Category Archives: parenting

Jett Man Is Double Digits!

jett hat

He has been waiting for this day for so long. He starts thinking about his birthday, his cake, his gift ideas, his festivities months in advance. When I told him we couldn’t celebrate his birthday in the way we had planned this year, I watched his eyes well up with tears, and this momma heart could hardly stand it. He didn’t let a single tear fall. He lifted his head and said, “It’s okay, Mom.” And, followed it with, “I still get a gift, right?” You better believe he does.

What a crazy time for him to turn ten. I can find myself getting overwhelmed by it all, but then I look at him and I see him creating. I see him building. I see him lighting up when he discovers something new. I don’t know anyone who loves learning more than he does.

And, I honestly do not know a kinder, more thoughtful soul. I really don’t.

Earlier last week, he looks at me and says, “Mom, what if we take the money you and dad were spending for my party and give it to someone who needs it right now?” I said, “Jett, that is a great idea and so thoughtful of you.” Then, in true Jett Takle “let’s think bigger” fashion, he says, “Mom. I want to start a fundraiser and call it ‘Jett’s Cure.’ We can raise a lot of money to help people!”

“Why do you want to call it Jett’s Cure?”

“Because, we don’t have a cure for the Coronavirus. But we can cure some things.”

So, today, we are launching “Jett’s Cure.” If you would like to help us help others in our community during this time, you can give to Eagles Way Church online at Eagles Way Church. Select “offering” or “event” and type “Jett’s Cure” in the memo. Every single penny will go to help someone in need during this very hard season. If you wish to send a check, you can do so by mailing it to Eagles Way Church, 100 Hudson Road, Griffin, GA 30224. Just write “Jett’s Cure” in the memo. This is what he wants most for his birthday.

And, it’s this kind of hope and love the world really needs.

Jett Takle emanates exactly the kind of hope I need right now.

Jett Man, I think it would be impossible for me to love you more. Your heart is just gold. You never hesitate to let people know that you love them. You take time with people and listen to them. You are gentle. You are so very smart and curious. You are creative and always dreaming so very big. You believe you will do big things, and I know you will.

I love how you love to fish with your Ga-GA.

I love how you love to listen to music and throw the baseball with your brother.

jett - john

I love how you indulge your sister in making videos with her.

Jett Anna

I love how you run straight to Nan the moment you see her. I love how you just love hanging on the farm with your dad. I love how you love your family and want to know every single thing about your family history. I love how you love Far-Far and Cathy and enjoy your explorations with them. I love how you hold your Farmor so close to your heart. I love how you always say, “I love you, Mom.”

I love how you love and care for your friends. I really loved watching you light up when you were finally able to see them online the other day.

I know you must think this time in history is strange. And, I don’t know how long it will be strange. But I do know this…..He that began this good, good work in you will be faithful to complete it. We will get through this together. We will keep exploring. We will keep creating. We will keep learning. Keep loving. Keep dreaming. And, keep fishing. We will keep telling each other how much we love them. And, we will look towards the future with immense hope and joy.

Happy 10th Birthday, Jett Takle. Thank you for keeping hope alive.

I love you more than you will ever know,

Mom

Jett OU

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Jesus, Take the Wheel.

anna 15.jpg

No, seriously. Take it. Help us, Jesus. Anna is 15 today. This ain’t my first rodeo with a student driver. Y’all didn’t tell me how close those mailboxes are, but I sure know now. I asked Kris if it was possible for him to take a year leave from work to do nothing but teach Anna how to drive. He was like “bills, food, Amazon.” So, that’s actually not possible. But, we will get through it. We will not yell at the driver. We will not stress out. We will remain calm under all circumstances. Amen and Selah.

Except I probably will yell at the driver.

And, she knows it. Because, she knows me.

