Category Archives: life

Anna Is A Teenager.

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Anna Takle Is A TEENAGER.

Dear friends and family who remember the blogs the first several years of Anna’s life….can you believe this day is here? Can you believe I survived Anna in pre-school and the calls from her teacher telling me she “couldn’t log into her Twitter account?” That I survived her cutting up my comforter with her Fiskar scissors? Survived her bringing her dad’s wedding band to school for Show and Tell? Survived her insistence on wearing the craziest of apparel combinations? Survived ALL of her antics, mischief, hilarity….survived the days where she literally had no filter?

I did it. WE did it. Being able to share her stories and have you all laugh with me have made getting to year 13 such a fun ride. The truth is, it really hasn’t been a game of survival. It’s been a journey of learning, of growing, and of being blown away by the sheer gift God gave me when He gave me Anna Takle.

One of the things most do NOT know about Anna is that she is the most thoughtful person I know. Her gifts she gives you are well thought out. She makes every gift personal. She puts time and energy and enormous love into everything she creates and gives. Because, the people in her life really matter to her. She expresses herself in words in the most beautiful of ways to let people know how much they mean to her. Is she funny? Yes. Is her wit the quickest? Most certainly. But is she one of the most sensitive and caring humans on the planet? You better believe it.

Dear Anna Marie,

I am so proud of the young woman you are. You make me proud in SO many ways. You are bright. You care that you do well in school. But, you care more that you learn and understand and grow from everything you are taught. The lessons themselves matter to you.

I am so proud of how you continue to practice piano. I am even more proud that you serve with that gift. I love your heart for worship and how free you are to express your love to God. 

I am so proud of your heart for social justice. I love how you stand up for what is right. Your heart breaks for anyone you feel is oppressed or simply anyone who doesn’t know how valuable they are. I can remember praying for you when you were little. Because, you always said….out loud….the first things that ever crossed your mind….I prayed, “Dear Jesus, thank you for Anna’s heart of compassion.” And, man, have you risen to the occasion with such wild compassion. Your heart aches for those who feel like they don’t belong. You see someone in need, and you do all you can to make sure the lack is gone. You choose people. You choose their feelings. You choose their hearts. You are truly a defender of the weak. And, you always remind me: look at the heart, not at the person. I’m so thankful how you always see the good in people. 

I love how you love watching This Is Us with me. I love how you watch Grey’s Anatomy and think you can diagnose everyone in our house. Actually, I don’t love how you diagnose us. Stop it. Stahhppp.

I love your love for the theater and how you’ve taught every one in this house to enjoy it, too.

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I love how you love your brothers. How you look up to John Henry. I love how you give him unsolicited advice ALL THE TIME. I’m not quite sure he loves that….but, be glad he loves YOU. It’s most adorable how you are forever Little Momma to Jett. I love how you think Jett is the funniest human on the planet….after yourself, of course. Duh.

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I love how you are your dad’s great defender. He cannot do ANYTHING wrong. Nothing. “He is totally Jack from ‘This Is Us’ except without the issues,” you say. Okay. OKAY already. We can shout his praises tomorrow on HIS birthday.

I love how you love me. I love how comfortable and at home you are with me. You’re comfortable enough to tell me when I go in for a second lecture, “I am parented out.” I get it. Sometimes, I am mommed out. I love how you reminded me to write your birthday blog. As if I could ever forget. I asked you, “What would you do if you woke up one birthday and didn’t have a birthday blog to read?” You said, “Well, I’d just write my own!” I have no doubt you wouldn’t. You rarely let anything disappoint you. It’s really quite remarkable.

The other day, I told Anna, “Never text a boy first. He should always text you first.” She responded, “Mom. No. I will not follow this protocol. It’s the 21st century. Women can vote now. I can text first.” Normally, I would’ve questioned her quick response and disregard for my request. Instead, I laughed. And, you know what else I did? I accepted it. Because, just like in so many other life situations and lessons, Anna has consistently inspired me to be open. To listen, to receive, to hear something new. Something that may be out of the ordinary. And, every single time it’s been worth it. She has stretched me in more ways than I ever thought possible. And, I’m not talking about stretching my patience. Of course, she has done that. But, she has stretched my imagination to see more than what is just in front me. She continues to encourage me to see more. To dream bigger. To hope with a daring hope. To expand until I see the glory of God in every single person.

