Category Archives: life

She Turns 12 Today.

anna-vote

I wish I had started doing birthday blogs before her 4th birthday. Because, let’s face it. There are three years worth of hilarious stories that have gone unwritten. But fortunately, there has been enough recorded to keep us reading and enjoying for years to come.

Every single day Anna Takle makes me laugh. And, who would’ve thought years ago that I would be going to her for fashion advice one day? Seriously. The girl who wore fleece in the summer, tanks in the winter, printed tights with ripped shorts, and dressed like she was trying out for the NBA for a solid year. Even yesterday, she questioned my attire for family pictures.

Anna: “Mom, you wear a cream shirt or sweater EVERY TIME WE TAKE FAMILY PICTURES.”

Me: “Well, dang. I guess I do. Maybe I should change?”

Anna: “Why change it up now? It’s kind of your thing.”

Even though I considered throwing on plaid, because, let’s face it….that’s kind of my thing, too….I just said, “Yeah…it’s kind of my thing.” And, we both smiled and went with it.

She is my girl. My best girl. My best friend. My partner in crime. My tough, stubborn beauty who has evolved into a compassionate, gifted soul, FULL of wisdom and goodness.

And, today, she is 12.

She loves the people in her life fiercely. She is protective, sentimental, and one of the most level-headed people I know. She is also one of the most grateful people I know. She thanks her dad and I ALL THE TIME for EVERYTHING. But, SHE is the real gift.

Anna Marie Takle,

I seriously want to cry thinking about how much I love you. How much I love every single thing about you. You make your dad and I the proudest parents on the face of the earth. Everything you do, you do with passion. You give whatever you commit to 100% of who you are. And, in as much as we are proud of your gifts and of your commitment to your education, we are blown away by WHO you are.

I love the way you love and look after Jett. I remember when you were 6 years old, you said, “Jett is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” You take it upon yourself to care for him, to protect him, to teach him, to love on him. I watch you watch him….and, I see you light up when he does something that makes you proud or when he’s just being his cute little self. And, you smile so big. He is probably the reason why you got the nickname, “Little Momma.” (Clearly, “Big Mama” was already taken.)

anna-jett

But, Jett isn’t the only reason we call you Little Momma. You take it upon yourself to parent ALL of us. And, I mean ALL. Sometimes, it’s really cute. Other times, well….well, just be glad, YOU are really cute. And funny.

I love the way you look out for your big brother. Even though he probably doesn’t know it or want you to necessarily. But, you always want to make sure he is okay. And, when he hangs out with you and talks to you, again, you light up. Because, you love him and care for him so very much.

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I love the way you love your dad. I love the way you immediately defend him if you hear me complain about something he forgot to do. Because, not only does he deserve your defense, but you are always so good to right my wrong perspective. And, every time he comes home from a trip and walks through that door, you run to him, wrap your arms around him, and say, “Daddy!” And, again, you light up. Because, you are not afraid to show him your love.

anna-kris

I love the way you love me. Anna, I never doubt how much you love me and look up to me. And, I do not take the love and respect you give me for granted. At least, I hope I don’t. You never fail to come up to me, look me in the eyes, and say, “Mom, thank you so much for……” You never fail to climb into my bed and pour your tender heart out. You never fail to make me feel your love for me. And, you never fail to make ME light up.

anna-me

I love how important giving sentimental gifts are to you.

I love how you love tiny things.

I love how you love all animals and treat them with care.

I love how you appreciate really good food, good coffee, a good book, and good humor.

I love how you start laughing at your jokes or funny stories before you even begin telling them.

I love how you can laugh at yourself.

I love how you will suggest we eat ice-cream and watch back to back to back episodes of Friends.

I love how you think Phoebe is your spirit-animal.

I love how you want to learn to as many foreign languages as you can and assume it wouldn’t take much planning for us to “hop over to Paris” to try out your progression in French.

I love how when I send you downstairs to do a chore, the chore is always postponed, because you walk past your piano. Yet, you don’t pass it. And, before I know it, I hear magic happening on those keys….and it makes it really hard for me to get upset with you. (Well played, Anna Takle.) Get it? Well played? (That’s one of the corny jokes I know you’ll think is hilarious.)

