Welcome to Adulthood, JH.

JH – Age 5

I told a friend yesterday that I will probably sob with every single tap of the keyboard typing his 18th and final birthday blog. And, I was right. Because, the very moment I cracked open my laptop, tears began pouring. Like, I am typing this from my grave, because, I can’t even believe this is real life.

But, I also can believe it. I’ve been living it, right? Every single second for 18 perfect years.  

Perfect years. 

It doesn’t mean every day has been easy. But, let’s face it, MOST days have been. Like for real easy. Kris and I almost every day look at John Henry and say, “He’s such a good kid.” I remember when he was a toddler, and we would take him to restaurants. People would come up to us and compliment us on how well behaved he was. We felt like we had this parenting thing IN THE BAG. Then, Anna was born, and we just tried to corral her in the vicinity of our dining table. And, I don’t even think Jett saw the inside of the restaurant until he was like 3, because, there was no way in hell we could corral him in the restaurant itself.  Kris and I learned quickly that we, indeed, did NOT have this parenting thing in the bag.  

I also remember my dad volunteering to travel on an airplane alone with John Henry from Oklahoma City to Atlanta. John was barely a year old. My dad will tell you what an easy flight it was. I don’t know why he never volunteered to travel alone with Anna and Jett, but I will say that once we moved back to Georgia, he would take them to Roses on occasion. Maybe, he felt like that was comparable. I don’t know. 

What I do know is that every day raising John has been an absolute joy and gift. 

Man, what a gift. 

John Henry, the day the doctor put you in my arms, love filled my entire being. It was the kind of love that healed. The kind that makes the crooked paths straight. The kind that reminds you that HOPE IS ALIVE. 

You are that kind of love. A salve for those who are down. A light for those who can’t find their way. An encourager and help for friends who need to know they have someone in their corner. As a matter of fact, one of your good friend’s mom told me once how her son said, “You can always depend on John.” Man, bud. What a statement we should all aspire to have said about us. The minute someone you know needs a friend, you drop everything for them. To that I say, you will always be surrounded by people who will drop everything for you. And, even when you are alone, God will always lean in so close to you, because you have leaned in so close to those He loves. Paul wrote about Timothy in Philippians 2:20 how no one else was like him and took a genuine interest in others. There aren’t a lot of people like this in the world. But, you are certainly one. 

You not only take a genuine interest in others, you serve others. You see a need and you seek out a way to meet it. You see someone walk in with their arms full, you take their load in a matter of seconds. You see that someone needs a place to sit, you give up your own. When your teachers or leaders at school need something, you do all you can to make that thing happen. Not because you need the brownie points. But because, you care. Because, you’re a team player. And, you will move heaven and earth to make even the smallest things and needs happen. Sometimes, I have thought that some of the things you do is a lot of work for some thing or event. But, you always remember why you’re doing it. You’ve taught me that sometimes, we just need to remind ourselves of why we do the things we do. Even when they are a lot of work. Bob Goff writes in his book, Dream Big, “Tasks aren’t always merely tasks. They can be stepping stones.” 

Every task and extra effort hasn’t been merely tasks. They’ve been stepping stones, John. Each stone leading to something bigger and better. These are lessons that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Because, Goff also says, “Large and seemingly impossible ambitions are going to require equally large sacrifices.” You don’t have to worry for one moment if the future you dream about is possible. You’ve been laying those stepping stones your entire life. And, I, along with all of those who love you, get to watch it all unfold. We get to cheer you on. We get to rejoice in all that you accomplish. And, you better believe that when times are hard, we will be there to lift you back up so you can keep laying more stones. 

John Henry, I could write millions of words about all of the wonderful things you do and just simply who you are. It has been my greatest honor and joy getting to lead worship on that stage with you. I look over at you and Anna, and I think, “How is this real life?” How did I get so dang blessed? You have been committed to worship. Committed to His house. Committed to God. Committed to your educators, your school and those who have mentored you. Committed to your friends. Committed to your family. I can’t put into words how you honor me. I can’t. But, I can tell you one thing…..every time you say, “Momma,” I’m ready to cash app you money. (Just kidding, Kris. KIDDING.) Sort of kidding. 

