Category Archives: parenting

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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Filed under Uncategorized, Motherhood, parenting, Love, life

Reset.

calm

“Remember. You show our children how to respond to stressful and difficult moments by how you respond to those moments.”

This was the reminder Kris gave me over the phone last night. You know, sometimes, when our husbands are right, we kind of want to roll our eyes or maybe throw a pie in their face. I jest a little. But, I couldn’t do either last night. I told him I recognized that my response was not good, and that I had allowed myself to get overwhelmed and would work through my stuff. He told me recognizing I was not in a good place did not make that place right. Again, he was right. So, I had to make myself right. And, I needed to do it right away. Not the next morning when all of the mercies are new. But, I needed to adjust then. In THAT moment.

It’s hard. We can work ourselves up faster than Clark Kent can turn into Super-Man. Then, we implode. Because, negativity is designed to do just that…..implode. We have to stop feeding it and giving energy to it. “When we hang up, reset your emotions, and go make it right,” he told me with the most tender of tones.

I didn’t have to wait for a sunrise to make that moment of spiraling emotions right. I just had to push the reset button. I didn’t feel like doing it, because staying in my overwhelmed emotions seemed easier. They validated me. They allowed me to justify my responses to stress. But, they didn’t produce anything good.

They didn’t model mercy or compassion.

They didn’t model the scripture, “be anxious for nothing…”

They didn’t model how to respond when life gets hard.

They didn’t model light.

They didn’t heal anything or anyone.

We can’t always calm the storm around us, but we can ALWAYS calm the storm WITHIN us.

And, that’s exactly what I did. I spoke to the storm within me, and said, “Peace be still.” I called my children together and asked forgiveness and spoke peace to them. In the very moment of my overwhelmed emotions, I reset and made it right.

You, too, always have the option to reset. No matter how powerful those negative emotions become….the God within you is greater. It is simply choosing to acknowledge who you really are and tapping into the peace that is already within you. Because, you have everything you need already inside of you. Everything.

You lack nothing.

Today, I choose to create my calm. I choose to model it. I choose to be the light in the dark and the calm in the storm. I choose to reset.

What do you choose today?

Be a lamp, a lifeboat, a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like shepherd. – Rumi

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Filed under God Stuff, Motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized, Virtue

We’re In This Together.

You know how you get into a season of parenting and you just love that season you’re in? I’m in one of those. Parenting is fun and exhausting and heart-wrenching and hilarious. And, so many more things. I love it that I’m in a season where I can have parenting fails, and my children recognize it as a parenting fail….and, they are able to shake it off and laugh about it. Yesterday was one of those days. First, in the check-out line at Ingles I noticed Jett put something in his pocket. He pulled out a lollipop.

Me: “Jett, do you know that’s stealing?”

Jett: “Yes.”

Me: “Do you know what happens when you steal?”

Jett: “You get rich.”

John Henry looks away, because he knows Jett doesn’t need to see him lose it. I try to reconcile the situation, and I still buy the lollipop. You may call buying the lollipop bad parenting, but I call it “It’s Monday, and Mom is tired.” So, whatever. At least, he now knows we PAY for candy. That’s my justification, and I’m sticking to it.

On the way home, I get a phone call from Kris filling me in on Anna and her appointment with the ENT. Anna, who has had chronic sinus infections for the past two years, apparently has her adenoids to blame for it. She also has her enlarged adenoids to blame for her inability to breathe well. I cannot tell you how many times she has told me, “Mom, I can’t get a good breath,” and I have responded, “It’s all in your head.” Swear. I am winning. You can imagine the hay day Anna had on the whole, “I TOLD YOU I COULDN’T BREATHE, MISS IT’S IN MY HEAD!!!!” I said, “At least you’re not allergic to chocolate!” She sort of laughed. Sort of.

Then later, I tell John Henry about some friends of ours who recently lost their dog. He knew this dog and loved this dog and spent time with this dog. I thought I was preparing him before he hears from someone else. Instead, he responds, “Oh my word, Mom. Why did you tell me that? You’re awful! I didn’t want to know this! You are having so many parenting fails today!”

I told John Henry I wasn’t trying to win any parenting awards. He said, “Clearly,” then he laughed.

We finally settled into the evening, and after putting the little bandit to bed, I decided to get him out for a family UTV ride across the farm. It was hard getting Kris on board, because he was all tired and acting like an old man. But, I was all I just wrote a blog post on living an adventure, so get up, people. A sleepy Jett got on the UTV and said, “Just so you know, when I go to bed, I’m tired.”