I love how you ooze out wisdom and always have such perspective on life and relationships. Oh, I listen to you. I listen to you and John Henry both. You both continually make me a better person by how you see people and the world.

Anna, I am so proud of the young lady you are. I can’t imagine what the years ahead look like for you. Because, in this present moment, I am simply in awe.

Thank you, God, for giving me the beautiful gift of Anna Marie. And, let’s just not talk about how she’s going to be a teenager in a year. My heart can’t bear it today.

anna-nyc

Thank you, Anna, for being YOU. I love you so very much.

Love,

Mom

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Love Your Now.

I have found myself this week struggling to enjoy this season of busy schedules. I’ve thought, “Can we just go back to Maine where we eat six meals a day and linger at every beautiful sight?” Because, it was really easy to enjoy every moment there. It’s not always easy when you’re back in your regular routine. I probably found ten things making my life more difficult last night. A driven daughter who wants to do it all, these lessons, that practice, the broken air conditioner, the light that won’t come on in our living room, the drive to and from the farm that adds an additional hour to it all.

My life is harder and more exhausting than some. BUT, it is so much easier than MOST.

And, that’s where I had to get back to. It’s EASIER than most. That was my first perspective shift.

My next shift was a reminder that I create my world. I create what makes me tired, what makes me happy, what makes my day. I do. So, get control of what you’re creating, Dusty. WE are the creators. Not our children, not our circumstances…WE create it all. What do I need to take off of the table? Or, what do I need to reframe in how I think about it?

My last shift came when I thought of something I saw a while back: “LOVE YOUR NOW.” We don’t live in the past where we think, “Well, that season was a good one.” So, only loving our past won’t make us happy today. Sure, it’s great to remember good times and let them make you smile. But, it isn’t sustaining happiness. Also, we can’t be in love with a future we are hoping for either. Vision and goals are necessary and wonderful. Dreams keep us striving for something better. But, we miss true happiness when we fail to love our now.

Loving my now means I don’t take for granted the fact that one of my dearest friends walked into my office and loved on me today. Who gets to experience that kind of goodness everyday? This girl right here.

Loving my now means I get to go to bed, albeit exhausted, every night knowing I loved on my children and supported their gifts. Loving my now means I that choose to not despise my 30 minute drive, and instead, come home to the farm in the middle of the day to absorb every bit of peace it brings me. Exactly as I’m doing right now as I type. And, can I tell you how much peace and serenity it brings me? Worth the drive. Worth it all. Because, of this.

farm

Loving my now means that I might choose to celebrate life exactly like this guy who says, “Best day ever,” EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS LIFE.

jett-man

Loving my now means treasuring this season, because all five of us are still doing life together. In 4 1/2 years, one will be off at college. And, I will probably be in a corner sucking my thumb needing someone to remind me to love my now.

Loving my now means that when my husband gets home from his trip, I get to pull him close and thank God that in that very moment, we are together. And, I get to draw from his tender goodness and peaceful existence. I also get to say, “Bam, bro, enjoy your kids a while. I’m going to be loving my now in my room by myself a tick.” Just kidding, Ivar. Not really.

There will always be something to distract us from loving our now. Always. Even when the hard days of rearing children are done, something will have the potential to distract me. So, we have to conscientiously fight to own our now and love it. We have to discipline our emotions. We have to reframe our perspectives.

And, we have to say YES to now, so we can fully love our now.

Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment… Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life – and see how life  suddenly starts working for you rather than against you. Eckhart Tolle

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The Gentleman.

jh-dusty

All of those moms and dads who’ve already blazed the trail of raising children warned me. Don’t blink, they said. Time flies. You won’t believe how quickly the years go. The days may seem long, but the years are so short. You know they are right. But, you just don’t imagine your child not looking like this:

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Then, one day, like today, you wake up and your baby boy is 14.

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And, you realize you live with one of the kindest, gentlest, most loving souls on the planet. A young man who loves God and loves people. Who loves music old and new. Who loves playing guitar, enjoys a good game of golf, all things Marvel, and spending time on the deck with friends and family. A guy who calls my adult friends HIS friends. A sweet soul who is a joy and so much fun. 

