Tag Archives: gifts

Make Space For the Season.

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The other day, I sat in mom and dad’s living room and began recalling my childhood Christmases. The subject came up when I told Anna about the time each of my parents thought the other was buying my presents. We call it “the Christmas my parents forgot me.” Their only child. Just one. Me. It’s actually one of my dad’s favorite Christmas stories to tell. Well, besides the one when dad asked me when I was a little girl to tell him if the lights on the tree were working. “Now they are. Now they aren’t. Now they are. Now they aren’t.” I didn’t realize they were blinking lights. My mom, however, hates the story of forgetting me. She was a flight attendant then, and her schedule was crazy. But, dad and I have laughed about that Christmas so many times. I was older, and I got it. I wasn’t hurt or disappointed. But, I laughed. (And, I caught my dad later that day writing a check to stick inside my stocking.) I wasn’t disappointed, because everything I ever could have needed or wanted from my parents I received. I’m not talking about the things. I’m talking about the relationships. The love. The real stuff that doesn’t get old or break or fade.

After I told Anna that story, I began remembering all of my Christmases when I was a little girl. I remembered the Christmas morning I got Dolly Pops. I had wanted those for a solid year. I remember the Christmas where Ken and Barbie were sitting on their Barbie horses, and another Barbie was taking a dip in her pool that mom filled with water. I remembered the Christmas I opened up a my burgundy velvet blazer and navy blue tie. I guess I was channelling my inner Diane Keaton that year. I began to tell my parents and my own children that while I knew my Christmases weren’t “big” by most standards, they always felt big. Dad was pastoring a small church on a very modest income. They couldn’t do the big. But, I told them, “It always felt big. They were the best Christmases.”

I watched tears stream down my mom’s face. Did she not know that they always felt big and were so perfect to me? Did she not know that I never felt slighted growing up but, instead, only loved every part of what the season brought our family? The peace, the smiles, the joys, the laughs, the hugs, the thank-yous, the blinking lights?

Last night, I sat in my own living room with my two oldest children who are hardly children anymore. John Henry looks at me and says, “Mom, can you give my big presents to another kid this year or is that not an option?” Later Anna says, “Mom, last Christmas was great. Don’t get me wrong. Everyone loves presents. But, I don’t want so many gifts taking up our time together.” Then, in her hilarious Donald Trump voice she said, “I’m going to build a wall around the tree and gifts.” (Seriously, her Trump impression rivals only that of Alec Baldwin.)

“I want to make space between the gifts and this,” she said, stretching her arms toward John Henry and me. “There is nothing I need. I just want this.”

Did I not know that my kids simply loved every part of what the season brought our family? The peace, the joys, the laughs, the hugs, the thank-yous, the lights that do not blink? Not the things that get old or break or fade. The relationships. The love. The real stuff.

In all of your hectic shopping, your worry over if you have bought enough, done enough, given enough….Pause, stop, breathe. Your kids will have more than they need or want because of YOU. Because, you laugh in the kitchen together while making Chex-mix. Because, you put away your phones and look them in the eyes and listen to them. Because, you take a break from homework and laundry and cry together watching This Is Us. (Have mercy, that show is everything right now.) Because, they watch you say something encouraging to their dad. Because, they watch their dad bring their mom coffee. Because, they see stockings for John Henry’s dad and step-mom hung at my parents’ house. Because, they see what love looks like. How it walks, how it talks, how it moves, how it pauses, how it gives.

Make space between the gifts and this. Fill that space with everything you are. Fill that space absorbing everything your children are. That’s what a big Christmas looks like. Make space for the season. Make space for the real stuff that doesn’t break. But for the stuff that gets you through your hardest seasons. The stuff that assures you that God is always for you and will not fail you. The stuff that reminds you to always make space for forgiveness, for gratitude, and for loving well. The stuff that reminds you that YOU ARE ENOUGH and you are amazing and you are INSANELY loved. Make space for that stuff. Nothing else matters. It’s all about your relationships. I can assure you of that.

