Category Archives: making an impact

Why Does 17 Seem So Much Older?

JH - 17 1

Today, my firstborn is SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD, AND I CAN HARDLY BELIEVE THAT I AM THE MOTHER OF A SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD. LIKE HOW DID THIS HAPPEN SO FAST? But, here I sit typing his birthday blog the night before his birthday ever so grateful for every single day of these past 17 years. I can remember when he was little and the sweetest, kindest little boy you have ever seen.

jh young 17

People, while well-meaning (I guess), would say, “Just wait until he’s a teenager!” I decided then to never buy into that gloom and doom prediction of the teenage years being hellacious. Buying into that would have been a terrible investment and waste of dread. Because, this teenager has become one of my greatest supporters, encouragers, do anything for me (and you) sons, and it just always blows my mind and makes me so proud.

John Henry, you are one of my very best friends. I love laughing with you. And, you know I love it when I make YOU laugh. I love talking to you, and I promise I try to really understand everything you say about cars. I do not, however, try to understand everything you say about math and weird things like that. But, it’s cool you like it.  Spending time with you is one of my greatest life treasures. And, I LOVE that you love spending time with us. I love that you always want to know what we are doing, because you want to be doing it with us. It’s okay that you have FOMO. It alway makes me laugh. I love that my friends are your friends. And, that you can hang out with and enjoy anyone of any age.

I love what kind of friend you are to people. Good grief, you are a good one and someone your friends can always depend on.

John, you can pursue anything in life you set your mind to. You can achieve anything you desire to achieve. I believe in you, and I am so proud of your commitment to success. BUT, your greatest success is your commitment to be a good human. A good friend. Just a good, good man. I don’t care what you set out to DO in life. My greatest joy is just watching you BE. I love who you are and what you add to every space and every life.

You add peace to our home.

You add calm to situations that should be stressful.

You add dignity to every room you enter.

You add love to conversations that tear others down.

You add forgiveness to unmet expectations.

You add humor to unexpected moments.

You add the best music to every dance party….whether in our kitchen or on the deck.

You always add everything good to every situation, every room, and every person simply by being there. Your presence carries a weight that is so beautiful and so honest and real. And, because of that, you will find favor all of your days. I really believe that.

Thank you for always looking out for your sister. Even when she has no clue that’s what you are doing.

Jh anna - 17

Thank you for taking time with your little brother. One day, he will be your best friend.

jh jett - 17

Thank you for honoring us the way you do.

Keep being you. Keep doing you. Because, this world needs you. It needs your calm. It needs your humor. It needs your honesty. It needs your love. I pray you get back so much more than you give out. Because, you deserve it, bud.

May today be filled with all of your favorite things: good food, good conversation, and a little Sinatra. And, may you see all of the coolest cars on the road today.

I love you, John Henry Landreth. I couldn’t ask for a better son or a better friend.

Love,

Mom

JH - me 17

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I’m Going Back To School!

I mean, I’m not going to be driving to a campus. But, I have enrolled in an online school to become a certified life coach! The initial certification will be finished before the year’s end. But, I will take additional classes next year that are more specific to the kind of topics and issues in coaching I want to zoom in on. When I initially shared this with my dad, he responded, “I don’t think you need to go to school for this. You are already doing this, and your life speaks loudly enough to validate being a life coach.” SUPER sweet thing for dad to say. But, there is SO much I don’t know as it pertains to ethics in coaching, and there is ALWAYS room for growth and learning. And, it’s something I wanted to my children to watch me do.

When I told my kids I was going back to school, their response was the freaking best. They have been so excited for me and SO supportive. John Henry immediately began thinking of a name for my life coaching endeavor. I’ll share that name at another time. When I told Anna, she responded, “Mom. YES! So much yes! And, I feel like this is going to put you in a position to write more, to minister more….to write your book!” Y’all…..their love and support and belief in me have meant everything. EVERYTHING.

Jett, however, was all like, “WHY DO YOU WANT TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL? WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF? HOW OLD ARE YOU?” God love that boy.

