What I’d Say to Her

I’ve been watching the college students headed to campus this semester and it has me all nostalgic for all things bright orange and the campus of my beloved alma mater, Oklahoma State.

It also has had me thinking about what I would say to 19 year old Tiffany, with her pick up loaded up and headed to Stillwater for the first time.

Chill out. You’re fine. Quit worrying to death over getting the A and whether you’ll get accepted to a law school. You’ll get into 17, which will pose its own problems! Quit worrying about falling in love. If you had gotten what you think you want, you’d have missed out on about 8 of the best, most transformative years of your life, and the beautiful family God has in store for you down the road.

Your little apartment on Duck Street won’t be fancy, but it will be so full of love and fun and memories, you won’t care.

It will never be hotter than move in day. Take that to the bank.

When Levi comes to visit, hug him real hard. More than once.

Those judging team boys are good eggs.

Spend more time at the Penny. One day you’ll go back and everything will have changed.

You’re about to meet some girls who you will not be able to imagine your life without. It’s fate working through Bible studies and guy friends’ girlfriends…and it’s so good.

Don’t talk smack to your Texas friends when OSU gets up like 4 touchdowns at home. Because, two words: Vince. Young.

The foundation for your faith will be built in Stillwater. And your unconventional little small group will be full of spiritual mentors.

Your metabolism will only go downhill from here. Eat the cheese fries.

On a related note, you’re not fat. Quit being dumb.

Your RA will tell you roommates who come in as friends will never leave that way. She’s very wrong.

Facebook is not a fad. You’re wrong on that one.

It’s okay to try. It’s okay to try and look cute and to wear make up and put yourself out there. It’s fear talking when you don’t want to do those things because you don’t want to look dumb if things don’t work out.

On that note, people treat you like you allow them to. Think on that the next time you’re crying because of something stupid a guy did.

Calf Fry will be a muddy mess and worth every hassle.

One day, you will have unlimited texting on your cell phone. Your rule of “don’t text me unless someone is bleeding or in jail” will seem ridiculous.

IHOP at 2 am is always a good idea.

Chase and Amy. Snuggles the couch. Half a gallon of ice cream. Three spoons. From now on when you’ve had a bad day, you’ll think back and want that combo. Appreciate it being right there.

Because We Prayed

This article was published by Progressive Farmer as part of their Our Rural Roots column.

When the wind was blowing at 60+ miles per hour at 7 am, I knew we were in for a long day.  I immediately thought of the March day a couple of years ago when the fires came to the Texas Panhandle and three cattleman and women lost their lives. I tried to put it out of my mind and go on with my day.

So that afternoon when my husband called to tell me there was a fire headed for our pasture and that we needed to move the cows, it was the last thing I wanted to hear.

fire2

I grabbed the kids and we ran out the front door, straight into a brown sky and the strong smell of smoke.  We loaded a bag of cattle cake (because you better believe our two toddlers have cake trained our cows!) Before we pulled out of the driveway, we stopped to pray that the winds would lay, the fire would stop, and all of the people and animals would be safe. The kids said an “amen” in unison.  I honestly can’t remember if I remembered to say it or not.

After that, the chaos began.  In the end, some 2,400 acres burned. We were fortunate in that the destruction somehow missed our place.  The wind shifted the fire turned about 100 yards from our fence.  Everyone—ranchers, volunteer fireman, and livestock—were protected and no lives were lost.

Several days later, we loaded up to go check cows.  When we arrived and my daughter saw the charred grass on the place next door, she asked, “Mama, did any cows die in the fire?”  Immediately, my son responded, “No, because we prayed.”

It was such a simple reminder of the beauty of childlike faith. It also made me wonder, what else in my life has been blessed such a simple answer…because we prayed.

 

We All Have the Same Feet

I was talking to the kids this week in preparation for Braun starting pre-k in a couple of weeks. We talked about making new friends and being kind.

Then I brought up how there will be all kinds of kids and how important it is to be kind to everyone, even people who are different than us, because God made us all just the way we are.

I kept on illustrating. Explaining that some kids have red hair and some have black hair. We talked about how some of our friends have skin that is brown, while our skin is white. About how not everyone likes dinosaurs and horses and how some kids may have a harder time saying words.

I was really hoping I was handling this conversation well and they were actually learning something. Because if there is one thing I desperately want my kids to be above all else, it’s kind. But let’s be real, with 3 and 4-year olds, who knows if you are actually getting through.

A few minutes later, Braun says, “Well Mama, we all have the same feet.”

It’s that simple, isn’t it. We may be different races and ages. Different religions and political parties. Have different incomes and different beliefs. But we all have the same feet—we’ve got more in common than we have different. And that’s sure reason enough to be kind.

Talking Body Image

For most of my life, I would have told you I hated how I looked.

Maybe it’s on society and unrealistic standards. Maybe it’s on comments that I can still remember being made growing up…sometimes about me but mostly people talking badly about themselves. Maybe it was my perpetually landing in “the friend zone.” Maybe it’s all stories I made up in my head.

Whatever the root, it was ridiculous.