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Filed under gratitude, Kid Stuff, Life Experiences, Love, Motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

The Thief of Joy.

Article written for The Grip:

I recently read this Theodore Roosevelt quote on Pinterest, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  Isn’t it though?  And, keeping up with the Joneses seems so much more exasperating with the access of social networks like Twitter and Facebook.  We look at their beautiful home.  Her beautiful children.  Their extravagant vacation.  His new car.  She really seems to have it all together.  How do things always fall into place so perfectly for them?  How did their kids get so perfect?  Why can’t I be that kind of mother? Dang, their life is so much more glamorous than mine!

We look at our own lives and wish we had theirs.

I’ve done it on different levels before.  I can remember reading another writer’s blog once and suddenly feeling very inadequate as a writer.  She was just good.  Really good.  And, funny.  Man, if I could come up with the funny one-liners like she does.  How does she do that?

Then there is the girl who is always disciplined to eat the right foods and go to the gym.  I’m not going to lie.  I have coveted another girl’s disciplined habits and six pack abs before.  But clearly, I love Junior Mints more than I love impressive abdominal muscles.

Don’t we often want what we don’t have?  If only I had her sense of style.  If only I had an eye for decorating my house like she does.  If only I had a job like his.  If only I had a personality like hers.  If only, if only.

We can’t trade places with any of the people we envy.  And, you know what?  It wouldn’t fix us if we could.  Then, we would simply take on a new set of problems.  A new set of difficult circumstances.  A new set of struggles.  And, the truth is, everything isn’t always as perfect as it seems.  None of us really know the struggles of another.

Comparison robs us of contentment.  It robs us of joy.  The solution is a better understanding of who we are in Him.  It’s gaining a proper perspective of our own life.  Not too long ago I had let a little resentment set in when I said, “I haven’t had a full 24 hours away from my children in nearly seven months.”  I gained perspective when I did a heart check.  My new perspective became, “I haven’t missed a day with my children in nearly seven months.”

Perspective changes everything.  So, does giving up our right to say “it isn’t fair.”  Because, we really lose the right to say, “it isn’t fair” until we have suffered on the cross as much as Christ suffered.  When my good friend, Cindy Beall, was asked to respond to God not being fair once, she replied, “I’m glad He isn’t.  I need His mercy.”

I may never be as creative a writer as some, but I will do my best to hear God and pen His words when I do write.  I may never be able to pick out the perfect draperies like my friend.  But, I can be thankful I have a friend who can help me.  I may never have perfect children.  But, I can thank God He sees them that way.

And, I thank God that He sees you and I that way.  Perfect.  Blameless.  Without guilt.  Because, when He looks at us, He sees us through the blood of His Son.  Who paid a price that really wasn’t His to pay.  Now, that wasn’t fair.

Let gratitude and perspective fill you today and every day.  Let the knowledge that YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe bring you peace.  Know He is always working ALL things for your good.  And, rest in this truth:

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

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Filed under God Stuff, gratitude, life, Writing

Next Year, I Might Say, “Be Mine.”

Can I just be honest and say that Valentine’s Day is my least favorite holiday of the year?  I don’t mean to be a love humbug.  I mean, I love love and all.  I just don’t like using it to celebrate Kris.  And, he is not allowed to buy me a Valentine’s Day gift.  I know this makes me odd.  And, I’m okay with that.  I’m sure Kris is, too.  Not to worry about my littles.  We certainly lavish on them on this day of “Be My Valentine.”

So, instead of making the day about recognizing how much I love Kris, I pick a person really needing to feel some love to bless.  I started this tradition two years ago.  It’s kind of given me a reason to look forward to the holiday.

However, yesterday ended up being one of my favorite days of the year.  No expensive gifts.  No over-priced roses.  But, a string of texts, notes, and unexpected surprises made me so thankful for the relationships in my life.  Several members of Eagles Way Church surprised the staff with the most heartfelt, delicious lunch at the office.  Kris surprised me….and I do mean surprised me, by cleaning the house before he took off into the wild blue yonder.  An unexpected text from a friend simply expressing her appreciation broke me.  And, then?  A surprise knock at my door with none other than my father bringing me my favorite hummus and pita bread.

