Tag Archives: birthdays

Welcome to Adulthood, JH.

JH – Age 5

I told a friend yesterday that I will probably sob with every single tap of the keyboard typing his 18th and final birthday blog. And, I was right. Because, the very moment I cracked open my laptop, tears began pouring. Like, I am typing this from my grave, because, I can’t even believe this is real life.

But, I also can believe it. I’ve been living it, right? Every single second for 18 perfect years.  

Perfect years. 

It doesn’t mean every day has been easy. But, let’s face it, MOST days have been. Like for real easy. Kris and I almost every day look at John Henry and say, “He’s such a good kid.” I remember when he was a toddler, and we would take him to restaurants. People would come up to us and compliment us on how well behaved he was. We felt like we had this parenting thing IN THE BAG. Then, Anna was born, and we just tried to corral her in the vicinity of our dining table. And, I don’t even think Jett saw the inside of the restaurant until he was like 3, because, there was no way in hell we could corral him in the restaurant itself.  Kris and I learned quickly that we, indeed, did NOT have this parenting thing in the bag.  

I also remember my dad volunteering to travel on an airplane alone with John Henry from Oklahoma City to Atlanta. John was barely a year old. My dad will tell you what an easy flight it was. I don’t know why he never volunteered to travel alone with Anna and Jett, but I will say that once we moved back to Georgia, he would take them to Roses on occasion. Maybe, he felt like that was comparable. I don’t know. 

What I do know is that every day raising John has been an absolute joy and gift. 

Man, what a gift. 

John Henry, the day the doctor put you in my arms, love filled my entire being. It was the kind of love that healed. The kind that makes the crooked paths straight. The kind that reminds you that HOPE IS ALIVE. 

You are that kind of love. A salve for those who are down. A light for those who can’t find their way. An encourager and help for friends who need to know they have someone in their corner. As a matter of fact, one of your good friend’s mom told me once how her son said, “You can always depend on John.” Man, bud. What a statement we should all aspire to have said about us. The minute someone you know needs a friend, you drop everything for them. To that I say, you will always be surrounded by people who will drop everything for you. And, even when you are alone, God will always lean in so close to you, because you have leaned in so close to those He loves. Paul wrote about Timothy in Philippians 2:20 how no one else was like him and took a genuine interest in others. There aren’t a lot of people like this in the world. But, you are certainly one. 

You not only take a genuine interest in others, you serve others. You see a need and you seek out a way to meet it. You see someone walk in with their arms full, you take their load in a matter of seconds. You see that someone needs a place to sit, you give up your own. When your teachers or leaders at school need something, you do all you can to make that thing happen. Not because you need the brownie points. But because, you care. Because, you’re a team player. And, you will move heaven and earth to make even the smallest things and needs happen. Sometimes, I have thought that some of the things you do is a lot of work for some thing or event. But, you always remember why you’re doing it. You’ve taught me that sometimes, we just need to remind ourselves of why we do the things we do. Even when they are a lot of work. Bob Goff writes in his book, Dream Big, “Tasks aren’t always merely tasks. They can be stepping stones.” 

Every task and extra effort hasn’t been merely tasks. They’ve been stepping stones, John. Each stone leading to something bigger and better. These are lessons that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Because, Goff also says, “Large and seemingly impossible ambitions are going to require equally large sacrifices.” You don’t have to worry for one moment if the future you dream about is possible. You’ve been laying those stepping stones your entire life. And, I, along with all of those who love you, get to watch it all unfold. We get to cheer you on. We get to rejoice in all that you accomplish. And, you better believe that when times are hard, we will be there to lift you back up so you can keep laying more stones. 

John Henry, I could write millions of words about all of the wonderful things you do and just simply who you are. It has been my greatest honor and joy getting to lead worship on that stage with you. I look over at you and Anna, and I think, “How is this real life?” How did I get so dang blessed? You have been committed to worship. Committed to His house. Committed to God. Committed to your educators, your school and those who have mentored you. Committed to your friends. Committed to your family. I can’t put into words how you honor me. I can’t. But, I can tell you one thing…..every time you say, “Momma,” I’m ready to cash app you money. (Just kidding, Kris. KIDDING.) Sort of kidding. 

I’m going to soak up this 18th year, your SENIOR year, with every single ounce of my being. I hope you know how proud you make us every single day. And, I hope you know how much we ALL love and adore you.

Thanks for always protecting your sister.

For helping us keep up with your brother. 

For loving all of us so well. 

