Tag Archives: parenting

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.

JH worship

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.

JH siblings

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?

JH young

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

JH noodles dad

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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Reset.

calm

“Remember. You show our children how to respond to stressful and difficult moments by how you respond to those moments.”

This was the reminder Kris gave me over the phone last night. You know, sometimes, when our husbands are right, we kind of want to roll our eyes or maybe throw a pie in their face. I jest a little. But, I couldn’t do either last night. I told him I recognized that my response was not good, and that I had allowed myself to get overwhelmed and would work through my stuff. He told me recognizing I was not in a good place did not make that place right. Again, he was right. So, I had to make myself right. And, I needed to do it right away. Not the next morning when all of the mercies are new. But, I needed to adjust then. In THAT moment.

It’s hard. We can work ourselves up faster than Clark Kent can turn into Super-Man. Then, we implode. Because, negativity is designed to do just that…..implode. We have to stop feeding it and giving energy to it. “When we hang up, reset your emotions, and go make it right,” he told me with the most tender of tones.

I didn’t have to wait for a sunrise to make that moment of spiraling emotions right. I just had to push the reset button. I didn’t feel like doing it, because staying in my overwhelmed emotions seemed easier. They validated me. They allowed me to justify my responses to stress. But, they didn’t produce anything good.

They didn’t model mercy or compassion.

They didn’t model the scripture, “be anxious for nothing…”

They didn’t model how to respond when life gets hard.

They didn’t model light.

They didn’t heal anything or anyone.

We can’t always calm the storm around us, but we can ALWAYS calm the storm WITHIN us.

And, that’s exactly what I did. I spoke to the storm within me, and said, “Peace be still.” I called my children together and asked forgiveness and spoke peace to them. In the very moment of my overwhelmed emotions, I reset and made it right.

You, too, always have the option to reset. No matter how powerful those negative emotions become….the God within you is greater. It is simply choosing to acknowledge who you really are and tapping into the peace that is already within you. Because, you have everything you need already inside of you. Everything.

You lack nothing.

Today, I choose to create my calm. I choose to model it. I choose to be the light in the dark and the calm in the storm. I choose to reset.

What do you choose today?

Be a lamp, a lifeboat, a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like shepherd. – Rumi

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We’re In This Together.

You know how you get into a season of parenting and you just love that season you’re in? I’m in one of those. Parenting is fun and exhausting and heart-wrenching and hilarious. And, so many more things. I love it that I’m in a season where I can have parenting fails, and my children recognize it as a parenting fail….and, they are able to shake it off and laugh about it. Yesterday was one of those days. First, in the check-out line at Ingles I noticed Jett put something in his pocket. He pulled out a lollipop.

Me: “Jett, do you know that’s stealing?”

Jett: “Yes.”

Me: “Do you know what happens when you steal?”

Jett: “You get rich.”

John Henry looks away, because he knows Jett doesn’t need to see him lose it. I try to reconcile the situation, and I still buy the lollipop. You may call buying the lollipop bad parenting, but I call it “It’s Monday, and Mom is tired.” So, whatever. At least, he now knows we PAY for candy. That’s my justification, and I’m sticking to it.

On the way home, I get a phone call from Kris filling me in on Anna and her appointment with the ENT. Anna, who has had chronic sinus infections for the past two years, apparently has her adenoids to blame for it. She also has her enlarged adenoids to blame for her inability to breathe well. I cannot tell you how many times she has told me, “Mom, I can’t get a good breath,” and I have responded, “It’s all in your head.” Swear. I am winning. You can imagine the hay day Anna had on the whole, “I TOLD YOU I COULDN’T BREATHE, MISS IT’S IN MY HEAD!!!!” I said, “At least you’re not allergic to chocolate!” She sort of laughed. Sort of.

Then later, I tell John Henry about some friends of ours who recently lost their dog. He knew this dog and loved this dog and spent time with this dog. I thought I was preparing him before he hears from someone else. Instead, he responds, “Oh my word, Mom. Why did you tell me that? You’re awful! I didn’t want to know this! You are having so many parenting fails today!”

I told John Henry I wasn’t trying to win any parenting awards. He said, “Clearly,” then he laughed.

We finally settled into the evening, and after putting the little bandit to bed, I decided to get him out for a family UTV ride across the farm. It was hard getting Kris on board, because he was all tired and acting like an old man. But, I was all I just wrote a blog post on living an adventure, so get up, people. A sleepy Jett got on the UTV and said, “Just so you know, when I go to bed, I’m tired.”