Everyone I have shared this with has been so encouraging. Most have said, “You already do this….” And, while that’s true on one level, there is always more. My dad has always said, “The more you do, the more you CAN do.” It’s so true in life. Kind of like when you lay around all day and are SO tired from doing nothing that you don’t want to do anything? But when you have one million things on your list of things to do, adding one more seems like no big deal. Life is funny that way. But, I feel like I’m adding something important to my to do list. I feel like this is the right thing to do and pursue. Actually, I know it is.

A couple of months ago, I was driving to church and heard in my spirit, “Do the little things. Stop trying to do one HUGE thing.” There are a lot of little things we do and can do that can impact not only our lives, but the lives of the people around us. While this new journey is a big thing, it will be the little things that come out of it that will be what really makes a difference. And I’m pretty excited about it.

Virgin Gorda.JPG

This pic is me doing something I didn’t initially want to do, because the journey there was going to be long and bumpy…..and, I’m not exactly an outdoorsy kind of girl. But I did it and LOVED it, and I have so many ridiculous selfies to prove it. So, here’s to a journey that might be long and get bumpy, but I know will be so worth it!

Also, wondering if this means I get to go back to school shopping?

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I Can’t Wait To Hear Your Music.

It’s been a long minute since I blogged. I woke up this morning wanting to document my thoughts on 2018. And, what I am feeling in this very moment.

Some years seem like challenging years because of loss. Loss of a loved one, loss of a marriage, loss of job, etc. Some years seem challenging because of struggles in health or finances. One thing I’m kind over, though, is defining a year as one thing. “It was a hard year.” “It was a disappointing year.” “It was a challenging year.” It’s not that those words can’t necessarily define a season or experience, but I’ve grown tired of it defining a year. The truth is, life can sometimes be hard. It can be disappointing. It can be challenging. And, life will always be that way. But in the space in between, it can also be amazing. It can be filled with tender moments. It can be filled with moments you laugh so hard until you cry. It can be filled with tiny victories and big victories. And, this is life. Not a year. Life.

I do love the feeling, however, a new year brings. A new chance to be better. A new opportunity to accept things I once struggled with or a new opportunity to embrace the in between moments with more awareness of how precious they are. And, I lean into that feeling with excitement and readiness. And, I lean into it bringing every lesson that 2018 brought me.

2018 has been filled with all of the moments and seasons described above. It’s been challenging at times, disappointing at times, hard at times. It’s been filled with the tenderest moments and some really great victories. It’s been a year of crazy growth. And, I am thankful for every single moment and season.

The disappointing moments taught me to wipe the tears from my face, look up, and look ahead. My year began with a knee injury in January and a back injury in February. And, then in March, I would preach a message that would inspire some and bother others. I got it. I understood both kinds of responses. It kind of shook my internal world for a bit. But, what I learned from it all is that 1) Time does heal the body. Be patient. And, 2) “Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.” – Alan Watts

I stirred way more than necessary, and then I had to wait on the water to clear again. Next time, I’ll be more gentle, but I’ll also accept that not everyone is going to see things the same way as I do, and that’s ok. Accept it, be tolerant, continue to be you, and move on. When you stir things and create muddy water, you are no longer able to see clearly and truth becomes blurred. But if you remain still, and leave whatever that thing/person is that’s causing you turmoil alone, it will all clear. And, what Spirit has been revealing to you will remain in tact. And, it won’t take you near as long to recover from it.

The challenging moments taught me to trust the process, and don’t try to fit the round peg into a square hole. We kept trying to do this with adding on to our house. We ran into road blocks every time we engaged the idea. Kris never had real peace about it, but I wanted what I wanted. Don’t we always? Kris went along for the ride, trusting that I would hear what he heard and saw what he saw. Here, I learned: 1) Don’t force what you see and hear onto someone else. Trust the same Spirit that reveals things to you will reveal things to them. And, sure enough, I finally listened. And, 2) You’ll be so glad you didn’t force that thing that kept working against you. You’ll be glad you flowed with life. We now have a getaway that has already created the best family memories for us instead of an addition that gave me what? More to clean? What I thought was working against me was actually working for me. There are only two ways to view challenging moments: Working for you or working against you. They are always, ALWAYS working for you.