I’m going to soak up this 18th year, your SENIOR year, with every single ounce of my being. I hope you know how proud you make us every single day. And, I hope you know how much we ALL love and adore you.

Thanks for always protecting your sister.

For helping us keep up with your brother. 

For loving all of us so well. 

I can still see your tiny little self crying as I left you in your 1st grade classroom. You came to the door with the biggest tears rolling down your cheeks and wanted to go with me. I’m pretty sure it will be me this time standing at the door with tears rolling down my cheeks as I watch you drive away to college and into adulthood. Let me know if you want me to come with you, ok? 

Happy 18th Birthday, John Henry Landreth.

I love you 3000,

Mom

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Unforced Rhythms of Grace.

“Ask yourself: Is there joy, ease and lightness in what I’m doing? If there isn’t, then time is covering up the present moment and life is perceived as a burden or struggle.” – Eckhart Tolle

My dear friend, Penny Doss, shared this quote last night and it cut deep into my soul exactly where it needed to. I’m a planner. I’m a constant thinker. I’m always planning for the next thing and thinking about how to make that thing happen. These things are good things. They are fun things and exciting things! I LOVE doing something new, planning for a new place to travel to, reading something new, thinking about new things (and subsequently adding to my list of things to do.)

This is all good. It really is. Until it becomes too much. You know the saying “Too much of a good thing is too much?” Maybe we should rephrase that to “Too much of a good thing all at once is too much” Amen. Because when we welcome it all once, it’s no longer a joy or a good thing. It becomes a burden or a struggle.

This seems to be happening to a lot of people close to me. One of my best friends had her first panic/anxiety attack yesterday, because work is busy and really good….and subsequently, her body told her to slow down. I talked to another good friend this morning who talked about how he and his wife are busier than ever, and while so much good is happening, it’s become hard to enjoy the present moment and just be still together. I told my friend who had the panic attack that sometimes it’s hard to be intentional about slowing down both physically AND mentally when you’re happy. But, unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately), it will rear its head on us physically and mentally if we don’t pace ourselves.

My mom, who is probably the most prophetic voice in my life, told me a month ago that I was on her mind, and that I needed to just slow down and be more present. It resonated within me, and we both kind of laughed at how so many of my phone calls to her, “Mom! I have an idea. What do you think about this?” And, bless her. She just cheers me and my ideas on, but I know on the other side of that phone call is her sometimes putting her hand on her head and whispering, “Jesus, be near.” Then, she with absolutely NO chill at all, tagged me in a post that said, “Some people feel the rain, others just get wet.” Thanks, Mom. Thanks, Bob Marley.

So, here’s my lesson for today. And for tomorrow. But mostly today, because, I’m learning to be present, right? Good things are good. But don’t let so many good things at once rob you of the better (the now.) Slow down. Stop trying to put the round peg in the square hole. It’s all going to get done. It’s all going to happen. We just have to know when to push something and when to flow in something. Both are necessary from time to time. For me? I need to push some things (like exercising and finishing school.) And, I need to flow in some other things.

Because, it’s in the push that we achieve what we need to achieve. And, it’s in the flow that we enjoy what we’ve ALREADY achieved. What’s already in front of us.

Let’s not just get wet today. Let’s feel the rain. Let’s push the things we need to push and not the force the things we shouldn’t force. Let’s learn the unforced rhythms of grace again and enjoy today.

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30

3 Comments

Filed under Spiritual Journey, life, Chasing Dreams, Life Experiences

My Covid Excuses.

Do you have Covid excuses?

“I need to lose weight and eat better, but quarantine really through me off.”

“I need to finish that project or that commitment, but I just haven’t been inspired since Covid.”

“I don’t really have a set schedule. It’s a crazy year, you know! Covid!”

“It’s whatever goes here right now with these children. We are in survival mode, because, you know…..Covid.”

“Sure, I haven’t achieved what I hope to this year, but, Dear Jesus. What a year this has been! COVID!”

I have Covid excuses. PLENTY of them. I’ve made them with my routine (or lack of one.) I’ve made them for my last semester of Life Coaching school (that I’ve had plenty of time to complete.) I’ve made them for not writing as much, because I tell myself I’m just not as inspired. (Even though God has shown me more this year than any year…..but, here I sit not pouring it ALL out the way I should.) And, I’ve made excuses with my weight and eating habits. Let’s talk about that part.

