Opting-In To Your Life

A little over a year ago, our city was devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

Our house wasn’t flooded, but 4,000 homes in a 5-mile radius of us were. We stayed and rode out the storm, we housed friends that lost power, picked up friends who got evacuated from their homes by boat, and did whatever we could to help. Once the water receded, the clean up and relief efforts were in full swing.

At the time, I had a 5 year old, 3 year old, and 18 month old. Due to the ages and sheer volume of my kids, I didn’t think there was anything I could do with the relief efforts. I couldn’t help gut a house when I had my 18 month old with me.

My husband, Clint, was going to be busy mucking houses and spearheading relief efforts for the foreseeable future. I decided I was going to drive to Kansas City to my parent’s house for a week or so with the kids so we would be “out of the way.” I packed our suitcases and was prepared to leave the next morning.

But then I saw a text message on my husband’s phone. It was from one of our friends and it said, “It would be helpful to have childcare so more adults could help.”

I started thinking about what providing childcare would look like. I talked it through with my friend, Whitney, that was living at our house during the storm.

At that moment I decided, I’m staying here and doing this.

I sent a text message to the nursery director at our church, Jane, and asked if we could open the church nursery the next day for people that were flooded or were assisting with relief efforts. Jane had just gotten off the phone with her daughter who had asked her if she was going to do that exact thing. Truly, the Lord had this whole thing planned out way before we did.

So we did it. We opened up childcare to our community, served over 500 kids and had over 100 volunteers over a 5 day span. We even had an impromptu fire alarm at nap time on the day we had 195 children.

Hands down, it was one of the most impactful, exhausting, and meaningful weeks I’ve been apart of.

Every night I walked past my packed suitcases on my bedroom floor and was thankful I stayed.

I was fully prepared to do the thing that made the most sense, the easiest option. I had to choose to live into the purpose that was right in front of me.

When you have young kids, the excuses to not do things outside your four walls are plentiful. Babies are hard. It’s exhausting, draining, and at times can feel all-consuming.

So as a result, we opt-out of our own lives. 

We watch Netflix instead of talking with our spouse at the end of a long day.

We say no to every social gathering.

We say no to every service opportunity.

We have another drink to destress.

We tells ourselves that “it’s just not my time to make a difference.”

We avoid hard conversations because keeping the peace is easier than broaching difficult subjects.

We take the easiest option presented to us, every time.

Opting-in to our lives requires us to do things that are hard.

The hardest things in life are the ones that shape us the most.

So say yes to things that sound hard, require more coordination, sound crazy on paper…because most likely, those are the things that are going to change you.

Opting-in is always worth it.

All too often we think our purpose is going to come eventually or worse, we think we don’t have one.

We can’t live a life that we don’t have, so live the one you do fully.

The hard lesson I’ve learned is that my purpose is exactly where I’m at, with who I’m with, with what’s in front of me. If we spend our lives waiting for some grandiose calling instead of pressing into the life that we are in, then what’s the point?

The life stage you’re in? The place you’re in? The people in front of you?

It’s what you’re called to at the moment, so opt-in to your own life.

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Fully Me-An Enneagram Journey

“If you could tell your 18-year-old self one thing, what would it be?”

This was the question posed to me this morning during an ice breaker. My immediate answer?

I wish I would have known my Enneagram number.

For the past couple years or so, I’ve been hearing about the Enneagram. For those that don’t know, the Enneagram is a personality typing system that gives 9 different personality profiles, each of them are a different number, 1-9. People I trust and respect were talking about the Enneagram and the subsequent self-realization they had as a result of finding out their number, but I put it off. For months. The reason I didn’t take the ten-minute test? I was afraid of what I’d find out.

But one day, I finally took the test. I found out I’m a 7 on the Enneagram. Here’s a brief description of a 7:

Sevens are extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can also misapply their many talents, becoming over-extended, scattered, and undisciplined. They constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. They typically have problems with impatience and impulsiveness. At their Best: they focus their talents on worthwhile goals, becoming appreciative, joyous, and satisfied.