I can still see your tiny little self crying as I left you in your 1st grade classroom. You came to the door with the biggest tears rolling down your cheeks and wanted to go with me. I’m pretty sure it will be me this time standing at the door with tears rolling down my cheeks as I watch you drive away to college and into adulthood. Let me know if you want me to come with you, ok? 

Happy 18th Birthday, John Henry Landreth.

I love you 3000,

Mom

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Jett Man Is Double Digits!

jett hat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jett Anna

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

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

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

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

I love you more than you will ever know,

Mom

Jett OU

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Jesus, Take the Wheel.

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

Except I probably will yell at the driver.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are John Henry’s greatest advocate.

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You are Jett’s greatest teacher.

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You are your dad’s spontaneous travel partner.

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You are my best friend.

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

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

Happy 15th Birthday.

Love,

Mom

 

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Why Does 17 Seem So Much Older?

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Today, my firstborn is SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD, AND I CAN HARDLY BELIEVE THAT I AM THE MOTHER OF A SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD. LIKE HOW DID THIS HAPPEN SO FAST? But, here I sit typing his birthday blog the night before his birthday ever so grateful for every single day of these past 17 years. I can remember when he was little and the sweetest, kindest little boy you have ever seen.

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People, while well-meaning (I guess), would say, “Just wait until he’s a teenager!” I decided then to never buy into that gloom and doom prediction of the teenage years being hellacious. Buying into that would have been a terrible investment and waste of dread. Because, this teenager has become one of my greatest supporters, encouragers, do anything for me (and you) sons, and it just always blows my mind and makes me so proud.

John Henry, you are one of my very best friends. I love laughing with you. And, you know I love it when I make YOU laugh. I love talking to you, and I promise I try to really understand everything you say about cars. I do not, however, try to understand everything you say about math and weird things like that. But, it’s cool you like it.  Spending time with you is one of my greatest life treasures. And, I LOVE that you love spending time with us. I love that you always want to know what we are doing, because you want to be doing it with us. It’s okay that you have FOMO. It alway makes me laugh. I love that my friends are your friends. And, that you can hang out with and enjoy anyone of any age.

I love what kind of friend you are to people. Good grief, you are a good one and someone your friends can always depend on.

John, you can pursue anything in life you set your mind to. You can achieve anything you desire to achieve. I believe in you, and I am so proud of your commitment to success. BUT, your greatest success is your commitment to be a good human. A good friend. Just a good, good man. I don’t care what you set out to DO in life. My greatest joy is just watching you BE. I love who you are and what you add to every space and every life.

You add peace to our home.

You add calm to situations that should be stressful.

You add dignity to every room you enter.

You add love to conversations that tear others down.

You add forgiveness to unmet expectations.

You add humor to unexpected moments.

You add the best music to every dance party….whether in our kitchen or on the deck.

You always add everything good to every situation, every room, and every person simply by being there. Your presence carries a weight that is so beautiful and so honest and real. And, because of that, you will find favor all of your days. I really believe that.

Thank you for always looking out for your sister. Even when she has no clue that’s what you are doing.

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Thank you for taking time with your little brother. One day, he will be your best friend.

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Thank you for honoring us the way you do.

Keep being you. Keep doing you. Because, this world needs you. It needs your calm. It needs your humor. It needs your honesty. It needs your love. I pray you get back so much more than you give out. Because, you deserve it, bud.

May today be filled with all of your favorite things: good food, good conversation, and a little Sinatra. And, may you see all of the coolest cars on the road today.

I love you, John Henry Landreth. I couldn’t ask for a better son or a better friend.

Love,

Mom

JH - me 17

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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?

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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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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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My Dreamer is 8.

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Jett: “I see the future sometimes.”

Me: “What do you see?”

Jett: “I see myself on a stage, playing guitar and singing.”

Me: “I see it with you, bud. Hold on to that picture.”

I’m so glad I’ve learned to not downplay these conversations. I’m glad I know to not only allow my children to dream dreams but to dream them myself. I’m thankful I know the power of imagination. And, if anyone has taught me the beauty and power of it, it is Jett.

Today, my sweet, funny, sensitive, creative, smart, imaginative boy is 8. I know. I can hardly believe it myself. But I can tell you that I have soaked in every single second along the way. Because, no one has ever made me pause and be in the moment more than Jett Takle.

I love conversations with him. Some of his stories can take a LONG time to tell. But, many of his conversations, where he seeks truth or shares his own truth, well, those are pretty remarkable. Many times, they are so heartfelt and rich that he blows us all away.

Earlier this week, he and Anna were outside. Anna, my resident philosopher, began sharing with Jett how amazing everything in nature is and how it is connected to everything. “God is in nature. Isn’t everything out here just beautiful and amazing? It is so important we honor the beauty of everything around us.”

