Tag Archives: gratitude

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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Filed under God Stuff, gratitude, life, Life Experiences, Spiritual Journey

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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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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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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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