Category Archives: prayer

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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Filed under gratitude, imagination, Kid Stuff, Motherhood, parenting, prayer, Relationships, Uncategorized

Peace, Be Still.

You may not believe this, but, I am the queen of second-guessing. Especially when it comes to making big decisions for our kids. I second-guessed leaving Oklahoma City in 2010. I second-guessed over and over moving to the farm. I continue to second-guess myself, even after I have clarity and peace about a decision. It’s what I do. It’s also how I wear Kris Takle out. Kris has the crazy ability to see clearly and have peace about situations. It’s like he walks out this trusting the Spirit within him thing or something. Crazy, huh?

In making a big decision for our children recently, we both felt peace and had clarity. Kris doesn’t waver in this. I waver like Jett Takle on the toy aisle who can’t decide which toy he wants. What if he chooses this toy and then wishes later he had chosen the other toy? Oh, the humanity! So, last week, I asked Kris to pray over the decision. The one we had already made. The one we both had already felt good about. That one. He looks at me and says, “I’m not praying over that. I will pray over YOU.”

Part of me wanted to give him this look Anna Takle gives me when she’s appalled. Instead, I said, “Oh, my gosh! That’s what I needed to hear!”

You see the problem wasn’t the decision. Quite often the problem isn’t even the problem. The problem isn’t the situation. The problem isn’t the circumstance. Most of the time, the problem is me. It’s you. It reminded me of this story:

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:35-40

Clearly, Jesus wasn’t worried about the storm. The man was trying to sleep. So, when He spoke, “Quiet! Be still,” he wasn’t speaking to the storm. He wasn’t speaking to the circumstances. He was speaking to the disciples. If you really read into it, you will see, He was calming the storm WITHIN them.

Kris was calming the storm within me. Often times, we don’t need to ask God to change our situation. We don’t need to ask every person on the planet for confirmation of a decision. We don’t need to speak peace into a decision or circumstance. Instead, we need to speak peace into our own lives.

You already have everything within you that you need to be at peace. So, speak to your own soul. Say to yourself, “Peace, be still.” And, trust in the One who has never, ever failed you.

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Filed under God Stuff, life, Marriage, prayer, Uncategorized

Same Big God

He cried all the way to school saying he missed his daddy. Part of me cried with him, because I miss him, too. But, the greater part of me knows that He gives me strength for every single moment. I wept for him, because he doesn’t understand that strength within him. And, then, it hit me. I had shared this scripture on social media this morning:

But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength. 2 Timothy 4:17

I only saw this scripture applying to my life and to yours, although, knowing it is for everyone.

Everyone.

Even for an almost five year old.

And, while Jett may not comprehend the strength within him, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is there. How many things of God are within me that I have yet to comprehend? That I have yet to grasp fully? Yet, they are still there, and I can activate them within my life at any given moment.

This morning I was reminded that there is no big God in me and little God in Jett. That same power is inside of him. That same God who says you have everything you need to do all He has called you to do, to endure any season, to face any challenge, resides within Jett Takle. That same God has given Jett all he needs to do all He has called Him to do. Even at the young age of four.

And, so my prayer became this:

God, thank You for the gifts that are within Jett. Thank You that Your grace is sufficient within him. Thank You for your strength within him. Thank You that at his weakest, You are strongest. And, right at this moment, he feels Your strength.

In as much as I love my children. I know God loves them even more than I do. And, that same God who has delivered you from your darkest moments, your greatest fears, and your hardest days is the same God who will comfort your little ones, cause them to feel His presence, and give them strength they didn’t know they had.

Rest today in knowing that the same God within you is the same God within them.

….how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. Matthew 7:11

 

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Filed under life, Motherhood, parenting, prayer

Ten Years.

In many ways it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long.  In so many other ways, it really does.  Ten years ago at this time, I was two months pregnant with John Henry.  And, his dad left.

I guess I never imagined I would be in that place.  I certainly never saw myself divorced.  I never thought I’d be a single mother.  It was the single most heart-breaking, devastating time in my life.  Words were said that pierced me.  Actions taken that floored me.  And, I couldn’t imagine that my life would ever be restored back to where it was.

I spent the next few months busying myself with work, getting ready for a baby, and involving myself in the community.  I traveled to Chicago to an Arts Conference hosted by Willow Creek Church.  I headed up the campaign for my uncle who was running for County Commissioner.  He won, by the way.  And, I joined with city leaders in putting together a Memorial Service for the one year anniversary of 9/11.   And, in my down time, I cried.

