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.

I Have a Lot to Learn

Recently, following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbury, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, it feels like a real turning point in our country when it comes to racial reconciliation.

We have seen protests. Riots. Speeches. Sermons. Conversations. Free movies on Amazon Prime. Books on this topic by black authors on best seller lists.

And what I’ve learned is simply that I have a lot to learn. And I think that my being intentional about learning is really, really important. Not only for me, but for the children I am raising. Because goodness knows, we need them to do better than we have when they are adults.

So what have I learned?

First, I’ve learned that it matters to take the simple step of reaching out to my black friends to let them know that I care about them. The first text I sent was after Amaud Arbury was murdered. I couldn’t stop thinking about a law school classmate of mine. Finally, my excuses of “I don’t know what to say” just seemed stupid and I nervously typed a text that started with, “I really hope me texting you about this isn’t offensive but if it is, I’m going to trust that you know my heart and that’s not my intent.” Of course, he wasn’t offended. Since that time, I have made it a point to reach out to other friends because I just can’t imagine the pain they must feel and how tired they must be. I know in the scheme of things, this barely registers as doing something, but I think that it matters to the people in my life and I know it matters to me.

Second, I’ve learned there is so much about history that I flat do not know. Most of it was awful. How did I go through 20 years of schooling and never one time hear about Emmett Till? Until this year, I had no idea what Juneteenth was. I’d never read a word about the Tulsa Race Massacre. This is insane. It is unacceptable. And it is something that I have the power to remedy. I will be studying and reading and learning more about black history and racial reconciliation. I am starting with LaTasha Morrison’s book, Be the Bridge.

Third, I’ve started to have conversations about race with my kids. I’ve hesitated before, worried that because they do not seem to notice differences in race, me pointing them out would be showing them that people are different. News flash: People are different! Studies show kids as young as three understand differences in races. (If you want a broken heart, read up on the children’s study using black and white dolls and what the black children said about the black dolls.) And even if my kids don’t know it now, someone will sure tell them one day, and I would rather them learn and talk with me then some little jerk kid at school one day. And I want them to know and see and celebrate every human as being made in the image of God. One way we have done this is with Matthew Paul Turner’s book called “When God Made You” and that has been a good conversation starter.

Finally, I’ve learned to listen and to people of color and to believe what they say. I have never lived in their shoes. I don’t know what it’s like to worry about dying when I am pulled over by a cop or being scared to wear a hoodie or run in my own neighborhood. So when I ask a person of color how something makes them feel—like the confederate flag or seeing a video or the existence of a statue—I’m committed to believing them. I may not agree or understand, but I will respect them enough to believe what they tell me. So I am asking my personal friends and I’m listening to famous voices I respect like LaTasha Morrison, Jo Saxton, Carlos Whitaker and Mike Kelsey.

I’ve got a long way to go. I’ve got a lot to learn. But I feel like learning that was the first step. I pray that as I learn, I can do my best to support people of color and to raise children who will live in a world that knows a lot more than me.

So We Laid in the Grass

Tonight, the kids set up a camp site in the front yard. When they asked me to come watch the sunset and see the moon, I almost said no.

I had paperwork to finish, dishes to wash, and a house to pick up. I’m so behind that I’ll never catch up.

And then I felt my soul remind me that life is too short.

100,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the last three months on American soil. Two of them, I called friends. A mom I follow on Instagram is saying goodbye to her three-year-old with terminal cancer. George Floyd was murdered by the people tasked with protecting us while calling out for his Mama. I’ve attended 5 funerals since February.

So we laid in the grass. We watched the sun disappear beyond the horizon and saw the moon high in the sky above the trees. Harper giggled and Braun taught me new dinosaur facts.

Everything else can wait. Life is too short. So we laid in the grass.

A Moment of Rest

Every once in a while, I feel like I have a moment to just catch my breath. To sit and think and pray and just be. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it feels like holy ground.

