Category Archives: Life Experiences

His Goodness Pursues You.

You know those times you look at your house and know you need to organize so many things in it but don’t really know where to begin? That’s how I have felt about writing to you all. So many things, so many thoughts, so many messages of heartache, brokenness, and disappointment. But, so many messages of His goodness, hope, and His faithfulness. All of these themes shuffling around in my head and not really knowing where to begin. And, just like that house that needs us to get up and do something, I need to begin writing…something.

So, today, I begin with His goodness.

The past few months have been a whirlwind for our family. Without sharing intimate details, we have experienced things we never imagined we would go through. Emotions of disappointment and anger. Feelings of injustice. Moments of falling to my knees with hurt and knowing in my heart that forgiveness can be hard but necessary. But, through disappointment, He is still good. He is faithful. And, nothing, NOTHING goes to waste. No hurt goes to waste. No difficult season goes to waste. Nothing.

And, disappointment and hurt do not pursue me.

His goodness and unfailing love do. They chase after me wherever I go. They make themselves known in the darkest of times and the brightest of times. They lift up my chin and remind me that He is working all things for my good. ALL things. Not some. Not a few. ALL things. They give rest to my weary head. They comfort me. They say, “Hey, kid. We’ve never stopped following you. And, you know what? The same God that has proved Himself time and time again won’t fail you now.” They remind me that it’s not the storms that get us, but it’s our response to the storms.

It’s opening our eyes in the middle of the chaos and seeing His goodness all around you. What was meant for harm has been for our good.

I’ve seen John Henry handle himself with the greatest of dignity, the greatest of strength, and become a man who truly knows he is who GOD says he is.

I’ve watched Anna thrive in the midst of a hard season and learn to articulate her feelings in such a way, I swear I’m talking to 40 year old woman. While she feels deeply, she also feels His spirit within her so much, and it AMAZES me.

I’ve watched Jett consistently remind me to breathe. To laugh, to pause, and soak in the eternal things.

I’ve watched Kris care for our family in such a way that I have fallen in love with him all over again. I’ve watched him parent our children with the tenderest care, with the strongest protection, and with the greatest wisdom. I told him, “I’m not saying I couldn’t parent without you. But, I sure wouldn’t want to.”

Today, I stand on the other side of our hard season with a renewed sense of His goodness. With a renewed passion that He is faithful to turn messes into messages. He is faithful to make good come out of the hard. Because, He pursues me, I do not live in a house of unrest, a house of chaos, a house of disappointment. I live in His house. And, He dwells within me.

He is faithful. Remember that. Remember that hard times are not pursuing you. His goodness and love are. And, nothing can stop them from chasing you. He is good. He is good. He is good. And, His love will not fail you.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6

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Filed under disappointment, God Stuff, life, Life Experiences, parenting, Writing

Life Is Amazing.

Tonight, I dreaded the idea of going out in this painfully cold weather to check on a well and water troughs for cows. Dreaded. As in, how in the world am I living in a world where I check a well in 27 degree temps? Seriously.

But, I did. And, you know what I saw? Besides my breath in front of me? Stars. Amazing, beautiful stars that could not be numbered in a huge, amazing, beautiful sky. And, for a brief moment, I looked up and stared and thought, “Amazing.”

Sunday, I dreaded the thought of Jett becoming sick. Fever, congestion, loss of appetite. You know the stuff those little people get. I dreaded it changing up my Monday. Then, changing up my Tuesday. It did change it up. And, you know what I saw? Besides spilled Tylenol on my living room chair? A little boy who is growing up and changing so fast. Who has turned into the sweetest boy in the entire universe. Who made me laugh out loud so many times that, for a moment, I considered pulling him out of school and keeping him with me all the live long day forevermore….for a moment. And, then I put him to bed tonight and thought, “Amazing.”

Life is always amazing. Full of wonder. Full of crazy gorgeous evening skies and full of moments where your child sits closer to you. It’s always there. And, many times, those amazing moments are noticed in our life’s interruptions.

These past couple of days have reminded me: Change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

They don’t just change to become more tolerable. They change to become your greatest blessings.

It’s when life becomes amazing.

Tonight, I go to bed amazed.

Thankful.

In love with life.

In love with the people in my life.

And, in love with the One who created it all and said, “It is good.”

 

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Filed under God Stuff, gratitude, Life Experiences, Motherhood

So, This Is 40.

