my old life back. It felt like I could reach out and touch it, but when I did, it was a mirage that disappeared on the horizon. Nothing seemed comfortable and I felt betrayed, confused, alone, cynical, angry, afraid.

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I was in no place to give. I realize now it was my season to receive. Oh, but I TRIED giving!! I tried to teach college girls like I had done for 10 years at our former church. I stood in front of them so disconnected from myself that I felt like a robot opening and closing my mouth. I tried several other “things” at church. I signed up to do stuff out of obligation and guilt. And don’t hear me say people were pushing me to do things or were guilting me to say yes. We have been embraced by wonderful, caring people since our move. It was ME trying to push myself too quickly to DO. To work. To perform. To be Christine again: the funny one, the surrounded by friends one, the busy one, the parenting 3 little Hoover kids one, cooking meals for college kids one, Bible teacher one, getting coffee at Stabucks with a friend one. But I couldn’t find her.

I needed to grieve, recover, be angry, experience the full weight of my losses, tend to my soul. And crazy enough, my new career as a therapist eventually gave me ample opportunity to do my own soul work. My courageous clients entered their stories of hurt with such tenacity. Walking with them into their sacred spaces invited me to enter into my own story of loss, away from my therapy office. I could NOT take them places I did not have the courage to enter for myself. It was life-giving and it was the beginning of my long journey back into soul health. I went back to counseling. I hashed out my anger, betrayal, hurt. Sometimes I even “went fetal” on my living room couch (advice given to me by a dear friend), and I curled up with my soft blanket as I wept. I would stay there until I was ready to get up. I had to feel my loss, enter into the death, so that resurrection could come. And it does. It will.

I know many of you, my adventuring friends, are hurting deeply right now. Deep wounds like cancer, divorce, death, children who are far from you, life transitions, betrayal, singleness, anxiety, depression. Soul Adventurers, there is no perfect timetable telling us when our seasons of giving and receiving start and stop. But what if this wound is inviting you to tend more deeply to your soul? Take times of silence, solitude, time to reflect on your life, stop doing and start tuning in to what God is doing in this moment. Do you need to quit performing and receive right now? Or maybe you need to be brave and start giving again. Either way, you can know for sure that God is asking you to soak up the rain of His unconditional love and that is the most important adventure you can embark upon.

Play Well, Parent Well

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It's interesting to me that one of my favorite authors on the issue of trauma is also my favorite author on the concept of "play" (Dan Allender). Isn't that ironic? Don't those two issues seem to be completely paradoxical? 

But they are intimately connected.

To play well is to HEAL well.

To play well is to BE WELL.

To play well is to PARENT well.

What we know about recovery work is that restoration of our whole selves requires the ability to think rightly, feel deeply, but also PLAY FREELY.  Our healing is accomplished when we can engage our heart, soul, mind and strength into joyfully recovering who we were made to be.

And for many parents who have been wounded in their childhood, they have a difficult time tapping into the world of play with their own kids. Pain can lead us to be feel damaged, drained, and disconnected. But Dan Allender calls us out of our pain and into playing with our kids. For them and for us! He names it as one of the "highest callings" of parenthood. He wisely states:

“Playing with our children gives them the skills, character, and context for living out their God-given calling. This is by far their most important inheritance, which means that it is callous to deprive a child of a parental playmate. A worldview based on a belief in the Resurrection demands a vision of life that begins and ends with a celebration, a feast of pleasure and delight. This is a party, not some somber affair! Play is not an escape from the heartache of reality. Instead it involves embracing the outcome of all reality. If we come to a richer and deeper understanding of play, it can change how we go about a day, how we go about living in the decades that we have left on this earth. So I consider this not to be a frivolous topic, but one that is so very central to the gospel.” -Dan Allender, How Children Raise Parents

How about you? How well are you taking time to truly be present and PLAY with those you love? Be a part of healing your story while you help your children write a brave new one. They need you. Take some time to play well and BE WELL.

                                                                            Let me know if I there is any way I can help.

                                                                                                 Christine


Reaching out for help...

A friend posted this blog on my facebook page and I couldn't resist posting it as well. Not that I'm trying to toot my horn. Or promote my business. But because I agree wholeheartedly with what Jennie Allen says about why seeking counseling is helpful, and sometimes even necessary:

1. We all need translators sometimes to really hear ourselves or the other person.

2. We all need to hear the truth about ourselves in a safe environment.

3. We all need space to sort out how we feel or what we need.

4. We all need help at times applying the truth of God’s Word into real life.    Jennie Allen

I couldn't have said it better myself.

http://www.jennieallen.com/why-i-think-everyone-should-have-a-counselor/

 

 

Counseling The Woodlands

I'm not sure about counseling...

I often hear people admit they are unsure if the actually "need" counseling. Others comment they are messed up beyond repair. Taking the first step of making an appointment with a professional counselor can be the most courageous step you make! Finding the right counselor is a process and it is important to find a counselor you can trust, one who shares your values, and one you believe can walk with you in practical ways to help you move through your difficult issue. I would love the privilege of joining you on your journey of discovering healing, wholeness, and hope.

Here are a few issues and "reasons" why many people seek out the help of a professional counselor.

  • Inability to overcome sadness

  • Feeling like your worry and anxiety are out of control

  • Loss over stage of life transitions

  • Fear in opening up wounds from childhood

  • A sounding board for making tough life decisions

  • Working through abuse, whether it's emotional, physical, sexual or verbal

  • Difficulty managing grief and loss

  • Marriage struggles

  • Inability to draw healthy relational boundaries

  • Divorce recovery

  • Low self-worth and co-dependency

  • Processing premarital issues

  • Parenting struggles and challenges

  • Adolescent issues

  • Spiritual woundings

  • The pain of broken relationships

  • Body image and eating struggles

  • Biblical counsel in dealing with life challenges

Feel free to call me for a chat to see if you think you would be interested in setting up an appointment here in the Huntsville area.