I was already on a road to not so healthy habits last November when I began having back issues. If you’ve had debilitating pain, you know exercise is difficult. Sometimes, that’s beyond our control. But how I nourish my body? That’s on me. Now, I’ve eaten a gluten-free diet for almost 4 years now. But you know what can also be gluten free? Lays Stax Potato Chips (if you know, you know), crackers, bread, and even JUNIOR MINTS. All gluten free. But none of them are good choices. By April, I had fallen into giving myself permission to eat what I want to eat, because these are “unprecedented times.” And, then by June? I was all, “I’m just going to love myself as I am, because, this is SELF-CARE.”

Self-Care. What a term that has become an excuse for not doing the things we SHOULD do. I don’t knock real, healthy self-care. We need that. But, we have to determine true, authentic self-care by answering the questions: What SHOULD I do? What is better in THIS moment? And, then we choose the better. When making choices of what to do in any given moment, we have to sometimes say no to something that may good, so we can yes to something better.

Well, about a week ago, I became tired of my Covid excuses. And, I was reminded of this scripture in 1 John 4:4. “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” In this context, John was writing to a group of people telling them they are going to hear all kinds of things from all kinds of people that may not align with who God really is. John calls them “false prophets.” He reminds the people he’s addressing to not be weighed down by all of that. Because, the Spirit within them is greater, and they can rise above the noise.

Sidebar. I like how after this passage, John goes right into “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (4:7-8) In other words, not only can you rise above what’s going on in the world, but you’re response to it has to always be LOVE. This includes differences of opinions on masks, political candidates, and other issues permeating our society.

But back to my point. Last week, I said to myself: “The Spirit that lives in me is greater than Covid.” And, I’ve said that very thing to myself every single day since. Every time I go for that processed food. Every time I go for that oneeeee piece of chocolate. I said it to myself this morning before I wrote this, so I wouldn’t use the excuse, “It’s Covid. I don’t have to write.”

We definitely all needed to take a mental pause and break in the beginning of this. But, too much of it is just too much. Our bodies and health are at stake. Our dreams are at stake. What we are called to do is at stake.

Don’t make excuses anymore. The Spirit that lives INSIDE OF YOU is GREATER than that thing that is hovering over you. Write that down. Post it everywhere you can see it. Take back control, and remember who you are. There are certainly things beyond our control, but SO MUCH is within it. I’ve got this. YOU’VE got this. Let’s do it.

1 Comment

Filed under Chasing Dreams, health, life, making an impact, Uncategorized, Writing

I’m going to follow Jesus.

I heard Andy Stanley say last weekend, “Becoming a Christian is easy. Following Jesus is almost supernatural.” Because, if you don’t choose to follow Jesus, you’ll be satisfied just believing the right things…..instead of doing them. We will be content in the believing and knowing instead of the acting and reacting.

There is a lot going on in our country and around the world. I know you’re anxious. I know you’re worried. I know you’re unsettled. I know you’re ready for peace. I know you’re ready for calm. I know you are.

But, you have the power to bring it. WE have the power to bring it.

You have the power to bring that peace and bring that calm.

I’m not going to sit here and type a dissertation or argument on why one needs to understand what our black friends mean when they say “Black lives matter.” I’m not going to try to convince people in a blog post about what white privilege is or tell you how to feel about it. I’m not going to tell you the countless stories of heartbreak and fear from my black friends to try to sway you to understand. And, believe me, there are many.

Instead, tonight, I want to talk about what we are called to do when people are in pain. When hearts are broken. When fear is overtaking those we love. When anxiety is overwhelming. I want to talk about what we do when we hear pain and when we see it. Because, I know what Jesus did. He didn’t ignore it. He didn’t wish it would go away. He didn’t justify it or excuse it. He certainly didn’t get angry about it.

Instead, He listened and leaned into it. Not only did He listen and lean into, He poured His peace and healing out onto it.

And, not only did He pour His healing onto it, He gave His life for it.