We made a memory. And, we forgot all about my parenting fails that day and took pictures of the beautiful, dusk sky. We remembered that at the end of the day, we are all in this thing together. Homework, projects, attempted thievery, surgeries, losses, wins, celebrations, disappointments, funny stories, doctor appointments, laundry, and even bad parenting moments. Sometimes, you need to pause them all and just be. Be in the moment. Be in something different than the day to day routine. Change it up. Be spontaneous. Be content.

Just be.

utv

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We’re A Little Bit Of Everything.

Anna - school

This year, we made the decision to transition our kids to private school. Let me first say, our kids have thrived in public school, and they have been under the instruction of some amazing public school teachers. Our decision to make the change came out of discussions between Kris and I and then with our children. One of the greatest benefits we’ve seen so far (besides only having ONE carpool line a day…..can I hear a shout?) is that all three of our children have opportunities to catch a glimpse of each other throughout the day. Jett will fist bump John Henry every time he sees him. And, we LOVE that. Seriously. Cutest ever.

Having been in a public school environment most of their lives, they are having new experiences they haven’t been exposed to before (and, we LOVE that, too.) Yesterday, Anna gets in the car and first shares that she thinks she might be Pentecostal. But, she doesn’t know for sure…

Anna: “So, today in Bible we checked what denomination we belong to. You know how our church isn’t ‘normal’ and I didn’t know what to check. I remembered hearing Big Mama was Pentecostal a long time ago, so I just checked that.”

John Henry: “We don’t belong to any denomination, Anna. I checked that.”

Anna: “Mom has never told us WHAT we are.”

We actually consider ourselves inter-faith, embracing all denominations. You know….we love grace like the Baptists and missions like the Methodists. Kris prefers the “sprinkling” of the Presbyterians (you will not find him submerged), and now we love the Eucharist like the Episcopalians. The list could go on. Bottom line, we believe every denomination highlights a different and beautiful aspect of the Christian faith. We have never really labeled ourselves, other than “inter-faith” because of this. I’ve sort of taken my dad’s position to always put a comma by your thoughts, because we are forever growing and expanding. We tend to parent our children the same way allowing for freedom of thought and growth. The only thoughts we govern are the ones that surround this scripture:

37Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39

Love God, love others, and love yourself.

THEN, Anna proceeds to tell us about her communion experience. We have taken communion. I mean, come on. We are no stranger to the sacrament. We eat our styrofoam wafer and drink our white grape juice, so as not to stain the carpets. We’ve even taken communion as a family together at home, drinking wine from the same glass and breaking bread. Apparently, Anna approached the Episcopalian communion the same way.

“I went up and tried to grab the cup from them. They said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, trying to drink the wine.”

“We don’t drink. We dip,” they told me.

“So, with my bread in one hand, I dipped my opposite hand, my FINGER into the wine, and then I LICKED MY FINGER. They looked at me like I was crazy. By the time I got back to my seat I noticed I still had my bread in my hand. So, I ate it.”

Needless to say, yesterday’s carpool pick-up was THE BEST. I laughed, and I laughed. Then, I would think about it again and laugh. This is seriously going to be a fun year.

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Filed under God Stuff, Kid Stuff, parenting, Spiritual Journey

Don’t Set People Up To Fail You.

Originally published in The Grip

A while back, our 13 year old, John Henry, got upset with his dad and responded to him poorly. Kris decided to take his phone and keep it until he apologized. While I knew Kris just wanted John Henry to recognize his poor response and how his words hurt, I wasn’t on board with his strategy, and Kris was open to hear my heart on it. At times, Kris and I disagree with how the other is handling a parenting issue, and one of us checks the other. I felt, in this situation, Kris was setting John Henry up to fail.

“He should know to go to his dad and ask for forgiveness and make this right.” Perhaps. But, sometimes, we know to make something right but have a hard time doing it, for whatever the reason may be. Placing expectations on someone to respond in a certain way only sets that person up to fail you. I’ve seen countless relationships that function this way. Especially in marriage. One sets the other up to see if he or she will respond in a certain way, and if that person “fails the test,” anger and resentment abound. “If she doesn’t come to me and apologize.” “If he doesn’t notice what I did and say ‘thank you.’” The list of examples could on and on. Instead of testing someone who doesn’t even know he or she is being tested, go to him or her. Share your heart and what you are needing from that person. Make sure you don’t come in on the offensive with words and phrases like, “you always” or “you never.” Instead, put it back on you. “It makes me feel unappreciated when you do this,” or “I am needing this from you right now.” Pay attention to your sound and tone. Go into the conversation not only ready to share your heart, but prepare yourself to listen to the other person’s heart as well.”