What a fun ride this has been. It’s only going to get better, Anna Takle. Some days, I miss this little girl sitting across from me in a restaurant in Oklahoma City holding baby Jenny.

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But every day I am so thankful to sit across from this girl. This beautiful, smart, caring human that has become my very best friend.

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Happy 13th Birthday, Anna. I am SO THANKFUL to be your mom.

I love you like crazy,

Mom.

 

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The Pause Is Everything.

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One of my mentors always reminds me that “hurry up” is not a quality of the fruit of the spirit. The fruit of the spirit is actually quite the opposite…..specifically qualities like patience and self-control. I know this. Yet, I forget this often. And, self-control is the key to slowing down.

Self-control is the key to the pause.

And, the pause is everything. I mean EVERYTHING.

The other day I had to pick up some papers that were set outside an office building for me. They were being held up by a large 2×4. In my hastiness, I grabbed the papers and knocked the 2×4 on my foot. Every explicative went through my head, and I left there angry at the 2×4 and the people who thought putting it there was a good idea. The reality is I rushed as I do everything. Not paying attention to my steps or my surroundings. I just acted and reacted without giving it any thought. Without a pause. So, the universe simply responded to my actions. Gravity, like it always does, did its job, and the 2×4 came crashing down on my foot. Had I slowed down and taken notice of the moment, I suspect I could have prevented the entire incident.

The spirit has also been speaking to me about the power of the pause in how I take care of my body. I grab a snack bar for breakfast, albeit “gluten free”, because I don’t want to pause an entire 5 minutes to fry an egg. When the egg offers me much more good for my body…..and in those five minutes of pausing, my thoughts slow down. In those 5 minutes, I notice my thoughts aren’t just on the egg itself. But, my thoughts quiet for a moment to hear what my Spirit is saying. To listen. To be still. In those 5 minutes, my entire being benefits: body, soul, and spirit. That’s the power of the pause. Again, I say, the pause is everything.

Abandoning the pause can affect everything in our lives. And, often times, we don’t acknowledge our condition as a failure to pause. When in reality, our condition is often the effect of our haste. We make a bad decision, because we do not pause. We respond with anger or hurtful words, because we do not pause. We hurt ourselves, because we do not pause. We hurt others, because we do not pause.

We miss moments with our children, because we do not pause. We fail to see the goodness in our partner’s eyes, because we do not pause. We miss God in the moment when we are with other people when we do not pause.

But, when we DO pause. We just don’t save ourselves and others from our hasty reactions…..but, we absorb life itself in all of its goodness. We see God in all things and in all people. We walk like barefoot priests careful of where we step, careful of the direction we take, tender with the words we speak. We pause, and we ABSORB LIFE. We absorb His presence, because, His presence is in the pause. We hear Him speak, and we make better choices. We zoom out, and don’t just see the one tree, but we see the entire forest. Instead of looking at one date on my calendar I see an entire week, month, year, life.

The pause makes us thankful, because it becomes impossible to not think of something good when we slow down. That gratitude moves us and motivates us to lead our day with eyes that see and ears that ear what we need to see and hear. The more we pause, the more grateful we become. The more grateful we become, the more good things we see and attract to our lives….simply because we are expanding in our thankfulness for life.

But, it cannot happen without the pause.

I have a cousin named Mark. He is, no doubt, one of the greatest beings walking this planet. He is never in a hurry yet nothing in his world is ever left undone. Easter Sunday, he lingered after church and talked to me for a long time. I had a brief thought of surely he has to get to his family lunch….surely, I have to get to my family lunch. But, I abandoned that thought immediately and paused. There have been moments I have thought Mark paused, because HE needed that pause. The truth is, I needed it. In the moments I have thought I was giving to him, he is the one who has been giving to me. That’s the power of the pause. It’s not just for ourselves.