The inspiring moments have taught me that there is always more. Moments of victory, moments around the table, moments where you stir gratitude until you are overwhelmed by it…..hold tightly to them, because the longer you hold onto them, the greater it gets, and only more follows. But the more comes by not just holding onto the good, but digging your heels in and going after it. Getting dirty and rolling back your sleeves in every possible beautiful way and making happen what you want to make happen. We either let life happen to us or we make it happen for us. And, this is how I am rolling into 2019.

Back in October, I knew I needed a shift. As a matter of fact, I focused so much on the word “shift” that I remembered a movie my mom has begged me to watch for the past two years. TWO YEARS. It’s called “The Shift” with Wayne Dyer. I have yet to escape this quote from that movie: “Don’t die with your music still inside you.” My music isn’t just for me. Your music isn’t just for you. It’s for every person in your life and those who are yet to be in your life. It’s for the people you may or may never meet. You have something to give to this world. We just have to shift our thinking from “What can I get” to “What can I give.” And, then give it.

I’ve seen and read this quote all over the internet: “Your greatest calling may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” I’m with this in theory, and raising my children IS my greatest calling….but I think it eliminates any thought that YOU bring something powerful into this world all by yourself. I cannot expect my children to believe they can achieve greatness and fill the earth with something amazing and impactful if I can’t believe that for myself. My children will become what they see. In every area of their lives. I owe it to them to show up, pay attention, and let my music happen.

So, that’s how I’m entering into 2019. There is a lot of music inside of me. There is a lot of music inside of you. I need your music, and you need mine. We can either let life happen, or we can MAKE music happen. Christmas Eve night, Kris and I went to bed, and he looked at me and said, “Take ownership. Do it. Stop waiting for something to happen, and go after it.” It was the most random, out of the blue affirmation. And, it was just the thing I needed to seal it on my heart.

I hope this seals something in your heart. Take ownership. Do it. Stop waiting for something to happen, and go after it. 2019 has a lot in store for you. Hard moments, disappointing ones, challenging ones, growing ones, fun ones, amazing ones, victorious ones. They are all happening for you. And, I can’t wait to hear your music.

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The Future Is Female.

Anna me little

It feels like Anna has been my friend her entire life. I’m pretty sure conversations with her at age four were very similar to conversations I would have with my adult friends….with the exception of our conversations over wardrobe. However, those conversations have only evolved from “No, those ripped tights look terrible under those shorts” to “This is MY shirt, not yours.” She assumes what’s mine is hers and what’s hers is hers. I told my own mother the other day, “I am so sorry for everything I said and did when I was 13 and 14.” Mom simply responded, “Thank you.” I understand it’s the circle of life. And, I also understand that it is very hard to tell Anna she can’t wear something of mine. She usually pleads a very convincing case. She’s a smart one. She always has been. And, she’s, for sure, a strong one. And, while I journey through the victories and lessons of raising a teenage daughter, I also marvel at her intuitive strength and her eyes that always see beyond what’s in front of her. She is a force with the most gentle soul. Her evolution has been both remarkable and surprising. And, I can’t imagine my life without her. Today, she is 14. I don’t know what year 14 looks like for her or me, but I know we are both ready.

Anna me older

Anna, nothing has grown me more than being your mother. Nothing has stretched my love past the lines I didn’t know I had drawn like you have. And, I mean that in the most grateful way. Thank you for always teaching me to see more than the obvious. Thank you for taking me deeper. Thank for being you. I could list hundreds of things I love about you (and, I know you’re reading this and saying “Well, get to listing, sister!” But, I have a lot more years ahead of writing birthday blogs. So, here are 14 things I love about you, “sister”:

1) I love that you call me “sister” and everyone else “sister” when you’re excited, when you’re emphatic, when you believe strongly in something, when you are surprised, when you disagree with someone. I also love how “sister” is gender neutral as far as you’re concerned. Everyone is sister.

2) I love how you actually laugh at me now and think I’m hilarious (even though I still can’t be that way, act that way, or do that thing around your friends. Whatever.)

