My Girl Is 11.


“I will have this experience with me for the rest of the my life. I will always treasure that I got to play this role. I will miss Scout.” – Anna

These are the kind of deep statements I hear from her. Sandwiched between her witty comments, hilarious sense of humor, and laughter are deeply felt moments of honesty and emotion. There are days that I am sure I am talking to a 30 year old. She poses hard questions. She always has. Questions about poverty. About social injustice. When someone is mistreated, a righteous anger rises up in her, and she needs me to help her direct it.

She reasons well. If she asks for something, and we tell her no, she receives it graciously. She never pushes the envelope with her wish for material things. Ever. She doesn’t jump on bandwagons of negativity. Instead, she will refocus on what is right and good in her world.

At the risk of uncovering myself and one of my very weak moments this year, I would like to share a story of how Anna responded to my self-indulgent rant. We were leaving the house one day. I was very frustrated with Kris. I felt he would fly, come home, and spend all of his time working on the farm. I felt left with a home to care for by myself. I felt so many things went undone, and I was frustrated. Knowing better, I vented. To a 10 year old. More than that, I asked her, “Why don’t you tell your dad we need him to stop working on the farm so much and help out more around the house?”

“No. I won’t. It’s a lot of land. He has to work it hard. Far-Far (Kris’ dad) can’t do it all alone. He needs him. And, you need to allow dad to do what he feels he needs to do. If you are stressed, ask me. If you need more help, ask me. Ask ME. I will help you.”

I will never forget that conversation. I will never forget how she responded to me. She stood up for what she felt was right while still honoring me.

Anna Takle, you absolutely light up my world. You are so incredibly smart. And, your wisdom has astounded me. Your love of music, the piano, and broadway are so much fun. You continually make me proud when I watch you use your gifts.





You make me laugh harder than anyone.



You are the sweetest, most loving sister.


You have a tender appreciation for all life.


You are a living, breathing beautiful, example of God in the earth.

I love how you love life and the people in your life. I love how you crawl up in bed with me almost every single night, because you want to talk to me. I love how you love Seinfeld and Big Bang Theory. I love how you appreciate good tea. I love how you work tirelessly on the piano until you can finally play a piece perfectly. I love how you love your brothers. I love how you look at me and watch me. I love how you still get so excited and exclaim, “Daddy’s home!”

And, of all the roles you have played, my favorite one you play is simply being Anna Takle. I love who you are. I am forever thankful God chose me to be your mom. What a gift it is to call you my daughter. Thank you for being you and for continuing to allow God to grow inside of you.

Happy 11th Birthday, Anna Takle. I love you so very much.




Filed under gratitude, Kid Stuff, life, Motherhood

I Have A Teenager.

JH - young

These eyes have owned me since the first time I saw them.  I’m pretty sure that he knows that by now.

13 years ago today, he made me a mother.  And, what a beautiful journey it has been. There are some who have told me, “Just wait until they are teenagers….”  If you’re a mom, it’s probably been said to you and not so much in a positive way.  I have chosen to enter these years with “the best is yet to come” as the foundation for our home and for my relationship with this beautiful soul that I get to do life with every single day.

John Henry, every year with you gets better and better.  Every season with you teaches me something about love, forgiveness, and always looking for the best in others.  One of the most, if not THE most, amazing qualities about you is that I never hear you say one negative or demeaning word about any person.  You have spoken kindly about every teacher, every friend.  You continually remind me to give someone the benefit of the doubt.  You continually find the good in others.

You have a righteous anger for those who are treated unjustly.  For those who are made to feel less than they should.  Your compassion for people to truly know and believe that they are who God says they are is the banner you wave so fiercely.  And, I could not be more proud of the man you are.

Thank you for valuing human life and for reminding me to always value others.

Thank you for being my protector, the man of the house, when your Daddy Kris is gone.

Thank you for always trying to make life easier for those around you.

Thank you for striving to do your best in everything.

Thank you for understanding technology better than I do.

Thank you for being the household Math tutor.

Thank you for introducing me to cool music.

Thank you for not being embarrassed when I dance.

Thank you for looking out for your sister even when she drives you crazy.

JH - siblings

Thank you for being a gentle, big brother to Jett. And, thank you for letting him play the Playstation with you.

JH - with jett el toro

Thank you for being you.

You are not afraid to endure hard things.

You are not afraid to put yourself out there and try something new.

You are not afraid to admit when you’re wrong.

You are not afraid to love deeply.

You are brave.  You are brilliant.  You are funny.  You are full of compassion and love.  And, I cannot believe you are a teen.  Time certainly flies when you’re having fun.  What a fun 13 years it’s been.  And, as always, the best is yet to come.