He gave His life for the hurting. For the oppressed. For the happy. For the sad. For those who were winning and for those who were losing. He gave His life for those who were suffering and those who were in pain. Without asking anything of them. Without demanding anything in return. Without touting His own righteousness or how He had lived a human life so perfectly……and could He not have boasted in His perfectly lived earthly life? I don’t need to give out my resume of righteousness and good deeds. None of us really should be boasting in our humanity. Because, that’s not love, and that’s not Jesus.

So, in this heart-wrenching time where people are raging and shouting…..and where people are suffering and crying out in pain….

I’m going to follow Jesus. I mean REALLY follow Him.

That means I’m not going to justify my own life. I’m not going to say “Yes, but…..” I’m not going to wish it all away. I’m not going to hope it all just fades. I’m not going to ignore it.

I’m not going to deny people’s pain and suffering.

But, I’m going to prefer it.

I’m going to prefer those who are hurting.

I shared with my own little family this week that we HAVE to prefer people’s pain. We do it in our own family together. I’d bet you do it in yours. Your spouse or your child is hurt. Maybe they are hurt by you. It’s easy to sit there and justify our actions or say “That wasn’t my intent.” It’s easy to respond with “That is not how I said that” or “That is not my heart.” But if I want to bring healing to Kris or one of my children, I have to OWN it. I can’t tell you the times, that even when I didn’t fully understand their pain, I looked at them and said, “I am so sorry you are hurting. What can I do to make it better?”

We have to prefer people’s pain. Actually, we have to prefer people period. And, to do this will take divine humility. It will take empathy. What is empathy? It’s understanding and sharing the feelings of another human being. And, we can’t understand each other and share each other’s feelings without listening. Without owning.

Without leaning in.

Without pouring out healing.

And, without sacrificing what we think, what we feel, and what we want for someone else. That’s what following Jesus looks like.

Sacrifice.

Humility.

Empathy.

That’s what love looks like. And, that is what healing and peace look like.

And, it’s within each of us.

We just have to decide if we are willing to settle with believing that people matter to God and are extremely valuable…..Or, we decide to follow Jesus and do the things that show people they DO matter.

I do it in my home. I work hard to do with those I’m in relationship with. And, I am called to do it with every single person walking this planet.

If Jesus is the answer (and I believe He is), then let’s follow Him and do what He did.

Tonight, I pray for eyes to see people the way Jesus does. I pray for ears that hear people’s pain. I pray for hearts that lean in to heal.

I pray for you. I pray for this nation. I pray for peace.

And, I pray I become peace.

May we all become it as we choose to follow Him.

2 Comments

Filed under God Stuff, Love, making an impact, Relationships, Uncategorized

Jett Man Is Double Digits!

jett hat

He has been waiting for this day for so long. He starts thinking about his birthday, his cake, his gift ideas, his festivities months in advance. When I told him we couldn’t celebrate his birthday in the way we had planned this year, I watched his eyes well up with tears, and this momma heart could hardly stand it. He didn’t let a single tear fall. He lifted his head and said, “It’s okay, Mom.” And, followed it with, “I still get a gift, right?” You better believe he does.

What a crazy time for him to turn ten. I can find myself getting overwhelmed by it all, but then I look at him and I see him creating. I see him building. I see him lighting up when he discovers something new. I don’t know anyone who loves learning more than he does.

And, I honestly do not know a kinder, more thoughtful soul. I really don’t.

Earlier last week, he looks at me and says, “Mom, what if we take the money you and dad were spending for my party and give it to someone who needs it right now?” I said, “Jett, that is a great idea and so thoughtful of you.” Then, in true Jett Takle “let’s think bigger” fashion, he says, “Mom. I want to start a fundraiser and call it ‘Jett’s Cure.’ We can raise a lot of money to help people!”

“Why do you want to call it Jett’s Cure?”

“Because, we don’t have a cure for the Coronavirus. But we can cure some things.”

So, today, we are launching “Jett’s Cure.” If you would like to help us help others in our community during this time, you can give to Eagles Way Church online at Eagles Way Church. Select “offering” or “event” and type “Jett’s Cure” in the memo. Every single penny will go to help someone in need during this very hard season. If you wish to send a check, you can do so by mailing it to Eagles Way Church, 100 Hudson Road, Griffin, GA 30224. Just write “Jett’s Cure” in the memo. This is what he wants most for his birthday.

And, it’s this kind of hope and love the world really needs.

