Tag Archives: gratitude

The Hard Places.

“Every challenging situation becomes an opportunity for me to trust Him – to obey, to learn, to grow, to rely more on His grace.” – Christina Fox

I read this quote recently and it has ministered to my own spirit for the past several days. Adjusting to living on the farm has been, well, an adjustment. We labor more than we ever have. Our drive to work is longer. Heck, our drive really anywhere is longer. It’s just harder. But, just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Or a wrong decision was made. Sometimes, things are just hard. And, hard is okay.

It’s in the hard places we truly grow. Growth is impossible without something pushing us forward. Trusting God isn’t necessary unless we have something to trust Him in. We don’t need His grace when things are always easy. We can’t be an over-comer without something to overcome.

Instead of focusing on what “seems” wrong about the place we are in and focusing on how hard things may be, we have to focus on what is good and right while we are in that place. We have to ask God, “What do you want to work in my life through this?” For example, instead of focusing my thoughts on the extra work that comes from taking care of horses, I am changing the way I look at it. I watch my daughter carry two buckets of food and walk across a field to the gate. I imagine what God is working in her as she feeds these large animals. What is He speaking to her spirit on those walks across the field? What does she hear in those quiet moments alone with God’s creation? What if she learns something in these walks that rescues her heart when she is forty? What if?

God doesn’t waste one day of our lives. He uses everything for our growth. For our good. For our destiny. I love living on the farm. But, if I focus on what is hard, I will become bitter instead of better. If I focus on every positive, life-giving thing it provides, I will not only fall in love with every part of it, I will grow. I will be fulfilled. I will be content. I will be full of joy. This is why James said, “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:3-4)

He works all things for your good. Even the hard places. So, begin thanking God for them. It is in these places, we become better. We become complete.

 

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Filed under gratitude, Life Experiences, Spiritual Journey

Temporary.

Our greatest battles usually have little to do with our circumstances. We fight our greatest battles in our mind. I've been fighting my own for the past several days. I know better than to rely on what I'm feeling than to rely on Him. I also know that all feelings remain neutral until I give meaning to them.

 

I know these things.

 

Yet, still I found it easier to embrace the feelings. Thus, engage in battle….in my mind.

 

Yesterday, I celebrated my beautiful mother's birthday. And, even on a day that should be completely about her, she ministered to me.

 

“What you're feeling is temporary,” she said. “You won't always feel the way you're feeling right now. Remember that.”

 

Temporary.

 

And, yet I found myself trading a thankful heart…..enjoying time with my family….all the GOOD stuff in my life…..I traded it all for focusing on a feeling that is temporary.

 

Then, she said, “Now, begin thanking God for everything good thing in your life. Don't stop thanking Him.”

 

And, THAT is the key to winning this battle. Thankfulness is the key to winning every battle. Not trying to figure out the how's or the whys.

 

Thankfulness.

 

Don't take your eyes off of what you already have, because you can't see what you want to see when you want to see it.

 

What you're feeling right now is temporary. Don't lose sight of what's eternal. Let thankfulness be your predominant thought today.

 

Today, I'm thanking God for this beautiful woman.

 

 

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Filed under God Stuff, gratitude

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

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

The NCML Project – Day One.

How did y’all do with the NCML Project yesterday?  I had already failed twice before my breakfast had digested. 

Me:  “Gah!  I hate pop-ups on the internet!”

Kris:  “Sooo, are you complaining?”

Busted.

The morning progresses, and I talk to my mom on the phone.   I might complain a little, and I might say something like, “I might just quit (I ain’t tellin’ y’all this part.)  My momma later sends me this text:

“God said to not let the word ‘quit’ go through your head.  You are where He wants you.  And, you need to read my friend’s blog today at dustytakle.com.”

She also added, “I love you” at the end to try to lessen the sting, I’m sure.

Complaining is a really bad habit.  And, apparently, I complain A LOT.  We don’t think we are complaining.  But, a mere sigh of exasperation is a complaint, ya know?  This NCML Project isn’t going to be easy.  And, Kris Takle LOVES making me accountable for it.  But, I’m not quitting.  It takes 30 days to form a habit, right?  Is it still 30 days?  I don’t know.  Anyhoo, I’m going to keep it up until the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart is pleasing to my Creator.  Amen.

