Category Archives: Motherhood

Jehovah Elohim (Part One)

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” – Albert Einstein

I wish this quote meant as much to me when my older two were smaller as it does now. I was a bit of a realist. I didn’t want to “do” Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, because I didn’t want to feel I was lying to my children. I didn’t want to make them believe in something that couldn’t possibly happen. Kris disagreed with me. Even my father, a pastor, disagreed with me. So, every year, Santa comes down a chimney here. And, this year, an Easter Bunny will leave little gifts.

I didn’t tell them an Easter Bunny gave them anything last year. I told them it was from us. John Henry came home from church in tears. “Why didn’t the Easter Bunny come see us? He came to see all of the other kids.”

The realist in me just wanted to tell the truth. And, I certainly didn’t want to take away from the true meaning of Easter.

But, this idea of “realism” can do just that. It can take away the meaning of Who God really is.

Jehovah Elohim.

Creator.

Jehova Elohim formed the world with His words. Since we are created in His image, we are also creators. Likewise, we form our world with our words. We create the chaos. We create the blessings.

With. Our. Words.

So, if God, by nature, is a creator, that means He is creative. Yes?

Creativity is inspired. It’s inspired that believing that ANYTHING is possible. And, when we believe that anything is possible, we aren’t afraid to create. To do. To be.

As a mother, I am making some changes in how I inspire my children. We will read fairy tales. We will read stories in the Bible that, well, seem impossible. We will get excited in a few days when a little bunny delivers surprises.

We are creators. Inspired by believing in the impossible. Inspired by believing we can make a difference in the world. Inspired by the One who thought of us long before He created this incredible world.

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” – G.K. Chesterton

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Filed under Chasing Dreams, Kid Stuff, making an impact, Motherhood

The Terrific Twos.

You may call them terrible. I call them terrific. Perhaps, it’s because I now know firsthand that I will blink my eyes, and Jett Takle will be in Kindergarten. And, if you have children who have already graduated from high school, I really don’t need to hear how that day will be here for me faster than I can say, “Let’s play Candy Land.” Granted, I have days I dream of an empty nest, and Kris and I relaxing in the Caribbean somewhere. We give our grown children our mobile numbers, but we don’t tell them where we are. It’s true. I do think about it. But, most of the time, I think about how much I love these years. With its chaos and laughter and discoveries and first words and piano lessons and guitar lessons, and so many assorted cereal options in one pantry that even Jerry Seinfeld would be jealous.

I love this life.

And, I am so thankful for that day I looked at Kris and said, “You know, I think I do want one more baby.” Because, two years ago today, Jett Takle completed our family. He makes us smile bigger and more often than we ever dreamed possible.

Jett, I love the way you love eating apples. I’m so glad Mr. Jenkins at Piggly Wiggly lets you eat one from the produce section to make my grocery store trips easier. And, I’m so glad you let the cashier weigh your half-eaten apple with the others so, we can pay for it.

I love the way you love “driving” the truck on the farm with your daddy.

Your big brother and sister don’t even ask to drive any more. Probably, because they know you will beat them to it.

I love the way you love learning new things. Like fishing. And, I love how you look to your daddy so many times for his approval on doing it right.

There is no doubt. You get your immense passion for farm life from your father. I love the way you start “mooing” as soon as we drive up to the farm. You make your daddy follow those cows all over. And, you are certain to cry when we leave them.

And, it’s really no surprise one of your first words was “airplane.”

You are fascinated with them.

I have a feeling that once you figure out your daddy flies them, he will be an even greater rock star in your eyes. If that is even possible.

I love how you take your big brother’s hand. I love how he lets you take him anywhere you want to go. I especially love how you call him “Bubba”, and he calls you “Bubba” right back. Melt. My. Heart.

I love how you love crawling up into your Sissy’s bed to watch her draw.

Just a word of advice: Try not to touch all of her stuff in her room. It’ll save us both a lot of heartache.

You make our lives so much richer. You make us so much more aware of all of the good stuff around us. You make us press pause and soak in the joys again of blowing dandelions. And, roaring like a lion. And, rolling in the grass. And, eating popsicles. And, cheering, “Yay!”

Happy Birthday, Jett. I pray that over this next year you begin learning about your Creator. Because, when He made you, He really made a wonderful thing.

I love you to the moon and back one million times,

Mom

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Filed under Kid Stuff, life, Motherhood

Ten Years.

In many ways it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long.  In so many other ways, it really does.  Ten years ago at this time, I was two months pregnant with John Henry.  And, his dad left.

I guess I never imagined I would be in that place.  I certainly never saw myself divorced.  I never thought I’d be a single mother.  It was the single most heart-breaking, devastating time in my life.  Words were said that pierced me.  Actions taken that floored me.  And, I couldn’t imagine that my life would ever be restored back to where it was.