Jett Takle emanates exactly the kind of hope I need right now.

Jett Man, I think it would be impossible for me to love you more. Your heart is just gold. You never hesitate to let people know that you love them. You take time with people and listen to them. You are gentle. You are so very smart and curious. You are creative and always dreaming so very big. You believe you will do big things, and I know you will.

I love how you love to fish with your Ga-GA.

I love how you love to listen to music and throw the baseball with your brother.

jett - john

I love how you indulge your sister in making videos with her.

Jett Anna

I love how you run straight to Nan the moment you see her. I love how you just love hanging on the farm with your dad. I love how you love your family and want to know every single thing about your family history. I love how you love Far-Far and Cathy and enjoy your explorations with them. I love how you hold your Farmor so close to your heart. I love how you always say, “I love you, Mom.”

I love how you love and care for your friends. I really loved watching you light up when you were finally able to see them online the other day.

I know you must think this time in history is strange. And, I don’t know how long it will be strange. But I do know this…..He that began this good, good work in you will be faithful to complete it. We will get through this together. We will keep exploring. We will keep creating. We will keep learning. Keep loving. Keep dreaming. And, keep fishing. We will keep telling each other how much we love them. And, we will look towards the future with immense hope and joy.

Happy 10th Birthday, Jett Takle. Thank you for keeping hope alive.

I love you more than you will ever know,

Mom

Jett OU

2 Comments

Filed under giving, Kid Stuff, life, Motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

Jesus, Take the Wheel.

anna 15.jpg

No, seriously. Take it. Help us, Jesus. Anna is 15 today. This ain’t my first rodeo with a student driver. Y’all didn’t tell me how close those mailboxes are, but I sure know now. I asked Kris if it was possible for him to take a year leave from work to do nothing but teach Anna how to drive. He was like “bills, food, Amazon.” So, that’s actually not possible. But, we will get through it. We will not yell at the driver. We will not stress out. We will remain calm under all circumstances. Amen and Selah.

Except I probably will yell at the driver.

And, she knows it. Because, she knows me.

Probably no one knows me better than Anna Takle except maybe my momma. And, she still loves me. Lord knows I love her.

anna tenacity

I love her tenacity. I love how she knows what she wants and how she always finds a way to get it. Once when she was in the 2nd grade, she kept asking for money to buy supplies from the supply cart at Crescent Elementary. That girl loved a new pencil and eraser more than anyone I’ve ever known. Kris and I felt like it was getting out of control. “You have plenty of supplies, Anna!” So, we quit giving her money for the supply cart. Until one day she asked, “Can I have money for ice-cream?” “Of course, you can!” She would ask for ice-cream money every single day. Eventually, we learned she was using the money to buy supplies instead. Kris and I felt lied to. We were deceived. We also began questioning our own parenting….like….YES YOU CAN HAVE ICE-CREAM. NO, YOU CANNOT BUY A NEW ERASER. What? Nevertheless, Anna has always found a way to get what she wanted. New pair of shoes? She’ll find a way. Always. It’s pretty remarkable.

And, don’t challenge her. Don’t. When she wanted to be able to enter the youth group two months early, Pastor Will told her that if she typed up the entire New Testament she could go ahead and join the youth. She did. This didn’t look good for Pastor Will. How could he send Anna up without the rest of the soon to be 6th graders? Will said, “How could I know she would actually do this?” We just looked at him. “You don’t know this child.”

She’s not afraid of any challenge. She’s not afraid to share her heart. She’s not afraid to love people, no matter how different they may seem. And, she’s never afraid to speak up for what’s right.

Anna Takle, you are constantly raising the moral conscience in this house. You are constantly making us aware of people who are marginalized and left out. You are constantly using your voice to champion equality. You are constantly using your life to champion love.

You are fun. You are hilarious. You are so incredibly bright. You think deeply. You feel strongly. You are passionate. You are COMPASSIONATE. (I prayed hard for that one, by the way.) You love to be with your family and friends, but you are also very comfortable alone. You prefer small groups like your Far-Far. You are determined like your Farmor. You care deeply for all living things like Cathy. You are quick witted like your Ga-Ga. You are affectionate like your Nan. (I’m glad you didn’t get the side-hug from your Ga-Ga and me.) You are motivated and generous like your dad. You love deep conversations like your momma. And, you love people like Jesus.