Probably no one knows me better than Anna Takle except maybe my momma. And, she still loves me. Lord knows I love her.

anna tenacity

I love her tenacity. I love how she knows what she wants and how she always finds a way to get it. Once when she was in the 2nd grade, she kept asking for money to buy supplies from the supply cart at Crescent Elementary. That girl loved a new pencil and eraser more than anyone I’ve ever known. Kris and I felt like it was getting out of control. “You have plenty of supplies, Anna!” So, we quit giving her money for the supply cart. Until one day she asked, “Can I have money for ice-cream?” “Of course, you can!” She would ask for ice-cream money every single day. Eventually, we learned she was using the money to buy supplies instead. Kris and I felt lied to. We were deceived. We also began questioning our own parenting….like….YES YOU CAN HAVE ICE-CREAM. NO, YOU CANNOT BUY A NEW ERASER. What? Nevertheless, Anna has always found a way to get what she wanted. New pair of shoes? She’ll find a way. Always. It’s pretty remarkable.

And, don’t challenge her. Don’t. When she wanted to be able to enter the youth group two months early, Pastor Will told her that if she typed up the entire New Testament she could go ahead and join the youth. She did. This didn’t look good for Pastor Will. How could he send Anna up without the rest of the soon to be 6th graders? Will said, “How could I know she would actually do this?” We just looked at him. “You don’t know this child.”

She’s not afraid of any challenge. She’s not afraid to share her heart. She’s not afraid to love people, no matter how different they may seem. And, she’s never afraid to speak up for what’s right.

Anna Takle, you are constantly raising the moral conscience in this house. You are constantly making us aware of people who are marginalized and left out. You are constantly using your voice to champion equality. You are constantly using your life to champion love.

You are fun. You are hilarious. You are so incredibly bright. You think deeply. You feel strongly. You are passionate. You are COMPASSIONATE. (I prayed hard for that one, by the way.) You love to be with your family and friends, but you are also very comfortable alone. You prefer small groups like your Far-Far. You are determined like your Farmor. You care deeply for all living things like Cathy. You are quick witted like your Ga-Ga. You are affectionate like your Nan. (I’m glad you didn’t get the side-hug from your Ga-Ga and me.) You are motivated and generous like your dad. You love deep conversations like your momma. And, you love people like Jesus.

You are John Henry’s greatest advocate.

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You are Jett’s greatest teacher.

anna - jett

You are your dad’s spontaneous travel partner.

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You are my best friend.

anna - me

And, I am so proud of who you are. Keep being a voice for those who have no voice. Keep reminding me to calm down. And, I’ll keep reminding you to calm down, too. Stay brave, and be bold. This world is already brighter with you in it. I can’t wait to see how you continue to light it up.

I love you, Anna Takle. There’s not a girl on earth that I love more.

Happy 15th Birthday.

Love,

Mom

 

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What Are Your Children Hearing?

me anna

It can be easy out of frustration to say things to our children that tear them down. “You never listen” or “you are so lazy” or any negative words that directly tell them who they are or who they aren’t. Sometimes, parents can also use negative words thinking they are manipulating their child’s behavior to change. We can say things like, “You don’t care about your room,” or “You don’t care about me and what you are putting on me.” We think we can manipulate or guilt them into changing a behavior. These kinds of speech and motives are never beneficial. And, while guilt may work for a while, it’s not sustainable and affects their self-esteem and how they feel about themselves.

It’s not that you ignore behavior or pretend it’s not there. But when we address it, address the actual behavior. Not the person. Don’t say “you are selfish” or “you are being” this or that. Start your conversations with “let’s talk about what happened” or “can you share with me what’s going on or how you’re feeling.” This creates trust that you as their parent really care about them as a person and not their performance. It’s what builds your relationship with them.

Recently, one of of Jett’s teachers told me he was struggling to pay attention and focus in class. I asked her if he was talking to his friends beside him, and she said “Some, but it’s really just kind of like…..” I finished her sentence, “he’s in his own little world?” She responded with a resounding YES.