Jett responded, “Do you know what the most important thing in the world is? You.”

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I’m sure later that day he was aggravating her like any little brother can do. But, I can’t tell you how many of those conversations just win us all the time.

Last night he said, “This is my first birthday without Noodles.” (This is our dear friend Mike Thompson who transitioned last September.) He said he’d like to go to his grave and Big Mama’s grave and just hang out there sometime. I reminded him that Noodles and Big Mama aren’t there, and he can talk to them any time. I told him I talk to Big Mama often. “Oh, I get that. I talk to Noodles a lot.”

He is my deep feeler. He is my big dreamer. He is my constant reminder that life is precious and is meant to be FELT. It is meant to be FUN. And, we are meant to take it ALL in.

Jett Takle, I love you so. I love how you say that Saturdays make you “feel lucky.” I love how we can just go to the movies and you will say “this is the best day ever.” I love how you always tell me that you love me. How you always tell all of us that you love us. I love how you love to learn. I love how blown away you get at things in history and science that the rest of us can take for granted. I love how you ask the hard questions, because, you’re not afraid to feel the hard emotions. I love how you love to dress nice. You wouldn’t turn down a good hat or tie ever. I love how you love music. And, how nobody, NOBODY, can hold a candle to Michael Jackson and Bruno Mars. I love how you have legit studied their dance moves and learned the lyrics to every song you can. I love how you look up to your big brother.

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And, I love how you’re not afraid to be you. You are proud to be you and let other people be who they are. You find your lane, and you enjoy it. And, you make us all want to hop in the same lane with you.

You are fun and amazing and make ALL of us imagine more. I’m so glad you were born. The world needed you. 8 is the number of new beginnings. I can’t wait to see all of the new things you do this year. All of the new things that inspire you. That challenge you. That grow you. That amaze you. I can’t wait to see all of the new things you open us up to. It’s going to be your best year ever, bud. I just know it.

Happy Birthday, Jett. Thank you for being my greatest showman.

I love you so very much,

Mom.

“Men suffer more from imagining too little than too much.” -P.T. Barnum (The Greatest Showman)

Jett - hat

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Anna Is A Teenager.

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Anna Takle Is A TEENAGER.

Dear friends and family who remember the blogs the first several years of Anna’s life….can you believe this day is here? Can you believe I survived Anna in pre-school and the calls from her teacher telling me she “couldn’t log into her Twitter account?” That I survived her cutting up my comforter with her Fiskar scissors? Survived her bringing her dad’s wedding band to school for Show and Tell? Survived her insistence on wearing the craziest of apparel combinations? Survived ALL of her antics, mischief, hilarity….survived the days where she literally had no filter?

I did it. WE did it. Being able to share her stories and have you all laugh with me have made getting to year 13 such a fun ride. The truth is, it really hasn’t been a game of survival. It’s been a journey of learning, of growing, and of being blown away by the sheer gift God gave me when He gave me Anna Takle.

One of the things most do NOT know about Anna is that she is the most thoughtful person I know. Her gifts she gives you are well thought out. She makes every gift personal. She puts time and energy and enormous love into everything she creates and gives. Because, the people in her life really matter to her. She expresses herself in words in the most beautiful of ways to let people know how much they mean to her. Is she funny? Yes. Is her wit the quickest? Most certainly. But is she one of the most sensitive and caring humans on the planet? You better believe it.

Dear Anna Marie,

I am so proud of the young woman you are. You make me proud in SO many ways. You are bright. You care that you do well in school. But, you care more that you learn and understand and grow from everything you are taught. The lessons themselves matter to you.

I am so proud of how you continue to practice piano. I am even more proud that you serve with that gift. I love your heart for worship and how free you are to express your love to God. 

I am so proud of your heart for social justice. I love how you stand up for what is right. Your heart breaks for anyone you feel is oppressed or simply anyone who doesn’t know how valuable they are. I can remember praying for you when you were little. Because, you always said….out loud….the first things that ever crossed your mind….I prayed, “Dear Jesus, thank you for Anna’s heart of compassion.” And, man, have you risen to the occasion with such wild compassion. Your heart aches for those who feel like they don’t belong. You see someone in need, and you do all you can to make sure the lack is gone. You choose people. You choose their feelings. You choose their hearts. You are truly a defender of the weak. And, you always remind me: look at the heart, not at the person. I’m so thankful how you always see the good in people. 

I love how you love watching This Is Us with me. I love how you watch Grey’s Anatomy and think you can diagnose everyone in our house. Actually, I don’t love how you diagnose us. Stop it. Stahhppp.

