Category Archives: Love

Make Space For the Season.

blog-space

The other day, I sat in mom and dad’s living room and began recalling my childhood Christmases. The subject came up when I told Anna about the time each of my parents thought the other was buying my presents. We call it “the Christmas my parents forgot me.” Their only child. Just one. Me. It’s actually one of my dad’s favorite Christmas stories to tell. Well, besides the one when dad asked me when I was a little girl to tell him if the lights on the tree were working. “Now they are. Now they aren’t. Now they are. Now they aren’t.” I didn’t realize they were blinking lights. My mom, however, hates the story of forgetting me. She was a flight attendant then, and her schedule was crazy. But, dad and I have laughed about that Christmas so many times. I was older, and I got it. I wasn’t hurt or disappointed. But, I laughed. (And, I caught my dad later that day writing a check to stick inside my stocking.) I wasn’t disappointed, because everything I ever could have needed or wanted from my parents I received. I’m not talking about the things. I’m talking about the relationships. The love. The real stuff that doesn’t get old or break or fade.

After I told Anna that story, I began remembering all of my Christmases when I was a little girl. I remembered the Christmas morning I got Dolly Pops. I had wanted those for a solid year. I remember the Christmas where Ken and Barbie were sitting on their Barbie horses, and another Barbie was taking a dip in her pool that mom filled with water. I remembered the Christmas I opened up a my burgundy velvet blazer and navy blue tie. I guess I was channelling my inner Diane Keaton that year. I began to tell my parents and my own children that while I knew my Christmases weren’t “big” by most standards, they always felt big. Dad was pastoring a small church on a very modest income. They couldn’t do the big. But, I told them, “It always felt big. They were the best Christmases.”

I watched tears stream down my mom’s face. Did she not know that they always felt big and were so perfect to me? Did she not know that I never felt slighted growing up but, instead, only loved every part of what the season brought our family? The peace, the smiles, the joys, the laughs, the hugs, the thank-yous, the blinking lights?

Last night, I sat in my own living room with my two oldest children who are hardly children anymore. John Henry looks at me and says, “Mom, can you give my big presents to another kid this year or is that not an option?” Later Anna says, “Mom, last Christmas was great. Don’t get me wrong. Everyone loves presents. But, I don’t want so many gifts taking up our time together.” Then, in her hilarious Donald Trump voice she said, “I’m going to build a wall around the tree and gifts.” (Seriously, her Trump impression rivals only that of Alec Baldwin.)

“I want to make space between the gifts and this,” she said, stretching her arms toward John Henry and me. “There is nothing I need. I just want this.”

Did I not know that my kids simply loved every part of what the season brought our family? The peace, the joys, the laughs, the hugs, the thank-yous, the lights that do not blink? Not the things that get old or break or fade. The relationships. The love. The real stuff.

In all of your hectic shopping, your worry over if you have bought enough, done enough, given enough….Pause, stop, breathe. Your kids will have more than they need or want because of YOU. Because, you laugh in the kitchen together while making Chex-mix. Because, you put away your phones and look them in the eyes and listen to them. Because, you take a break from homework and laundry and cry together watching This Is Us. (Have mercy, that show is everything right now.) Because, they watch you say something encouraging to their dad. Because, they watch their dad bring their mom coffee. Because, they see stockings for John Henry’s dad and step-mom hung at my parents’ house. Because, they see what love looks like. How it walks, how it talks, how it moves, how it pauses, how it gives.

Make space between the gifts and this. Fill that space with everything you are. Fill that space absorbing everything your children are. That’s what a big Christmas looks like. Make space for the season. Make space for the real stuff that doesn’t break. But for the stuff that gets you through your hardest seasons. The stuff that assures you that God is always for you and will not fail you. The stuff that reminds you to always make space for forgiveness, for gratitude, and for loving well. The stuff that reminds you that YOU ARE ENOUGH and you are amazing and you are INSANELY loved. Make space for that stuff. Nothing else matters. It’s all about your relationships. I can assure you of that.

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Filed under gratitude, Kid Stuff, Life Experiences, Love, Motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

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:

jh-two

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

jh-anna

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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60 Things I Love About My Mom. 


