Category Archives: Writing

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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Filed under Kid Stuff, Motherhood, parenting, Writing

Happy Birthday, Anna Takle.

“Oh, I just love the British!”

That was her response to her new British friends, George and Josh, at a Disney resort back in September.

And, that’s how it just goes in raising Anna Takle.  We never know what she’s going to say.  Or wear.  Or do.  But, I do know that I wouldn’t have it any other way.  She’s has been my good time girl, full of wonder and surprise, determination and wit, since the beginning.

She was 3 ½ when I first started blogging.  Today, she is 8.  EIGHT!

Anna Takle,

You somehow always teach me more about myself than I thought possible to learn from one of my children.  I not only love the young lady you are, I admire and respect you.

I admire how you feel comfortable in your own skin.  You’re never afraid to stand out and simply be you.

I admire how you are constantly creating.  You pen beautiful words.  You brainstorm a different way to accomplish a task.  You frame lyrics to a song that inspire me.

I admire how you fear so little.  You take risks.  You put yourself out there without regard to whether you will be embraced or not.

I admire how love to learn.  You love exploring new things.  You keep an open mind about the world we live in.

I admire how you respect the earth.  You take seriously caring for our planet.  You commit yourself to being kind to it.

I admire how you listen to your dad and me.  How you take to heart discipline, instruction, and allow it to settle into your spirit.

I admire how open you are to the things of God.  And, how you are allowing Him to work in your life.  How you have decided you want to write songs that “worship Him.”

You make me laugh.  You keep me on my toes.  You remind me not to judge others.  You stir me to want to be more adventurous.

You inspire me to trust Him more.  Because, you trust Him so much.

I can’t imagine my life without you in it.  I can’t imagine this world without Anna.

And, I can’t imagine all of the amazing things you are going to do.  And, the lives you are going to touch.

But, He can.

Happy Birthday, Anna Takle.  I adore every fiber of your being.  I love you more than you’ll ever know.  And, I’m so thankful you’re my girl.

Love,
Mom

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Filed under Kid Stuff, Motherhood, Writing

Double Digits.

This awesome kid is ten today.  I couldn’t just write ten things I love and admire about him.  I could write one-thousand.  I could write for days.  Because, every moment I’m with him, he gives me another reason to thank God for his life.

John Henry,

I love you.  I love every second I get to spend with you.  You are the most well-mannered, ten year old boy I know.  I love how you are so considerate of other people.  How you are genuinely concerned about the well being of those around you.

I love how your hand-shake is firm.  But, it is confidence wrapped in humility.

I love how you know how to be a gentleman.  How you tell a lady, “You look really pretty,” and always prefer them to yourself.

I love how when you see a need, you meet it if it’s within your ability.  You are always so aware of what’s going on around you.

I love how you are so quick to forgive.  How you really do make allowances for other people’s faults.  And, how you quickly acknowledge your own and are the first to say you’re sorry.

I love how truly thankful you are for everything you’re given.  And, how the gifts you love most are the people in your life.

I think I’m just amazed at how much you already imitate Christ.  I’ve prayed your entire life that you would seek Him always.  That you would grow in Him.  But somewhere along the way, you stopped growing in Christ….

And, Christ began growing in you.

I guess in many ways, I kind of look up to you.  I mean, I’m still your mom.  I’m still going to discipline your behavior and train your character.  It’s my job.  But, I respect you.  I admire the young man you are already are.

I’m so thankful God gave me you.  And, I’m thankful He gave you to this world.  You remind us all that chivalry isn’t dead.  You remind us to be kind and considerate to one another.  You remind us that greater is he is within us than he that is in the world.  You remind us to be thankful.

Happy 10th Birthday, JH.  Thank you for being you.

I love you,
Mom

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Filed under Kid Stuff, Motherhood, Spiritual Journey, Writing

The Thief of Joy.

Article written for The Grip:

I recently read this Theodore Roosevelt quote on Pinterest, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  Isn’t it though?  And, keeping up with the Joneses seems so much more exasperating with the access of social networks like Twitter and Facebook.  We look at their beautiful home.  Her beautiful children.  Their extravagant vacation.  His new car.  She really seems to have it all together.  How do things always fall into place so perfectly for them?  How did their kids get so perfect?  Why can’t I be that kind of mother? Dang, their life is so much more glamorous than mine!

We look at our own lives and wish we had theirs.

I’ve done it on different levels before.  I can remember reading another writer’s blog once and suddenly feeling very inadequate as a writer.  She was just good.  Really good.  And, funny.  Man, if I could come up with the funny one-liners like she does.  How does she do that?

Then there is the girl who is always disciplined to eat the right foods and go to the gym.  I’m not going to lie.  I have coveted another girl’s disciplined habits and six pack abs before.  But clearly, I love Junior Mints more than I love impressive abdominal muscles.

Don’t we often want what we don’t have?  If only I had her sense of style.  If only I had an eye for decorating my house like she does.  If only I had a job like his.  If only I had a personality like hers.  If only, if only.

We can’t trade places with any of the people we envy.  And, you know what?  It wouldn’t fix us if we could.  Then, we would simply take on a new set of problems.  A new set of difficult circumstances.  A new set of struggles.  And, the truth is, everything isn’t always as perfect as it seems.  None of us really know the struggles of another.