We made a memory. And, we forgot all about my parenting fails that day and took pictures of the beautiful, dusk sky. We remembered that at the end of the day, we are all in this thing together. Homework, projects, attempted thievery, surgeries, losses, wins, celebrations, disappointments, funny stories, doctor appointments, laundry, and even bad parenting moments. Sometimes, you need to pause them all and just be. Be in the moment. Be in something different than the day to day routine. Change it up. Be spontaneous. Be content.

Just be.

utv

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We’re A Little Bit Of Everything.

Anna - school

This year, we made the decision to transition our kids to private school. Let me first say, our kids have thrived in public school, and they have been under the instruction of some amazing public school teachers. Our decision to make the change came out of discussions between Kris and I and then with our children. One of the greatest benefits we’ve seen so far (besides only having ONE carpool line a day…..can I hear a shout?) is that all three of our children have opportunities to catch a glimpse of each other throughout the day. Jett will fist bump John Henry every time he sees him. And, we LOVE that. Seriously. Cutest ever.

Having been in a public school environment most of their lives, they are having new experiences they haven’t been exposed to before (and, we LOVE that, too.) Yesterday, Anna gets in the car and first shares that she thinks she might be Pentecostal. But, she doesn’t know for sure…

Anna: “So, today in Bible we checked what denomination we belong to. You know how our church isn’t ‘normal’ and I didn’t know what to check. I remembered hearing Big Mama was Pentecostal a long time ago, so I just checked that.”

John Henry: “We don’t belong to any denomination, Anna. I checked that.”

Anna: “Mom has never told us WHAT we are.”

We actually consider ourselves inter-faith, embracing all denominations. You know….we love grace like the Baptists and missions like the Methodists. Kris prefers the “sprinkling” of the Presbyterians (you will not find him submerged), and now we love the Eucharist like the Episcopalians. The list could go on. Bottom line, we believe every denomination highlights a different and beautiful aspect of the Christian faith. We have never really labeled ourselves, other than “inter-faith” because of this. I’ve sort of taken my dad’s position to always put a comma by your thoughts, because we are forever growing and expanding. We tend to parent our children the same way allowing for freedom of thought and growth. The only thoughts we govern are the ones that surround this scripture:

37Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39

Love God, love others, and love yourself.

THEN, Anna proceeds to tell us about her communion experience. We have taken communion. I mean, come on. We are no stranger to the sacrament. We eat our styrofoam wafer and drink our white grape juice, so as not to stain the carpets. We’ve even taken communion as a family together at home, drinking wine from the same glass and breaking bread. Apparently, Anna approached the Episcopalian communion the same way.

“I went up and tried to grab the cup from them. They said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, trying to drink the wine.”

“We don’t drink. We dip,” they told me.

“So, with my bread in one hand, I dipped my opposite hand, my FINGER into the wine, and then I LICKED MY FINGER. They looked at me like I was crazy. By the time I got back to my seat I noticed I still had my bread in my hand. So, I ate it.”

Needless to say, yesterday’s carpool pick-up was THE BEST. I laughed, and I laughed. Then, I would think about it again and laugh. This is seriously going to be a fun year.

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Don’t Set People Up To Fail You.

Originally published in The Grip

A while back, our 13 year old, John Henry, got upset with his dad and responded to him poorly. Kris decided to take his phone and keep it until he apologized. While I knew Kris just wanted John Henry to recognize his poor response and how his words hurt, I wasn’t on board with his strategy, and Kris was open to hear my heart on it. At times, Kris and I disagree with how the other is handling a parenting issue, and one of us checks the other. I felt, in this situation, Kris was setting John Henry up to fail.

“He should know to go to his dad and ask for forgiveness and make this right.” Perhaps. But, sometimes, we know to make something right but have a hard time doing it, for whatever the reason may be. Placing expectations on someone to respond in a certain way only sets that person up to fail you. I’ve seen countless relationships that function this way. Especially in marriage. One sets the other up to see if he or she will respond in a certain way, and if that person “fails the test,” anger and resentment abound. “If she doesn’t come to me and apologize.” “If he doesn’t notice what I did and say ‘thank you.’” The list of examples could on and on. Instead of testing someone who doesn’t even know he or she is being tested, go to him or her. Share your heart and what you are needing from that person. Make sure you don’t come in on the offensive with words and phrases like, “you always” or “you never.” Instead, put it back on you. “It makes me feel unappreciated when you do this,” or “I am needing this from you right now.” Pay attention to your sound and tone. Go into the conversation not only ready to share your heart, but prepare yourself to listen to the other person’s heart as well.”