She was 19 when she became my mother. And, I can’t remember how old she was when she became my best friend. But, she’s been the best of both for as long as I can remember. You have never met a more beautiful human being in all of the world. You have never met a more selfless woman. A woman filled with more grace and kindness and love than my mother. Today, we celebrate 60 years of this world becoming a brighter, kinder, more beautiful place. And, without further ado, I give you 60 Things I Love About My Mom:

1. I love how so very frugal and disciplined you are with your finances. Unless you’re buying for your grandchildren, then all frugality goes out the window.

2. I love that no matter how much my dad can aggravate you with his spontaneity to do the most random of things, you still love him and accept him and tell me, “You know your dad.”

3. I love how you consider riding your Harley Davidson motorcycle “therapy.”

4. I love that you can even ride a motorcycle, because, I would surely not do that so well. (And, all of my friends say, “Amen.”)

5. I love it that you keep a tub full of chocolate candy bars in your refrigerator and add to the tub whatever people request….whether you are family or not. (She thinks you’re family and wants to have all of your favorite things waiting for you.)

6. I love how you introduce ME to new music now. You were shouting Bruno Mars before he was cool.

7. I love that you went to see Prince in concert. I don’t love it that you went without me. But, still, that was awesome.

8. I love that you recognize the dresses you made for me when I was little were not really awesome.

9. I love how you try to get into your chair before Jett comes over, just because Jett expects to find you there and wants to run to you.

10. I love that you always, always remind me to give my children the benefit of the doubt on everything.

11. I love how you give EVERYONE that benefit and always assume the best. In everyone. No matter what.

12. I love how you will give up the best of something, so someone else can have it. Truth is, you always deserve the best of everything.

13. I love how you love to get dad exactly what he wants for Christmas. In as much as his wish list seems so childlike and can make you roll your eyes, you always try to fulfill it.

14. I love how you record every single awards show, because you never know that performance you will want to go back and watch. Over and over and over again.

15. I love how you already know the odds of a horse before he ever gets ready to race.

16. I love how you get emotional at race time.

17. I love that you still talk to Judy everyday after 37 years of friendship.

18. I love it that you taught me you are never too far from a friend to be there for her in the hardest of times and in the best of times.

19. I love it that John Henry can never, EVER do any wrong in your eyes.

20. I love how you will buy Anna most anything she wants, regardless of what I may or may not have thought about it. Surely, forgiveness is better than permission.🙂


21. I love how you think everything Jett does is funny….and how hard you try not to laugh at the things you shouldn’t. But still do.


22. I love how you’ve joked (or not joked) before, “You keep your dad, and I’ll keep the kids tonight.”

23. I love how you love coming to the farm, and you can truly relax here.

24. I love that you are always willing to keep the kids whenever I need you, no matter what you have planned.

25. I love how I got my love for the beach from you. And, how we could sit in our chairs and not move until sunset….if only dad and my kids would let us.

26. I love that we got to experience NYC together with Anna.

27. I love how you fell in love with Broadway and the theater.

28. I love how you are always falling in love with new things and new adventures.

29. I love it when people tell me I look exactly like you.

30. I love it that we can wear each other’s clothes.

31. I love how you always ask me when Kris is gone, “How can we help you today?”

32. I love how no one can ever say a single negative word about you, because you live life so well.

33. I love how you always speak the most positive words about people.

34. I love how you love EWC and carry the heart of the people.

35. I love your gift of discernment and how I can trust it.

36. I love how you can flow so effortlessly in the Spirit and minister to people.

37. I love how you truly love and appreciate others and their gifts.

38. I love how you love my friends and call them your girls.

39. I love how thankful you are for every little thing and every big thing.

40. I love the face you make when I talk about Anna taking my things….because, you know exactly what it feels like. (Sorry that I still take your things.)

41. I love how open you are to still grow in the things of God.

42. I love looking into your years ahead and already seeing how God is going to use you to minister to people so beautifully.

43. I love that you taught me how to hear His voice and to always trust it.

44. I love that you remind me of His faithfulness ALL of the time.

45. I love that you are content with so little yet do not fear dreaming big.

46. I love how you always taught me to love and accept all people no matter what they look like, what they believe, or how they live their life.

47. I love how you love Kris and appreciate him…..and, how, he too, can never do any wrong in your eyes.🙂

48. I love how you will play the most random of games on your phone. Even though they are loud and ridiculous.

49. I love that you actually address “Siri” when you talk to her.

50. I love how you are my biggest fan.

51 I love how you have encouraged me every single day of my life.

52. I love that you have set such an amazing example of what motherhood looks like for me to imitate.

53. I love all of my memories with you, and how I can still remember what it felt like for my hand to be little inside of yours.