Pause. Observe. Absorb. You will see more clearly. You will make better decisions. Others won’t taste your haste in word or action. 2x4s won’t make you want to shout explicatives. Practice it. Write it on your hand until it’s written on your heart. Just slow down in every single way possible.

The pause everything.

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Oh, Jett Man. Can You Slow Time, Please?

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This is the third “I Can’t Believe You’re Seven” birthday blog I’ve written, and my heart can hardly take it. I’ve been mostly okay writing Jett’s previous birthday blogs and mostly okay embracing the fact he’s another year older. Until now. I mean….I’m okay. And, I LOVE exactly where he is, who he is, and every single thing these seven years of learning and growing have given him. But, seven seems not so little anymore. SEVEN SEEMS SO BIG AND GROWN AND SELF-SUFFICIENT. Seven is realizing that these tender, amazing years of raising little ones are quickly becoming these heart-wrenching, amazing years of coaching and guiding three incredible expressions of God in the earth. And, the fact that God has entrusted me to nurturing and guiding three remarkable beings makes me want to shout “THANK YOU, JESUS FOR THIS LIFE WITH THESE PEOPLE!” My heart pours out gratitude. Because, being their mom is my greatest joy.

I have loved every single second with Jett Takle. He is the third, the baby, the one who can convince to me buy the Oreo Blizzard (and eat the Oreo Blizzard.) The one who can leave rocks and Lego minifigures in his pockets and make me smile every time I pull them out of the dryer. The one who can say, “Can I snuggle with you?” and melt my heart in two seconds flat. The one who can almost convince me to do whatever his little heart desires. Almost.

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And, the amazing thing about all of this? The other three people in this house pretty much feel the same way about this youngest spark of light and joy living down the hall.

Jett Takle, you make ALL of our hearts melt.

There are so many things I love about you and your FUN self.

I love how you can break out into a dance at any given moment if you think it will make us laugh.

I love how you say, “Hot tubbbbbb, hot tubbbbbb. Oh, how’s that hot tubbbb lifeee?” We don’t even know where it came from, but you do it every single time it’s hot tub time, and it makes us all smile so big.

I love how you’ve made it your daily goal to make me laugh every single day. Not once. Not twice. But THREE times. It’s just your thing. And, you count every time until you hit three.

I love how you tell me, “Mom, I looovvveeee your laugh.”

I love how even at seven years old, EVERYTHING is still so amazing. Please, don’t ever lose that. Don’t ever stop being in awe of how beautiful everything is. How intricate and unique every detail is in all of the things around you. Keep the wonder. I will help you fan those flames.

I love how you have named Pastor Will and Jenny “Paw-Paw and Nanny.” Who knows where you come up with these things. But, I love that you recognize the village around you and how loved you are.

I love how you LOVE to read. I love that it compliments and fuels your incredible imagination.

I love how you love Legos and can put them together with both determination and commitment.

I love how it takes you a long time to let me throw away your collection of empty boxes, because “they are special.”

I love that you love going to bed as much as I do. Seriously, I do.

I love how you love to be prayed for every night.

I love how you loved Bigmama and hugged her every time you saw her.

I love how you love all of your grandparents and think they are hilarious and perfect.

I love how you especially think everything your Far-Far does is hilarious. And, how you think Cathy knows “every single thing” about animals.

I love how you think nobody bakes better cookies than Farmor.

I love how you love fishing with your Ga-Ga. And, I love how you yell, “NANNNN!!!! And run to her every single time you see her.

I love how you love working with your daddy on the farm.

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I love how you think John Henry is the coolest guy you’ve ever seen and light up when he wants to shoot hoops with you.

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I love how you love your sister and still call her “Sissy.”

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I love how you make me appreciate every second of being a mother.

You are a gift to this family, Jett Takle. You are a gift to the world. You have enlightened the way we look at everything these past seven years. I cannot wait to watch the years ahead unfold for you. They will be amazing. Because, YOU are amazing.

Happy 7th Birthday, Jett Man.

I love you so very much.

Love, Mom

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She Turns 12 Today.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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