Tag Archives: parenting

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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Captain America Turns 4.

I thought the title of this post was appropriate seeing as how this was Anna Takle’s birthday blog back in 2008. How do I love thee, Jett Takle? Let me count the ways. My friends with three children always told me before Jett was born, “There is just something about that third kid.”

 

I’m here to tell you. There is just something about that third kid.

 

I’ll admit. We don’t enforce some things with Jett the way we did with our first two. Here are some our parenting philosophies that were thrown out of the window after Jett Takle was born:

 

“High chairs are required in restaurants just like carseats are required in cars.” (Now, we just try to coral him within a 100 foot vicinity of our dining table. Shout out to the patio at El Toro Loco.)

 

“Bed time is 7:00, because moms and dads need time to themselves.” (Have you seen those sweet feet in those flannel pajamas and felt him snuggled next to you on the sofa?)

 

“Do not leave the table without asking, ‘May I be excused?’” (Don’t judge me. We get tired.)

 

“Kids should be potty-trained before they reach the age of 3.” (Whatever.)

 

“Using the word ‘butt’ isn’t appropriate for children under age ten.” (Every time he says “butt,” the entire family erupts with laughter. Also true for “crap.”)

 

“One treat a day.” (We stay stocked up on popsicles like Jerry Seinfeld stays stocked on cereal.)

 

“Be careful what your children listen to in the car.” (He knows every word to Zac Brown Band’s “Sic ‘Em On A Chicken.” Again, don’t judge me. We live on a farm now.)

 

“Never leave a child unattended.” (Ok. This is still true. But, we did lose him once. We found him in the chicken coop smashing eggs. Perhaps, we should be careful what our children listen to in the car.)

 

We’ve relaxed in a lot of ways. Perhaps, we’ve relaxed too much in some respects. BUT, we have adopted some new parenting philosophies since he’s been born, too:

 

“So, what if you’re kid stays up a little longer? Some of our best conversations happen at night.”

 

“Don’t stress over the small stuff and hard seasons. They’re just seasons. Sometimes, they just need a few more birthdays.”

 

“It’s okay to be friends with your kids.”

 

“ENJOY every season. You’ll blink your eyes, and they will be in Kindergarten.”

 

Jett Takle, we have all been in love with you since the moment we met you. You are our bright light. Our sweetest snuggler. Our charming smile. Our favorite superhero. The other day you told me, “Mom, you’re a great web shooter.” Jett, you are a great kid. A great little brother. A great son. I can’t even think about your future without getting so stinking excited. Because, you are destined to do great things. Until then, I’ll keep slinging webs and protecting the universe with you.

 

Thank you for teaching me how to enjoy being a mom. I love you so very much.

 

Happy 4th Birthday, Captain.

 

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His Last First Day.

 

I prayed over them both. I rubbed their backs. I nestled my fingers in their hair. I talked to them about the first day of school. I kissed their forehead. And before I left each bedroom I heard, “Mom, don't walk me into school tomorrow. It's a little embarrassing.”

 

I knew this day was coming. You're just never really ready.

 

Anna's first day of school clothes were displayed across her bed. Every single item new. Every single item very Anna Takle. She knows what she's doing. After all, she's the girl who stops me before I walk out the door with “You need a fashion check?” And, I'm the one who always bites the bullet and says yes.

 

John Henry, on the other hand, had older, a little more tattered clothes poured across his bed. I asked him why he wouldn't want to wear something newer. Something a bit nicer.

 

“Mom, you can't wear your best stuff the first day of school. You can't be the kid who starts off the school year with brand new clothes. I'll throw in some nice clothes randomly.”

 

And, somehow, I actually got it. He didn't want to look like he was trying so hard. I get it.

 

I also get them not wanting me to walk them in. Even if it's a BRAND NEW SCHOOL. Even if I went to bed and cried to Kris and made him relive with me every funny thing John Henry did from 10 months old to age 4.