Basic Fear: Of being deprived and in pain
Basic Desire: To be satisfied and content—to have their needs fulfilled
Enneagram Seven with a Six-Wing: “The Entertainer”
Enneagram Seven with an Eight-Wing: “The Realist”
Key Motivations: Want to maintain their freedom and happiness, to avoid missing out on worthwhile experiences, to keep themselves excited and occupied, to avoid and discharge pain.

If you know me at all personally, this is pretty much spot-on. Creepily spot on.

You may be thinking, “how is this different than the million other personality tests I’ve taken?” What is different about the Enneagram is that it doesn’t just look at what we do as people, it looks at WHY we do it. It examines the motivation behind how you operate.

A lot of the things I learned about myself in Enneagram research was really just putting a name on things I had always done, but never really thought much about.

Knowing my number has brought so much healing because for years I was deemed “too much.” If you are an outspoken, extroverted female, you’ve probably been told this plenty of times too. So I tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to “tone down” who I was depending on the group I was with. What I always viewed as broken within me was really just who God made me to be.

Lack of self-awareness is a pretty big issue in life. It’s rampant in our society, hence people go on American Idol that can’t sing a tune. If you want to grow, be in healthy relationships, and begin to accept yourself…it’s essential. Within the Church self-awareness stops at “you’re a sinner” all too often. There has to be more to it. God didn’t make us all different so we could try to be the same. The Lord gives every person different gifts, different personalities; we need to live into those and not be ashamed of who we are.

If you’ve made it this far, here are some resources if you want to dive into the Enneagram world. I highly recommend it, it’s kind of like having a backstage pass to people.

Enneagram Test (There’s a ton out there, but this one is free): https://www.exploreyourtype.com/details

Podcast: Typology with Ian Morgan Cron https://www.typologypodcast.com

***He interviews different number types. I truly thought to myself, I didn’t know anyone else thought these weird thoughts…turns out people do. For instance, a lot of 7’s give people nicknames.

Books(There are a LOT of books out there, but I’ve read these two):

The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron

The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher L. Heuertz

As an FYI, once you know your type, you’re going to want to know all the people in your life’s number. Buckle up, it’s a journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter to the Plants that keep dying in my Yard

Dear Plants,

First of all, sorry about the situation you are in. But let’s be honest, you must have done something along the way to get yourself deemed worthy of 75%-90% off your suggested retail price, because Lord knows I’m not putting any full-price ferns in my cart. I can’t be taking financial risks like that because if history is any indicator, you are going to die soon. 

It’s not intentional, I’m not going to stomp on you or rip you out of the ground before your time has come. You and I, we just don’t see eye to eye. These flower beds you are in, a more apt name would be death beds. There’s no palliative care going on here either because I’m pretty sure death by lack of nutrients and thirst are no easy way to go.

There are a few things that could help our relationship though.

  1. Better labeling in the plant section. I would like to suggest a 1-10 difficulty to keep alive scale. Plants labeled as a “1” you can plant in a cave, water them with gatorade and they will THRIVE! “10” plants require 3 hours and 26 minutes of direct sunlight, unicorn tears, and weekly poetry readings to live.
  2. Someone in my life that thinks gardening is therapeutic. I’ve heard that these people exist. My husband and I are not these people. This person could come to my yard anytime for free therapy sessions. They don’t even need to call ahead, just show up. I promise if I see a stranger in my flower beds with gardening tools I’m not going to yell at them to get off my property. Instead I’ll bring you a glass of water, a cold beer…WHATEVER YOU NEED FOR YOUR THERAPY!
  3. I need you to not need a blanket. I don’t care if there’s a “hard freeze” coming. YOU LIVE OUTSIDE AND ARE PLANTED IN DIRT! You get no blankets. Blankets are for humans with central nervous systems, not greenery. So stop being a wuss and just keeling over after it hits 31 degrees once or twice.

So this Spring, let’s try this once again. Just stay alive this time.

Sincerely,

The Lady with a Black Thumb

 

 

 

Losing The Last 10 Pounds: A Whole 30 Story

“This is just the size I am after having 3 kids.”

