When Fear and Anxiety Try To Win.

I have moments where I worry just like you. I let my thoughts run wild. I don’t discipline them and before I know it, I am awake in the middle of the night doing the exact opposite of what I tell other people to do. Anxiety fills me. Fear grips me. Stress takes over my physical and mental being. It’s an awful feeling. I long for morning, because I need a new day. A new grip on life. I need Kris to wake up and reassure me what I need reassure myself.

Last night was that kind of night for me. I tossed and turned. I let fear grip me. Hold me. Wrap its ugly hands around me. Grab hold of me like it owned me.

I finally slept the last hour. My alarm went off. I peeled open my eyes. And, I reminded myself of this scripture:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. 
2 Corinthians 10:5

DEMOLISH those thoughts that don’t come from Him. Take them captive. Interrogate them. Hold them captive so they can’t hold you. Remind your soul of who God is. Recall every time God proved Himself faithful to you.

Recall every stone that has piled up in your life as a memorial to the goodness, the faithfulness, and the mercy of God.

Remember every situation that looked impossible and how God grabbed you and said, “I am for you.”

Hold onto thoughts of His goodness. Hold onto His love that stretches wider and deeper and longer than anything we can imagine.

Hold onto THOSE thoughts.

Hold them tightly.

Demolish those other thoughts. Take them captive. Strip them of their power. Because, the One inside you is greater. He is truth. He is good. And, in Him, we have no fear.

This Sunday at Eagles Way, I will be opening up our new series, Silent Night, with this very message. I will preach it with as much passion as I possibly can. Because, I know what it feels like to be gripped by something that takes the wind out from under you. But, I also know what it feels like to send those thoughts back to hell. And, to rise up with a renewed confidence, a renewed mind, and renewed passion for TRUTH.

His mercies are new every morning. And, because, of those mercies, this is mind is new….and finally, it caught up with what my Spirit already knew.

 

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Filed under disappointment, God Stuff, life, Spiritual Journey

Life Is Amazing.

Tonight, I dreaded the idea of going out in this painfully cold weather to check on a well and water troughs for cows. Dreaded. As in, how in the world am I living in a world where I check a well in 27 degree temps? Seriously.

But, I did. And, you know what I saw? Besides my breath in front of me? Stars. Amazing, beautiful stars that could not be numbered in a huge, amazing, beautiful sky. And, for a brief moment, I looked up and stared and thought, “Amazing.”

Sunday, I dreaded the thought of Jett becoming sick. Fever, congestion, loss of appetite. You know the stuff those little people get. I dreaded it changing up my Monday. Then, changing up my Tuesday. It did change it up. And, you know what I saw? Besides spilled Tylenol on my living room chair? A little boy who is growing up and changing so fast. Who has turned into the sweetest boy in the entire universe. Who made me laugh out loud so many times that, for a moment, I considered pulling him out of school and keeping him with me all the live long day forevermore….for a moment. And, then I put him to bed tonight and thought, “Amazing.”

Life is always amazing. Full of wonder. Full of crazy gorgeous evening skies and full of moments where your child sits closer to you. It’s always there. And, many times, those amazing moments are noticed in our life’s interruptions.

These past couple of days have reminded me: Change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

They don’t just change to become more tolerable. They change to become your greatest blessings.

It’s when life becomes amazing.

Tonight, I go to bed amazed.

Thankful.

In love with life.

In love with the people in my life.

And, in love with the One who created it all and said, “It is good.”

 

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Filed under God Stuff, gratitude, Life Experiences, Motherhood

My Girl Is Ten.

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Had God asked me what I wanted my daughter to be like, I could have never imagined the wonder of you. I could have never dreamed of a daughter who makes me laugh more than you and enjoy life more than you. I could have never imagined a better daughter. A better friend.

I could have never written this story of my life with you.

Anna Takle, you are just always so much more. More of everything that is good. Everyone always hears and reads the hilarious and witty things you say. Trust me, there are many. But, there are stories they don’t hear. Like you coming home from school broken-hearted over a classmate with whom no one really engages. His self-esteem is low. So, you decide to sit right across from him at lunch one day. You tell him he isn’t who people say he is, but he is who God says he is. You don’t care what other people think about it. You don’t care what other people think about you. Instead, you walk confidently in who God created you to be.