Happy Birthday, Teenager.

I love you more and more every day.

Love, Mom

JH - Dusty

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Filed under Kid Stuff, life, making an impact, Motherhood, Relationships

60 Things I Love About My Mom. 

She was 19 when she became my mother. And, I can’t remember how old she was when she became my best friend. But, she’s been the best of both for as long as I can remember. You have never met a more beautiful human being in all of the world. You have never met a more selfless woman. A woman filled with more grace and kindness and love than my mother. Today, we celebrate 60 years of this world becoming a brighter, kinder, more beautiful place. And, without further ado, I give you 60 Things I Love About My Mom:

1. I love how so very frugal and disciplined you are with your finances. Unless you’re buying for your grandchildren, then all frugality goes out the window.

2. I love that no matter how much my dad can aggravate you with his spontaneity to do the most random of things, you still love him and accept him and tell me, “You know your dad.”

3. I love how you consider riding your Harley Davidson motorcycle “therapy.”

4. I love that you can even ride a motorcycle, because, I would surely not do that so well. (And, all of my friends say, “Amen.”)

5. I love it that you keep a tub full of chocolate candy bars in your refrigerator and add to the tub whatever people request….whether you are family or not. (She thinks you’re family and wants to have all of your favorite things waiting for you.)

6. I love how you introduce ME to new music now. You were shouting Bruno Mars before he was cool.

7. I love that you went to see Prince in concert. I don’t love it that you went without me. But, still, that was awesome.

8. I love that you recognize the dresses you made for me when I was little were not really awesome.

9. I love how you try to get into your chair before Jett comes over, just because Jett expects to find you there and wants to run to you.

10. I love that you always, always remind me to give my children the benefit of the doubt on everything.

11. I love how you give EVERYONE that benefit and always assume the best. In everyone. No matter what.

12. I love how you will give up the best of something, so someone else can have it. Truth is, you always deserve the best of everything.

13. I love how you love to get dad exactly what he wants for Christmas. In as much as his wish list seems so childlike and can make you roll your eyes, you always try to fulfill it.

14. I love how you record every single awards show, because you never know that performance you will want to go back and watch. Over and over and over again.

15. I love how you already know the odds of a horse before he ever gets ready to race.

16. I love how you get emotional at race time.

17. I love that you still talk to Judy everyday after 37 years of friendship.

18. I love it that you taught me you are never too far from a friend to be there for her in the hardest of times and in the best of times.

19. I love it that John Henry can never, EVER do any wrong in your eyes.

20. I love how you will buy Anna most anything she wants, regardless of what I may or may not have thought about it. Surely, forgiveness is better than permission. :)

21. I love how you think everything Jett does is funny….and how hard you try not to laugh at the things you shouldn’t. But still do.

22. I love how you’ve joked (or not joked) before, “You keep your dad, and I’ll keep the kids tonight.”

23. I love how you love coming to the farm, and you can truly relax here.

24. I love that you are always willing to keep the kids whenever I need you, no matter what you have planned.

25. I love how I got my love for the beach from you. And, how we could sit in our chairs and not move until sunset….if only dad and my kids would let us.

26. I love that we got to experience NYC together with Anna.

27. I love how you fell in love with Broadway and the theater.

28. I love how you are always falling in love with new things and new adventures.

29. I love it when people tell me I look exactly like you.

30. I love it that we can wear each other’s clothes.

31. I love how you always ask me when Kris is gone, “How can we help you today?”

32. I love how no one can ever say a single negative word about you, because you live life so well.

33. I love how you always speak the most positive words about people.

34. I love how you love EWC and carry the heart of the people.

35. I love your gift of discernment and how I can trust it.

36. I love how you can flow so effortlessly in the Spirit and minister to people.

37. I love how you truly love and appreciate others and their gifts.

38. I love how you love my friends and call them your girls.

39. I love how thankful you are for every little thing and every big thing.

40. I love the face you make when I talk about Anna taking my things….because, you know exactly what it feels like. (Sorry that I still take your things.)

41. I love how open you are to still grow in the things of God.

42. I love looking into your years ahead and already seeing how God is going to use you to minister to people so beautifully.

43. I love that you taught me how to hear His voice and to always trust it.

44. I love that you remind me of His faithfulness ALL of the time.

45. I love that you are content with so little yet do not fear dreaming big.

46. I love how you always taught me to love and accept all people no matter what they look like, what they believe, or how they live their life.

47. I love how you love Kris and appreciate him…..and, how, he too, can never do any wrong in your eyes. :)

48. I love how you will play the most random of games on your phone. Even though they are loud and ridiculous.

49. I love that you actually address “Siri” when you talk to her.

50. I love how you are my biggest fan.

51 I love how you have encouraged me every single day of my life.

52. I love that you have set such an amazing example of what motherhood looks like for me to imitate.

53. I love all of my memories with you, and how I can still remember what it felt like for my hand to be little inside of yours.

