Category Archives: Spiritual Journey

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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Honor the Space

It’s Friday night, and I’m home with my family, save John, drinking a glass of red wine (RED….I don’t even know myself anymore) and contemplating this past week. I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions the past few days. Good, necessary, thought shift, life shift kind of emotions. A week ago, one of Kris’ friends and long time clients transitioned unexpectedly. For 16 years, Paul has been in Kris’ life. Kris has managed and flown Paul’s airplanes for as long as we’ve been married. Kris and I spent a couple of days in Oklahoma this week tending to business, and we spent one night together out just the two of us. We sat across from each other reminiscing stories of time with Paul that neither of us have thought about in a very long time. We tend to forget the moments with someone until we are in a position where we really want to remember them.

I came home Wednesday to be back home with the kids, and Kris stayed on to attend Paul’s memorial service. I went to service at EWC that night and allowed my own spirit to receive whatever it needed. My dear friend, Lauren, led worship and knew the very words the room needed. What I needed. I sat down and tears just streamed down my face. Because, all I kept hearing in my spirit was this: honor the space.

Honor the space.

I thought about all of the stories Kris and I exchanged about our times with Paul. How he showed up to our wedding, kid birthday parties, dinner, anything we invited him to. How he wanted us to always join him and his wife for dinner when Kris flew him, and I tagged along. How he laughed at the stories Kris and I told him. How he really wanted to hear our stories.

How he simply showed up.

How he engaged you.

How he honored that moment.

How he honored the space.

I wasn’t close to Paul. I enjoyed our times together, but I, by no means, was close to him. But I don’t think I honored the space with him like he did with me. I’m sure I didn’t. So, that thought led me to thinking about the times I am with my friends now. With my family. When I’m with you. Am I honoring that space? Am I showing up as much as I can and being present with you? Is there someone I’m not investing in and showing up for that needs me? And, perhaps, I need?

Thursday morning, I texted my mom something that will sound strange to most of you, but she knows me and loves me and can practically decipher and translate every single weirdo text I send her. “Mom, is it just me, or do you feel like things are aligning the way they are supposed to? Alignment is the best word I can think to describe what I feel in my spirit.”

She responded, “Getting into alignment is sometimes painful. It can hurt. But once you are aligned, it makes the journey so much smoother. It can make us go farther than we’ve ever anticipated.”

See what I’m saying? She can interpret ANYTHING.

The greatest alignment I began to feel was with Kris. Because, one of the spaces I learned I needed to honor was with him.

Don’t get me wrong. I freaking love that man. I love being with him. I love date nights with him, traveling with him, family nights, the times we share with friends….I love it all. But, it hit me: I do not fully honor the space, honor the time when I’m with him. Enjoy it? Yes. Honor it?

Honor is such a huge word. It means to regard with great respect. To revere. To treat with honor. While I always honor and respect him…..do I always honor the space with him? The moments with him? In both the ordinary and the remarkable? Perhaps, sometimes. But, I want to honor the space in them all.

I want to honor the space with you. I want to show up. I want to be present.

Kris came home last night, and I told him…. “You know how we always say, okay, I always say, I want time to slow down with our kids, so I can soak in these moments more?” He nodded.

“Well, I want time to slow down, so I can soak these times in with you. I want to linger a little longer. I want to hold the moments a little tighter. I want time to slow down with you.”

And, it will. Time will slow down. Because, that’s what happens when we choose to honor the space. That’s what happens when we are aligned.

That’s what happens when we show up. When we engage. That’s what happens when we become aware that the space with each other is divine. It’s holy.

I want to honor the space with every person. Every friend. With my children. With Kris. With you.

Honor it. Show up for it. And, stay there a while. So, to that I say, align away.

Fly west, friend.

Hawker

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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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The Pause Is Everything.

pause

One of my mentors always reminds me that “hurry up” is not a quality of the fruit of the spirit. The fruit of the spirit is actually quite the opposite…..specifically qualities like patience and self-control. I know this. Yet, I forget this often. And, self-control is the key to slowing down.

Self-control is the key to the pause.

And, the pause is everything. I mean EVERYTHING.