And then, this little girl behind me came along.

I decided that if I didn’t love myself, I sure couldn’t raise her to love herself.

And that was the end of it for me. Hard stop. No negative comments. No fretting over stretch marks or extra pounds or a face too round or legs too short. Because that just doesn’t matter.

So here we are…and I’ve never felt better.

Never Take It for Granted

I wrote this in March as the pandemic was hitting and realized I never published!

Last August, I had a kidney stone that got lodged, ended up infected, and could have been life-threatening had a doctor not stepped in and got me help. Immediately. At that point, I could hardly walk from the house to the car. Three surgical procedures later and one night in the hospital, and about a month of recovery, and that disaster was behind me.

Last week, I ran my fourth half marathon. (My first since having two babies…that’s a whole different blog post!)

When I was tired and my feet hurt and I saw a hill up ahead, I looked at my hand.

I wrote this as a reminder that the ability to run 13.1 miles is a privilege that I never want to take for granted.

I’m grateful for this body of mine. And there are times, usually involving a mirror, where that is easy to forget. But knowing what it felt like when my body flat out could not do what I needed for it to, I have vowed to always be grateful for the ability to put one foot in front of the other and run, whether that’s 13 steps or 13 miles.

This time—in Ft. Worth with two of my favorite friends running with me and the promise of mimosas at the finish line—it was 13 miles checked off the list.

Starting line
Running through the stockyards
Finishers!
What I was waiting for.
Will run for brunch!

41 Years

Today marks 41 years of marriage for my parents. Where she stood up in her $50 dress for Sears and he slipped a sort-of-unsuccessfully-used-by-his-cousin set of rings on her finger.

Forty-one years of my mom getting up early to make his sandwich before he leaves for work. Forty-one years of him rubbing her shoulders and her shoving her cold hands down his shirt.

Forty-one years of him convincing her to do things like water ski before she knew how to swim and her making him do things like go to the doctor when he gets foreign objects lodged in his eye.

Forty-one years of them loving to go on vacation together, where they spend a good of their time apart. She shops and he takes a nap in the car, or she plays the slots while he finds a nice drink in the bar.

Forty-one years of her lecturing him about hooky cows and never being pleased with the animals’ water situation.

Forty-one years of him being the life of the party and her shaking her head. Forty-one years of dancing together and laughing together and doing life really well, together.

Forty-one years of practice so they were ready to be Nan and Grandad, who these kids of mine think hung the moon.

Forty-one down. I know it hasn’t always been easy, but they’ve certainly made it appear so. Here’s on to forty-two.

Our Greatest Adventure

Before we were married and before we were Mama, my cousin Whitney was my favorite travel partner.

We’ve seen the lights in Times Square and biked the Golden Gate Bridge.

We’ve had gelato in Roma, swam with the fish in Cozumel, and learned about a dessert called Coupe Denmark in Switzerland.

We drank too much at a pub in Williamsburg, rode on a very dangerous bus in Baltimore, and almost lost a fancy camera in Lac Leman.

We’ve skied down lots of mountains and across our favorite lakes.

But these littles…they’re our greatest adventure.

The Gift of Our Differences

I met my friend Amy when we were both summer law clerks at the same firm in San Fransisco.

We had approximately nothing in common. Different backgrounds, interests, thoughts on eating meat, political beliefs, family lives, faiths…

Fortunately, we did both like smart ass comments, food, running, and adventures. Oh, and bacon, because even a vegetarian like Amy knows the wonder of bacon. And so, a friendship was born.

Twelve years later, I could not be more grateful for her friendship. I have learned so much from her perspective that is often so different than mine.

One topic we have discussed many times is anti-Semitism. An important issue for Amy, who is Jewish. I had absolutely zero idea that anti-Semitism even existed in this country, much less how pervasive it is and how hurtful it can be to our Jewish neighbors and friends. I have felt guilty for my absolute lack of knowledge on this subject and I’ve appreciate Amy’s patience when so often my response is “I have never in my life heard anyone believe this way!” “How can this be happening in America, it sounds like Germany in WW2.” Just because I don’t see it, sure does not mean it’s not happening. My heart has broken for the Jewish community because of what I have learned.

It’s been a real gift to be able to hear someone who I trust and respect explain views I may not agree with or hold. (I’d venture to guess we may never have voted for the same candidate!) To explain different points of view. To describe pain and prejudice I have never known.

I have learned. I have empathized. I hope I have become more in tune with injustices to which I was blind. I have rethought some of my own beliefs and opinions. I have become a better person because of our conversations.

In addition to our friendship, our differences have been a real gift. Maybe that’s been the most important lesson of all.

It’s Okay To Be a Martha

I’m currently going through the She Reads Truth summer Bible study in women and men in the New Testament and I love it. Each day has curated scripture passages about particular people in the Bible plus a short devotional. Additionally, each Monday there is a podcast where they discuss the coming week’s reading.

