Category Archives: Spiritual Journey

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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So, This Is 40.

Completely lame to title a blog post after a movie. But, I’m in my 40s now. So, I’m comfortable being lame. I always thought turning 40 would bother me. Because, in my mind, I am always, always 18. Aren’t we all? Sure, we don’t feel 18. But, we are always that 18 year old who still feels like they are navigating through this thing called life. I can still remember as vividly how it felt to be embarking on my college career as much as I can remember how I felt walking my third child into school the first day. Feelings are just so powerful. And, they hard to forget. I can remember walking into Mrs. Howard’s third class at Jackson Road. I can remember how she made me feel secure. I can remember almost drowning in the Gulf and my father never letting go of my hand. I can remember holding onto the OUTSIDE of the escalator of Southlake Mall and riding it up until my mom climbed on top of a brick display, grabbing the soles of my shoes, pulling me back down.

I can remember the first time I felt the presence of God and thinking that I never wanted to leave it.

I can remember graduating from college and looking into the mass of onlookers and seeing the gleam in my grandfather’s eye.

I can remember not being able to stop the tears when John Henry was born and holding him in my arms for the very first time. I remember looking at my mom and saying, “My world is right now.”

I can remember being heartbroken. But more than the heartbreak, I can remember my friends taking care of me and being there.

I can remember opening my heart up to love again. I can remember kissing Kris Takle on his brother’s sofa for the first time. I can remember my mom’s tearful face when we loaded up in a King Air and moved to Oklahoma City.

I can remember when Anna Takle was three years old, and I realized that I had to start recording how fun she made my life.

I can remember deciding to have a third child after swearing two was enough. But, then, looking at that future super-hero in the face with gratitude and thanksgiving that he was mine.

I can remember Kris telling me, “I think we can do this,” when he told me we were moving back home to Georgia.

I can remember fully surrendering my life to the ministry and my father ordaining me a pastor.

I can recall exactly how those moments felt. And, I am so thankful for them all. For the good moments. For the bad. The good have taught me gratitude. The bad have taught me forgiveness and love.

I’m no expert in life. I have many more miles to travel and hopefully many more candles to extinguish. But, I have penned 40 things that I have learned so far. Perhaps, next year I will have a different view. A different outlook. A different perception of life. I hope I do. Because, that means I’m evolving. But, today, this is 40:

1. Don’t put too much weight into a present emotion. Because, you never know how you’re going to feel tomorrow.

2. You don’t have to talk through every single feeling, emotion, or issue.

3. Friendship in marriage is just as important as love.

4. Having a third kid is a game-changer. Don’t do it unless you’re willing to change the game.

5. I like our new game with three kids….now that I’ve regained my sanity. Somewhat.

6. My blood pressure rises when I read status updates or comments that portray a God who is ready to take out His vengeance on people. Or when people read the Word but don’t get the Spirit behind what’s being said. God is a God of love. Period.

7. I need to not let myself get so worked up over #6.

8. God is not up there, out there somewhere. He is within me.

9. My mom is the person I can tell anything to.

10. I don’t always have to be right. And, my way isn’t the only way. In parenting, in life. We all have the same mission but different methods. We have to work through our own salvation.

11. It’s okay to simply say, “that’s not going to work for me” without giving further explanation.

12. If I don’t schedule my time, someone else will. Create margin with your time.

13. Gratitude, thankfulness, appreciation, and praise are the keys to EVERYTHING.

14. Pain doesn’t last.

15. Being skinny is fun. But not as fun as a really good meal.

16. Whatever I focus on will expand – whether positive or negative.

17. Kris and I travel really well together. He is my favorite travel partner.

18. It’s important to jump into your kids’ passions and be amazed with them.

19. Never, ever give up on people.

20. Even when you become frustrated with where someone is in his or her life, don’t stop being their friend. They will get through that rough place. Love them through it instead of pulling back.

21. When you know you’re wrong, own it.

22. Say thank you as often as possible.

23. Chill when life gets interrupted. Accept it. It happens.

24. Dreading makes everything worse. Don’t dread what you know you already have to do.

25. If you see a need, and it’s within your means to meet that need, do it.

26. Give, give, give.

27. Laughter is not only the best medicine, it’s the heartbeat of my life.

28. Not everyone is going to believe the way I do. And, that’s okay. (So, let crazy Facebook comments and otherwise go.)

29. My mom thinks my kids are just has hilarious as I do. I am so thankful I can share my life with her.

30. My dad is the most consistently loyal, forgiving, compassionate, merciful person in the universe. Hands down.

31. I have the best friends in the world. And, the older I get the more I realize how much I need them.

32. I could never leave the ministry.

33. I love being alone with God.

34. I either cry or almost cry every time I worship the One who has made all things so good.

35. Don’t sit alone when you’re down. As hard as it is, call someone. Go be with someone you trust. Just don’t be alone.

36. Whenever you think something good is going to come from telling someone exactly what you think or “finally giving them the what for,” please know, nothing good will EVER come from that. Ever.

37. Don’t close the door to new friendships.

38. It’s none of my business what other people think of me.

39. Try really hard to not yell at your children. They are real souls with real feelings.

40. God is for me. So, all moments have been for me. The good ones and the bad ones. Because, God has been IN all of those moments.

If you’re still reading, thank you for indulging me in such a long post. And, thanks to all of you for being in my world. I am so thankful for my friends and family. I am so thankful to serve a God who is full of love. And, I am so thankful to enter my forties. I think I’m going to like it here.

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He Is For You.

Originally written and published in The Grip January 2014.

Romans 8:31 says, “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Minsters quote this all of the time. Heck, you’ve probably posted it as your Facebook status before. But, what does this truly mean? If God is for you, who can be against you? Does it mean exactly what it says? That, He is for you? Always? If this true, then that means ALL moments are for you. Because, God is in all moments.

That interruption in your day you weren’t expecting. That moment was for you. The cereal spilled all over the counter. That moment was for you. The trip back to your child’s school, because he forgot his lunch. That moment was for you. That busted pipe over the recent freeze. That moment was for you. Your spouse walking out the door and leaving you a single mother. That moment was for you.

That amazing sunset you paused to watch. That moment was for you. Witnessing the birth of your child. That moment was for you. Your littlest putting his nose to your nose and saying, “I love you, Mommy.” That moment was for you. Enjoying that incredible dinner with good friends. That moment was for you. Falling in love again. That moment was for you.

It doesn’t mean God caused any of the difficult circumstances. But, He as certainly been in them. And, in all moments. Because, He is for you. And, when you can wrap your head around the fact that if God is for you, then all moments are for you….then, you can learn to say, “Nothing goes wrong in my world.” But, all moments have been for me. On Christmas Day, when my husband and I realized our hot water had been leaking and ruined our downstairs floors….Neither of us became upset. Neither of us said, “We can’t catch a break” or “just our luck.” Neither of us felt attacked by a devil. It’s just life. Things break. And, instead of focusing on that inconvenience, our thoughts turned to gratitude for a wonderful first Christmas on our farm. When my oldest had a lot of questions about his dad leaving, I explained to him that if his dad could go back, he would make a different choice. He responded, “I wouldn’t want him to. Because, then I wouldn’t have my Daddy Kris and my little sister and brother.” Oh, if we could all see life’s moments as a child.

My most difficult moments have been my greatest teachers on forgiveness. My most beautiful moments have been my greatest teachers on thankfulness. And, I know He has been in them all. Because, He is always, always for me. And, He is always for you.

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