Another good way to overcome complaining?  To focus on the blessings and gifts in your life.  I mean, how could anyone complain when they get to witness moments like this on any given day?

A sweet, little, punkin boy (with his four-legged buddy) watching his daddy clean up a Little Tikes car that has stood the test of time. 

Let’s focus on our blessings today.  Maybe, that’ll help?

And, don’t worry, I’m not going to be titling every post The NCML Project Day Whatever.  That would be torture.  Not that you’d complain about it or anything.

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Filed under gratitude, Kid Stuff, life, Spiritual Journey, Uncategorized

Thankful Today.

Today, I wake up, and I’m just thankful.  Brushing Anna’s hair this morning, I think, “I get to brush this little girl’s hair.”  God gave this funny, beautiful girl, who never turns down center stage, to me.

 I look at John Henry who is protecting his bowl of cereal like it is last and think, “How am I so blessed that he lives in the same house with me?” 

And, then the littlest guy decides today is the day he finally recognizes daylight savings time change, and he sleeps until 8:00am.  I think, “Is he the most perfect baby boy in the universe?”  In my little world, in my family of five plus a dog and a cat, he is.

I notice how my husband makes the coffee.  He reads the big kids today’s school lunch menu, and he, subsequently, makes John Henry his own lunch to carry.  Food is a big deal to this kid, if you didn’t already notice this by the invisible fort he built around his morning breakfast.  And, I think, “I am married to man who never, ever complains about anything.  Ever.” 

I pour my coffee, and I think about how I walk into my local church, and how much love I feel from everyone there.  I think, “Do I have the most incredible church family in the world?”  I do.

And, then I think about my salvation.  I don’t even use the word, “salvation” a lot.  Is that odd?  Perhaps.  But, I think about it today.  I think, “Wow.  God gave me this gift of grace, and look what I have received by way of it.”  I don’t ever want to lose the joy of my salvation. 

So, here I sit behind this computer, and I write a post on a subject I think would be more fitting for next week.  A Thanksgiving post, if you will.  But, I’m thankful today. 

Let’s face it.  Some days, we just notice things more than others.  It makes us thankful.

Today is one of those days. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  His faithful endures forever.  1 Chronicles 16:34

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Filed under gratitude, Kid Stuff, life, Motherhood

Life Is Not Good For Me.

And, that is what prompted my Google searches on “how to start a non-profit organization.”  If you read yesterday’s post, you are aware that my son was unhappy that I have an iPad, and he doesn’t.  He was also unhappy that his sister slept with me, and he didn’t.  At the close of the evening on Tuesday night, he grumbled a little more.  I simply told him, “Life is good for you, John Henry.”

“Life is not good for me,” I heard him say as he traipsed up the stairs. 

No. He. Just. Didn’t. 

Yes. He. Did.

It was as if I had been practicing the parenting speech that would follow for years.

“Come here, son.  Let me take you to a third world country and show you children with no toys.  Let me take to you a poverty-stricken village where children sleep with no roof over their heads.  Let me take you to a place where children are hungry and wondering if they will eat that day.  Wondering if this is the day they STARVE TO DEATH.”

Notice how I emphasized the “starve to death” part for dramatic impact?

I continued to tell him how blessed he is.  Not remind him.  But, tell him.  Because, somehow, he had been completely unaware some children go without food.  But, beyond telling him about his blessings, I told him that things are just things.  I told him I could drop my fancy iPad tomorrow, and it could shatter into tiny pieces.  And, what would I have left?  Well, not a cool iPad, and probably an upset husband.  But, anyway….

I would still be a child of a King who completes me.  That, in Him, I can be content no matter where I am or what I have.  Because of HIM.

He went onto bed, and I followed up shortly after.  I noticed tears streaming down his cheeks.  Being the good parent that I am, I assumed he was crying over how “life isn’t good” for him.  Good one, Mom. 

“That’s not why I’m crying,” he responded.

“Then, why?”

“Because there are hungry children. “

I comforted him and nodded.

Then, he asked, “What can we do?”