I love your love for the theater and how you’ve taught every one in this house to enjoy it, too.

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I love how you love your brothers. How you look up to John Henry. I love how you give him unsolicited advice ALL THE TIME. I’m not quite sure he loves that….but, be glad he loves YOU. It’s most adorable how you are forever Little Momma to Jett. I love how you think Jett is the funniest human on the planet….after yourself, of course. Duh.

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I love how you are your dad’s great defender. He cannot do ANYTHING wrong. Nothing. “He is totally Jack from ‘This Is Us’ except without the issues,” you say. Okay. OKAY already. We can shout his praises tomorrow on HIS birthday.

I love how you love me. I love how comfortable and at home you are with me. You’re comfortable enough to tell me when I go in for a second lecture, “I am parented out.” I get it. Sometimes, I am mommed out. I love how you reminded me to write your birthday blog. As if I could ever forget. I asked you, “What would you do if you woke up one birthday and didn’t have a birthday blog to read?” You said, “Well, I’d just write my own!” I have no doubt you wouldn’t. You rarely let anything disappoint you. It’s really quite remarkable.

The other day, I told Anna, “Never text a boy first. He should always text you first.” She responded, “Mom. No. I will not follow this protocol. It’s the 21st century. Women can vote now. I can text first.” Normally, I would’ve questioned her quick response and disregard for my request. Instead, I laughed. And, you know what else I did? I accepted it. Because, just like in so many other life situations and lessons, Anna has consistently inspired me to be open. To listen, to receive, to hear something new. Something that may be out of the ordinary. And, every single time it’s been worth it. She has stretched me in more ways than I ever thought possible. And, I’m not talking about stretching my patience. Of course, she has done that. But, she has stretched my imagination to see more than what is just in front me. She continues to encourage me to see more. To dream bigger. To hope with a daring hope. To expand until I see the glory of God in every single person.

What a fun ride this has been. It’s only going to get better, Anna Takle. Some days, I miss this little girl sitting across from me in a restaurant in Oklahoma City holding baby Jenny.

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But every day I am so thankful to sit across from this girl. This beautiful, smart, caring human that has become my very best friend.

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Happy 13th Birthday, Anna. I am SO THANKFUL to be your mom.

I love you like crazy,

Mom.

 

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A New Journey.

Me Jh

John Henry Landreth. How is it possible to love you more with every passing year? How is it possible you embark on a new journey with this birthday? DRIVING. BECAUSE, YOU’RE 15 YEARS OLD. FIFTEEN. DEAR JESUS, HOW? I promise not to be a control freak in the passenger seat making sounds and freaking out over tires touching a line or anything like that. I lie. You and I both know I will. You will get irritated with me over-stating concerns, and you’ll tell dad. Dad will talk to me about it. I will try to do better. You will forgive me. We will get in the car again, and I will be a good mom filled with the spirit and self-control.

Truth is….you know me better than I know myself sometimes. And, although my belaboring of points can drive you crazy, you always forgive, overlook, and still choose to love me and enjoy time with me. This is one of the most remarkable things about you, John Henry. You have the most amazing tolerance and acceptance of everyone’s quirks. You always choose to find the good in everything and everyone. You are truly one of the most positive people I know, and I get to you call you my son and my friend.

I want you to know that your Daddy Kris and I have frequent conversations about you. I will say things like, “It blows my mind how amazing John Henry is.” Your dad has told me, “I don’t know what I did to deserve the goodness that flows out of John Henry.” When you play guitar and worship, you blow us away. Your talent and skill is incredible. But, it’s your heart of worship that just astounds me. Because, at the very core of your heart of worship is the most grateful, thankful heart I’ve ever known.

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Being your mom is one my greatest gifts. But, being your friend is music to my soul. It is the richness in the day to day of my life. And, it is FUN. I enjoy your company so freaking much. I love it that I don’t embarrass you. But, if I’m dancing, you start dancing with me. When I sing the wrong lyrics, you shake your head and laugh. And, I love it that you call me mom most of the time….but when you want something, you call me, “Momma.” Hey, it works for you. I can’t blame you.

You are your sister’s protector. I have loved watching the two of you become closer, share the stage in worship together, and work out your issues together. You are also your little brother’s protector and his buddy. Thank you for taking the time out of your days to play with him. He wants to be just like you. Thank you for setting such an amazing for example for him.

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I remember not being able to imagine my little blonde haired, blue-eyed boy growing up. What would I do without him being so small and snuggling next to his mom? What would I do without his small, tender arms always willing to love on his little sister?

