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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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Happy 9th Birthday, Jett Man!

jett cover

He told me earlier this week he wants to be a scientist and a singer when he grows up. “You know what the name of my band is going to be? The Jett Takle Band. Charlie has the Charlie Daniels Band. There’s the Zac Brown Band. Why not the Jett Takle Band? Why not?’

Why not? I think most of the time we ask ourselves why. And, why certainly matters. But sometimes, I think we get more out of life when we ask, “Why not?” Like why not wear a Spider-Man costume to church on a Wednesday night?

jett spiderman

Sometimes, we won’t know the why until we do the thing. Until we step out into the unknown. Until we try something new or until we do it simply because life is meant to be experienced in every possible way.

That is what Jett teaches all of us. To get all the goody out of life. To never stop learning and growing and being amazed at everything around us. That we are surrounded by creatures where each one is unique….and, he certainly wants to tell you EVERY SINGLE thing about them. Why not have a 20 minute discussion on every type of penguin and where they live? Why not learn about and talk about this amazing planet we wake up on every single day?

Why not spend an hour learning to draw dragons and monsters? Not because we want to be an artist. But, because, we want to know what it feels like to create something?

Why not hug people you don’t know well simply because you share the earth with them, and because just maybe they might need it?

Jett Takle, I nearly weep with joy every time I sit and think about how you light up my world. You are such a special kid, and you unashamedly continue to love the things you love even if no one else around you does. You continue to be amazed how beautiful the world around you is, and you remind us all to soak it in.

I love how you are sensitive to the people around you. I love how you notice when someone walks into a room. I love how when people you hardly know say hello to you, your immediately response is to hug them. You make every person feel like they matter to you. And, the truth is, every person really does matter to you.

I love how you look up to your brother and think his music is the coolest music.

jett jh

I love how you love your sister and sometimes think you’re just as smart as she is.

jett anna

I love how you’re not afraid to try new things.

I love how you make us laugh every single day.

I love how in tune you are to your imagination. I remember your first basketball game this year. I said, “It’s your first basketball game today!” You responded, “Actually, it’s my second. I already imagined my first game and saw myself winning. So, I count that one as my first one.”

I love how you get excited about growing up but you also love the present moment so much that you don’t want to leave it.

I love how when you told me you wanted to try karaoke, that you got up there and sang like you had the Jett Takle Band behind you.

You don’t do anything half-way. You do it all the way.

And, you especially love all the way.

I love you so much, Jett Takle. You make every day an amazing one. Your entire family loves you, and your friends adore you. Because, you are you.

Thank you for making us all feel special. I hope you know how special YOU are.

Happy 9th Birthday. Let’s check out those stars and planets together tonight. After we karaoke, of course.

Love,

Mom

jett athens y

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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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I Can’t Wait To Hear Your Music.

It’s been a long minute since I blogged. I woke up this morning wanting to document my thoughts on 2018. And, what I am feeling in this very moment.

Some years seem like challenging years because of loss. Loss of a loved one, loss of a marriage, loss of job, etc. Some years seem challenging because of struggles in health or finances. One thing I’m kind over, though, is defining a year as one thing. “It was a hard year.” “It was a disappointing year.” “It was a challenging year.” It’s not that those words can’t necessarily define a season or experience, but I’ve grown tired of it defining a year. The truth is, life can sometimes be hard. It can be disappointing. It can be challenging. And, life will always be that way. But in the space in between, it can also be amazing. It can be filled with tender moments. It can be filled with moments you laugh so hard until you cry. It can be filled with tiny victories and big victories. And, this is life. Not a year. Life.

I do love the feeling, however, a new year brings. A new chance to be better. A new opportunity to accept things I once struggled with or a new opportunity to embrace the in between moments with more awareness of how precious they are. And, I lean into that feeling with excitement and readiness. And, I lean into it bringing every lesson that 2018 brought me.

2018 has been filled with all of the moments and seasons described above. It’s been challenging at times, disappointing at times, hard at times. It’s been filled with the tenderest moments and some really great victories. It’s been a year of crazy growth. And, I am thankful for every single moment and season.

The disappointing moments taught me to wipe the tears from my face, look up, and look ahead. My year began with a knee injury in January and a back injury in February. And, then in March, I would preach a message that would inspire some and bother others. I got it. I understood both kinds of responses. It kind of shook my internal world for a bit. But, what I learned from it all is that 1) Time does heal the body. Be patient. And, 2) “Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.” – Alan Watts

I stirred way more than necessary, and then I had to wait on the water to clear again. Next time, I’ll be more gentle, but I’ll also accept that not everyone is going to see things the same way as I do, and that’s ok. Accept it, be tolerant, continue to be you, and move on. When you stir things and create muddy water, you are no longer able to see clearly and truth becomes blurred. But if you remain still, and leave whatever that thing/person is that’s causing you turmoil alone, it will all clear. And, what Spirit has been revealing to you will remain in tact. And, it won’t take you near as long to recover from it.