Kris made the decision to go to John Henry and ask him why he responded the way he did. Kris explained how his words hurt him. Both were able to share their heart, and there were no unfair expectations placed on John Henry without him knowing those expectations. Kris was able to coach John Henry in how to respond in situations when he gets angry and upset. It became a coachable moment instead of a set-up and test. See the difference? The same applies in all of our relationships. Don’t set people up to fail you. It’s simply not fair. And, more times than not, that person will, indeed, fail you. You have two options when you are wanting something from another person: 1) Go to them, and share your heart with the tenderest of tones, or 2) Decide it’s something you can let go and manage without. Both options are necessary at different times in our lives. Both options place you in a position where you are choosing the relationship. Both options are redemptive. And, neither is unfair.

Let’s not place expectations on people. And, if we do, and they fail us, let’s choose forgiveness instead of resentment. Let’s play fair, extend mercy, and handle each other with the greatest of care.

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Colossians 3:13

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Filed under Marriage, parenting, Relationships, Uncategorized

Happy Birthday To My Life Loving Boy!

Jett opener

Oh, Jett Takle. He steals my heart every single day. Really, he does. I don’t know another soul who loves life more….except maybe my dad. It amazes us all how much those two are alike.

jett dad.jpg

They dance alike. They give the exact same silly faces. They believe every moment is a moment to celebrate.

Jett dance.jpg

He just LOVES life and celebrates every little thing. Anna asked him a couple of days ago, “Jett, what’s your favorite holiday?” He responded, “I LOVE ALL OF THEM!” It’s true. We’ve been marking off the holidays leading to his birthday and will continue to acknowledge the ones that follow. ALL OF THEM.

Kindergarten has been quite the year. His creativity got the best of him when he was given a red and blue crayon and asked to write the consonants in red and vowels in blue. His teacher peered onto his paper to see he had drawn Spider-Man instead. And, when he learned the author of his book was named Dr. Seuss, he exclaimed, “Whoa! He’s a doctor AND he writes books? Wow!” Mercy, I love him. He’s gotten the hang of it all now, and his teachers shout, “Amen.” A lot of his success this year is due to his pure excitement and joy over how amazing everything is. Oh, for us all to be wowed by all the things.  To never lose our wonder for creation.

Jett santa.jpg

Jett Takle, you make everyone stop and celebrate life. When life gets busy and chaotic, and I’m rushing here and there and everywhere, you are my pause. You take my face and turn it towards yours, and you tell me something you think is so cool. You make me pull over on the side of the road, so you can pick daffodils. I will be sitting and thinking of a to-do list, and you will bring me the shiniest rock, and say, “Mom, is this rock special?” And, I will touch the earth, and pause.

The thought of you growing up nearly rips my heart out. I have loved every single second of your first five years. I know I will fall in love with you even more in the years to come. But, I will never forget your first five and how you have made me remember how amazing everything on this earth is. How amazing it is to celebrate every little thing. How amazing it is to stare at stars. How amazing it is….

to dance.

to turn an ordinary evening into a hilarious night.

to make up songs with a guitar by the lake on a Sunday night.

Jett guitar.jpg

to get closer to the people you love and say, “I love you.”

Jett Anna.jpg

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to see beauty in a weed and call it a flower.

to run as fast you can through a field, because, you can.

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to tell someone “you did a great job.”

to eat chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice-cream.

Thank you for teaching me that life is worth the pause. Thank you for teaching me to be an observer of life. Thank you for teaching me to celebrate every little thing.

Because, every little thing is worth celebrating.

YOU are worth celebrating.

Jett life.jpg

You are forever my sunshine, forever my favorite super-hero, and forever my JOY.

Happy 6th Birthday, Jett Takle.

The best is yet to come. But, I’m pretty sure you already know that.

Love,

Mom

 

 

 

 

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His Goodness Pursues You.

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

So, today, I begin with His goodness.

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

And, disappointment and hurt do not pursue me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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