I spent the next few months busying myself with work, getting ready for a baby, and involving myself in the community.  I traveled to Chicago to an Arts Conference hosted by Willow Creek Church.  I headed up the campaign for my uncle who was running for County Commissioner.  He won, by the way.  And, I joined with city leaders in putting together a Memorial Service for the one year anniversary of 9/11.   And, in my down time, I cried.

But, I also prayed.

I prayed scriptures over Bryan’s life every single night of my pregnancy.  I prayed blessings over him.  In the middle of my pain, I cried out to the Redeemer.  And, I released forgiveness little by little until I no longer carried any anger or resentment.

I was still heartbroken.  There were times I would feel sorry for myself.  I’d cry the ugly cry.  My countenance would be less than inviting.  I remember during one of my pity parties, my dad told me, “You never know how you’re going to feel tomorrow.”  Of course, I knew how I was going to feel.  Exactly like I was feeling at that moment.

Until one day, you wake up, and the weight of it all seems a little less.  The hurt isn’t quite as painful.  And, before you know it, you are smiling.  And, you are staring into the eyes of a little blue-eyed baby boy who has changed everything.

September 24, 2002, I held John Henry.  I looked at my parents and said, “My world is right.”  It was.  The hurt was still there.  But it became less.  A few months later, Kris Takle flew into my life.  Literally.  Six months later?  We were married.  Six months after that?  We were pregnant with Anna Takle.

And, now ten years later?  My life is full.

It is redeemed.

I never believe that divorce is God’s best for one’s life.  But, I do believe He is a God of redemption and will make good out of messes.  I will never write about the nit and the grit of the words said or the actions during it all.  I really see no need, honestly.  It’s not where I live.  I don’t ever want it printed and posted to hurt John Henry or Bryan.

As for Bryan, he has allowed God to work in his life.  He is a great father to John Henry.  He is a great friend to Kris.  And, Kris is a great friend to him.  We celebrate holidays together.  We have vacationed together.  We aren’t “normal.”  We really didn’t think “normal” was working.  So, we just do things differently.

I would defend Bryan’s name until my last breath on earth.  Because, he is a good man.  And, I am forever grateful to him for John Henry Landreth.  I have learned more about compassion and forgiveness because of that little boy than I ever imagined possible.

John Henry is a constant reminder to me of how GOOD God is.

Anna and Jett are constant reminders of His redemption.

And, Kris Takle.  Well, you know what he is.

The one who made my heart beat fast again.

It’s been a good ten years.

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Filed under disappointment, divorce, gratitude, Life Experiences, Love, Motherhood, prayer, Writing

Taking More In.

It’s been seven days since I put down social networking.  It was an awkward first two days.  You know, I wasn’t shaking or anything.  I jest.   I do.  No, really.  One of my colleagues asked me yesterday morning what I hoped God was going to work in me through this.  I didn’t really have a definitive answer of what I hoped He would do.  I told her I felt that by giving it up, I would inevitably be replacing it with other things.  Things that would invoke me to be more personal with my children.  With my husband.  With my friends.  And, I am doing just that.

Through becoming more aware of the people in my life, I find myself becoming more aware of God.   After all, doesn’t God live in each one of us?  So, by being totally present with people, we become more present with Him.  It’s really a pretty awesome phenomenon, I tell ya.

A couple of nights ago, Anna climbed into bed with me with her book, The Lorax.  She wanted to read it aloud to me.  She would pause throughout the book, and we would talk about it.  If you’re unfamiliar with The Lorax, it’s a wonderful story to encourage readers to take care of the earth.  I listened as Anna talked about her desire to be nicer to the planet.  Through conversation with my seven year old, I began to see God in His creation.  Again.  I acknowledged His handiwork in shaping every part of it.  It made me want to be a better steward with this undeniably amazing planet.  So simple.

I’m loving the simple.  Breathing in the simple.  It’s wonderful.  It’s life-giving.

Here are a few of my favorite things I’m taking in:

I’m pretty sure that this is the “full” John was writing about.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  John 10:10

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Filed under Favorite Things, God Stuff, Kid Stuff, life, Life Experiences, Motherhood

Playing the God Card.

It’s no longer easy clothes shopping with Anna Takle.   Not that it ever has been.  But, friends, it’s harder.  Much, much harder.  I had to try to resuscitate Kris after Anna asked for a bra.  In every store, little bras hung, and Anna clung to them like that little undergarment would make her world complete.

Then, she insisted on trying on a pair of shorts her father and I were not going to pay for.  They were just too short for our taste.  We let her try them on.  And, subsequently, we still told her no.  The bewildered look on her face to our opposition to the shorts let us know she thought we were being a little over the top.  She looked at me and said, “You just don’t get my style.”

