Category Archives: giving

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

Remember the Why.

Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you.  Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.  1 Peter 5:2

From the time I was a young girl, I knew God had called me to be a pastor.  Even then, I didn’t find it unconventional for a girl to assume a role usually appointed to men.  It just felt natural.  I would carefully place all of my stuffed animals in rows, lead praise and worship, and then preach to them.  Then, when I was in the third grade, my class was instructed to come dressed as what we wanted to be when we grew up for Career Day.  Me?  I wore a pinstriped dress and carried my Bible.  Because, I was going to be a pastor. 

I have since learned that there is a lot more to ministry than standing in front of people and unpacking a message that God has worked inside of me.  Which, ain’t no walk in the park, I gotta tell ya.  Mucho respect for my dad who does it every week with a delivery, anointing, and passion that I long for.  ‘Cause, dang that’s hard. 

Back to the point.

Ministry is taking care of the people that God puts into your life.  It’s stepping outside of your own need, your own want, and investing yourself in others.  It means that some nights, you go to bed, and you are mentally, emotionally, and physically spent.  It means you don’t let that exhaustion or sacrifice of personal time make you bitter.  “Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly.” 

And, the best way to keep your heart and mind in check is to remember why you are doing it.  It’s not just for them.  It’s not just for you.   But, it’s because, you are eager to serve God. 

Sometimes, I need to be reminded of the why.  Sometimes, we all need to be reminded of the why…whether we are pastors or not. 

You might be a teacher in a classroom dreading the return of August.  Dear Teacher, you are going to change some student’s life and tell her she has a gift to write.  Thank you, Mrs. Simonton. 

You might be a public service man or woman putting in a lot of hours for little pay.  Dear Public Servants, thank you for helping our tornado victims recover from terrible devastation and restoring hope to them.

You might be a nurse working crappy hours on a night shift.  Dear Wendi, thank you for taking such good care of me, and setting my mind (and pain) at ease.  You make every single one of your patients feel loved. 

You might be a mother staying home with your children every single day.  Thank you, mothers.  You are raising world changers. 

Whatever you do, it’s so important to always remember the why

I remembered my why last night.  To serve Him.  Not because I love Him.  But because, He lavishes His love on me.

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Filed under giving, God Stuff, life, making an impact, Writing

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

Don’t Close Up Shop.

I can let life swallow me up.  I can.  I can allow the activities and antics of three children cause me to close up shop on sharing my gifts with others.  Serving others.  Because, it seems like too much at that moment.

But, it’s not always too much.  It’s not usually as stressful as we make it out to be.  It’s just our response to those busy moments that mess with our head.  Okay, maybe it’s just my head.  Maybe, it’s just me? 

I almost let one of those moments make me close up shop yesterday afternoon.  My sweet husband had a dinner meeting with airplane-ish type folk.  I had household obligations, two children with obligations, and an infant who, well, was only obligated to let me know when he was hungry.  And, he was.  Of course, he was.   Have you seen him?  Only the cutest chunk of love in the history of chunks of love. 

You see?  I do not lie, friends.

It would have been easier to let these things – life things – consume me.  Stay home.  Pretend there was nothing or no one else besides myself and my three little people.  It really would have.  But, one thing I’ve learned (and my parents have taught me) in my thirty-five plus years on planet earth is this:

My life will be more blessed when I live beyond myself. 

Beyond me.  Beyond my kids’ homework and schedules.  Beyond the constant needs of an infant.  Beyond making sure I’ve emptied the dishwasher.  Beyond getting my hair ministered to – which by the power of the Holy Spirit, I was able to fit that in.  Can I get an amen on coverin’ them roots? 

I was responsible for teaching the youth last night.  And, for some dadgum reason, I can’t say “youth” without thinking of My Cousin Vinny.  You know the line.  “Your honor, two utes.”  I seriously can’t.  I drive myself crazy sayin’ it.  ANY. HOW.