54. I love it that when I look at my own hands now, I see yours.

55. I love that you have been every person I’ve needed you to be….my mom, my friend, my husband, my sister….You have filled so many roles in my life when I’ve been without.

56. I love how much you loved your mom, and I love how you talk about her with so much affection. I know she is so proud of the woman she raised.

57. I love how much you loved your dad and how we can still laugh at the things he said and did.

58. I love how you light up a room when you walk in it. Not just because you are so beautiful, but because His love is so bright within you.

59. I love how you always bring peace into the most difficult of situations.

60. I love how you always bring gratitude into every single triumph.

Thank you for being the best mom and Nan. Thank you for being a living example of God’s grace, mercy, and love. I am so thankful that of all of the women in the world that could have been my mom, God chose you. I love you so very much.
Happy 60th Birthday, Mom. The best is yet to come.

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Filed under God Stuff, life, Love, Motherhood

On Love and Marriage

Dear friends,

I thought I would share one of my recent articles published in The Grip on love and marriage. I truly feel as though Kris and I have a beautiful marriage, because we have chosen to become partners in everything. We are a team. There is no competition. No disrespect. And, complete trust. He is my best friend, and I am his. I love this quote and believe it to be true: “It's not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” (Friedrich Nietzsche) Physical intimacy is important as well as date nights and time away from our children. But, it is our views on true partnership that I feel make us strong in our relationship. I pray your own relationships are strengthened, not just this weekend, but every single day. And, that you bring more glory to Him together than you do apart. Happy Weekend of love!


Previously published in The Grip.

My husband and I don’t really exchange gifts on Valentine’s Day. Nevertheless, we are still big fans of love. So, with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I thought I would share a few not so secret secrets to what helps us enjoy life together and truly love each other well. I’m sure many of you could add to the list, too. But, here are a few things and thoughts I always try to remember about marriage….and about all of my relationships:

1) Don’t take things personally. Not text messages. Not actions. Nothing. Trust that your spouse is always for you. Once you truly believe he or she is FOR you, then you rest in knowing he or she never means to hurt you.

2) Don’t compare jobs or get into a “who has the toughest job” war. Comparison is the thief of joy. And, this is a dangerous road to travel down. One of the biggest keys in refraining from comparison is to always maintain an attitude of “I get to do this.” I get to provide for my family. I get to be available for my children. Gratitude for our roles changes everything.

3) I don’t have to talk through every single issue. I’m not advocating a lack of communication. However, sometimes, things are better left unsaid. Words are powerful and create energy: both positive and negative. Besides, I may feel differently tomorrow than I do today. Sleep on it.

4) Create rules for engagement when it IS necessary to address an issue. You set up whatever works well for your communication. For Kris and I, profanity and name-calling are never allowed when we are communicating an issue. I also try not to use “always” and “never” when discussing an issue. Both can put the other on the defensive and make a small issue become a greater one.

5) Make allowances for each other’s faults. This is so hard! But, we have to allow the people we love to fail us. We are certainly going to fail them.

6) Let thanksgiving and praise become the loudest noise in your home. Say thank you often. Even for the smallest of things.

7) Let laughter become the second loudest noise in your home. A cheerful heart is good medicine. (Proverbs 17:22) Laughter keeps our hearts softened. It makes the darkest days lighter. And, well, for Kris, he knows it completely drops my guard….and makes it really difficult for me to remain upset. Guard your heart (your thoughts), but don’t guard it from being merry.

7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:7-8

 

 

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Our Family Turns 10.

Ten.

 

This Friday, August 16th, Kris and I will have been married ten years. I will never forget how excited I was on our wedding day. No nerves. No stresses. Just pure excitement. And, pure confidence that I was marrying a man who would not only love me for the rest of my life, but love this little guy, too.

 

These ten years have been a dream. There have been hard moments, but I really can't remember a bad season. And, not a day goes by that I don't thank God that I'm married to Kris Takle.

 

I am thankful he responds me to with love when he gets the worst of me.

 

I am thankful that he doesn't take for granted the best of me.

 

I am thankful for the way that he loves our children and parents them with such grace.