I spent the rest of the evening playing Pictionary on the Xbox with my big kids and laughing at this littlest kid while he saw himself being videoed.

Why do videos start and stop on the most awkward of facial expressions?  Have. Mercy.

Anyway, my heart swelled with an immense gratitude for the people in my life.  A gratitude that I get to wake up every morning to the most incredible beings in my home.  A gratitude that I get to be Kris Takle’s wife.  A gratitude that I get to be a mother.  A gratitude that I get to work at the greatest church on the planet.  A gratitude that I get to be a pastor.

I am so rich.  So rich in relationships.  Rich in love.  Rich in contentment.

So, perhaps, after days like yesterday, I just might become a fan of Cupid.  After all, I am definitely a fan of lunch.  And, a clean house.  And, sweet messages.  And, hummus.  And Eagles Way Church.

And, Kris Takle.

And, these little love bugs.

 

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Filed under giving, gratitude, Kid Stuff, Love, Marriage, Motherhood, Relationships

Necessary Supplies.

After all that talk yesterday about feeding my spirit, so my flesh will starve, I decided to read the entire New Testament again. 

I lie.  You see what happens when you don’t soak up God’s word?  You lie.  Actually, I fed my flesh a little with this new, fun creature. 

I love my husband.  Not because he gave me this iPad, which he did.  But, because he also e-mails me pics like this:

He had a few mosquito bites.  He sent me this pic of his “supplies.”  I’m just glad he didn’t go overboard.   And, I actually do understand the necessity of something such as Lifesavers Gummies. 

Anyhoo.  I actually waited until the littlest fellow went to bed, so I could give my anniversary gift my full attention.  Of course, when you are a mother of little people, it’s rare that anything ever gets your full attention.  And, my oldest two made sure it didn’t.  They both felt it was unfair that mommy got an iPad and they didn’t. 

Cry me a river. 

Well, John Henry nearly did.  On top of the fact that he doesn’t own an iPad, his sister got to sleep with me, and he didn’t.  And, the conversation that ensued is one that he will never, ever forget.  And, neither will I. 

Come back tomorrow for that one.

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Filed under Marriage, Motherhood, parenting, Randomness

Don’t Close Up Shop.

I can let life swallow me up.  I can.  I can allow the activities and antics of three children cause me to close up shop on sharing my gifts with others.  Serving others.  Because, it seems like too much at that moment.

But, it’s not always too much.  It’s not usually as stressful as we make it out to be.  It’s just our response to those busy moments that mess with our head.  Okay, maybe it’s just my head.  Maybe, it’s just me? 

I almost let one of those moments make me close up shop yesterday afternoon.  My sweet husband had a dinner meeting with airplane-ish type folk.  I had household obligations, two children with obligations, and an infant who, well, was only obligated to let me know when he was hungry.  And, he was.  Of course, he was.   Have you seen him?  Only the cutest chunk of love in the history of chunks of love. 

You see?  I do not lie, friends.

It would have been easier to let these things – life things – consume me.  Stay home.  Pretend there was nothing or no one else besides myself and my three little people.  It really would have.  But, one thing I’ve learned (and my parents have taught me) in my thirty-five plus years on planet earth is this:

My life will be more blessed when I live beyond myself. 

Beyond me.  Beyond my kids’ homework and schedules.  Beyond the constant needs of an infant.  Beyond making sure I’ve emptied the dishwasher.  Beyond getting my hair ministered to – which by the power of the Holy Spirit, I was able to fit that in.  Can I get an amen on coverin’ them roots? 

I was responsible for teaching the youth last night.  And, for some dadgum reason, I can’t say “youth” without thinking of My Cousin Vinny.  You know the line.  “Your honor, two utes.”  I seriously can’t.  I drive myself crazy sayin’ it.  ANY. HOW.