The other day I had to pick up some papers that were set outside an office building for me. They were being held up by a large 2×4. In my hastiness, I grabbed the papers and knocked the 2×4 on my foot. Every explicative went through my head, and I left there angry at the 2×4 and the people who thought putting it there was a good idea. The reality is I rushed as I do everything. Not paying attention to my steps or my surroundings. I just acted and reacted without giving it any thought. Without a pause. So, the universe simply responded to my actions. Gravity, like it always does, did its job, and the 2×4 came crashing down on my foot. Had I slowed down and taken notice of the moment, I suspect I could have prevented the entire incident.

The spirit has also been speaking to me about the power of the pause in how I take care of my body. I grab a snack bar for breakfast, albeit “gluten free”, because I don’t want to pause an entire 5 minutes to fry an egg. When the egg offers me much more good for my body…..and in those five minutes of pausing, my thoughts slow down. In those 5 minutes, I notice my thoughts aren’t just on the egg itself. But, my thoughts quiet for a moment to hear what my Spirit is saying. To listen. To be still. In those 5 minutes, my entire being benefits: body, soul, and spirit. That’s the power of the pause. Again, I say, the pause is everything.

Abandoning the pause can affect everything in our lives. And, often times, we don’t acknowledge our condition as a failure to pause. When in reality, our condition is often the effect of our haste. We make a bad decision, because we do not pause. We respond with anger or hurtful words, because we do not pause. We hurt ourselves, because we do not pause. We hurt others, because we do not pause.

We miss moments with our children, because we do not pause. We fail to see the goodness in our partner’s eyes, because we do not pause. We miss God in the moment when we are with other people when we do not pause.

But, when we DO pause. We just don’t save ourselves and others from our hasty reactions…..but, we absorb life itself in all of its goodness. We see God in all things and in all people. We walk like barefoot priests careful of where we step, careful of the direction we take, tender with the words we speak. We pause, and we ABSORB LIFE. We absorb His presence, because, His presence is in the pause. We hear Him speak, and we make better choices. We zoom out, and don’t just see the one tree, but we see the entire forest. Instead of looking at one date on my calendar I see an entire week, month, year, life.

The pause makes us thankful, because it becomes impossible to not think of something good when we slow down. That gratitude moves us and motivates us to lead our day with eyes that see and ears that ear what we need to see and hear. The more we pause, the more grateful we become. The more grateful we become, the more good things we see and attract to our lives….simply because we are expanding in our thankfulness for life.

But, it cannot happen without the pause.

I have a cousin named Mark. He is, no doubt, one of the greatest beings walking this planet. He is never in a hurry yet nothing in his world is ever left undone. Easter Sunday, he lingered after church and talked to me for a long time. I had a brief thought of surely he has to get to his family lunch….surely, I have to get to my family lunch. But, I abandoned that thought immediately and paused. There have been moments I have thought Mark paused, because HE needed that pause. The truth is, I needed it. In the moments I have thought I was giving to him, he is the one who has been giving to me. That’s the power of the pause. It’s not just for ourselves.

Pause. Observe. Absorb. You will see more clearly. You will make better decisions. Others won’t taste your haste in word or action. 2x4s won’t make you want to shout explicatives. Practice it. Write it on your hand until it’s written on your heart. Just slow down in every single way possible.

The pause everything.

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The Process of Forgiveness.

I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time. Every time I would go to write it, I would stop. It seemed too difficult to tell the story well. To tell the story of forgiveness. I hope I serve the art of forgiving well as I share my heart today.

I believe the process of forgiveness looks different according to each situation. Many times it’s easy. It’s easy to forgive your children for forgetting to clean their room. It’s easy to forgive your spouse when he doesn’t meet an expectation. It’s easy, or it should be easy, to forgive a friend when they disappoint you. Why? Because, we are making allowances for each other’s faults. So, immediate forgiveness makes sense. The process is hardly a process at all.

But deep hurts of betrayal or of life-changing wrong-doing require a process of forgiveness. I don’t know that I truly understood this until last year when my family was forced to walk through it. Even the process of forgiving John Henry’s dad was easier. As crazy as it sounds, that hurt was not a hurt that was meant to deliberately hurt me or him. While it affected us, it wasn’t about us. It was about him. I know this is a hard pill for some to swallow who have experienced their spouse leaving them. But, because of the love I had for both of them and the awareness that it wasn’t about me, walking in forgiveness was an easy process. It didn’t make the hurt any less. I still had to live with the decision. But, it did make releasing any anger and resentment possible and quick. Am I making sense? See the difference? The hurt stayed a while, but the resentment did not.