“You could change the course of this kid’s life, because of your encouragement,” I tell you.

Tears fell down your face. They fell down mine. You became aware of what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ.

I love the way you ask questions and then truly listen to the answers. You always seek understanding. You are a lover of wisdom.

I love the way you look up to John Henry. I love how even though there are times you come to me with how he disappointed you, you run to his defense so much more.

I love the way you care for Jett. I love how you worry about him in school. I love how you are so proud of him when he learns something new. Especially, when you feared he might “grow up, get his GED, and stay in his PJs all day.”

I love how you know exactly what you like and what you don’t. And, you’re not afraid to tell me that my shirt is “screaming ‘look at me!'” Or how I “might want to reconsider those pants.”

I love how you strive for excellence in everything you do.

I love listening to you play piano. I love how determined you are to play a piece well….no matter how difficult it is. I love how you appreciate music from Beethoven to Jerry Lee Lewis.

I love how you hop on my bed, because you just want to be with me. I love being with you, too. I love how dad came in the room one night, and said, “Someone needs to get out of my bed,” and you quickly responded, “Mom, you heard the man.”

You make me laugh every single day. You make me proud every single day.

I am so thankful I get to spend my days with you. I am so thankful God gave me such an amazing daughter. I know we talk about you staying with me forever. And, I know it’s hard to believe right now, but a day will come and you’ll be ready to head out and take on the world. I call it the day I’ll spend eating boxes upon upon boxes of Junior Mints in my bed while crying.

I’m seriously thankful that day isn’t today.

And, I am so thankful I didn’t write this story of my life with you. Only God could write something so beautiful and fun.

I love you, Anna Takle. Happy 10th Birthday.

Love,

Mom

 

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So, This Is 40.

Completely lame to title a blog post after a movie. But, I’m in my 40s now. So, I’m comfortable being lame. I always thought turning 40 would bother me. Because, in my mind, I am always, always 18. Aren’t we all? Sure, we don’t feel 18. But, we are always that 18 year old who still feels like they are navigating through this thing called life. I can still remember as vividly how it felt to be embarking on my college career as much as I can remember how I felt walking my third child into school the first day. Feelings are just so powerful. And, they hard to forget. I can remember walking into Mrs. Howard’s third class at Jackson Road. I can remember how she made me feel secure. I can remember almost drowning in the Gulf and my father never letting go of my hand. I can remember holding onto the OUTSIDE of the escalator of Southlake Mall and riding it up until my mom climbed on top of a brick display, grabbing the soles of my shoes, pulling me back down.

I can remember the first time I felt the presence of God and thinking that I never wanted to leave it.

I can remember graduating from college and looking into the mass of onlookers and seeing the gleam in my grandfather’s eye.

I can remember not being able to stop the tears when John Henry was born and holding him in my arms for the very first time. I remember looking at my mom and saying, “My world is right now.”

I can remember being heartbroken. But more than the heartbreak, I can remember my friends taking care of me and being there.

I can remember opening my heart up to love again. I can remember kissing Kris Takle on his brother’s sofa for the first time. I can remember my mom’s tearful face when we loaded up in a King Air and moved to Oklahoma City.

I can remember when Anna Takle was three years old, and I realized that I had to start recording how fun she made my life.

I can remember deciding to have a third child after swearing two was enough. But, then, looking at that future super-hero in the face with gratitude and thanksgiving that he was mine.

I can remember Kris telling me, “I think we can do this,” when he told me we were moving back home to Georgia.

I can remember fully surrendering my life to the ministry and my father ordaining me a pastor.

I can recall exactly how those moments felt. And, I am so thankful for them all. For the good moments. For the bad. The good have taught me gratitude. The bad have taught me forgiveness and love.

I’m no expert in life. I have many more miles to travel and hopefully many more candles to extinguish. But, I have penned 40 things that I have learned so far. Perhaps, next year I will have a different view. A different outlook. A different perception of life. I hope I do. Because, that means I’m evolving. But, today, this is 40:

1. Don’t put too much weight into a present emotion. Because, you never know how you’re going to feel tomorrow.

2. You don’t have to talk through every single feeling, emotion, or issue.

3. Friendship in marriage is just as important as love.

4. Having a third kid is a game-changer. Don’t do it unless you’re willing to change the game.

5. I like our new game with three kids….now that I’ve regained my sanity. Somewhat.

6. My blood pressure rises when I read status updates or comments that portray a God who is ready to take out His vengeance on people. Or when people read the Word but don’t get the Spirit behind what’s being said. God is a God of love. Period.

