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.

Taking Grenades: Happy Mother’s Day!

This lady has lived her life 3 against 1, because she made the three of us do ridiculous things like wash the manure off our hands before we ate, turn in papers with proper punctuation, not get killed by hooky cows, fill up water tubs even when they were still 1/5 full, wear ironed shirts, and eat our vegetables.

She has always been in the trenches taking grenades so we could shine.

Happy Mothers Day!

Tonight I Ran

Tonight, I ran 2.23 miles down my dirt road to honor Ahmaud Arbrey. But that’s not enough.
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I know that I’ve got to do more. I’ve got to pray. I’ve got to speak out about injustice and racism anytime I see it and not only when it’s on the news. I’ve got to talk to my children about different cultures and tell them about horrific instances like this so that they, too, will stand against it. I’ve got to support people of color who speak out even when it is uncomfortable for me to do so or when I don’t understand.
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Tonight, I ran. But that’s not enough.

Ahmaud Arbrey

“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

The fact that a 25 year old black man who went out on a run can be hunted down in broad daylight because two white men “think he might be a burglar” is beyond me. His killers have not been arrested.

{Update: They we’re arrested tonight, over 2 months later only after the video was made public.}

How can this be America? How can this be 2020?

It’s unacceptable.

I’m furious.

I will not be silent. We have to speak out against injustice.

I’ll Take the Stock Show

This article was recently published in the Purple Circle magazine. 

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A while back, I saw an interesting conversation on Facebook that had people pretty polarized.  It all started when a mom suggested she was encouraging her children not to show animals so that their family could go on a vacation to Disneyworld.

Now, let me make clear up front, I am all for everyone making their own decisions for their own family.  It is fine by me if someone wants to make different decisions for her family than I  do for mine.  I am sure that Disneyworld is a lovely place.

But that said….I’ll take the stock show.

Growing up, we did not go on family vacations.  We went to stock shows.  And while I’ve never been to Disneyworld, I’m pretty sure that the roller coaster rides, churros, and fake mouse ears can’t replace what the stock shows gave me.

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At those stock shows (and the months leading up to them), I learned what it meant to work hard.  My brother and I got up early, went to bed late, busted our tails in between dealing with weights and drench guns and feed regiments and wash racks. I also learned that not everyone worked that way.  I remember countless times at our State Fair it would be 8:00 at night when I would come into the dorms covered in feed and hay and manure and lord knows what else, while some of the other girls would be all dressed up, make up on, and hair fixed.  And while I can’t say that it happened this way all the time, but I lot of the time it was those of us who spent the week covered in manure who ended up smiling come the end of show day. That was not a bad thing for a kid to learn.

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At those stock shows, I learned that I had a group of adults who were in my corner who became like family to me.  There were women who would haul in enough food for an army and be sure that we didn’t go hungry by dishing out posole and beans from a crock pot in the tack pen.  There were men who helped sheer my sheep and haul our show boxes in and out and had no problem telling me if I wasn’t doing something right.  There was an ag teacher that became one of my very favorite people in the world with his glare for people who showed up late for feeding, and his Rainman-like remembering of the weights of seriously every lamb in the barn, and his uncanny ability to sniff out coffee somewhere in the barn before anyone else was even awake to make it.

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At those stock shows, I made friends from across the state.  Friends who have known me since I was 10 years old and who are still in my life 25 years later.  Friends whose babies I have held and funerals I have attended and beside whom I have proudly stood at weddings.  Friends who I never would have met were it not for the yearly “family vacation” to a stock show.

At those stock shows, we spent quality time with our family.  After one particularly long, and I mean LONG night at the barn, that I’m fairly sure involved my dad breaking his toes after kicking something, I remember him saying that we might look back at parts of this showing deal and remember the fights, but we’d also look back and always remember him being there.  Decades later, I can tell you he was right.  I remember the fights for being funny now, but I remember all of the time and money and sacrifice that he and my mom made so that we could go to those stock shows.  And that was a gift that is priceless in my mind.

KS Beef
There are certainly more lessons that shows taught me.  Competitiveness.  Being a humble winner and a gracious loser.  That maybe there really is something to lucky shirts and lucky halters.  Nothing beats the smell of sawdust and Revive.   That life is not always fair.  What it felt like to be handed that bright purple banner and shiny belt buckle.

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So, all this to say….I’m sure Disneyworld is great.  But I’ll take the stock show.  Every single time.

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