 

I am thankful for a really FUN marriage.

 

I am thankful for an amazing ten years.

 

Kris Takle, I love you so much. I love our adventures. I love raising children with you. I love how you make me feel. I love how you love me so perfectly. And, because of Him, I know the best is yet to come.

 

Happy Anniversary, Ivar. There simply isn't a better man.

 

 

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The Wonder of 40.

mom - dad recent wp

These two lovebirds celebrate 40 years of marriage today.  I can honestly say, their marriage is better at year 40 than it’s ever been.  Yesterday, Dad asked Mom to accompany him on the EWC stage and share a few of the reasons they’ve survived 40….and each other.  While they both acknowledged their journey hasn’t been without failures, their longevity of marriage is the result of two people who simply continue to make it better.  I thought I’d share what they say has worked for them.

1) Always go back to your first love.

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!”
Revelation 2:4

Whatever you did to win his heart in the beginning, keep doing it.

2) Treat your spouse with the same respect you treat others.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:31-32

We tend to choose our words with other people a little more carefully.  We make allowances for their faults more easily.  And, we usually show respect to others more intentionally.  Be just as intentional with your spouse.

3) Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!  Song of Songs 2:15

Most marriages survive and recover from the big stuff.  It’s the small, trivial things that can really mess it up.  You can’t accept what you continue to complain about.  You’re going to have to accept certain things that will probably never change.  Choose your battles.  Don’t sweat things that won’t matter tomorrow.

4) Compliment his or her strengths.

So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.  Romans 14:19

Be intentional about praising one another’s strengths.  And, don’t ever bring up his or her weaknesses.  Focus on the good stuff.  Whatever you focus on, you give energy to.  Period.

5) Don’t take your marriage for granted. 

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.  Remind me that my days are numbered – how fleeting my life is. 5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.”   Psalm 39:4-5 4

Set up guardrails to protect your marriage.  Be mindful that you can fall any minute.  Trust your spouse’s intuition and discernment.  Dad quoted Henry Ford’s advice on a successful marriage (who likened it to his successful business):  “Just the same as in the automobile business, stick to one model.”

6) Don’t keep a record of wrongs.

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Never, ever bring up past failures or disappointments.  Once it’s forgiven, leave it in the past.

7) Don’t ever give up.

Mom said, “There is no Plan B.”  Don’t make giving up an option.  There is always hope for a better marriage.  Always.

For me, I’m grateful for such an example to look up to.  They both continue to inspire me.  They have imparted good stuff to me that I can apply to my own marriage.

I just hope that after 40 years of marriage, I look as good as they do.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.  I love you both.  And, I’m so glad y’all got married.  Obviously.

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Making Allowances.

* Written for The Grip, August 30, 2012

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Colossians 3:13

It’s easy to remember the forgive part.  Okay, it’s easier.  It’s the first part we tend to overlook:  Make allowance for each other’s faults.  Most of us have a difficult time making allowances for each other’s faults.  In other words, we don’t allow people to fail us.  We forget to make those allowances.  The truth is every person we are in relationship with will fail us.  My spouse will fail me.  My children will fail me.  My friends will fail me.  And, I will fail them.  The key is to not allow those moments to define that relationship.  Instead, we must view it as a moment in time.  A moment where we allowed that person to fail us.  A moment where we forgave them as soon as they did.  A moment.  That’s all.

Even though none of us think of ourselves as perfect, we still have a tough time allowing others to be flawed.  As a parent, I have to constantly remind myself to allow my children fail.  I have to guard against over-parenting.  There are times I try to prevent them from failing instead of letting them make mistakes.    Allowing them to fail.  I want to protect them from failure.  But, if I could protect them from every single failure, they would never see their need for a Savior.

I’m going to fail you.  You’re going to fail me.  When we do, we have a gap.  On one side of that gap is my expectation of you.  On the other side of that gap is what actually happens.  We choose what goes in the gap when someone fails us.  We can fill that gap with bitterness, anger, or hurt.  Or, we can fill that gap with forgiveness, grace, and allowances for that person’s faults.

We choose what goes in the gap.

Paul follows up Colossians 3:13 with this:

14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.  15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.  And always be thankful.

Get up every morning and wrap yourself in love.  Choose peace over being right.  And, be thankful for those people in your life…..

Even when they fail you.

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