3) I love how easy you are to shop for. It is rare I walk into a store and don’t see something that reminds me of you. And, I love how you appreciate the oddest things, the tiniest things, and the most adorable of things. I can hear the excitement in your voice right now over the smallest, cutest succulent I placed in your room. I LOVE that excitement in your voice. You make all of life come alive.

4) I love how you balance your motivation to achieve with your need and love for cuddling up on the sofa with your hot tea, laptop, and a Netflix marathon of The Office, Queer Eye, or Grey’s Anatomy. No one can get comfier faster than you with the exception of your father.

5) I love how you understand and enjoy artists from Kristen Chenoweth to Cardi B. You don’t elevate one person over another and always appreciate the art different people bring to the table.

6) I love how you communicate so well with people of all ages. You can have conversations with 4 years olds and 74 year olds alike.

7) I love your passion for trying to understand the world and your search to find how you can contribute to it best. I promise just your presence adds to this world, because you carry HIS presence everywhere you go. You don’t have to stress over what tomorrow looks like. Just keep being present in this moment. You contribute goodness NOW.

8) I love how thankful you are for everything in your life. And, I love how when you know someone wants something, even if you love it for yourself, you always choose them over that thing. You will always draw more to you by being open to give. I know you already know this.

9) I love how you love your brothers. I especially love the relationship you have with John Henry. You have both grown and grown together. And, I love how you look back on pictures of Jett when he was little and just want to cry. You’re the proudest little momma I know.

10) I love listening to you play the piano. I sit up in the living room sometimes, and I hear you working out hard pieces. I hear the most beautiful sounds, and it makes me so proud. Sometimes, I hear your frustration, but I also always hear and feel your determination to master it. I’m so proud of you for persevering through the hard. You are mastering much more than a piece of music, Anna. You are learning to master life.

11) I love your heart for worship and how real and meaningful it is for you.

12) I love how you are a voice for the marginalized. I love how you believe and live out of the truth that every single person matters. “A strong woman stands up for herself. A stronger woman stands up for everybody else.”

13) I love how brave you are and never back down from a challenge. It doesn’t mean you’re never afraid. But, you never let fear keep you from moving forward. DON’T EVER LOSE THAT, SISTER.

14) I love your honesty. Your truth is always so raw, so real, so vulnerable, and so beautiful.

Anna 8th grade pic

Anna Takle, you are a most amazing human. You are a most amazing friend. A birthday blog or two ago I remembering writing that I could have never written a better story than the one I experience with you: as my daughter, as my teacher, as my friend. I know we are both head strong women. I know we have quite the road to travel down these next few years together. And, I know that we will do it hand in hand and with an undying determination to travel it well. I will keep teaching you, and you will keep teaching me. I love every day with you.

I love YOU.

Happy Birthday, Anna Takle. The world is a brighter (and fun) place with you in it.

Love,
Mom

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An Appointment With God.

It is honestly hard to be as raw and real as this post will be. Because, I am a positive girl. I take captive thoughts that drain me, that aren’t good for me, and I’m usually really good at making those thoughts obedient to truth. Obedient to the fact that His ways are good and perfect. To the truth that all things work together for the good. ALL things. But, I have struggled these past two months. I haven’t struggled in knowing He is good. But, I have struggled with sadness and disappointment.

For a while, I kept calling it sadness. I am saddened by the immense loss I feel from losing people close to me. I am saddened by the hands some have been dealt undeservingly. I am saddened that I have not done the things personally I know I need to do. I am saddened that any child would feel any amount of love that is less than what my own children feel. I am saddened by the suffering others endure. I am saddened there is a family of seven wondering about their next meal. Grief upon grief. Layered one on top of the other. I have cried, almost daily, overwhelmed by it all.

Sunday night, I poured myself out to Kris. I emptied it all. “I am sad,” I told him. And, the more I shared, the more I realized that my sadness was really disappointment. I looked at Kris and finally said, “I am disappointed in this year.” I have been ready for it to end. I am ready for something new. Something different. I told him that maybe we don’t give grief its proper respect. We know loss is a part of the human experience. We grieve. We cry. But, maybe we underestimate the reality of how that loss affects our daily lives. We don’t give it the credence it’s due. Instead, we try to find the good instead of feeling what is really there.