7. I need to not let myself get so worked up over #6.

8. God is not up there, out there somewhere. He is within me.

9. My mom is the person I can tell anything to.

10. I don’t always have to be right. And, my way isn’t the only way. In parenting, in life. We all have the same mission but different methods. We have to work through our own salvation.

11. It’s okay to simply say, “that’s not going to work for me” without giving further explanation.

12. If I don’t schedule my time, someone else will. Create margin with your time.

13. Gratitude, thankfulness, appreciation, and praise are the keys to EVERYTHING.

14. Pain doesn’t last.

15. Being skinny is fun. But not as fun as a really good meal.

16. Whatever I focus on will expand – whether positive or negative.

17. Kris and I travel really well together. He is my favorite travel partner.

18. It’s important to jump into your kids’ passions and be amazed with them.

19. Never, ever give up on people.

20. Even when you become frustrated with where someone is in his or her life, don’t stop being their friend. They will get through that rough place. Love them through it instead of pulling back.

21. When you know you’re wrong, own it.

22. Say thank you as often as possible.

23. Chill when life gets interrupted. Accept it. It happens.

24. Dreading makes everything worse. Don’t dread what you know you already have to do.

25. If you see a need, and it’s within your means to meet that need, do it.

26. Give, give, give.

27. Laughter is not only the best medicine, it’s the heartbeat of my life.

28. Not everyone is going to believe the way I do. And, that’s okay. (So, let crazy Facebook comments and otherwise go.)

29. My mom thinks my kids are just has hilarious as I do. I am so thankful I can share my life with her.

30. My dad is the most consistently loyal, forgiving, compassionate, merciful person in the universe. Hands down.

31. I have the best friends in the world. And, the older I get the more I realize how much I need them.

32. I could never leave the ministry.

33. I love being alone with God.

34. I either cry or almost cry every time I worship the One who has made all things so good.

35. Don’t sit alone when you’re down. As hard as it is, call someone. Go be with someone you trust. Just don’t be alone.

36. Whenever you think something good is going to come from telling someone exactly what you think or “finally giving them the what for,” please know, nothing good will EVER come from that. Ever.

37. Don’t close the door to new friendships.

38. It’s none of my business what other people think of me.

39. Try really hard to not yell at your children. They are real souls with real feelings.

40. God is for me. So, all moments have been for me. The good ones and the bad ones. Because, God has been IN all of those moments.

If you’re still reading, thank you for indulging me in such a long post. And, thanks to all of you for being in my world. I am so thankful for my friends and family. I am so thankful to serve a God who is full of love. And, I am so thankful to enter my forties. I think I’m going to like it here.

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Twelve: A Soul Well Tended.

Middle School. First year. That’s where we are now. Everyone tries to tell you to hold on tightly. Because, the years are set to mach speed when you’re raising children. And, how well I now know that you are 12 years old. TWELVE. One minute I’m walking you into your first day of Kindergarten.

Then, the next I’m dropping you off and watching you walk into Middle School. And, two things consistently astonish me: how I blink my eyes and you are almost as tall as me…..

and how you continually make everyone around you feel good about themselves.

Someone recently made the comment how you have the unusual ability to make even “old folks feel important.” It’s one of the traits that makes me most proud. Everyone leaves your presence feeling a little better about themselves. Please, son….don’t ever lose this gift. It’s really what the Kingdom is all about. Love. Acceptance. Mercy. I am amazed watching you make these three things the epitome of who you are.

You love people. You encourage them. You accept them for who they are and embrace who they are. And, your mercy is so long and wide. So much so that you remind me often to be a giver of mercy. I can remember one evening you overheard me saying something negative about someone. I was so embarrassed. I went to you and asked you to forgive me. Your response: “I forgive you. Just remember, he is a good man.”

Those words went straight to my heart. Such holy, good conviction that reminded me to allow to people to fail me. To make allowances for other’s faults. To always look for the good in others.