You are John Henry’s greatest advocate.

anna-jh-1.jpg

You are Jett’s greatest teacher.

anna - jett

You are your dad’s spontaneous travel partner.

anna-kris-.jpg

You are my best friend.

anna - me

And, I am so proud of who you are. Keep being a voice for those who have no voice. Keep reminding me to calm down. And, I’ll keep reminding you to calm down, too. Stay brave, and be bold. This world is already brighter with you in it. I can’t wait to see how you continue to light it up.

I love you, Anna Takle. There’s not a girl on earth that I love more.

Happy 15th Birthday.

Love,

Mom

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Kid Stuff, Motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

You Never Know How You’re Going To Feel Tomorrow.

I haven’t been looking forward to November getting here, because it means all of the holidays are upon us. Sounds pretty bah humbug, right? I even said to myself that I don’t feel like I’m going to be in the Christmas spirit this year. I just wasn’t feeling like I was going to feel the things I needed to feel, you know? Granted, it’s early to even be thinking in such terms, but let’s face it…..time travels so quickly these days. I found myself thinking about how expensive the season gets, how busy and full our days seem to get blah, blah, blah. You’re like, Dusty, I don’t even know you anymore. I know, right? But I woke up November 1st actually kind of feeling it. I felt that holiday energy I didn’t think I would feel. Maybe, it’s the cold weather outside. Maybe it’s just a new day. Or, maybe it was just I didn’t give myself time.

But, I woke up and just felt different.

I found myself asking Jett what he wanted for Christmas. He said, “I want that poster of Albert Einstein with his tongue sticking out, and I want to put it on the outside of my door!” I laughed, because, who asks for something like this? Jett Takle, of course.

And, I felt what I needed to feel when it was time to feel it.

The point of my story isn’t that suddenly I’m ready for the holidays and in the spirit. The point of my story is something my dad told me 17 years ago around this very time when I was going through a divorce.

“You never know how you’re going to feel tomorrow.”

I remember feeling depressed, heart-broken, wondering if I would ever feel happiness again. I was getting ready to sign divorce papers. I WAS A MESS. One day I was all up in my feelings, and my dad tells me, “You never know how you’re going to feel tomorrow.” I wipe my face and look at him and say, “YES, I DO. EXACTLY HOW I FEEL RIGHT NOW.”

But, I didn’t know.

I remember as clearly as this moment is right now, walking into sign those papers and leaving there feeling like a weight had been lifted.

I woke up the next morning, and I felt different. I felt hopeful. And, I felt happy.

I really didn’t know how I was going to feel tomorrow.

Whatever you are feeling today won’t last. Perhaps you’ve been in a season of feeling a certain way that you don’t like. Maybe you’re grieving something or someone. Maybe, you are feeling like you’re not passionate about something you feel like you should be passionate about. Maybe you feel like you’ll always feel this way. Maybe you’ve been dreading something that is being made worse by simply dreading it. Whatever it is, hold this truth close to your heart when you grow weary of that feeling:

You never know how you’re going to feel tomorrow.

So chin up, friends. His mercies are always new. And, you never know what tomorrow may bring.

Leave a comment

Filed under life, Life Experiences, Spiritual Journey, Uncategorized

What Are Your Children Hearing?

me anna

It can be easy out of frustration to say things to our children that tear them down. “You never listen” or “you are so lazy” or any negative words that directly tell them who they are or who they aren’t. Sometimes, parents can also use negative words thinking they are manipulating their child’s behavior to change. We can say things like, “You don’t care about your room,” or “You don’t care about me and what you are putting on me.” We think we can manipulate or guilt them into changing a behavior. These kinds of speech and motives are never beneficial. And, while guilt may work for a while, it’s not sustainable and affects their self-esteem and how they feel about themselves.

It’s not that you ignore behavior or pretend it’s not there. But when we address it, address the actual behavior. Not the person. Don’t say “you are selfish” or “you are being” this or that. Start your conversations with “let’s talk about what happened” or “can you share with me what’s going on or how you’re feeling.” This creates trust that you as their parent really care about them as a person and not their performance. It’s what builds your relationship with them.