By choosing to overcome any stress that parenting, sans my awesome husband, brings, I used one of my gifts.  More than that, I just served.  And, instead of staying home, putting my children to bed, and contemplating how hectic my day was….

I put my children to bed, and then I went to bed fulfilled.  Content.  Happy.  Blessed.

I think that’s what Paul meant in Acts 20 when he said, “it’s more blessed to give than to receive.” 

But, don’t get me wrong.  If any of y’all wanna come keep three little people and send me to the spa, I will not make you withhold those good gifts.  You know.  Since that would bless y’all and all.

Ahem.

I mean, Amen.

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Filed under giving, life, making an impact, Motherhood, parenting

A Life of Worship

The storm knocked out our cable and wireless for a wonderful couple of hours.  I placed the iPod on the docking station, held baby boy, and listened to the big kids sing along to worship song after worship song.  I looked up and saw John Henry raising his hands and closing his eyes. 

“Mom, I’m worshipping God right now, since I wasn’t at church Sunday,” he told me.

“You can worship God any time you want,” I assured him.

And, we did just that.  Tears flooded my eyes as I worshipped the Creator with my children.  Then, we talked about worship. 

“What is worship, Anna?”

“It’s something we send to God,” she answered.

Something we send to Him.  It’s not something we just do on Sunday.  It’s a life lived.  A life lived that brings glory to Him.  A life that honors Him.

A life that gives.

That blesses.

That seeks His Kingdom first.

That chases after God.

Everybody worships something.  But, we were made to worship Him.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.  Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship him.  Romans 12:1

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Filed under giving, God Stuff, Kid Stuff, parenting

She’s A Fly Girl Who Loves Her Country.

Meet Beth Ruby. 

She’s my super cool, brave friend serving in the Air Force.  Oh, and she’s pretty much the smartest chick I know, too.  She wrote this post a while back, and I asked her permission to post it here.  Want to know why I and so many others are proud to call her friend?  Well, just read why she serves our country.

Guest Blog:  Beth Ruby

“Why I Serve”

I have been asked numerous times by friends, family, and strangers why I chose military service. I always answered this question without thought; a sort of conditioned response that contained a very mediocre answer. I always thought that I wanted to serve to protect our freedoms, and because I wanted to be in the world’s greatest Air Force. While these reasons are worthwhile, they are not truly why I am called to serve. I gave these reasons because that is what everyone else says. The real reason, however simple, just became clear to me tonight as I watched footage from World War II.

In the not too distant past, America was called into a war of nations to protect the security and freedom of millions of citizens, both foreign and domestic. Fascist dictators were spreading their evil empires across continents. When America entered World War II, it was not to simply lend a hand. We knew that an outright defeat of these regimes was essential to the continued prosperity of every nation. The urgency and importance of this war was realized by almost all American citizens. Men set aside their goals and ambitions, and volunteered to fight; others were drafted to serve. Either way, these men were torn from their families, their careers, and every bit of comfort they enjoyed in America. They were thrown into one of the bloodiest and most devastating wars in history, and without hesitation, they fought and died. On the home front, every citizen gave up luxuries to support the war efforts. Items were rationed, women went to factories to work, and hundreds of families got letters each day explaining their loved one was killed in action.

The average American today has no concept of the sacrifices made by every person that was alive during those times. Only the eldest members of our society witnessed the extreme loss and suffering that took place during World War II. Sadly, the veterans that fought in World War II are nearing the end of their lives, and soon they will be only memories.

Not too long after World War II, America was forced to once again stop the spread of evil in both Korea and Vietnam. American citizens were torn from the comforts of home and whatever plans they had made for their lives. In both conflicts, these brave Americans were fighting with their hands tied. We sent them there to win, but did not give them the support they needed to do so. Thousands of Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen died in these conflicts. Many others were taken prisoner, or were never accounted for. For hundreds of military members, returning from Vietnam was almost as difficult as fighting in country. Some have said it was even more painful. Unlike World War II, our fighters did not return to a grateful nation as heroes, they returned to quite a substantial number of protestors. Some of these protestors spat on them and called them “baby killers.”