One of the things I know about Jett is that he is always thinking and imagining and coming up with ideas in his head. It’s one thing I don’t want to squelch. But, I do need to help him channel and navigate it. So, when I talked to him I asked him, “Are you having a hard time listening and staying focused on what your teacher is saying?” He told me yes. I didn’t say, “If you don’t start paying attention, there are going to be serious repercussions for you.” Instead, we talked about our imagination and how God gave it to us to create and how important it is. But, we also talked about how important it is to focus on our tasks at hand. Since I was driving, I asked him if he thought it would be okay if I stopped paying attention to the other cars around me and just started imagining sitting on a beach somewhere. He said, “No, mom!” I told him sometimes, I have to pause my imagination and focus, too. Then, we talked about ways that might help him stay focused. He bought into the discussion. As a matter of fact, when we were going through TSA security at the airport a few weeks ago, I wasn’t paying attention to the agent ask us to remove anything larger than a cell phone from our bag. Jett said, “Mom, take out my iPad. It’s larger than a cell phone. See how I’m paying attention and staying focused?”

Had I just told Jett “You don’t pay attention in class” or “You are going to get in trouble if you don’t get your act together” then all I would have addressed is who I think he is. And, that’s all he would have heard. And, I guarantee you the conversation would not have been effective, at least long term, nor would I have been building a relationship with him where we can continue to talk about it and navigate through it like we did at the airport.

Whenever I am asked for my most crucial parenting advice, I always encourage parents to build a relationship with your children. Relationship is everything. EVERYTHING. In a relationship, you allow the person to be who they are. You allow them to have differences of opinion or beliefs. You don’t force who YOU are onto them. Instead, you ARE the very things you want to see in that relationship. And, you speak them. Whether it’s with your spouse, your friend, or your child. These are the keys to any successful relationship.

And when you do tell them who they are, make sure it’s always positive. Tell them the wonderful things you see in them. And, for those things you don’t see but want to see, don’t tell them they don’t have that trait or it’s not in them. It is, because the Creator of the universe is in them. Instead, talk about the behaviors in a way that’s not threatening or demeaning. And, when you pray for them, thank God for that thing in them that you want to see manifesting outside of them. When my children were little and I would put them to bed, I would always say the same prayer. But, then I would pray thanking God for all of the things I saw in them (who they are), and I would also thank God for all of the things I wanted to see. Anna heard me thank God for her sensitivity and compassion for a long time before I started seeing it manifested. But she heard me say who she already was….not who I wanted her to be. And, she became it. And, now, you won’t find a more compassionate, accepting human being than Anna.

Your children will become who you tell them they are. Make sure you are telling them good things. And, when in doubt, ask yourself, “Is this conversation building our relationship or is it hurting it?” Teen years are coming if you’re not already there. And, I can assure you that relationship is going to mean everything.

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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.

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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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Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing.

main thing 2.JPG

We’ve been in a series called “Battles” at church. It has really had me thinking about battles I have fought that should have never been a battle at all. And, fighting those battles have led to some of my biggest hurts (usually me hurting someone) which ended up being something I regretted. As a matter of fact, the majority of my regrets in life are making a bigger deal out of something than I should have….turning a minor issue into a major one. Making the insignificant significant.

We should always know better. Most, if not all, of us have experienced really hard things that were significant. Something that puts life into perspective where we see what truly matters in life. Back in April when both of my oldest ended up in the hospital with concussions, life dramatically slowed down. Nothing else mattered during that season but making sure my children were okay. Perspective was clear and right. Yet, it’s so easy to forget once that season passes. And, suddenly we are back to letting little things become big things.

That little thing your child failed to do or did becomes a big thing. And, their little souls suffer from our lack of perspective.

That little inconvenience a friend caused becomes a big inconvenience. And, her heart is hurt from our lack of perspective.

That little oversight from your spouse becomes a big oversight. And, he is stripped down and goes to sleep feeling like he let you down from our lack of perspective.

Every time we make that little thing big, someone gets hurt. A relationship suffers. And, it’s never, ever worth it.