John Henry,

It’s hard to put into words how amazing this past year has been with you. Every year has been amazing. But, this year, especially, I’ve watched you become so sure of yourself. Confident in you who are and who God is within you. You don’t withhold your words when you want to encourage someone. You don’t withhold your arms when someone needs to be comforted or when you want to let someone know you love them. You don’t withhold your love. You give it. You live out the word gentle in gentleman in how you treat people. You are considerate. You are always aware of what is going on around you. You are aware of people and their needs. And, when you see a need, you are quick to do all you can to meet that need.

And, one of the reasons I’ve loved this past year so much with you is because, you have become one of my dearest friends. I am so thankful I get to call you my son and one of my best friends. You’re a good, good friend, John Henry. You are the salt of the earth….always making the lives of those around you better. I don’t know what lies ahead for you, but I know, without a doubt, that your future is filled with so much goodness. Because, you have been goodness, and you ARE goodness.  Whoever said the teen years are hard or “just wait until they are teenagers,” never met John Henry Landreth.

Thank you for teaching us all how to treat one another. For being the best brother. For playing light sabers with Jett and being so sweet and loving to him. For allowing yourself to laugh at your sister when you know something she says is funny. For dancing with me in the kitchen and surprising me with your sweet hugs. For the honor you give to your daddy Kris. For the way you admire your daddy Bryan. For the way you love Janine and trust her wisdom. 

For epitomizing a true gentleman. For making us feel better about ourselves and the world. For being YOU.
Happy 14th Birthday, John Henry. I love you more than I could ever express!

Love,

Mom

 

 

 

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What Good Will It Do?

I enjoy running. I might be the “world’s okayist runner” according to Anna, but I do it still. She gave me this nickname when I ran a couple of races with my mom and good friend, David Gamble. They both placed first in their age groups. Not me. I placed second in one race and didn’t even place in the other. “Congratulations, Mom. You’re the World’s Okayist Runner,” she told me. There are weeks I get out there almost every day. There are weeks I get out once or twice. And, there are weeks I don’t get out there at all. Some of those days, I don’t run, because I think if I can’t devote at least 45 minutes to it, it’s not worth it.

This morning, I had exactly 25 minutes to run, so I gave it what I had instead of justifying not doing it. As I was running, I began to think of how many things in life we justify not doing, because what does a little bit matter? What good will it do? It’s kind of like that diet we blow and justify eating the cookie, because, what does it matter now?

Or deeper life stuff….What good is reframing my attitude about this when I’ve allowed myself to spiral into this negative thinking about all of that?

What good is refraining from buying this when I’m already piled up in debt?

What good is doing something special for my spouse, when he or she hasn’t said or done anything special for me in months?

What good is that little bit going to do?

What will that little bit of good change?

Everything. It changes EVERYTHING. I really want to shout this. IT CHANGES EVERYTHING!

I cannot tell you the times I have done what seemed to be “a little” or seemed to not be worth my time only to reap huge dividends from it. From moments like in this post where I made a decision to make things right in that moment instead of saying, “I really blew it already. What’s the point?” To moments when I’ve laid next to my husband and reached for his hand when I’ve been frustrated with feelings of “we aren’t taking enough time for each other.” In those moments, I could play the blame game. Or, I can take his hand and make an investment into our marriage instead of making a withdrawal with a feeling that may or may not be a real truth….

And, that’s the kicker: a feeling that may or may NOT be truth. This brings me back, once again, to one of the greatest life changing principles ever: Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at will change.

Stop saying your little isn’t worth it. Stop buying into a thought of your spouse not meeting your needs that may not even be true. Stop believing that your twenty minutes of exercise will not reap any benefits or skipping that purchase will make a dent. Stop saying, “when it rains, it pours,” and say and do something that yells, “But, let me show you all the amazing things God HAS done for me!”

Things happen. Life happens. Things will get in the way of a morning run. Life will get in the way of a lot of things that we have little to no control over. But, there are things we DO have control over. How we respond to those things and how we LOOK at those things.

Your little not only does a whole lot of good. Your little can change EVERYTHING. Your little can set a marriage on a course for an unbelievable connection and goodness. Your little can teach your children about forgiveness and mercy. Your little can lead to another little and another little where you live a life free of debt. Your little can turn a seemingly crappy day into a moment of pure gratitude for what isn’t crappy. And, there is SO MUCH of the not crappy.