Recently, one of of Jett’s teachers told me he was struggling to pay attention and focus in class. I asked her if he was talking to his friends beside him, and she said “Some, but it’s really just kind of like…..” I finished her sentence, “he’s in his own little world?” She responded with a resounding YES.

One of the things I know about Jett is that he is always thinking and imagining and coming up with ideas in his head. It’s one thing I don’t want to squelch. But, I do need to help him channel and navigate it. So, when I talked to him I asked him, “Are you having a hard time listening and staying focused on what your teacher is saying?” He told me yes. I didn’t say, “If you don’t start paying attention, there are going to be serious repercussions for you.” Instead, we talked about our imagination and how God gave it to us to create and how important it is. But, we also talked about how important it is to focus on our tasks at hand. Since I was driving, I asked him if he thought it would be okay if I stopped paying attention to the other cars around me and just started imagining sitting on a beach somewhere. He said, “No, mom!” I told him sometimes, I have to pause my imagination and focus, too. Then, we talked about ways that might help him stay focused. He bought into the discussion. As a matter of fact, when we were going through TSA security at the airport a few weeks ago, I wasn’t paying attention to the agent ask us to remove anything larger than a cell phone from our bag. Jett said, “Mom, take out my iPad. It’s larger than a cell phone. See how I’m paying attention and staying focused?”

Had I just told Jett “You don’t pay attention in class” or “You are going to get in trouble if you don’t get your act together” then all I would have addressed is who I think he is. And, that’s all he would have heard. And, I guarantee you the conversation would not have been effective, at least long term, nor would I have been building a relationship with him where we can continue to talk about it and navigate through it like we did at the airport.

Whenever I am asked for my most crucial parenting advice, I always encourage parents to build a relationship with your children. Relationship is everything. EVERYTHING. In a relationship, you allow the person to be who they are. You allow them to have differences of opinion or beliefs. You don’t force who YOU are onto them. Instead, you ARE the very things you want to see in that relationship. And, you speak them. Whether it’s with your spouse, your friend, or your child. These are the keys to any successful relationship.

And when you do tell them who they are, make sure it’s always positive. Tell them the wonderful things you see in them. And, for those things you don’t see but want to see, don’t tell them they don’t have that trait or it’s not in them. It is, because the Creator of the universe is in them. Instead, talk about the behaviors in a way that’s not threatening or demeaning. And, when you pray for them, thank God for that thing in them that you want to see manifesting outside of them. When my children were little and I would put them to bed, I would always say the same prayer. But, then I would pray thanking God for all of the things I saw in them (who they are), and I would also thank God for all of the things I wanted to see. Anna heard me thank God for her sensitivity and compassion for a long time before I started seeing it manifested. But she heard me say who she already was….not who I wanted her to be. And, she became it. And, now, you won’t find a more compassionate, accepting human being than Anna.

Your children will become who you tell them they are. Make sure you are telling them good things. And, when in doubt, ask yourself, “Is this conversation building our relationship or is it hurting it?” Teen years are coming if you’re not already there. And, I can assure you that relationship is going to mean everything.

Leave a comment

Filed under gratitude, imagination, Kid Stuff, Motherhood, parenting, prayer, Relationships, Uncategorized

Why Does 17 Seem So Much Older?

JH - 17 1

Today, my firstborn is SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD, AND I CAN HARDLY BELIEVE THAT I AM THE MOTHER OF A SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD. LIKE HOW DID THIS HAPPEN SO FAST? But, here I sit typing his birthday blog the night before his birthday ever so grateful for every single day of these past 17 years. I can remember when he was little and the sweetest, kindest little boy you have ever seen.

jh young 17

People, while well-meaning (I guess), would say, “Just wait until he’s a teenager!” I decided then to never buy into that gloom and doom prediction of the teenage years being hellacious. Buying into that would have been a terrible investment and waste of dread. Because, this teenager has become one of my greatest supporters, encouragers, do anything for me (and you) sons, and it just always blows my mind and makes me so proud.

John Henry, you are one of my very best friends. I love laughing with you. And, you know I love it when I make YOU laugh. I love talking to you, and I promise I try to really understand everything you say about cars. I do not, however, try to understand everything you say about math and weird things like that. But, it’s cool you like it.  Spending time with you is one of my greatest life treasures. And, I LOVE that you love spending time with us. I love that you always want to know what we are doing, because you want to be doing it with us. It’s okay that you have FOMO. It alway makes me laugh. I love that my friends are your friends. And, that you can hang out with and enjoy anyone of any age.