Ever.

You’ll read this today and maybe think to yourself, “Keep the main thing the main thing.” And, perhaps, you will today. Maybe even tomorrow. But time will pass, and you’ll forget. I’ll forget. Some little thing will happen and we will lose perspective and blow it out of proportion. Someone will get hurt, and we will regret it. We will struggle to take back those words. But, maybe if we can all start being accountable to one another by reminding each other to keep the main thing the main thing, we will stop fighting battles that should never be.

Souls will stay on fire with life.

Hearts will stay mended.

Relationships will stay in tact.

Because, we won’t make insignificant things significant. And, we won’t let significant things become insignificant. Because, what’s significant…..what really matters…..are the people in your life.

They are the main thing.

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Welcome To Each Other’s World.

jett world

I love being a mom. It’s honestly my favorite thing I do/am. I think most moms feel this way. My views on parenting are constantly evolving and expanding. And, I LOVE this, too. One of the things that’s been expanding in how I view parenting is the fact that we are all eternal beings.

I’ve said for years that there is no little God in my children and big God in me. Same big God in all of us. This has always helped me in trusting the God in my children to do and work all that needs to be done and worked within each of them. The only difference between Jett and me might be our awareness of God within us at times.

One of the ways I’ve expanded this truth, is that I used to think I was more aware of God in me than one of my children simply because I’ve been practicing awareness longer. Not always true. Sometimes, Jett will be aware of something I have been missing. How is this possible? Because, his spirit is just as old as mine is. We are eternal beings, remember? I allow my own children’s awareness to expand my own.

Another way I’ve expanded the truth that we are all eternal beings is to not dismiss something one of my children feel strongly about. Don’t say things like, “You’re too young to feel that,” “You don’t understand love yet,” or “You are too young to know what you really want to do yet.” We may have been living this earthly experience longer, but our spirits are the same age. Don’t dismiss their feelings. Don’t doubt that their feelings are real. Listen to them. Engage their passions. Hear their cries and respond. They NEED you to do this.

And, probably the greatest revelation I’ve had lately in parenting is that we are in each other’s world. Years ago, I always said when each child was born, “They entered my world. I didn’t enter theirs.” I was so wrong, friends. And, if I told you this, I am so sorry. No, no, no, no. As eternal beings, we are walking this earthly journey TOGETHER. The spirit behind “They entered MY world” wasn’t necessarily wrong. But, in theory, it was very wrong. My thoughts behind it were that he or she will adapt to MY environment. He will adapt to my schedule. She will have to adapt to my life and what I have already set in motion. That’s like me saying, “Kris, brother, you need to adapt to my life, what I want, what I think, k?” Sure. That would go over great. We adapt to each other’s worlds. We embrace each other’s worlds. The same goes for my children.

I started getting this revelation 3 years ago when Anna was in the play, To Kill A Mockingbird, and I was taking her to and from rehearsals every single day. There were no nights out for me. There was no me having time for me. Friends, I was in her world. However, it was her world that I got to be a part of and also benefit from. But, it wasn’t until now that I have been able to flip the switch on what it means: We are in each other’s worlds instead of “you entered my world when you were born.”

Sometimes, my world is all about Anna’s world. Sometimes, it’s all about Jett and sometimes, it’s all about John Henry.

john world

Sometimes, it’s all about Kris’ world.

And, guess what, sometimes, it’s all about YOURS.

Moms, if you can get the revelation now that you are sharing this earthly journey together, and you are in each other’s worlds, then this will happen:

You will thrive in gratitude that you GET to be in their world. You GET to see the world through their eyes. You GET to take them here and there and everywhere and get a front row seat to their world.

anna world

You will see so much more than you thought possible and expand in so much more than you thought possible because their lives and worlds add to yours. And, your world becomes so enlightened and so much more fun.

You will honor who they are as eternal, spiritual beings and treat them as such.