54. I love it that when I look at my own hands now, I see yours.

55. I love that you have been every person I’ve needed you to be….my mom, my friend, my husband, my sister….You have filled so many roles in my life when I’ve been without.

56. I love how much you loved your mom, and I love how you talk about her with so much affection. I know she is so proud of the woman she raised.

57. I love how much you loved your dad and how we can still laugh at the things he said and did.

58. I love how you light up a room when you walk in it. Not just because you are so beautiful, but because His love is so bright within you.

59. I love how you always bring peace into the most difficult of situations.

60. I love how you always bring gratitude into every single triumph.

Thank you for being the best mom and Nan. Thank you for being a living example of God’s grace, mercy, and love. I am so thankful that of all of the women in the world that could have been my mom, God chose you. I love you so very much.
Happy 60th Birthday, Mom. The best is yet to come.


Filed under God Stuff, life, Love, Motherhood

I Could Write For Days.

I could write for days about how he lavishes mercy on people. How he rarely has to forgive, because it’s unusual for him to take offense to something said or done. Because, he is the master at making allowances for other’s faults. I could spend all day telling you how he pours out wisdom over and over and over again. How he has saved me from so many blunders. How he has kept me so many times from letting my words fall at the wrong time at the wrong place. I could tell you how much he loves God’s Word. How much he loves His Maker. How much he loves doing what he does. How good he is at doing what he does. How much he just loves. Doesn’t judge. I could tell you so many things.

How he is the most fun person on earth to sing Garth Brooks songs with.

How he can make you laugh harder than any other person.

How he can laugh at himself.

How adorable it was that his favorite part of Ireland was riding on this site seeing bus.

I could spend all day sharing all of the hilarious things, all of the inspirational things, all of the love-filled things about him.

But, it would take an eternity to tell you what it’s like to call him Dad.

It would take forever to share the stories of what kind of father he was to me when I was growing up. How he practiced patience. Made me laugh. Spent huge amounts of time with me. Didn’t buy into the “quality time is better than quantity.” He knew quantity mattered. So, he spent as much time as he possibly could with me. And, he still does.

Every single day that Kris is gone, he will call and ask me, “What do you need me to do today?” I thank him over and over again for helping me. He replies, “It’s a joy.” I called him the other day to say thank you for picking up the kids from school. He responds, “I love spending time with my grandchildren. I’m glad I get to do what I do for them.”

He does everything without complaining.

He does everything with immense joy. With immense grace. With immense love.

Dad, I could not imagine a more wonderful father than you. I could not dream of a more amazing, a more present grandfather to John Henry, Anna, and Jett. I am so thankful that I get to call you my pastor, my mentor, my friend. But, nothing compares to being able to call you Dad. Nothing. You are the best. Period.

Happy Birthday, Dad. Thank you for making life filled with so much grace, so much love, and sooooo much fun.

I love you,






Filed under God Stuff, gratitude, parenting, Relationships, Writing

You Gotta Believe Jett Takle Is Five.


It is impossible to spend time with Jett and look away from him without him demanding my attention back. I’m sure you’ve experienced this with little ones grabbing your face and turning it to face theirs. Jett, like most kids, has always done this. But, now that he’s older, he doesn’t grab my face. He simply shouts, “Mom! You gotta believe this!” It’s his twist on “You’re not going to believe this!” I like his version better. Because, more than the things we don’t need to believe, there are so many more things we actually “gotta” believe. And, he reminds me everyday to believe in the good.

To believe that it’s important to be an observer of life and notice every inch of it.

To believe that life’s wonder and beauty are found in what most of us consider the mundane – the everyday life – the ordinary. To know that we don’t always have to seek an adventure, a destination, or some exotic place or people….but we can find God in every aspect of our daily journey. And, there is nothing mundane at all about that.

And, there is nothing mundane about being with Jett.


Jett, you replenish my soul. You fill my life with so much joy that I cannot contain it all. It pours out of me in the forms of smiles, laughs, stories, and tears. The good kind of tears. The kind where I sit alone and think about your very existence and I am flooded with emotions wrapped in gratitude and thankfulness. I am so thankful for you, and I love every single thing about you.

I love the way you look at me and tell me you love me.

I love the way you insist on riding your daddy’s back to bed.

I love the way you dream of becoming a pilot and flying “to outer space.”

I love the way you love your big brother and sister and light up when they play with you.

I love the way you get so excited when you tell a story.