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Now, I know. I would get to watch you appreciate and enjoy things like Ga-Ga’s and Noodles’ friendship.

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I would get to watch you partake in the goodness around the table and add beauty to our conversations. I would get to watch you pray over young people in your youth group. I would get to watch you notice a need and go meet it. I would get to watch you become so aware of every person in the room. I would get to watch you love even deeper. I would get to enjoy concerts with you that I would’ve never purposed to enjoy. And, I would get to become your friend. I am so excited for what else I get to watch you do and become. There is so much more ahead of you, John Henry. So much good. But, right now, I’m just happy to be in this moment with you. Enjoying every second of who you are. Because, who you are is a wonderful, kind, and fun young man who loves with intention and purpose. You are ALL of the good.

I love you more than words.

Happy Birthday 15th Birthday, JH.

Love,
Mom.

 

 

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Oh, Jett Man. Can You Slow Time, Please?

Jett

This is the third “I Can’t Believe You’re Seven” birthday blog I’ve written, and my heart can hardly take it. I’ve been mostly okay writing Jett’s previous birthday blogs and mostly okay embracing the fact he’s another year older. Until now. I mean….I’m okay. And, I LOVE exactly where he is, who he is, and every single thing these seven years of learning and growing have given him. But, seven seems not so little anymore. SEVEN SEEMS SO BIG AND GROWN AND SELF-SUFFICIENT. Seven is realizing that these tender, amazing years of raising little ones are quickly becoming these heart-wrenching, amazing years of coaching and guiding three incredible expressions of God in the earth. And, the fact that God has entrusted me to nurturing and guiding three remarkable beings makes me want to shout “THANK YOU, JESUS FOR THIS LIFE WITH THESE PEOPLE!” My heart pours out gratitude. Because, being their mom is my greatest joy.

I have loved every single second with Jett Takle. He is the third, the baby, the one who can convince to me buy the Oreo Blizzard (and eat the Oreo Blizzard.) The one who can leave rocks and Lego minifigures in his pockets and make me smile every time I pull them out of the dryer. The one who can say, “Can I snuggle with you?” and melt my heart in two seconds flat. The one who can almost convince me to do whatever his little heart desires. Almost.

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And, the amazing thing about all of this? The other three people in this house pretty much feel the same way about this youngest spark of light and joy living down the hall.

Jett Takle, you make ALL of our hearts melt.

There are so many things I love about you and your FUN self.

I love how you can break out into a dance at any given moment if you think it will make us laugh.

I love how you say, “Hot tubbbbbb, hot tubbbbbb. Oh, how’s that hot tubbbb lifeee?” We don’t even know where it came from, but you do it every single time it’s hot tub time, and it makes us all smile so big.

I love how you’ve made it your daily goal to make me laugh every single day. Not once. Not twice. But THREE times. It’s just your thing. And, you count every time until you hit three.

I love how you tell me, “Mom, I looovvveeee your laugh.”

I love how even at seven years old, EVERYTHING is still so amazing. Please, don’t ever lose that. Don’t ever stop being in awe of how beautiful everything is. How intricate and unique every detail is in all of the things around you. Keep the wonder. I will help you fan those flames.

I love how you have named Pastor Will and Jenny “Paw-Paw and Nanny.” Who knows where you come up with these things. But, I love that you recognize the village around you and how loved you are.

I love how you LOVE to read. I love that it compliments and fuels your incredible imagination.

I love how you love Legos and can put them together with both determination and commitment.

I love how it takes you a long time to let me throw away your collection of empty boxes, because “they are special.”

I love that you love going to bed as much as I do. Seriously, I do.

I love how you love to be prayed for every night.

I love how you loved Bigmama and hugged her every time you saw her.

I love how you love all of your grandparents and think they are hilarious and perfect.

I love how you especially think everything your Far-Far does is hilarious. And, how you think Cathy knows “every single thing” about animals.

I love how you think nobody bakes better cookies than Farmor.

I love how you love fishing with your Ga-Ga. And, I love how you yell, “NANNNN!!!! And run to her every single time you see her.

I love how you love working with your daddy on the farm.

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I love how you think John Henry is the coolest guy you’ve ever seen and light up when he wants to shoot hoops with you.

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I love how you love your sister and still call her “Sissy.”

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I love how you make me appreciate every second of being a mother.

You are a gift to this family, Jett Takle. You are a gift to the world. You have enlightened the way we look at everything these past seven years. I cannot wait to watch the years ahead unfold for you. They will be amazing. Because, YOU are amazing.

Happy 7th Birthday, Jett Man.

I love you so very much.

Love, Mom

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