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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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)
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.
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.
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.