John Henry, your soul is even more beautiful than your eyes. And, that is saying a lot. You tend to your soul beautifully. At the start of this school year I told you I wanted us to begin studying the scriptures together. You immediately went to retrieve your Bible, and we turned to the Sermon On the Mount and began to read. This part of that sermon defines who you are so well:

7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:7-9)

And, God blesses you, John Henry Landreth. I am so proud of the man that you are. I will always miss my little boy. I will always smile when I think about this little face.

But nothing compares to the tears of joy I cry when I look into this face. Full of mercy. Full of love.

 

Happy 12th Birthday, John Henry. I love you more today than yesterday. And, I will love you even more tomorrow.

 

Love,

Mom

 

 

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Filed under Kid Stuff, making an impact, Motherhood, parenting

He Is For You.

Originally written and published in The Grip January 2014.

Romans 8:31 says, “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Minsters quote this all of the time. Heck, you’ve probably posted it as your Facebook status before. But, what does this truly mean? If God is for you, who can be against you? Does it mean exactly what it says? That, He is for you? Always? If this true, then that means ALL moments are for you. Because, God is in all moments.

That interruption in your day you weren’t expecting. That moment was for you. The cereal spilled all over the counter. That moment was for you. The trip back to your child’s school, because he forgot his lunch. That moment was for you. That busted pipe over the recent freeze. That moment was for you. Your spouse walking out the door and leaving you a single mother. That moment was for you.

That amazing sunset you paused to watch. That moment was for you. Witnessing the birth of your child. That moment was for you. Your littlest putting his nose to your nose and saying, “I love you, Mommy.” That moment was for you. Enjoying that incredible dinner with good friends. That moment was for you. Falling in love again. That moment was for you.

It doesn’t mean God caused any of the difficult circumstances. But, He as certainly been in them. And, in all moments. Because, He is for you. And, when you can wrap your head around the fact that if God is for you, then all moments are for you….then, you can learn to say, “Nothing goes wrong in my world.” But, all moments have been for me. On Christmas Day, when my husband and I realized our hot water had been leaking and ruined our downstairs floors….Neither of us became upset. Neither of us said, “We can’t catch a break” or “just our luck.” Neither of us felt attacked by a devil. It’s just life. Things break. And, instead of focusing on that inconvenience, our thoughts turned to gratitude for a wonderful first Christmas on our farm. When my oldest had a lot of questions about his dad leaving, I explained to him that if his dad could go back, he would make a different choice. He responded, “I wouldn’t want him to. Because, then I wouldn’t have my Daddy Kris and my little sister and brother.” Oh, if we could all see life’s moments as a child.

My most difficult moments have been my greatest teachers on forgiveness. My most beautiful moments have been my greatest teachers on thankfulness. And, I know He has been in them all. Because, He is always, always for me. And, He is always for you.

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A Time To Draw Closer.

She couldn't find her piano bag as we were rushing out the door. She was wearing shorts that were too small, and she appeared unkempt. In the moment of her struggle where she needed me to pull closer to her, I reprimanded her for not keeping up with her things. For not taking pride in how she looks. I allowed it to domino into a discussion about what she's not doing. At first, she responded to me with exasperation in her voice.

 

And, then there was silence. Silence as my tone threatened her confidence. As my words ran the risk of becoming her inner voice.

 

She stepped out of the car empty handed, prepared to explain to her piano teacher that she was without her music. I watched her walk in. We pulled away, and my heart broke. Careless with my words. Unconscious of my tone. Because, I failed to see her in that moment as a real soul. As a representation of God in my life. In the world of parenting where we make deposits and withdrawals, I made a withdrawal. A big one.

 

This morning I read, “The moment when you are most repelled by a child's behavior, that is your warning light to draw the very closest to that child.” (Ann Voscamp) Holy conviction gushed out of me. Especially, in the light of my own thousands of moments where God could reprimand my behavior. I was reprimanding how she clothes herself yet failing to clothe myself in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

 

Instead in our own weaknesses and failings, God pulls Himself even closer to us. And, He reminds us of who we really are. Wonderful. Marvelous.

 

Growing. Learning.

 

Becoming more like Him every single day.

 

I have a lot of deposits to make today. I ask forgiveness. And I tell Anna Takle who she really is.

 

Wonderful. Marvelous. Beautiful. Brave. Funny. Inspiring. Gifted.

 

Loved.

 

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