By choosing to overcome any stress that parenting, sans my awesome husband, brings, I used one of my gifts.  More than that, I just served.  And, instead of staying home, putting my children to bed, and contemplating how hectic my day was….

I put my children to bed, and then I went to bed fulfilled.  Content.  Happy.  Blessed.

I think that’s what Paul meant in Acts 20 when he said, “it’s more blessed to give than to receive.” 

But, don’t get me wrong.  If any of y’all wanna come keep three little people and send me to the spa, I will not make you withhold those good gifts.  You know.  Since that would bless y’all and all.

Ahem.

I mean, Amen.

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Filed under giving, life, making an impact, Motherhood, parenting

Don’t Make Noise. Make A Difference.

Why yes, of course, I missed you.  Did you miss me?  Taking the last week of the year to spend solely with my family just seemed like the right thing to do.  I’m glad I did.  But, I did miss talkin’ to y’all.

There are plenty of photos from this season I could post, but this one is my favorite.  It’s Anna Takle, day one, at my parents’ house, in search of gifts that read her name.  One day, I’m going to miss little bodies under a Christmas tree, shaking their presents with smiles planted across their face.  It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

But, I’d like to experience many wonderful times of this new year.  I heard my dad recently share on how many of us make New Year’s resolutions to work out, eat less – even though, it profits us little.  However, resolving to pursue Christ above all else, love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind profits us much.  I’m letting that be my New Year’s resolution. 

So often, we focus on things that bother us.  We let those things take up more space than our love for God.  How wrong is that?  A couple of days ago, Mark Batterson posted this on Twitter:

“quit criticizing and start creating.   don’t focus on what’s wrong.   do something right.   don’t make noise.   make a difference.”

Wow.  That’s what it’s all about.  The only way we are ever going to get to that point is to stop being so dang negative and start loving God.  Really loving God.  And, pursuing Him as relentlessly as Anna pursued her gifts. 

I bet we might just discover a few gifts, too. 

That’s my resolution. 

Yours?

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Filed under God Stuff, Kid Stuff, Love, Spiritual Journey

I’m Letting My Dad Hijack My Blog.

Dad wanted to guest blog, and post this earlier.  It just seemed it may appear, I don’t know, a little selfish on my part?  Anyhoo.  After several requests to read his gift and for posterity’s sake, here ya go.  He’s a great dad.  A really, great dad.

Happy Birthday to the most wonderful daughter in the world.

 35 Things I Love About You:

  1.  God gave you to your mother and me.

 2.  I love your laugh.

 3.  I love the way you interact with your children.

 4.  I love the way you love God.

 5.  I love your hair and how you wear it.

 6.  I love your Blogs.

 7.  I love talking with you.

 8.  I love seeing you with your bags and children at the airport.

 9.  I love the way you treat your mom and me.

10. I love how you worship God.

11. I love the way you treat your friends.

12. I love how generous you are.

13. I love the way you love the local church.

14. I love the way you encourage me.

15. I love the way you carry yourself with such dignity.

16. I love how you look at me when I’m preaching, as that’s not my dad but a man of God.

17. I love how you and your mom cherish each other.

18. I love how you stress out over the most trivial stuff sometimes.

19. I love going out to eat with you, especially at Red Rock and Chelinos.

20. I love how smart you are.

21. I love how you love Christmas.

22. I love how you talk about Big Mama.

23. I love how you uplift other people.

24. I love how you honor and respect your husband.

25. I love your honesty about yourself.

26. I love hearing other people say how much you mean to them.

27. I love being the most proud Dad on earth.

28. I love seeing you cry tears of compassion for people.

29. I love watching you buy someone else’s groceries when you are checking out.

30. I love how you love Dr. Takle and Christina.

31. I love playing Scrabble with you.

32. I love all the quality time you give us.

33. I love how much you have matured in OKC.

34. I love everything about you.

35. I love the fact that I could say a gazillion more things.

Love,
Dad

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Filed under giving, parenting, Relationships