I realize her intent with the short shorts is probably not to be a sexy little seven-year old.  So, what’s the big deal?  It’s probably not.  Not today.  But, it will be one day when her young innocence becomes a little more infiltrated with what society deems as beautiful for girls.  And, I’d just rather loosen the reigns later than have to tighten them.  So, I remain a stick in the mud kind of mom, I suppose.  Who doesn’t get her style.

I didn’t go into the conversation of “Anna, you are not the sum of your parts,” speech.  I just didn’t think it timely for her age.  But, I also didn’t tell her “Those shorts aren’t Godly.”  Because, that would’ve been a legalistic explanation, I’m sure.  I just told her that we didn’t think those shorts were the right choice for her today.

I think too often we play the “God card” with our kids.  It’s something I have recognized in my own parenting.

“How do you think it makes God feel when you are being ugly to your sister?”

“How would Jesus had handled this situation?”

“Do you think it makes God happy when you deceive us?”

The list could go on.

I serve a God who loves me no matter what.  Whose blood covers a multitude of my stupid mess-ups.  Who has an endless supply of grace that He lavishes on me.  So, who was this God I was teaching?  Not the One I cry out to.  Not the One who shows grace to me when I screw up as a parent.

I haven’t played the God card in every parenting situation.  There have been plenty of moments where pure discipleship abounded.  But, those times I’ve played the God card didn’t even rest well in my own spirit.  It just seemed convenient.  And, a quick fix.

So, instead of asking “How would Jesus had handled this situation?”  I might ask, “Why do YOU think it’s better to forgive?”  “How does it make YOU feel when you forgive?”

Because, friends….

Teaching our children to do right for the sake of doing right isn’t going to cut it by itself.   Through every life lesson, we need to do our best to tell them WHY His way is better.  WHY forgiveness is just as much for us as it is for the one who hurt us.

And, I have a life full of examples of why choosing to do things God’s way has made all of the difference in my own life.

So, share your own life examples with your children.  Tell them why it has worked for you.  Don’t make your children live in fear of not only disappointing you, but disappointing their Creator.  Instead, portray their King in such a way….live for Him in such a way….that they will TRUST that His ways really are better.

And, when they mess up, show them the same grace He shows you.  Discipline when needed.  But, let grace be the covering of it all.

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Filed under God Stuff, Motherhood, parenting, Shopping, Virtue

Next Year, I Might Say, “Be Mine.”

Can I just be honest and say that Valentine’s Day is my least favorite holiday of the year?  I don’t mean to be a love humbug.  I mean, I love love and all.  I just don’t like using it to celebrate Kris.  And, he is not allowed to buy me a Valentine’s Day gift.  I know this makes me odd.  And, I’m okay with that.  I’m sure Kris is, too.  Not to worry about my littles.  We certainly lavish on them on this day of “Be My Valentine.”

So, instead of making the day about recognizing how much I love Kris, I pick a person really needing to feel some love to bless.  I started this tradition two years ago.  It’s kind of given me a reason to look forward to the holiday.

However, yesterday ended up being one of my favorite days of the year.  No expensive gifts.  No over-priced roses.  But, a string of texts, notes, and unexpected surprises made me so thankful for the relationships in my life.  Several members of Eagles Way Church surprised the staff with the most heartfelt, delicious lunch at the office.  Kris surprised me….and I do mean surprised me, by cleaning the house before he took off into the wild blue yonder.  An unexpected text from a friend simply expressing her appreciation broke me.  And, then?  A surprise knock at my door with none other than my father bringing me my favorite hummus and pita bread.

I spent the rest of the evening playing Pictionary on the Xbox with my big kids and laughing at this littlest kid while he saw himself being videoed.

Why do videos start and stop on the most awkward of facial expressions?  Have. Mercy.

Anyway, my heart swelled with an immense gratitude for the people in my life.  A gratitude that I get to wake up every morning to the most incredible beings in my home.  A gratitude that I get to be Kris Takle’s wife.  A gratitude that I get to be a mother.  A gratitude that I get to work at the greatest church on the planet.  A gratitude that I get to be a pastor.

I am so rich.  So rich in relationships.  Rich in love.  Rich in contentment.

So, perhaps, after days like yesterday, I just might become a fan of Cupid.  After all, I am definitely a fan of lunch.  And, a clean house.  And, sweet messages.  And, hummus.  And Eagles Way Church.

And, Kris Takle.

And, these little love bugs.

 

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Filed under giving, gratitude, Kid Stuff, Love, Marriage, Motherhood, Relationships

Seven Is Golden

I love you. I mean, I love everything about you. I even love how you scare me a little before you open your mouth, and I have no idea what you are about to tell someone. I love your tenacity. I love how you are mesmerized with the oddest of things. Like mummies. And earthquakes. And the Rosetta Stone. And chess. And cooking.

Of course, I think cooking is odd.