Completely lame to title a blog post after a movie. But, I’m in my 40s now. So, I’m comfortable being lame. I always thought turning 40 would bother me. Because, in my mind, I am always, always 18. Aren’t we all? Sure, we don’t feel 18. But, we are always that 18 year old who still feels like they are navigating through this thing called life. I can still remember as vividly how it felt to be embarking on my college career as much as I can remember how I felt walking my third child into school the first day. Feelings are just so powerful. And, they hard to forget. I can remember walking into Mrs. Howard’s third class at Jackson Road. I can remember how she made me feel secure. I can remember almost drowning in the Gulf and my father never letting go of my hand. I can remember holding onto the OUTSIDE of the escalator of Southlake Mall and riding it up until my mom climbed on top of a brick display, grabbing the soles of my shoes, pulling me back down.

I can remember the first time I felt the presence of God and thinking that I never wanted to leave it.

I can remember graduating from college and looking into the mass of onlookers and seeing the gleam in my grandfather’s eye.

I can remember not being able to stop the tears when John Henry was born and holding him in my arms for the very first time. I remember looking at my mom and saying, “My world is right now.”

I can remember being heartbroken. But more than the heartbreak, I can remember my friends taking care of me and being there.

I can remember opening my heart up to love again. I can remember kissing Kris Takle on his brother’s sofa for the first time. I can remember my mom’s tearful face when we loaded up in a King Air and moved to Oklahoma City.

I can remember when Anna Takle was three years old, and I realized that I had to start recording how fun she made my life.

I can remember deciding to have a third child after swearing two was enough. But, then, looking at that future super-hero in the face with gratitude and thanksgiving that he was mine.

I can remember Kris telling me, “I think we can do this,” when he told me we were moving back home to Georgia.

I can remember fully surrendering my life to the ministry and my father ordaining me a pastor.

I can recall exactly how those moments felt. And, I am so thankful for them all. For the good moments. For the bad. The good have taught me gratitude. The bad have taught me forgiveness and love.

I’m no expert in life. I have many more miles to travel and hopefully many more candles to extinguish. But, I have penned 40 things that I have learned so far. Perhaps, next year I will have a different view. A different outlook. A different perception of life. I hope I do. Because, that means I’m evolving. But, today, this is 40:

1. Don’t put too much weight into a present emotion. Because, you never know how you’re going to feel tomorrow.

2. You don’t have to talk through every single feeling, emotion, or issue.

3. Friendship in marriage is just as important as love.

4. Having a third kid is a game-changer. Don’t do it unless you’re willing to change the game.

5. I like our new game with three kids….now that I’ve regained my sanity. Somewhat.

6. My blood pressure rises when I read status updates or comments that portray a God who is ready to take out His vengeance on people. Or when people read the Word but don’t get the Spirit behind what’s being said. God is a God of love. Period.

7. I need to not let myself get so worked up over #6.

8. God is not up there, out there somewhere. He is within me.

9. My mom is the person I can tell anything to.

10. I don’t always have to be right. And, my way isn’t the only way. In parenting, in life. We all have the same mission but different methods. We have to work through our own salvation.

11. It’s okay to simply say, “that’s not going to work for me” without giving further explanation.

12. If I don’t schedule my time, someone else will. Create margin with your time.

13. Gratitude, thankfulness, appreciation, and praise are the keys to EVERYTHING.

14. Pain doesn’t last.

15. Being skinny is fun. But not as fun as a really good meal.

16. Whatever I focus on will expand – whether positive or negative.

17. Kris and I travel really well together. He is my favorite travel partner.

18. It’s important to jump into your kids’ passions and be amazed with them.

19. Never, ever give up on people.

20. Even when you become frustrated with where someone is in his or her life, don’t stop being their friend. They will get through that rough place. Love them through it instead of pulling back.

21. When you know you’re wrong, own it.

22. Say thank you as often as possible.

23. Chill when life gets interrupted. Accept it. It happens.

24. Dreading makes everything worse. Don’t dread what you know you already have to do.

25. If you see a need, and it’s within your means to meet that need, do it.

26. Give, give, give.

27. Laughter is not only the best medicine, it’s the heartbeat of my life.

28. Not everyone is going to believe the way I do. And, that’s okay. (So, let crazy Facebook comments and otherwise go.)

29. My mom thinks my kids are just has hilarious as I do. I am so thankful I can share my life with her.

30. My dad is the most consistently loyal, forgiving, compassionate, merciful person in the universe. Hands down.

31. I have the best friends in the world. And, the older I get the more I realize how much I need them.

32. I could never leave the ministry.

33. I love being alone with God.

34. I either cry or almost cry every time I worship the One who has made all things so good.

35. Don’t sit alone when you’re down. As hard as it is, call someone. Go be with someone you trust. Just don’t be alone.

36. Whenever you think something good is going to come from telling someone exactly what you think or “finally giving them the what for,” please know, nothing good will EVER come from that. Ever.