And, here’s what will NOT happen: resentment. You won’t resent giving up “your world” for “their world.” Because, all of the sudden, your worlds collide. Your world becomes theirs. And, their world becomes yours.

And, that, my mom friends, is magic.

Stay open. Stay aware. Remember who you are, and, don’t ever forget who they are. And, I promise you: being mom will only get better.

Keep expanding. Keep evolving. Welcome to each other’s worlds.

kids world

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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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Sixteen Candles

JH 16

You know from day one that this day will arrive. But, you never imagine how quickly it does. And, believe me moms of littles, time goes by as quickly as people tell you it will. It seems like yesterday that John Henry was a little 4 year old boy coming into my room every morning requesting “toast and syrup.” It seems like yesterday he was putting on his Bob the Builder tool belt ready to fix all the things. It seems like yesterday he was fighting Darth Vader down the hallway with his light saber. So many seasons have come and gone, and every single one feels like we were just living in it. And, as fun and wonderful as every season has been, nothing compares to the one we are in now. And, I have tears hitting my keyboard as I type this….because, I am so proud of the man John Henry is and how amazing the now moments are.

Dear John Henry,

There are no adequate words to tell of your kindness. You are the most aware human I know. You are aware of every person in a room, and you never fail to make sure the people around know they are noticed. You serve your school, your church, your friends, and your family. And, while we are all so proud and thankful for all you do, I am most proud and thankful for who you are. I would like to tell you not to focus on “doing” today, but I know that is pretty hard for you. But, like Pastor Will told you this summer, your word is “be.” You are all together enough and amazing simply by being you. You carry the presence of God everywhere you go, and we are always made better by it. And, because you carry it with such awareness, you have become it.

You get sixteen candles today. So, here are sixteen things I love about you:

1. I love how you say “Momma” when you just want to show me love. (And, when you want something.)

2. I love how you love your little sister and brother. I know there were times when they drove you crazy. But, you’ve become not only tolerant of the hard stuff siblings share, you’ve become an active participant in their lives, and you love spending time with them. John, you are the BEST big brother.

3. I love how you trust your Daddy Kris and will go to him first about anything going on in your life. I’ve become okay not knowing everything…..sort of….but, I’m so proud that you are so open to seek wise counsel. Walk with the wise and become wise. You get this.

4. I love how you love music and the energy and time you put into it. Your passion for playing music is so fun for me to watch and enjoy.

5. I love how sensitive you are to people and how carefully you walk in your relationships with them.

6. I love how you aren’t afraid to confront the hard stuff and have the hard conversations face to face. Real face to face conversations are a rarity these days, but you’ve taught yourself how important they are.

7. I love that you don’t feel the need to conform to other people’s expectations and are comfortable in your own lane. Stay in your lane. This is where you will always be happiest.

8. I love how you consider my friends your friends. Believe me, my friends consider you theirs.

9. I love your humor. I also love that you laugh at me. (You know this is very important. Ha.)

10. I love how you immediately step into the role of man of the house when dad is gone. You think to do things usually before even being asked. Sometimes, you over-parent, but that’s okay. Anna will remind you that you’re not her dad. But, seriously, I know your heart is to make sure everything and everyone is okay.

11. I love how you aren’t careless with your words. Because of this, when you speak, people listen.

12. I love how you constantly look for the good in others, and as a result, you always find it. Even when it may be hard for others to see, you know that everyone deserves to be defended. Thank you for teaching me that.

13. I love how you appreciate a good half-zip, pull-over sweater. It’s so fun to shop for you.

14. I love how you still love Marvel, and you don’t care who knows it.

15. I love how sensitive you are to the Spirit and honest you are with yourself and others. You are the most humble, real, honest person I know. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.….” (Psalm 139:23-24) John, THIS is the position you always take, and it blows us away.

16. I love that you are also my friend. My bud. I LOVE hanging out with you.

The best part of my life began September 24, 2002. Every day, every season gets better and better with you. Whoever said raising a teenager was hell doesn’t know John Henry Landreth. You make raising a teenager so much fun….so freaking amazing.