There is so much good. Do the little. It will give you a lot more of the good.

I may be the world’s okayist runner in races. But, I sure want to win in the race that really counts.

So I run with purpose in every step…. 1 Corinthians 9:26

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Living An Adventure.

Jett haybale

Now that the kids are back in school, and I’ve stopped celebrating my freedom, wiped my tears, I’m going to try to get back into the habit of writing everyday. One thing I’ve learned is that the more I write, the more I have to write about. The less I write, the more I stare at my computer and try to remember how in the Sam Hill I did this everyday. When we don’t use our gifts, they lie dormant. No good for anyone. (Thank you, dear friend, Susan Harp.) So, here is my attempt to use it, and hopefully along, the way make you laugh or feel all the feels or be reminded that life is good, and YOU matter.

My kids started a new adventure this year at St. George’s Episcopal School. Anna even started a new adventure taking ballet. Who would’ve thought that my girl who insisted on dressing like she was trying out for the NBA would decide she’s a dancer? Or John Henry would decide one day, “I want to learn the cello.” Then, there is Jett where every day is an adventure. So much to do, to explore, to learn, to grow. Kids just get it. But, sometimes, along the way, we grown-ups don’t get it anymore. We stop imagining ourselves doing something new. We stop imagining the life we really want to live. We stop imagining, we stop being thankful, and we stop living an adventure.

I started reading Mark Batterson’s new book, A Trip Around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life Into the Adventure of A Lifetime. Batterson writes, “Kids get adventure. Its innate. They live life free of worry, full of faith, and with their eyes peeled for the next big adventure. We should live with holy anticipation of what’s around the corner.” I began thinking about how God wants us to become like little children. When the disciples asked Jesus who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven, He called a child to Him and said, “Become like him.” Become like a child. Forgive like a child. Love like a child. Seek adventure like a child!

As I read, I began taking inventory of my own life. I have seasons I stop living an adventure. I honestly think I’ve been in one. It’s not that I haven’t necessarily done adventurous things lately. Doing a helicopter tour in Hawaii this past July was a definite stretch for me in terms of adventure. However, it’s been more of the absence of observing life and being truly thankful for it. I believe our imagination is birthed in our observation of life around us. It’s birthed when we slow down our minds and slow down our motions to breathe in Him. To look intently into Jett’s eyes when he is taking ten minutes to tell a two minute story. To notice how his eyes get so animated and to appreciate how passionate he is about his story. It’s birthed in sweet conversations with Anna when she asks questions like, “Tell me more about how we hear the Spirit within us.” It’s birthed in moments like last night when I begin singing a song, and John Henry says, “I can play that on guitar.” So, he does, and we begin singing these words together:

How do I say thank You, Lord
For the way that You love
And the way that You come

For all that You’ve done
All that You’ll do
My hearts pours out
Thank You

You don’t have to come
But You always do
You show up in splendor
And change the whole room

How do I say thank You, Lord
For the life that You gave
The cross that You bore

For the love You poured out
To ransom my soul
My hearts pours out
This thankful song

A life of adventure may not always be climbing Mt. Everest or taking some big risk. A life of adventure may be in having that hard conversation. It may be in noticing God in every moment. It may be a moment where your heart pours out thanksgiving for a life that is just so good, and a God whose goodness never stops pursuing after you. That’s the environment, those are the conditions, where imagination is birthed. And, imagination is what sets our life up for the adventure of a lifetime.

Be aware. Slow down. Notice. And, above all, let thanksgiving be your language. Because, there is no greater adventure than a life filled with gratitude.

 

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When We Run Into Problems.

3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5

These verses carried me through the hardest time in my life over 14 years ago. I read this passage again this morning with a different set of eyes. A confident set of eyes. A heart that knows and understands. A life that can testify to it over and over and over again.