Comparison robs us of contentment.  It robs us of joy.  The solution is a better understanding of who we are in Him.  It’s gaining a proper perspective of our own life.  Not too long ago I had let a little resentment set in when I said, “I haven’t had a full 24 hours away from my children in nearly seven months.”  I gained perspective when I did a heart check.  My new perspective became, “I haven’t missed a day with my children in nearly seven months.”

Perspective changes everything.  So, does giving up our right to say “it isn’t fair.”  Because, we really lose the right to say, “it isn’t fair” until we have suffered on the cross as much as Christ suffered.  When my good friend, Cindy Beall, was asked to respond to God not being fair once, she replied, “I’m glad He isn’t.  I need His mercy.”

I may never be as creative a writer as some, but I will do my best to hear God and pen His words when I do write.  I may never be able to pick out the perfect draperies like my friend.  But, I can be thankful I have a friend who can help me.  I may never have perfect children.  But, I can thank God He sees them that way.

And, I thank God that He sees you and I that way.  Perfect.  Blameless.  Without guilt.  Because, when He looks at us, He sees us through the blood of His Son.  Who paid a price that really wasn’t His to pay.  Now, that wasn’t fair.

Let gratitude and perspective fill you today and every day.  Let the knowledge that YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe bring you peace.  Know He is always working ALL things for your good.  And, rest in this truth:

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

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Filed under God Stuff, gratitude, life, Writing

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

You’re A Hard Habit to Break.

I’m doing it.  I’m really doing it.

I’m giving up social networking for Lent.  I’m saying goodbye to the Facebook and the Twitter beginning this Ash Wednesday.  I’ll see y’all again Easter Sunday.  That’s, April 8th, friends.  That’s more than six weeks.   I’d be lying to say it’s going to be easy.  It’s not.  Truth is, I LOVE keeping up with your crazy lives and posting pics and statuses to keep you up with mine.  I mean, I love y’all.  I do.

I love the cute pics of your toddler jumping in puddles.

The pics of your husband obliging you by posing for a “Facebook shot” on your date night.

The funny thing your seven year old said on the way to school.

The awesome job your daughter did on her school project.

The pic of the fabulous meal you cooked.

I love it all.

The hardest part for me will be not being aware of your immediate prayer needs.  So, I’m asking that you email me any time I can pray for you.  Email me at durstee@aol.com.  Yes, I’m still AOL.  You might call AOL old school and lame.  I call it loyalty.  So, there.

I’ve asked Kris to hold me accountable in this.  As a matter of fact, I’m letting him change my password on both accounts and not tell me what it is until Easter Sunday.  He will only share it with my mom.  And, that lady is a dadgum vault.

That being said, I’m going to be blogging during these next six weeks.  Because, some of you read my posts and connect to them through Facebook and Twitter, Kris or my sweet momma will be posting the link to the blogs on my Facebook account.  It won’t be me.  So, I won’t see your comments, wall posts, messages, etc.  I will only be checking my email.  And, you’ve got that now, right?  Right.

So, why give up social networking?  Why not sugar?  Or television?  Or exercise?  (I only jest on that last one.  Ahem.)  Well, if I’m honest.  My Junior Mint consumption takes up a whole five seconds of my day.  I can inhale them like no other.  So, really.  Where’s the sacrifice in that?

And, television?  Sure.  I’ll sacrifice The Wiggles, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Big Time Rush, and Victorious.

This is truly a sacrifice for me.  And, I plan to spend the time away by giving it to the people I come into contact with each day.  I plan to spend it with my husband and children.  I plan to spend it seeking His face.  And, while I have a little anxiety in giving it up, I have greater excitement as to what He will open my eyes to.  And, what He will do in and through me.  That’s why I want to continue blogging.  I want to be able journal what I see, feel, and do as I become more sensitive to the Spirit during this time.

If you have decided to fast for Lent, what are you giving up?

Lent is a time when Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting and spiritual discipline.  Disclaimer:  God won’t love you any less if you don’t fast.  That’s just not His style.  It’s a personal choice. So, don’t judge anyone who doesn’t fast, m’kay?

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Filed under prayer, Spiritual Journey, Writing

Becoming Aware of Him.

I love Him.  Not just the Hands that provide for me.  Not just the Voice that guides me.  Not just the Arms that calm me.  I love HIM.

His character.  WHO He is. 

Because, He is holy, I want to be holy.  Because, He is love, I want to be love.  Because, He is light, I want to be light.

I want more of Him.

I don’t want more of the same.  The same never moves you forward.

And, I’m learning that the more aware I become of Him moment by moment, the more my life changes.  I think differently.  I respond differently.  I see people differently.

Because, as you become more aware of Him, the more you will look at people on the heart.  You will see past their messiness.  You will see past their emotional baggage.  And, you will see the root of their pain.  And, compassion will flow.

And, then, God just might use you to be the vessel from which He pours out His healing.

You don’t have to emotionally invest into all of the people around you.  But, you sure better see every person as valuable.  We are not FROM God.

We are OF God. 

Read that again.

We are OF God. 

To not see another’s worth is to not see the worth of our Creator.

And, how awesome that God pinched off a piece of Himself and placed it in each of us?  How awesome that the more we get to know His character, the more we emanate that character?

And, yes, I realize how broken my thoughts seem on this post.  This is one reason I have found it so difficult to write lately.  He is breaking me, growing me, expanding me, and stretching me in ways that are shaking up my world. And, I don’t know how to communicate it well.

Not yet.

But, I will.

I know I will.

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Filed under God Stuff, Spiritual Journey, Writing