Tonight the house was dark and silent. The kids and the cat were all sleeping next to me. The wind howled outside as another storm blew through.

And I was just so grateful for the moment—for the breath—for the rest.

“Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” – Matt. 11:28

“Be still and know that I am God.” – Ps. 46:10

“Jesus is not glorified by unhappy, exhausted people.” – John Mark Comer

COVID-19 Thoughts (Part 3)

Tomorrow, I will start back at the office just for a couple of days a week. It’s crazy to think that it’s been two months of quarantine at home. When it all started, I told myself it would probably be two weeks. Even now, it certainly does not feel anything close to normal and the pandemic seems far from over.

I think about how things may never go back to normal. How this will almost certainly be a moment in time where there is a line in the sand—a before and an after. September 11 was that. I suspect COVID-19 will be too.

I don’t know if my kids will remember “the sickness” as they call it. I don’t know that I remember much about being 3 or 4. But if they do, I hope they remember all of the adventures they had and time we spent together. I hope they remember sneaking popcicles on the bouncy house and the sun on their skin in the swimming pool and running full speed through the green grass. I hope they don’t remember the times I’ve raised my voice and lost my temper.

There have been some adventurous moments. I can’t keep clothes on these kids. One day when I was on a big call for work, a high school girl came to entertain the kids outside. She text me, “I can’t get Braun to put on pants!” I understood. Then there was the situation with the skunk in the yard with the kids and the dog while I was on a Zoom call with the office (blog on that coming soon…) One day while I was presenting online with the door closed, the kids gave the cat a haircut. There were lots of days I would be hard at it writing a blog or and article and Harper would walk in with all her make up on. And then, there was the presentation I was waist deep in teaching about capital gains taxes when my kid walked in with a marble up his nose. You cannot make this up.

There have been sweet moments too. Every Sunday, we’ve baked together. The kids got to go with us to pick out their first heifers. We’ve spent lots of time together at the North Place and the kids say things now like “we are leasing the place over there” and “look at that broom snake weed” and “let’s play on my favorite cliff.” And I’ve gotten lots of flower (er weed) bouquets from my boy.

In the end, I think what matters has been the time together. Maybe that doesn’t just sum up quarantine, but sums up all of life.

Clear Kidneys

In August, I landed myself in the hospital with a lodged kidney stone and septic infection. I had never had a kidney issue in my life. They said they saw multiple smaller stones in my kidneys at that time. I’ve had a baby with no drugs…that whole kidney stone fiasco was 10 times more painful.

Today, I went in for my follow up…and there isn’t a stone to be seen. 🙌🏻🙏

Which is good because I’m just here to tell you, I’m not sure I could handle that mess again.

Recipe Card: Zucchini Chicken Enchiladas

In an effort to avoid gaining any more of the Quarantine 15 I’ve been working on, I’ve gotten back to watching macros and tracking my food. So when my friend, Amy, posted some enchiladas that used zucchini in place of tortillas, I was intrigued. I was also skeptical because a New Mexican doesn’t play when it comes to enchiladas!

I whipped these up tonight and they were delicious. Seriously—I ate two servings and loved every bite.

I used this recipe.

You’ll see the recipe rolls them. I did one pan that way. But I had trouble getting the zucchini cut just right and had a lot of half slices, so I used those to make a second pan of flat enchiladas. I actually liked them better. I just took my thin zucchini slices and laid them in the dish, covered with the filling, then did another layer of the zucchini slices and covered with sauce and cheese.

I’d recommend Gebhardt enchiladas sauce. Old El Paso will work as well. Be sure you get the zucchini sliced really thin—that’s the key!

If you’re a food tracker, this is really similar to the Delish recipe that’s in My Fitness Pal.

I paired it with a quick chunky guacamole (large avocado, Roma tomato, splash each of orange juice and lime juice, garlic salt, minced onion, pepper, course salt and paparika.