Our initial reaction to adversity and problems isn’t, “Well thank you, Jesus. This is going to grow me and strengthen my character.” No. It can be anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment, and so many other things. Certainly not happiness that we get to endure something hard. It’s not a normal reaction. Hey, you’re normal. So, I am I! However, once we get over the initial shock and awe of it, we get to make a choice how we are going to through the problem. Whether the problem is as large as what I endured 14 years ago when my husband walked out or even if it is as small as a conflict at your work, we get to choose to endure it with a confident hope that He will grow us and work it for our good.

So, what do we do after we get over the initial onset of a problem? I wanted to share some things that I do that may help you, too. First, I vent upward. That means I don’t share my problem with someone who isn’t on the same page of life with me spiritually. Because, that person may feed into my anger or resentment where nothing redemptive comes from it. I vent to someone who has compassion but who also brings light to it. They help me process it from a position of forgiveness and understanding. They remind me to trust Him. The conversation is always redemptive.

I slow down. Haste causes us to react instead of respond. It causes a build up of negative emotions and feelings that are hard to come down from. I slow down my responses, my comments, my time. When we slow down, we are able to think more clearly, take captive our thoughts that are negative more easily, and avoid making the mistake of saying or doing something we might regret.

I pray and meditate. This keeps my heart soft and refocuses my thoughts. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Don’t worry about your problem. Don’t dwell on it. Tell God what you need, and THANK Him for everything He has already done. Everything He has already delivered you from and made better for you. Re-center your thoughts on Him and on thankfulness. When you catch yourself dwelling on the problem, replace that thought with all of the good in your life. Everything you have to be thankful for. THEN, peace will flood your life.

Finally, I am open to change. What if I am the one that is the problem? What if God is not just working something for my good, but what if He is changing ME? What if I created the problem myself? Stay open to accept responsibility. Allow people you trust to speak into your life.

All problems are meant for our growth. I learned a long time ago to say, “Nothing goes wrong in my world.” Instead, every situation is an opportunity to grow. To learn. An opportunity to be a better friend. A better mom. A better wife. A better person. Without running into hard situations, it is impossible to become BETTER. So, with that knowledge, we really can rejoice in hard times. Because, we are then presented with an opportunity for our lives to be better. We may not always see the end from the beginning and know the hows and whys, but we can trust in the One who is working all things, ALL, for our good.

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Create Your Calm.

Jett blankie

Jett loves his little, blue blankie. If you’ve seen Jett, you’ve probably seen his blankie. We are working hard on getting Jett to leave his blankie on his bed every morning. And, by “WE” are working hard, I mean Kris. It makes mornings harder, because, blankie…..you know.

Last night as I was putting Jett to bed and praying over him, I added, “Thank You for a smooth morning. Thank You that Jett is patient and cooperative and full of understanding. Amen.”

This morning Jett woke up happy and cooperative and saying, “yes ma’am” to leaving blankie on his bed. Inside, I was thanking sweet Jesus for such a smooth morning and fist bumping Him in my heart. ‘Cause, we got this.

Then, my sweet, cooperative boy spilled my entire cup of coffee all over the coffee table. All over my phone, my iPad, my favorite books, his Legos, and whatever else was in that line of fire. Jett awaited for scary mom to come out. John Henry left the room to get paper towels and not hear scary mom.

And, I paused. I remembered my prayer of a smooth morning. And, I just said, “It’s okay, bud.”

While, we cannot control every part of our day and avoid trouble, we do get choose our response to the bumps and how they control us. And, instead of it ruining our morning, I was able to be a model of peace and self-control and forgiveness to my children. I do not tout this inner fortitude to do this all of the time. I have failed so many times and went scary mom on my children more times than I care to recall. And, self-appointed Holy Spirit in my life, Anna Takle, is always quick to remind me of how I should’ve responded. Bless her. But, today, I made a decision to create my calm. To CHOOSE a smooth morning.

We can pray for things, and that’s okay. We can thank God for things, and that is necessary. But, in as much as I thanked Him for a smooth morning, it was up to me to create it.

You create your calm. You create your peace. You create your smooth. It’s not the hard moments that wreck us or our day. It’s our response to them.

Instead of coming home from dropping the kids off stressed, I came home noticing a beautiful sunrise. I came home pouring out tears of gratitude for this beautiful day. Creating my calm made thanksgiving so easy.

Make the decision to choose your responses today. Create your calm, and let thanksgiving pour out.

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