Kris made the decision to go to John Henry and ask him why he responded the way he did. Kris explained how his words hurt him. Both were able to share their heart, and there were no unfair expectations placed on John Henry without him knowing those expectations. Kris was able to coach John Henry in how to respond in situations when he gets angry and upset. It became a coachable moment instead of a set-up and test. See the difference? The same applies in all of our relationships. Don’t set people up to fail you. It’s simply not fair. And, more times than not, that person will, indeed, fail you. You have two options when you are wanting something from another person: 1) Go to them, and share your heart with the tenderest of tones, or 2) Decide it’s something you can let go and manage without. Both options are necessary at different times in our lives. Both options place you in a position where you are choosing the relationship. Both options are redemptive. And, neither is unfair.

Let’s not place expectations on people. And, if we do, and they fail us, let’s choose forgiveness instead of resentment. Let’s play fair, extend mercy, and handle each other with the greatest of care.

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Colossians 3:13

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Same Big God

He cried all the way to school saying he missed his daddy. Part of me cried with him, because I miss him, too. But, the greater part of me knows that He gives me strength for every single moment. I wept for him, because he doesn’t understand that strength within him. And, then, it hit me. I had shared this scripture on social media this morning:

But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength. 2 Timothy 4:17

I only saw this scripture applying to my life and to yours, although, knowing it is for everyone.

Everyone.

Even for an almost five year old.

And, while Jett may not comprehend the strength within him, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is there. How many things of God are within me that I have yet to comprehend? That I have yet to grasp fully? Yet, they are still there, and I can activate them within my life at any given moment.

This morning I was reminded that there is no big God in me and little God in Jett. That same power is inside of him. That same God who says you have everything you need to do all He has called you to do, to endure any season, to face any challenge, resides within Jett Takle. That same God has given Jett all he needs to do all He has called Him to do. Even at the young age of four.

And, so my prayer became this:

God, thank You for the gifts that are within Jett. Thank You that Your grace is sufficient within him. Thank You for your strength within him. Thank You that at his weakest, You are strongest. And, right at this moment, he feels Your strength.

In as much as I love my children. I know God loves them even more than I do. And, that same God who has delivered you from your darkest moments, your greatest fears, and your hardest days is the same God who will comfort your little ones, cause them to feel His presence, and give them strength they didn’t know they had.

Rest today in knowing that the same God within you is the same God within them.

….how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. Matthew 7:11

 

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A Time To Draw Closer.

She couldn't find her piano bag as we were rushing out the door. She was wearing shorts that were too small, and she appeared unkempt. In the moment of her struggle where she needed me to pull closer to her, I reprimanded her for not keeping up with her things. For not taking pride in how she looks. I allowed it to domino into a discussion about what she's not doing. At first, she responded to me with exasperation in her voice.

 

And, then there was silence. Silence as my tone threatened her confidence. As my words ran the risk of becoming her inner voice.

 

She stepped out of the car empty handed, prepared to explain to her piano teacher that she was without her music. I watched her walk in. We pulled away, and my heart broke. Careless with my words. Unconscious of my tone. Because, I failed to see her in that moment as a real soul. As a representation of God in my life. In the world of parenting where we make deposits and withdrawals, I made a withdrawal. A big one.

 

This morning I read, “The moment when you are most repelled by a child's behavior, that is your warning light to draw the very closest to that child.” (Ann Voscamp) Holy conviction gushed out of me. Especially, in the light of my own thousands of moments where God could reprimand my behavior. I was reprimanding how she clothes herself yet failing to clothe myself in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

 

Instead in our own weaknesses and failings, God pulls Himself even closer to us. And, He reminds us of who we really are. Wonderful. Marvelous.

 

Growing. Learning.

 

Becoming more like Him every single day.

 

I have a lot of deposits to make today. I ask forgiveness. And I tell Anna Takle who she really is.

 

Wonderful. Marvelous. Beautiful. Brave. Funny. Inspiring. Gifted.

 

Loved.

 

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