The challenging moments taught me to trust the process, and don’t try to fit the round peg into a square hole. We kept trying to do this with adding on to our house. We ran into road blocks every time we engaged the idea. Kris never had real peace about it, but I wanted what I wanted. Don’t we always? Kris went along for the ride, trusting that I would hear what he heard and saw what he saw. Here, I learned: 1) Don’t force what you see and hear onto someone else. Trust the same Spirit that reveals things to you will reveal things to them. And, sure enough, I finally listened. And, 2) You’ll be so glad you didn’t force that thing that kept working against you. You’ll be glad you flowed with life. We now have a getaway that has already created the best family memories for us instead of an addition that gave me what? More to clean? What I thought was working against me was actually working for me. There are only two ways to view challenging moments: Working for you or working against you. They are always, ALWAYS working for you.

The inspiring moments have taught me that there is always more. Moments of victory, moments around the table, moments where you stir gratitude until you are overwhelmed by it…..hold tightly to them, because the longer you hold onto them, the greater it gets, and only more follows. But the more comes by not just holding onto the good, but digging your heels in and going after it. Getting dirty and rolling back your sleeves in every possible beautiful way and making happen what you want to make happen. We either let life happen to us or we make it happen for us. And, this is how I am rolling into 2019.

Back in October, I knew I needed a shift. As a matter of fact, I focused so much on the word “shift” that I remembered a movie my mom has begged me to watch for the past two years. TWO YEARS. It’s called “The Shift” with Wayne Dyer. I have yet to escape this quote from that movie: “Don’t die with your music still inside you.” My music isn’t just for me. Your music isn’t just for you. It’s for every person in your life and those who are yet to be in your life. It’s for the people you may or may never meet. You have something to give to this world. We just have to shift our thinking from “What can I get” to “What can I give.” And, then give it.

I’ve seen and read this quote all over the internet: “Your greatest calling may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” I’m with this in theory, and raising my children IS my greatest calling….but I think it eliminates any thought that YOU bring something powerful into this world all by yourself. I cannot expect my children to believe they can achieve greatness and fill the earth with something amazing and impactful if I can’t believe that for myself. My children will become what they see. In every area of their lives. I owe it to them to show up, pay attention, and let my music happen.

So, that’s how I’m entering into 2019. There is a lot of music inside of me. There is a lot of music inside of you. I need your music, and you need mine. We can either let life happen, or we can MAKE music happen. Christmas Eve night, Kris and I went to bed, and he looked at me and said, “Take ownership. Do it. Stop waiting for something to happen, and go after it.” It was the most random, out of the blue affirmation. And, it was just the thing I needed to seal it on my heart.

I hope this seals something in your heart. Take ownership. Do it. Stop waiting for something to happen, and go after it. 2019 has a lot in store for you. Hard moments, disappointing ones, challenging ones, growing ones, fun ones, amazing ones, victorious ones. They are all happening for you. And, I can’t wait to hear your music.

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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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Choose Hard.

Choose hard

The easy way out. We all want it sometimes. The easiest way, however, isn’t always the best way. Usually the easy way means there was no growth, there was little or nothing gained, and there was no positive change. I think I’ve been looking for the easy way out lately. And, since I write and post a lot about our triumphs, I think I should also write about the revelations of when I also realize I’ve been falling short.

I’ve been choosing the easy way out in my health. What’s the quickest and easiest way to satisfy my hunger? What’s the easiest excuse to justify not being physically active and taking care of my body?

I’ve been choosing the easy way out in my attitude. Being positive is hard and takes daily discipline. Being careless with my words and sliding into being negative about a few situations have been really easy. That ease leads to habit. That habit leads to automatic negative responses to the most ridiculous things. Embarrassing things.

And, the real kicker: I’ve been choosing the easy way out in my relationships. In some relationships, I’ve just taken a step back and justified it with our busy summer. In some relationships, I’ve put up a wall and justified it by calling it a healthy boundary. In some relationships, I’ve created in my mind who I think they are and what I think their intentions are, because it’s easier than being a seeker of the heart.

I’ve been happy. I’ve been content. I’ve had an amazing summer with my family. But, I have also sacrificed the more. The more in my health, the more in my attitude, and the more in my relationships. I haven’t been intentional in how I walk in these things lately. And, when we aren’t intentionally living life in every area, something will go lacking. Something will be sacrificed. The first step is to quit making excuses for them. The second step is to remember that the easy way out isn’t always the best way.

Hard means work. But, hard means growth. Hard means you’re choosing discipline, because your health matters. Hard means you’re allowing those around you to hold you accountable for every careless word and taking those words captive and replacing them with truth. A truth that is grounded in love. Hard means that you invest in your relationships even, at times, when you are tired, because you will always be strengthened by their presence. Hard means if you want a relationship with someone, you fight for it…..even if it’s been a struggle. Hard means you rise to your higher self and see people the way you’re meant to see them. You eliminate judgment, and you see the light in every person.

Hard means you’re living an intentional life. And intentional life means you are living the life you’re meant to live. It’s the more in life. It’s the cherry on top in life. It’s the “I came that you may life and have it to the full” in life.

Easy won’t get you where you’re supposed to be. Where you’re meant to be. Hard will.

Today, I choose hard.

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