Last year, I experienced a different kind of hurt. The kind that affects your entire family. The kind where intentions just don’t seem right. The kind where you have no emotional ties to the instigators, so there seems to be no reason to “let them off the hook.” I was hurt. I felt violated, betrayed, angry, resentful. Where was the justice, the fairness, the accountability? Every feeling was necessary for me to feel. The hard part in it all was trying not to lose who I was in it. Trying not to forget who HE was in me. Who HE is in each of us. I wanted to forgive. I would pray and release them, but I would find myself meeting that anger again whenever I allowed my mind to go there. Forgiveness was going to be hard. I was initially hard on myself, because, I felt like I knew better. I knew it was necessary. But, I never understood the process of this kind of hurt until I had to walk through it.

So, I learned that sometimes forgiveness is a journey. But, it has to be an intentional journey. It has to be so intentional that you set out every day with the goal of releasing it. You set your heart on the mission of letting them off the hook. It did not happen with a prayer. It didn’t happen with a single decision. It happened with multiple decisions. It happened with the realization that sometimes forgiveness is a process. It’s a decision you have to make over and over and over. Every single day. Until the hurt is gone.

It’s deliberate. It’s a daily choice. And, it’s a process.

Eventually, I framed my world to release the hurt and forgiveness so many times that it finally happened. I was free. And, so were the ones who hurt me.

Don’t stay in deep-rooted hurt. Don’t accept that your hurt will always be there. Take the journey. Go through the process. Keep making the choice to forgive over and over until that hurt no longer carries any weight.

Besides learning that sometimes forgiveness is a process, I also learned how little other hurts really are. I learned, that at the end of the day, it should be so easy to allow those we love to fail us. To let go of little things like someone not meeting your expectations. It became so easy to always fill in the gap of my expectations and disappointments with love and forgiveness. Everything else became so small. The people in my life became so big….as did my love for them. The decisions we made after our big hurt made our lives richer. Better. Nothing went to waste, and God has used it ALL for our good.

All of it.

If you’re holding onto hurt, choose to go through the process of forgiveness. Allow God to work even that for your good. He loves you, and His ways are so, so good. So worth it. YOU are worth it.

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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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When Fear and Anxiety Try To Win.

I have moments where I worry just like you. I let my thoughts run wild. I don’t discipline them and before I know it, I am awake in the middle of the night doing the exact opposite of what I tell other people to do. Anxiety fills me. Fear grips me. Stress takes over my physical and mental being. It’s an awful feeling. I long for morning, because I need a new day. A new grip on life. I need Kris to wake up and reassure me what I need reassure myself.

Last night was that kind of night for me. I tossed and turned. I let fear grip me. Hold me. Wrap its ugly hands around me. Grab hold of me like it owned me.

I finally slept the last hour. My alarm went off. I peeled open my eyes. And, I reminded myself of this scripture:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. 
2 Corinthians 10:5

DEMOLISH those thoughts that don’t come from Him. Take them captive. Interrogate them. Hold them captive so they can’t hold you. Remind your soul of who God is. Recall every time God proved Himself faithful to you.

Recall every stone that has piled up in your life as a memorial to the goodness, the faithfulness, and the mercy of God.

Remember every situation that looked impossible and how God grabbed you and said, “I am for you.”

Hold onto thoughts of His goodness. Hold onto His love that stretches wider and deeper and longer than anything we can imagine.

Hold onto THOSE thoughts.

Hold them tightly.

Demolish those other thoughts. Take them captive. Strip them of their power. Because, the One inside you is greater. He is truth. He is good. And, in Him, we have no fear.

This Sunday at Eagles Way, I will be opening up our new series, Silent Night, with this very message. I will preach it with as much passion as I possibly can. Because, I know what it feels like to be gripped by something that takes the wind out from under you. But, I also know what it feels like to send those thoughts back to hell. And, to rise up with a renewed confidence, a renewed mind, and renewed passion for TRUTH.

His mercies are new every morning. And, because, of those mercies, this is mind is new….and finally, it caught up with what my Spirit already knew.

 

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