Now that brings me to today. I am very grateful that I was born an American, and I am even more grateful for the brave men and women that came before me that made being an American so great. We are currently fighting in a very controversial war on terror, and American men and women are dying every day in service to our country. Just like in Vietnam, we are fighting a war that is not fully supported, and unlike World War II, our actions are governed more by public opinion than by public good. Americans sacrifice nothing in modern warfare. We still get to pump as much gas as we want into our Hummers, and it is completely cool to bash whatever leadership you want in the name of free speech. This is all fine, until you cross the line. In my opinion, you cross the line the moment you bash or blame the military. Remember that the San Franciscan sipping a latte has as much influence on foreign policy a the soldier in a hole in Iraq.

Finally, I have arrived at the reason why I chose to serve. Contrary to popular expression, I will not say that I serve to protect the rights of the very protestors that bash the military. This reason is very frequently used, but it carries little value to me personally. I would love to see the protestors try to hug a terrorist and use their infinite wisdom and logic to out reason a radical belief system. The real reason I chose to serve is simply to say thank you. Thank you to the millions of men and women who gave everything to give me something. No amount of words or gifts could ever convey my profound appreciation for those that fought before me. Hollywood has done a pretty good job of depicting some of the most memorable war stories. However, I do not consider my enjoyment of a movie as a sincere token of gratitude for the heroes depicted in it. Personally, the only possible way to express my thanks is by service. Although I am just one person, I am joining a great tradition, and a great symbol. The military is a group of individuals that collectively symbolize the very essence of freedom. I am about to begin a new course of training as an officer in the United States Air Force, where I will carry on and always remember the legacies of the heroes that came before me.

Thank you to all veterans, prisoners of war, those missing in action, Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coasties, Reservists, Guardsmen, families of the military, civil servants, and every American that supports men and women in uniform!

Thank YOU Beth Ruby.

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Filed under giving, making an impact

I Have A Favor That Can Change Lives.

Dear Friends,

I have a favor.  It’s a small favor, but it can pay huge rewards.  If you are a Facebook member, I am asking for you to become a fan of Chase Community Giving here.  Chase is giving one charity $1 million to pursue a Big Idea.  You can learn more about this project here.

Once you become a fan of Chase Community Giving, you can cast your vote for the charity you would like to see funded by Chase.  I humbly ask that you consider voting for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Network Cares.  Heard of EDS?  Most have not.  The EDS Network Cares writes,

“EDS is a life-threatening, painful, crippling genetic disorder caused by faulty collagen. It weakens the connective tissue causing fragile skin, joints, ligaments, organs, and blood vessels. EDS is misunderstood, grossly misdiagnosed, and some 90% never receive a proper diagnosis in their lifetime. There is no funding for research. There are no treatments. There is no cure. Today, we are at the threshold of promising research that can change all this and offer those who suffer, HOPE. It’s estimated that 1,358,640 people are affected worldwide, and thousands die. Sadly, many are diagnosed at autopsy after catastrophic internal ruptures. Yearly, 30,000 children are born with bleak futures as they struggle with lifelong consequences due to EDS. Our HOPE is to continue to fund research, increase education/awareness, find treatment options, and save/improve lives. Help us find that cure.”

You can read more about EDS and their Big Idea here.

Why is this charity so important to me?  Because, I lost a best friend in 1998 to Vascular EDS.  His name was Josh Doss.  Few have ever been as passionate about life as Josh.  He was a lover of Christ and a lover of people.   His son, Karsten, was only seven weeks old at the time of Josh’s death.  In the few short days after Josh died, his mother, Debbie learned that Karsten had the same disease. 

And, there is no cure.

Please, watch this video as a tribute to Josh and Karsten.  Then, please cast your vote for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Network Cares so Karsten, and so many others like him, can have a chance at long life.  Vote for EDS.  Vote for hope.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Filed under giving, health, making an impact