Wow.  I wasn’t prepared for that one.  So, I gave the “we give more, and we need others to give more to help feed them” answer.

“Can I start collecting money for them?”  He asked me.

“I think so.  Let’s talk about this tomorrow.”

So, we prayed, and we talked again the next day. 

Last night, he reminded me about our conversation.  I asked him to pray.  I asked him to seek God and ask Him to show him ways to raise money for those less fortunate.  Then, I told him, that when he feels like God gives him an idea, to let me know.

In the meantime, I’m researching on my end.  And, while I realize there are plenty of good solid organizations to give to, I know this is something he needs to do.  He wants to do.  And, really?  I guess we all need to want to do it.  Who knows where this will go.  Or, perhaps, what organization it might connect us to.  But, I do know John Henry desires to put hands and feet to his new awareness that hungry children exist.  And, I want to do the same.

He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.”  Proverbs 19:17

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Filed under giving, gratitude, making an impact, parenting

Thank You. Thank You Very Much.

Dad and I were talking on the phone last night just like we do most evenings.  I told him about a little anxiety I’ve been feeling.  He responded with how excited he is to get to do what he does at Eagles Way Church.  We were totally on the same page. 

You know.  I kid.

EWC hosted their children’s Christmas program Sunday night, which according to many was a comedy show.  Dad decided to give all of those families with children involved in the play a free DVD of the program.  Dad expressed how much it meant to him for my brother-in-law, Leiv, to walk up to him and say, “Thank you.”

Now, let me clarify, dad wasn’t at all disappointed or distressed that others didn’t follow suit.  He was more so acknowledging and appreciating Leiv for the way he intentionally lives his life.  So, simmer down now.

And, I know Dad would give and give and give without ever a thought of needing a thank you.

But, I was reminded of the story of the ten lepers that Jesus healed in Luke 17.  One of them came back to say thank you.  I want to remember to be that person who always says thank you.  I’d bet I’ve totally overlooked a lot of little blessings in my life.  I want to be more intentional about saying thank you.  I want to be the leper who comes back.

But, I don’t want to be leper. 

Just thought I should make that clear.  Not that you would think I want to be a leper, because, that would just be insane.  But, of course, I am with child, and with child women can say insane things.

Just ask my husband.

Or don’t.

On that note, thank you all for still following this very random, sometimes silly, record of my journey as a…….

mother trying to raise children with hearts after Christ,

a wife trying to be the partner God has called me to be, and

a woman trying to love God above all else.

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Filed under gratitude

Oh These Blessings.

Dear Mom,

I am glad that your haveing a baby.  I love you with all my hart.  Your the best mom ever.  You are my favrit mom.

Love

John Henry

Sorry, but the “best mom ever” title is taken.  John Henry said so.

I’m so thankful for a son who is thoughtful.

I’m thankful for a daughter who makes me laugh.

I’m thankful for a baby boy who kicks my ribs in the middle of the night.

I’m thankful for a husband who always strives to do what is right.

And, most of all, I’m thankful for a King who knows me by name.

Enjoy the people God has placed in your life this Thanksgiving holiday. 

I’m going to enjoy mine.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Filed under gratitude, Kid Stuff, Motherhood, Relationships

Our Weekend In Pictures.

I’m officially the mother of a seven year old.

JH - 7yo wp

Er, soccer is back.

Anna - weekend wp

Daddy Bryan came out to celebrate.

Bryan - JH weekend wp

So did Nan.

Mom - weekend wp

My husband rocks. 

Kris - JH weekend wp

But, he rocks every weekend.

And, this is what 15 ½ weeks looks like.

Pregnant 15 wks wp

Well, it’s what it looks like on me. 

Let’s be honest.  There are probably a few of Kris’ homemade cinnamon rolls in that picture, too. 

It was a fun weekend filled with a ton of love.  I am thankful for a Nan is who continues to be a great mom.  I am thankful for a daughter who lets her fun personality show in her pictures.  I am thankful for a son who makes my heart melt.  And, I’m thankful for two dads who love that one son so much that they even enjoy one another.

Oh, and I’m thankful for the littlest Takle.

That’s my weekend.

How was yours?

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Filed under gratitude, Kid Stuff, Motherhood, pregnancy, Relationships