I love what kind of friend you are to people. Good grief, you are a good one and someone your friends can always depend on.

John, you can pursue anything in life you set your mind to. You can achieve anything you desire to achieve. I believe in you, and I am so proud of your commitment to success. BUT, your greatest success is your commitment to be a good human. A good friend. Just a good, good man. I don’t care what you set out to DO in life. My greatest joy is just watching you BE. I love who you are and what you add to every space and every life.

You add peace to our home.

You add calm to situations that should be stressful.

You add dignity to every room you enter.

You add love to conversations that tear others down.

You add forgiveness to unmet expectations.

You add humor to unexpected moments.

You add the best music to every dance party….whether in our kitchen or on the deck.

You always add everything good to every situation, every room, and every person simply by being there. Your presence carries a weight that is so beautiful and so honest and real. And, because of that, you will find favor all of your days. I really believe that.

Thank you for always looking out for your sister. Even when she has no clue that’s what you are doing.

Jh anna - 17

Thank you for taking time with your little brother. One day, he will be your best friend.

jh jett - 17

Thank you for honoring us the way you do.

Keep being you. Keep doing you. Because, this world needs you. It needs your calm. It needs your humor. It needs your honesty. It needs your love. I pray you get back so much more than you give out. Because, you deserve it, bud.

May today be filled with all of your favorite things: good food, good conversation, and a little Sinatra. And, may you see all of the coolest cars on the road today.

I love you, John Henry Landreth. I couldn’t ask for a better son or a better friend.

Love,

Mom

JH - me 17

1 Comment

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

I’m Going Back To School!

I mean, I’m not going to be driving to a campus. But, I have enrolled in an online school to become a certified life coach! The initial certification will be finished before the year’s end. But, I will take additional classes next year that are more specific to the kind of topics and issues in coaching I want to zoom in on. When I initially shared this with my dad, he responded, “I don’t think you need to go to school for this. You are already doing this, and your life speaks loudly enough to validate being a life coach.” SUPER sweet thing for dad to say. But, there is SO much I don’t know as it pertains to ethics in coaching, and there is ALWAYS room for growth and learning. And, it’s something I wanted to my children to watch me do.

When I told my kids I was going back to school, their response was the freaking best. They have been so excited for me and SO supportive. John Henry immediately began thinking of a name for my life coaching endeavor. I’ll share that name at another time. When I told Anna, she responded, “Mom. YES! So much yes! And, I feel like this is going to put you in a position to write more, to minister more….to write your book!” Y’all…..their love and support and belief in me have meant everything. EVERYTHING.

Jett, however, was all like, “WHY DO YOU WANT TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL? WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF? HOW OLD ARE YOU?” God love that boy.

Everyone I have shared this with has been so encouraging. Most have said, “You already do this….” And, while that’s true on one level, there is always more. My dad has always said, “The more you do, the more you CAN do.” It’s so true in life. Kind of like when you lay around all day and are SO tired from doing nothing that you don’t want to do anything? But when you have one million things on your list of things to do, adding one more seems like no big deal. Life is funny that way. But, I feel like I’m adding something important to my to do list. I feel like this is the right thing to do and pursue. Actually, I know it is.

A couple of months ago, I was driving to church and heard in my spirit, “Do the little things. Stop trying to do one HUGE thing.” There are a lot of little things we do and can do that can impact not only our lives, but the lives of the people around us. While this new journey is a big thing, it will be the little things that come out of it that will be what really makes a difference. And I’m pretty excited about it.

Virgin Gorda.JPG

This pic is me doing something I didn’t initially want to do, because the journey there was going to be long and bumpy…..and, I’m not exactly an outdoorsy kind of girl. But I did it and LOVED it, and I have so many ridiculous selfies to prove it. So, here’s to a journey that might be long and get bumpy, but I know will be so worth it!

Also, wondering if this means I get to go back to school shopping?

1 Comment

Filed under Chasing Dreams, life, Life Experiences, making an impact, Spiritual Journey, Uncategorized