But, I also prayed.

I prayed scriptures over Bryan’s life every single night of my pregnancy.  I prayed blessings over him.  In the middle of my pain, I cried out to the Redeemer.  And, I released forgiveness little by little until I no longer carried any anger or resentment.

I was still heartbroken.  There were times I would feel sorry for myself.  I’d cry the ugly cry.  My countenance would be less than inviting.  I remember during one of my pity parties, my dad told me, “You never know how you’re going to feel tomorrow.”  Of course, I knew how I was going to feel.  Exactly like I was feeling at that moment.

Until one day, you wake up, and the weight of it all seems a little less.  The hurt isn’t quite as painful.  And, before you know it, you are smiling.  And, you are staring into the eyes of a little blue-eyed baby boy who has changed everything.

September 24, 2002, I held John Henry.  I looked at my parents and said, “My world is right.”  It was.  The hurt was still there.  But it became less.  A few months later, Kris Takle flew into my life.  Literally.  Six months later?  We were married.  Six months after that?  We were pregnant with Anna Takle.

And, now ten years later?  My life is full.

It is redeemed.

I never believe that divorce is God’s best for one’s life.  But, I do believe He is a God of redemption and will make good out of messes.  I will never write about the nit and the grit of the words said or the actions during it all.  I really see no need, honestly.  It’s not where I live.  I don’t ever want it printed and posted to hurt John Henry or Bryan.

As for Bryan, he has allowed God to work in his life.  He is a great father to John Henry.  He is a great friend to Kris.  And, Kris is a great friend to him.  We celebrate holidays together.  We have vacationed together.  We aren’t “normal.”  We really didn’t think “normal” was working.  So, we just do things differently.

I would defend Bryan’s name until my last breath on earth.  Because, he is a good man.  And, I am forever grateful to him for John Henry Landreth.  I have learned more about compassion and forgiveness because of that little boy than I ever imagined possible.

John Henry is a constant reminder to me of how GOOD God is.

Anna and Jett are constant reminders of His redemption.

And, Kris Takle.  Well, you know what he is.

The one who made my heart beat fast again.

It’s been a good ten years.

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Filed under disappointment, divorce, gratitude, Life Experiences, Love, Motherhood, prayer, Writing

You’re A Hard Habit to Break.

I’m doing it.  I’m really doing it.

I’m giving up social networking for Lent.  I’m saying goodbye to the Facebook and the Twitter beginning this Ash Wednesday.  I’ll see y’all again Easter Sunday.  That’s, April 8th, friends.  That’s more than six weeks.   I’d be lying to say it’s going to be easy.  It’s not.  Truth is, I LOVE keeping up with your crazy lives and posting pics and statuses to keep you up with mine.  I mean, I love y’all.  I do.

I love the cute pics of your toddler jumping in puddles.

The pics of your husband obliging you by posing for a “Facebook shot” on your date night.

The funny thing your seven year old said on the way to school.

The awesome job your daughter did on her school project.

The pic of the fabulous meal you cooked.

I love it all.

The hardest part for me will be not being aware of your immediate prayer needs.  So, I’m asking that you email me any time I can pray for you.  Email me at durstee@aol.com.  Yes, I’m still AOL.  You might call AOL old school and lame.  I call it loyalty.  So, there.

I’ve asked Kris to hold me accountable in this.  As a matter of fact, I’m letting him change my password on both accounts and not tell me what it is until Easter Sunday.  He will only share it with my mom.  And, that lady is a dadgum vault.

That being said, I’m going to be blogging during these next six weeks.  Because, some of you read my posts and connect to them through Facebook and Twitter, Kris or my sweet momma will be posting the link to the blogs on my Facebook account.  It won’t be me.  So, I won’t see your comments, wall posts, messages, etc.  I will only be checking my email.  And, you’ve got that now, right?  Right.

So, why give up social networking?  Why not sugar?  Or television?  Or exercise?  (I only jest on that last one.  Ahem.)  Well, if I’m honest.  My Junior Mint consumption takes up a whole five seconds of my day.  I can inhale them like no other.  So, really.  Where’s the sacrifice in that?

And, television?  Sure.  I’ll sacrifice The Wiggles, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Big Time Rush, and Victorious.

This is truly a sacrifice for me.  And, I plan to spend the time away by giving it to the people I come into contact with each day.  I plan to spend it with my husband and children.  I plan to spend it seeking His face.  And, while I have a little anxiety in giving it up, I have greater excitement as to what He will open my eyes to.  And, what He will do in and through me.  That’s why I want to continue blogging.  I want to be able journal what I see, feel, and do as I become more sensitive to the Spirit during this time.