These have been my feelings. This has been my burden. This has been my past two months.

But the ability to finally identify what I feel and call it disappointment finally changed how I see today. How I see tomorrow. If we wallow in our disappointment, it will kill our passion. It will hinder in my own life the greatest forces in this world: faith, hope, and love.

I am of reminded of a message my dad preached so many years ago. He talked about Samson. Samson forgot who he was. He was disappointed in his choices, in the world he had framed, in the promise he thought was lost. Until one day, he felt his hair touching his shoulders, and he remembered. He remembered his strength…he remembered the living, breathing force within him. He remembered the promise. He remembered who he was. And, he knew in that moment: for every disappointment in life is an appointment with God. And, that changed everything.

For every disappointment is an appointment with God. It’s a reckoning. It’s where we feel what we need to feel. Where we allow grief to be what it is. Where we allow disappointment to be what it is. But, there comes a day when, like Samson, we are reminded of our strength. We are reminded that we have a choice. We can stay in disappointment or we can allow it to thrust us forward. Where we connect the dots. Where we remember who we are. Where we use the very thing that disappointed us to push us forward to do the work He has called us to do.

We can hold fast to faith that screams He is able to do more than we can imagine. Faith that opens our eyes to see the unseen. We can trust in the hope that anchors our very soul. That secures us. That keeps us from tossing to and fro when the waves come. When the disappointments come. And, we can cling to love: who we really are. We can love ourselves so deeply that we actually let ourselves off the hook when we don’t live up to what we hoped we would do and be. We can love others with such intensity that nothing they do can ever taint how we see them: real, living souls who are images of God in the earth.

Kris texted me this morning, “So many times we forget what we are passionate about. Your passions are so powerful, and your words are so impactful. You miss just how awesome you are. Life is good, life is hard, and it’s our faith that will keep us strong. Stop holding back. Stop being afraid. You can do it. No matter what it is.” These were the words that pulled me out of my disappointment. And, this was the time God chose to do it. Because, Kris was God in the moment. In this time.

I felt my strength again this morning. And, I remembered. I remembered my passions. I remembered who I was. And, I remembered that I have an appointment with God.

I have an appointment with myself. An appointment to renew what needs to be renewed. And a mission to bring faith, hope, and love to the forefront of people’s lives.

Friends, to you I say: Stop holding back. Stop being afraid. You can do it. No matter what it is. Because, you have the three greatest forces moving towards you in your favor: faith, hope and love. Don’t miss how awesome you are. Don’t stay in disappointment. Trust in the hope that assures us nothing is ever truly lost. The hope that assures us the best is always ahead.

Today is going to be a good day.

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Don’t Kill the Wonder.

Wonder

I receive these texts every morning with some sort of positive affirmation or healthy advice for the day. Today, the text read, “Unapologetically seek bliss today.” The text link led me to an article called “‘Ikagai’ is Japan’s Secret to Living a Long, Happy Life.” The author writes that ikagai is “the happiness of always being busy, but it doesn’t mean a schedule packed with mindless errands and activities. Rather, the thing that makes you want to get up in the morning, makes you want to work hard, and colors your life with purpose.” She further writes, “When you follow through on things you enjoy and limit the things you don’t, you’re taking steps towards pursuing what’s important to you.” (Anna Meyer)

This came at such a perfect time as my dad and I were discussing yesterday how so many lose their wonder in life. The truth is, we kill it. Or someone else kills it for us. We kill it in our children completely unaware that we are doing it. When we seek after the things that fill us with joy, we inspire that wonder. When we stop, so does the wonder.

We tell our kids things like, “You can’t always get what you want.” We tell them, “Life isn’t always one big party.” I’ve done it. I’m sure you have. I know our hearts behind it aren’t wrong. We think we are teaching them responsibility. And, that lesson is important. We think we are teaching them to be realistic with their wants and goals. Now, THAT lesson isn’t so much. We think if our little ones want too many things, then they aren’t thankful for what they already have. So, we squelch or diminish the importance or value in them wanting something. We kill their wonder.