37. Don’t close the door to new friendships.

38. It’s none of my business what other people think of me.

39. Try really hard to not yell at your children. They are real souls with real feelings.

40. God is for me. So, all moments have been for me. The good ones and the bad ones. Because, God has been IN all of those moments.

If you’re still reading, thank you for indulging me in such a long post. And, thanks to all of you for being in my world. I am so thankful for my friends and family. I am so thankful to serve a God who is full of love. And, I am so thankful to enter my forties. I think I’m going to like it here.

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Filed under gratitude, life, Life Experiences, Spiritual Journey

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

Overlooking Offenses.

Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs. (Proverbs 19:11 NLT)

 

Sometimes, we think that if we overlook a wrong, then we won't be validated or defended. Remember, Jesus was wronged. Yet, He went it the cross like a lamb led to slaughter, and he opened not His mouth. We are never more like Jesus when we overlook an offense. And, we earn respect when we do.

 

I don't always keep my mouth shut about an offense. I don't think, if we are honest, any of us do. However, I have learned one thing about choosing to “vent” an offense. To make sure the offense is redeemed in that vent. In other words, don't share an offense without the intent of it leading to the redemption of it. In doing so, I am careful who I share, or vent, offenses to. I always know that if share an offense with my father, his response will not be, “I can't believe that person” or “I would be done with that person.” He first acknowledges my hurt and says he's sorry. But, then he quickly helps me see the hurt the offender is speaking from and also makes me look within myself at what may be drawing it out of that person. Then, I am able to release forgiveness, and overlook the offense moving forward. And so, it is redeemed.

 

One of the greatest examples of overlooking an offense is when King David traveled to Bahurim, and Shimei, a member of Saul's family came out to curse him. Shimei threw gravel at David and cursed him and accused him of stealing Saul's throne. David's officer, Abishai, couldn't take it and said, “Let me go over and cut off his head!” But, David responded, “Leave him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to do it. And perhaps the Lord will see that I am being wronged and will bless me because of these curses today.”

 

Later in scripture, Shimei begs for mercy. But, to Abishai, this was no small thing. No small offense. To throw gravel at a king and curse the Lord's anointed was a huge deal. Most of us would have agreed with Abishai's response and wanted Shimei punished. But, David shocks his men seeking justice and says “what do I have in common with you?” In other words, how are we even alike? You seek vengeance, and I seek mercy? Ouch. And, then, he says, “Do I not know I am king over Israel?”

 

Ahhhh. The key to David overlooking an offense. He KNEW who he was. His security was built in knowing who he was. Not in other's opinions of him.

 

Remember who you are when you are offended. You are a child of the King. You are OF God. Let this truth go deep within you, so you can overlook wrongs. And, when you must vent, make sure redemption is the end result.

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Filed under Life Experiences, Relationships, Virtue

Observing Life.

Published in The Grip.

“Let us be still so we may hear the whispers of God.” These words are written across a wooden plaque resting in my sunroom, and I see them daily. Yet, still I can forget to heed them. I knew this very article was already past due, but I continued to stare at a blank screen. It's a discouraging feeling – to be uninspired. And, this is exactly what happens to me when I fail to be still. When I fail to slow down. To notice. To watch, carefully, life happen around me. Instead, I can find myself waking up with the sole intent of just making the day happen….instead of noticing the day.

 

I become a participator in life more than an observer. Participating is necessary. But we don't participate well when we don't take the time to observe well. When I'm an observer, I am living in the now moments. I am careful how I respond to those around me. I am careful with my tone. I am careful to notice my eight year old's hands as she scoops the horse feed into the buckets and then careful to watch her walk across the field to be a source of love for those large animals. I am careful to notice my husband's face and see that he needs my encouragement. I am careful to notice the single mother in the store who can't pay for all of her food she struggled to place on the counter while holding her squirmy two-year old. I'm careful to notice how big the sky is and to try to wrap my head around the fact that the Creator of it all actually thinks about me.

 

I am careful to observe life. To notice it. To be thankful for it. And, to participate well in it. Because, I'm still. I still my thoughts. I still my body. And, I hear His whispers in the midst of all that is going on around me. I see Him in the big things and in the small things. And, so, I'm inspired. Inspired to love the way He loves. Inspired to capture and remember the small moments. Inspired to pen words to the emotions flooding my soul.

 

When is the last time you noticed life? When is the last time you observed more than you participated? You don't have to look for God in the obscure places. He's everywhere and in everything. In the young hands of that eight-year old. In the face of your spouse. In the struggling arms of that single mother. Above you. Below you. Within you. And when you stop to observe….

 

When you become still….

 

You will hear His whispers.

 

And, you will see His face.

 

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

 

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Filed under 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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