As you would expect, one day of the reading plan featured the sisters, Mary and Martha. You may know the story. Jesus was visiting their home. Mary was scurrying around taking care of everything while Martha sat at Jesus feet. Mary, exasperated, basically said, “Hey, Jesus! I’m drowning over here, how about you tell my sister to help me a little.” (That’s the Tiffany transition. That’s also the Tiffany approach to feeling like I’m the only one doing stuff, but I digress…). Jesus responded, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not enough taken from her.”

I’ve always heard this story discussed with the “don’t be a Martha, be a Mary” approach. And frankly, that’s always frustrated me. Because for the love of Pete, someone has to get things done. Without a doer, there likely would her been no bed for Jesus to sleep on, no meal for anyone to eat, and as Jada Edwards said on the SRT podcast, “Mary had kneeling time because the house was clean! She wasn’t kneeling on legos because Martha cleaned up.” Amen to that. The world needs doers, who also understand that they need Jesus.

If you look at Jesus’ reaction to Martha, he didn’t tell her to be more like Mary. He did not tell her that the tasks she was doing were not good and right. In fact, these very tasks may have been part of her ministry.

What Jesus said was simply that Martha was worried and distracted by the world, and that only one thing was necessary—time with Him. He did not prohibit her from being a doer. In fact, he didn’t comment on her tasks at all, only the worry and distraction in her heart. He didn’t rebuke her, he just reminded her of what was the most important thing. Him.

So here I am. A self-diagnosed doer. With dishes in the sink and a living room in disarray and a bed fill of folded laundry I need to put away. All of these tasks matter. They are necessary. I’d dare say they are instrumental to my calling and my sanctification.

But thanks to my new understanding of this passage, I am focusing on the fact that while each of these tasks need done, my time with Jesus is more important.

Tonight, I’m sitting still. Bible open. Journal ready. She Reads Truth app to guide me. Me and Martha working on remembering the one thing that matters most…then burning the midnight oil to check a couple more things off the to do list.

Quarantine Shopping

This post contains some affiliate links. So if you’re ordering anyway, might as well use them and shoot a few cents my way!

I thought I’d do a little series of posts on what I’ve been doing the last 4 months of quarantine. Let’s kick it off with what I’ve bought.

Air Frier Lid for the Instant Pot

This is hands down the best item I have purchased in 2020. It’s a kid that turns your instant pot into an air frier. You get crispy food without using any oil—it’s magic! (Click here)

Hear me when I tell you that I dislike kitchen gadgets. I’m still upset about the juicer incident of 2015. And I don’t love the Instant Pot. There, I said it. It takes too long and often the food seems mushy.

But I am here to tell you, I use this air frier kid almost once a day.

You just set it on your Instant Pot, plug it in, and you have an air frier. I use it to make egg rolls, to do “fried” veggies like green beans and Brussels sprouts, to heat up anything frozen like French fries or chicken strips, to reheat leftovers so they don’t get soggy and to make jalapeño poppers that are bomb. I’m telling you, it’s a game changer.

Rural Hoodie from Dirt Road Candle Co.

I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is this is my very favorite hoodie I’ve ever had.

The bad news is that they’re sold out. Brooke from Rural Gone Urban recommended this hoodie and she’s famous so it’s probably her fault. But keep an eye out on Dirt Road Candle Co. in case they get more in. They also have a great candle selection that I’m eyeing.

Everything from Emily Brown Designs

Emily is a real life friend of mine and she’s amazing.

She just opened her own brick and mortar store in Lubbock, TX and it’s as adorable as you would expect! During quarantine, I bought an EBD shirt that is so soft and comfy that it makes me want to buy every shirt she designs from now on. I also ordered two sets of her hand lettered cards to send to people. Also, kind of the wrong time of year to plug this, but I love her planners! Check out her website for lots of awesome stuff.

Toys for the Kids

I’ve had to do something to entertain these little people while I’ve had to work! Here are a couple of our favorite purchases.

Toy Dinosaurs: My son is obsessed with dinosaurs. This set came with 12 of his favorite kinds plus a little book to learn more about each one. It was a huge hit! (Click here.)

He loves to set them up and take pictures of the dinosaurs. I have approximately 570 of these on my phone now.

Frozen Make Up Kit: My 3-year-old is obsessed with make up. She basically used all of this in two days, but loved every minute. (Click here)

Food Scale

After getting well on my way to gaining the COVID 19, I had to reign in the snacking. Amanda Nighbert, a dietitian I follow in Instagram always raves about this food scale. I love it—it’s small, cheap, and super easy to use. (Click here.)

Capri Volcano Candle

Crystal Blin never leads me astray, so when she mentioned this candle on Instagram, I got to hunting one. This one is smaller (also cheaper) than some of the other options and I love this pretty tin it comes in. It smells amazing and I burn it all the time. (Click here.)

The Shop Forward “Be the Change” Shirt

I adore Amy Brown and all the good that The Shop Forward does for different organizations as a company. So when I saw this shirt that her son, Stevenson, designed himself in his own handwriting, you better believe I ordered it!

It hasn’t arrived yet, so be sure to follow me on Instagram @alwaysafarmkid to see my review when it does.