It’s not that we never use the word “no.” It IS that we become facilitators, teaching them how to create their world. Teaching them that life IS meant to be full of wonder. Teaching them it’s okay to seek happiness. A couple of years ago I read a book by Shefali Tsabary called “Out of Control.” She is also the author of the “The Conscious Parent,” which may be more familiar to you. One chapter was titled, “How to Say ‘Yes’ or ‘No” Effectively.” My conversation with dad prompted me to pull this book back off the shelf. I’m glad I did. I began reading again about how we kill their wonder when we don’t value what they desire. Tsabary writes that we “deliver messages such as, ‘You are being so greedy, you should be ashamed of yourself. Don’t you know that money doesn’t grow on trees? You seem to think we are made of money.’ Shaming our children for their honest desires in this way, we dishonor their feelings. A practical matter has become a personal issue, with the parent feeling frustrated and the child rejected. Our children have every right to want things – this is normal and healthy. It indicates they have a connection to their lives.”

You see our purpose isn’t to run out and buy those things for them. I’m not arguing you can’t. Sometimes, the joy of parenting is saying, “Yes. Let’s go get this.” BUT, the beauty for us as parents is to facilitate their dreams. To teach them to have goals. To help them create ways to work for these things and attain them. To let them know that we are for them and will partner with them. “Our children learn they are active co-creators in their universe, able to actualize their dreams through action. Such children grow up to make good decisions in life.”

I dare say, such children grow up to never lose their wonder for life. Because, we as parents have taught them what it means to truly be created in God’s image – Elohim – creators. Creators are always inspired. And, that inspiration always comes from wonder. So, everyday, they get up and unapologetically seek bliss by actively fulfilling their life’s purpose.

Finally, I would say that this is not selfish. It sounds self-fulfilling. Partially, it is. But, as each one fulfills his or her purpose, the rest of the world benefits. We all gain from each other’s gifts. Am I trying to create a world filled with magic and love and peace and hope and bliss? Am I THAT crazy to think it’s possible? You better believe I am. Now, YOU. Go seek bliss today.

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I Have A Teenager.

JH - young

These eyes have owned me since the first time I saw them.  I’m pretty sure that he knows that by now.

13 years ago today, he made me a mother.  And, what a beautiful journey it has been. There are some who have told me, “Just wait until they are teenagers….”  If you’re a mom, it’s probably been said to you and not so much in a positive way.  I have chosen to enter these years with “the best is yet to come” as the foundation for our home and for my relationship with this beautiful soul that I get to do life with every single day.

John Henry, every year with you gets better and better.  Every season with you teaches me something about love, forgiveness, and always looking for the best in others.  One of the most, if not THE most, amazing qualities about you is that I never hear you say one negative or demeaning word about any person.  You have spoken kindly about every teacher, every friend.  You continually remind me to give someone the benefit of the doubt.  You continually find the good in others.

You have a righteous anger for those who are treated unjustly.  For those who are made to feel less than they should.  Your compassion for people to truly know and believe that they are who God says they are is the banner you wave so fiercely.  And, I could not be more proud of the man you are.

Thank you for valuing human life and for reminding me to always value others.

Thank you for being my protector, the man of the house, when your Daddy Kris is gone.

Thank you for always trying to make life easier for those around you.

Thank you for striving to do your best in everything.

Thank you for understanding technology better than I do.

Thank you for being the household Math tutor.

Thank you for introducing me to cool music.

Thank you for not being embarrassed when I dance.

Thank you for looking out for your sister even when she drives you crazy.

JH - siblings

Thank you for being a gentle, big brother to Jett. And, thank you for letting him play the Playstation with you.

JH - with jett el toro

Thank you for being you.

You are not afraid to endure hard things.

You are not afraid to put yourself out there and try something new.

You are not afraid to admit when you’re wrong.

You are not afraid to love deeply.

You are brave.  You are brilliant.  You are funny.  You are full of compassion and love.  And, I cannot believe you are a teen.  Time certainly flies when you’re having fun.  What a fun 13 years it’s been.  And, as always, the best is yet to come.

Happy Birthday, Teenager.

I love you more and more every day.

Love, Mom

JH - Dusty

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