 

Even if it's the last first day of John Henry's elementary school days.

 

I get it. As much as I love to relive Anna Takle as Super Girl. John Henry as a Buzz Lightyear. Anna yelling out “vuck” to her pre-school class for words that start with V. John Henry peeing on the dog, because, well, it's something to do. Anna telling me, “You're a monster!” John Henry touching home plate and running out to ask, “Did you see that, Mom?” The two of them together playing in mud puddles. Sliding downstairs on an air mattress. Laughing. Fighting. Forgiving. Loving.

 

Being small.

 

As much as I love these years. I know it's better that they grow. That they need me less.

 

Because the less they see their need for me, the more they'll see their need for Him. And, while I will sometimes fail them, He never will.

 

So, grow. Become strong. Become conscious of Who is within you. Become aware that you already have everything you need to do all God's called you to do. Because, HE is with you. Beside you. In front of you. Behind you.

 

WITHIN you.

And, when you need me…..

 

I'll come running.

 

 

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Playing the God Card.

It’s no longer easy clothes shopping with Anna Takle.   Not that it ever has been.  But, friends, it’s harder.  Much, much harder.  I had to try to resuscitate Kris after Anna asked for a bra.  In every store, little bras hung, and Anna clung to them like that little undergarment would make her world complete.

Then, she insisted on trying on a pair of shorts her father and I were not going to pay for.  They were just too short for our taste.  We let her try them on.  And, subsequently, we still told her no.  The bewildered look on her face to our opposition to the shorts let us know she thought we were being a little over the top.  She looked at me and said, “You just don’t get my style.”

I realize her intent with the short shorts is probably not to be a sexy little seven-year old.  So, what’s the big deal?  It’s probably not.  Not today.  But, it will be one day when her young innocence becomes a little more infiltrated with what society deems as beautiful for girls.  And, I’d just rather loosen the reigns later than have to tighten them.  So, I remain a stick in the mud kind of mom, I suppose.  Who doesn’t get her style.

I didn’t go into the conversation of “Anna, you are not the sum of your parts,” speech.  I just didn’t think it timely for her age.  But, I also didn’t tell her “Those shorts aren’t Godly.”  Because, that would’ve been a legalistic explanation, I’m sure.  I just told her that we didn’t think those shorts were the right choice for her today.

I think too often we play the “God card” with our kids.  It’s something I have recognized in my own parenting.

“How do you think it makes God feel when you are being ugly to your sister?”

“How would Jesus had handled this situation?”

“Do you think it makes God happy when you deceive us?”

The list could go on.

I serve a God who loves me no matter what.  Whose blood covers a multitude of my stupid mess-ups.  Who has an endless supply of grace that He lavishes on me.  So, who was this God I was teaching?  Not the One I cry out to.  Not the One who shows grace to me when I screw up as a parent.

I haven’t played the God card in every parenting situation.  There have been plenty of moments where pure discipleship abounded.  But, those times I’ve played the God card didn’t even rest well in my own spirit.  It just seemed convenient.  And, a quick fix.

So, instead of asking “How would Jesus had handled this situation?”  I might ask, “Why do YOU think it’s better to forgive?”  “How does it make YOU feel when you forgive?”

Because, friends….

Teaching our children to do right for the sake of doing right isn’t going to cut it by itself.   Through every life lesson, we need to do our best to tell them WHY His way is better.  WHY forgiveness is just as much for us as it is for the one who hurt us.

And, I have a life full of examples of why choosing to do things God’s way has made all of the difference in my own life.

So, share your own life examples with your children.  Tell them why it has worked for you.  Don’t make your children live in fear of not only disappointing you, but disappointing their Creator.  Instead, portray their King in such a way….live for Him in such a way….that they will TRUST that His ways really are better.

And, when they mess up, show them the same grace He shows you.  Discipline when needed.  But, let grace be the covering of it all.

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