If you have decided to fast for Lent, what are you giving up?

Lent is a time when Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting and spiritual discipline.  Disclaimer:  God won’t love you any less if you don’t fast.  That’s just not His style.  It’s a personal choice. So, don’t judge anyone who doesn’t fast, m’kay?

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Filed under prayer, Spiritual Journey, Writing

Geek Prayer Warrior.

Writing is a spiritual discipline for me now.  I know this.  I know this, because, I feel a sense of guilt when I don’t write.  Not a condemnation kind of guilt.  That’s not God’s style.  Rather, the kind of guilt you feel when you know you aren’t doing what God wants you to do in your life at this given moment.  I mean, obviously, I haven’t felt a GREAT DEAL of guilt about it in the past given my lengthy sabbaticals since kid three arrived.  Because, clearly, I’ve been able to still eat with this kind of guilt.

I guess it’s kind of like physical exercise.  You don’t always want to do it, but after you do, you feel so much better.  So, I’ve been thinking about ways to organize my writing time.  I figure if I make plans to write, I will.  Just like everything else in life.  We do what we make the time to do.  So, while, I am reading other people’s material and advice on how to help writing schedule, I thought I’d share with you how I make time to pray for people.  Or better yet, how I remember to pray for people and their specific needs.

When I someone asks me to pray for them, or if I commit to pray for someone, I pray for them the moment they ask.  The very moment.  Even if I’m in their presence, I make a conscious choice to pray silently right then and there.  If I read on Facebook or Twitter or receive an email that someone needs prayer, I pray immediately.  I don’t wait.  Because, then, I will surely forget.  But, once I pray that one time, something clicks.  And, that need someone has stays with me.  That need will continue to flow through my mind as the days and weeks come and go.  Then, whenever I think about that person, I pray for them. 

So, if you ask me, in person, to pray for you, and you suddenly think I’ve exited the planet, I’m still here.  It’s just my thing.  It seals that need into my memory bank. 

Now, suddenly, I feel very much like the geek prayer warrior.  Which brings up another factoid about me.  I never title my blog posts until I’m half-way through writing it.  It’s at this point in my post I’ve decided to name it “Geek Prayer Warrior.”

And, the little snippet above has nothing to do with this post.  Of course. 

So, the next time someone asks you to pray for them, try my little trick.  Heck, it may not work for ya.  I’m just sayin’.  Try it.  I have learned the more I think about other people, the more I pray for them.  And, the more I pray for other people, the less I think of myself.  And, the less I think of myself, the more I think on Him.  And, the more I think on Him, the more He becomes center.

And, well, everything is better when He is center.

Amen? 

Amen???

Thank you.  A-MEN.

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Filed under prayer, Spiritual Journey, Writing

Right This Minute.

Right this minute.

I know a woman bed-ridden with a cancer that is trying to consume her body.  And, it wrecks me.

Right this minute.

I know a woman who is putting every single ounce of trust into her Savior as she comforts her two daughters who probably don’t understand why their father has walked out.  And, it wrecks me.

Right this minute.

I know a man who is caring for a wife who has been diagnosed with a rare form of dementia while struggling to keep his business afloat.  And, it wrecks me.

Right this minute.

I know a woman who doesn’t comprehend her value and is selling out to lies that she will never be good enough.  And, it wrecks me.

I know every single one of these people.

And, these things are happening.  Right this minute.

And, it wrecks me.

It wrecks me until I remember…..

The Roman Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant, and Jesus just spoke the words, and He was healed.

And, I remember that God will be a father to the fatherless, and He will redeem everything that is lost.

I remember that all things are possible with the One who provides for us and never leaves us and goes with us all the way to the end.  And, the end is always glorious.

I remember that I am the arms and feet of Christ, and I can love with His amazing love so that person hurting sees only God lifting her up, holding her in His arms, until she knows how He loves her from the inside out.

You see, nothing….NOTHING is beyond repair.  Nothing is beyond redemption.  Nothing is beyond the MIRACLE.

And, I won’t stop praying.  I won’t stop serving.  I won’t stop fighting for people.

Because, I am a WARRIOR.

And, He is KING.  In whom ALL things are POSSIBLE

Right.  This.  Minute.

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Filed under disappointment, God Stuff, making an impact, prayer