I love how you adore your father. How he can do no wrong ever. I love how you look up to John Henry and melt when he wants to play a game with you. I love how you say, “Jett is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” I love how you want a “Girls’ Day” with me as often as you can get one.

I love your boldness.

I love how you love going to church. I love how you raise your hands and worship your Creator. I love how passionate you are about who God is in your life.
And, I love how you aren’t afraid to ask the hardest questions about faith.

I love your sense of humor.

I love how we can laugh together so hard at the same thing. And, you catch my eye, and we connect on a different level. You know. Like a friend level.

You are my best friend, Anna Takle.

And, you are my favorite lunch date.
It’s just hard to fathom that when I stare across the table now, I don’t see this anymore:

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I don’t see the little girl with bangs holding tightly to her doll named Jenny.
Instead, I see this:

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A beautiful, young lady growing into all that God has for her.
Happy 7th Birthday, Anna Marie.

You will always be my favorite girl.

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Filed under Kid Stuff, Motherhood, Uncategorized

Nine.

Is it possible for a dude to be funny, smart, generous, and cool all rolled up into one? 

Clearly, it is. 

And, tonight, you will go to bed an eight year old, and wake up tomorrow morning nine years old. 

NINE.

For nine years, you have taught me how to love with more compassion, give without thinking twice, and enjoy dessert like it’s nobody’s business. 

Your love for the guitar makes my heart smile.  Your taste in music impresses me.  Your quick wit makes me laugh. 

But it’s your heart that inspires me.

John Henry Landreth, you are one AMAZING young man.

You not only make my world a better place, you make this entire world a better place.

Thank you for allowing God to mold you into a warrior for His Kingdom. 

And, thank you, Jesus, for allowing me to be the one he calls “Mom.”

Happy Birthday, JH.  I love you more and more.

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Filed under Kid Stuff, Motherhood

The Moments You Can’t Redo.

Me:  “You should’ve seen Jett yesterday, lying on the floor, laughing so hard at his big brother and his big brother laughing so hard right back.”

Dad:  “You can never re-do those moments.  They come and go so fast.  You can recreate moments when you are an adult.  But, you can’t recreate those moments when they are children.”

My thoughts hung on my dad’s words for the rest of the day.  I’ve written about soaking up moments like these before.  But, I guess we can never be reminded too often to take notice of them. 

To be present.

Fully present.

So yesterday, after a long day of meetings, errands, and checking on my sick 8 year old, I came home and saw a little 18 month old running around my house.  There were so many things on my to-do list even after I made it home. 

Forget ‘em. 

That’s what I said to myself.  And, Kris knew my list was waiting for me.  So, I looked at him and said, “Do you care if I just play with Jett a while?”

“Have at it!” he said.

So, that’s what I did.  He laughed at me, and he made me laugh.  I listened to him repeat words I said, and I smiled. 

Forget the busy schedules, forget the to-do lists.  Stop being overwhelmed by things that really don’t matter.  Enjoy the people in your life.  And, be fully, FULLY present with them. 

Because, you will never, ever be able to redo these moments.

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Filed under Kid Stuff, Life Experiences, Motherhood

She’s Not Your Normal Six Year Old.

I really don’t know a funnier, braver girl than Anna Takle.  I’m sure they are out there.  But, she is mine.  So, I really love hanging out with her.  Her prayer requests never get old.

“Mom, please pray I’ll have super cool dreams about vampires.”

Nor do her artistic expression requests.

“Mom, can I, please, draw bones and skulls on my bedroom wall?”

Um, no.  But, you can dream about them.

Of course, this same girl who doesn’t care what you think about her outfit pick for the day can also beat her momma at a game of chess.  And, create brain teasers that her momma can’t answer.

And, she always knows exactly what to do to make me laugh. 

Do I think it’s normal for a six year old girl to be more interested in her karate moves than princesses?  Or to ask random questions like, “Can you get your tongue tattooed?”  I know, right?

Probably not.

But, I’m really okay with it.  I don’t want “normal.”  Normal isn’t working.  Normal is wanting to be like everyone else.     

Normal is over-scheduled kids.

Normal is thinking that sex before marriage is okay, because “we live in a different world now.” 

Normal is a lot of things I don’t want Anna Takle to be. 

So, I know that if I can help her submit her unique, dare to be different, wonderful personality to Christ, she will be a God kind of different.  More than ever, I am aware of the fact that we are called to be in this world but not like this world.  It doesn’t mean we are judgmental of people who are not followers of Christ.  It does, however, mean we make it easy for them to tell us apart from the “normal.”  So, they will want the better things that aren’t normal, too.

We are called to be different.  And, different really is better.  And it’s happier.  And, I like happy.  Especially, this happy girl.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  Romans 12:2

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Filed under God Stuff, Kid Stuff, Motherhood, parenting