I love the way you get so excited about EVERYTHING.

I love the way you love exploring nature on the farm. You make me love the farm even more, too.

I love the way you know when you are entertaining us with your hilarious dance moves, so you don’t stop dancing.

I love the way you get those dance moves from your Ga-Ga.

I love how creative your imagination is. And, how you believe you can do and accomplish anything.

You gotta believe this, Jett Takle. You make our lives sweeter. I recently read, “time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life.” You make time stand still for me. And, I will forever be grateful to you for making me soak in so many beautiful moments.

Happy 5th Birthday, Jett. We love you more than you will ever know.




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Same Big God

He cried all the way to school saying he missed his daddy. Part of me cried with him, because I miss him, too. But, the greater part of me knows that He gives me strength for every single moment. I wept for him, because he doesn’t understand that strength within him. And, then, it hit me. I had shared this scripture on social media this morning:

But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength. 2 Timothy 4:17

I only saw this scripture applying to my life and to yours, although, knowing it is for everyone.


Even for an almost five year old.

And, while Jett may not comprehend the strength within him, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is there. How many things of God are within me that I have yet to comprehend? That I have yet to grasp fully? Yet, they are still there, and I can activate them within my life at any given moment.

This morning I was reminded that there is no big God in me and little God in Jett. That same power is inside of him. That same God who says you have everything you need to do all He has called you to do, to endure any season, to face any challenge, resides within Jett Takle. That same God has given Jett all he needs to do all He has called Him to do. Even at the young age of four.

And, so my prayer became this:

God, thank You for the gifts that are within Jett. Thank You that Your grace is sufficient within him. Thank You for your strength within him. Thank You that at his weakest, You are strongest. And, right at this moment, he feels Your strength.

In as much as I love my children. I know God loves them even more than I do. And, that same God who has delivered you from your darkest moments, your greatest fears, and your hardest days is the same God who will comfort your little ones, cause them to feel His presence, and give them strength they didn’t know they had.

Rest today in knowing that the same God within you is the same God within them.

….how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. Matthew 7:11



Filed under life, Motherhood, parenting, prayer

On Love and Marriage

Dear friends,

I thought I would share one of my recent articles published in The Grip on love and marriage. I truly feel as though Kris and I have a beautiful marriage, because we have chosen to become partners in everything. We are a team. There is no competition. No disrespect. And, complete trust. He is my best friend, and I am his. I love this quote and believe it to be true: “It's not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” (Friedrich Nietzsche) Physical intimacy is important as well as date nights and time away from our children. But, it is our views on true partnership that I feel make us strong in our relationship. I pray your own relationships are strengthened, not just this weekend, but every single day. And, that you bring more glory to Him together than you do apart. Happy Weekend of love!

Previously published in The Grip.

My husband and I don’t really exchange gifts on Valentine’s Day. Nevertheless, we are still big fans of love. So, with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I thought I would share a few not so secret secrets to what helps us enjoy life together and truly love each other well. I’m sure many of you could add to the list, too. But, here are a few things and thoughts I always try to remember about marriage….and about all of my relationships:

1) Don’t take things personally. Not text messages. Not actions. Nothing. Trust that your spouse is always for you. Once you truly believe he or she is FOR you, then you rest in knowing he or she never means to hurt you.

2) Don’t compare jobs or get into a “who has the toughest job” war. Comparison is the thief of joy. And, this is a dangerous road to travel down. One of the biggest keys in refraining from comparison is to always maintain an attitude of “I get to do this.” I get to provide for my family. I get to be available for my children. Gratitude for our roles changes everything.

3) I don’t have to talk through every single issue. I’m not advocating a lack of communication. However, sometimes, things are better left unsaid. Words are powerful and create energy: both positive and negative. Besides, I may feel differently tomorrow than I do today. Sleep on it.

4) Create rules for engagement when it IS necessary to address an issue. You set up whatever works well for your communication. For Kris and I, profanity and name-calling are never allowed when we are communicating an issue. I also try not to use “always” and “never” when discussing an issue. Both can put the other on the defensive and make a small issue become a greater one.

5) Make allowances for each other’s faults. This is so hard! But, we have to allow the people we love to fail us. We are certainly going to fail them.

6) Let thanksgiving and praise become the loudest noise in your home. Say thank you often. Even for the smallest of things.

7) Let laughter become the second loudest noise in your home. A cheerful heart is good medicine. (Proverbs 17:22) Laughter keeps our hearts softened. It makes the darkest days lighter. And, well, for Kris, he knows it completely drops my guard….and makes it really difficult for me to remain upset. Guard your heart (your thoughts), but don’t guard it from being merry.

7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:7-8




Filed under Love, Marriage