I love you, JH. Thank you for making me a mom. And, thank you for driving SO SAFELY AND CAUTIOUSLY AND FOR STILL LETTING ME DRIVE YOU PLACES SOMETIMES, BECAUSE, I’M GOING TO NEED TO SOMETIMES, AND BECAUSE I CAN’T EVEN WITH THIS, YET I’M SO EXCITED FOR YOU AND FOR ME AT THE SAME TIME. And thanks for getting it. And for getting me.

Text me when you arrive safely at every single place, but NOT WHILE YOU’RE DRIVING. K?

Happy 16th Birthday, bud. You make us all so very proud.

Love,
Mom

JH 16 3

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Sometimes, Parents Need Tweaking.

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I have found myself the past few weeks correcting Jett and how he responds to me. “Remember who I am,” I’ve told him. “You are not allowed to talk to me like that,” I’ve told him. This has not been his normal tone with me. It’s been frustrating. And, then, he had his clipped moved twice the other day for lacking self-control. I mean, that’s easy for Jett, especially if he’s excited. But, moving it twice in one day doesn’t happen very often.

I zoned in on his behavior. I talked to Kris about the most effective way to discipline and correct it.

But, I didn’t zone in on his heart.

Tuesday morning, I was gathering all of the things I gather to load three children and take them to school. Jett was focused on his legos and asked if I would help him find a certain one.

“I’m busy right now. We are getting ready to leave.”

His response should have hit me in the gut then, but it didn’t until later that night:

“Parents never want to help.”

I hardly gave that comment a thought other than my flippant response back, “Jett! That is ugly.”

I went about my day as usual. The noises of the day drowned out a seven year old’s feelings. Until the noises stopped, and I was alone and silent.

OH. MY. HEAVENS.

“Parents never want to help.”

Was this true for me as a parent? The answer really didn’t matter. What mattered was Jett had internalized this as a belief system in his young heart. Sometimes, it’s easy to justify or overcome comments from our children by elevating ourselves thinking we know more. Or we don’t validate the comments, because we “know our intentions.”

I decided to get quiet, and let the Spirit reveal whatever needed to be revealed. Like always, it did. I immediately texted Kris the story of our morning and Jett’s comment. And, then I shared what the Spirit revealed: “There’s an underlying belief system there we have contributed to. I need to create some time with him where I do something HE wants me to do with him. Not just something I orchestrate for us to do together.”

These are not just in the big things like a child wanting to go the movies with you or go get ice-cream. It could be in the little things where they simply want us to help find something. I work hard to create time with Jett. But, I’m usually the orchestrator and the director. Sometimes. he wants to be that, too. It’s his way of saying, “This matters to me. Would you let it matter to you, too?”

The next day, I meditated on these thoughts. I gave energy to Jett’s truth, and I gave energy to addressing me. And, not Jett’s behavior.

Friends, I immediately saw and felt a difference. This is the power of spirit and energy. Last night as he was getting ready for bed, he climbed to his top bunk and said, “This is a mess. I’m going to straighten this up, so I can sleep up here tonight.”

“I will help you, bud.”

As I helped him and engaged in a task HE orchestrated, he says to me, “You’re the best mom ever.”

It was the simplest thing to engage him in. And, he felt heard. He felt valued. Because, that top bunk suddenly mattered to me because it mattered to him. And, God knows I hate trying to make up a top bunk. But, I love making Jett feel valued more than I hate making up a top bunk.

Sometimes, the smallest tweaks in our parenting make the biggest difference.

When your children make comments that sting, don’t allow your own ego to dismiss them. And, don’t see them as a parenting failure. Instead, see them as indicators that something is correcting itself. And, let it do its job and correct itself by getting quiet, listening to Spirit, and flowing in something new and better. Parenting doesn’t have to be hard. It just has to be intentional work. But, it’s the best work.

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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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