“My body has just changed.”

“I’ll never be that size again.”

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Pre First Round of the Whole 30
These are things I’ve told myself within the past year. I’ve had 3 kids in 5 years, which definitely takes a toll. I’d worked my way back to 10 pounds within my pre-pregnancy weight and had hit a plateau. There was no amount of working out that was going to lose those last 10 pounds. It was stage 5 clinger belly fat.

But then I did the Whole 30.

If you are unfamiliar with the Whole 30, it’s a 30 day challenge to reset your eating habits and detox your body from processed food.

 

Things you can’t have:

Grains, legumes, sugar or added sugar, dairy, alcohol, processed foods

Things you can eat:

Meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, spices

 

I had really never stuck to any type of diet prior to this. I could eat chips and dip all day, I could easily eat half a cookie cake over a day or so. Half a pan of brownies that were leftover? No problem. Halloween candy that was purchased before 4:30pm on Halloween night, sorry about it trick-or-treaters. You get the picture.

I’ve always been a fanatic about exercise. Lack of exercise was not my issue when it came to trying to lose these last 10 pounds. I work out 5-6 times a week, lift weights, run, do all the things. But I couldn’t out exercise my diet. I was canceling out the work I was doing in the gym by what I was doing in the kitchen. The results I see now are from work I did in the kitchen.

Whole 30 completely changed the way that I view food. I don’t see treats as something I earn or a beer as something I deserve anymore.

We ate so well on the Whole 30. There’s no caloric restriction, we just ate real food and it was so good.

Since I couldn’t flavor things with cheese, I learned how to use spices as a result. We received a spice rack filled with spices as a wedding gift, 9.5 years ago, 75% of those spices had never been used. Now, I buy chili powder as Costco because I use it that much. FYI, if you have spices that have lost their flavor, they smell like fish food.

I had to google/youtube how to cut multiple vegetables. Spaghetti squash? Sat in my fridge for 5 days before I got the courage to figure out how to open it up.

My favorite discovery was zoodles (zucchini noodles). My kids even eat them, which makes them the sneakiest way to get your kids to eat veggies. Not sure I’ll ever make normal spaghetti again.

There are definitely some aspects to the Whole 30 that are hard. It is a TON of food prep. You are cooking 2-3 meals a day for a month, which means I am totally over chopping things in my kitchen at the moment. However, I only sliced myself once with a knife which is a win in my book. It is pretty hard to eat out because everything seems to be cooked in butter and for some reason sugar is in EVERYTHING. We got really good at reading labels (something I’d never had to do before).

Results: Two rounds (over the span of 5 months) of the Whole 30 later and I’ve lost 12 pounds and went down a pant size. I can even wear a bikini again without the police showing up.

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Two years ago on the left, post Whole 30 on the right

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Clint is also back to his college athlete weight
Beyond just losing weight, I learned to cook way healthier. As we enter into the “food freedom” stage post Whole 30, I’m way more aware to what foods are worth it and what isn’t. Sub par dessert, not worth it. More than two beers, not worth it. (I’ve actually become a whiskey drinker now because it’s less calories and I want to be tipsy, not fat.)

So if you’ve given up on those last 10 pounds, you have an unhealthy relationship with food ( I did and didn’t realize it), or you need a jump start on healthier eating, maybe this is for you.

 

Whole 30 Resources:

https://whole30.com/whole30-program-rules/

Favorite Recipes:

Slow cooker Pulled Pork: https://whole30.com/2016/03/whole30-slow-cooker-recipes-part-three/

Chicken Puttanesca:

https://laughingspatula.com/30-minute-chicken-puttanesca

 

 

 

 

Even When

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

for I will yet praise him,

my Savior and my God.”

Psalm 42:11

 

Yet, I will praise you.

I can’t just praise you when things are going well, when everyone is healthy, when there’s money in the bank, or my prayers are being answered how I want them to be.

I need to praise you in the even when.

 

Even when the healing doesn’t happen.

Even when the biopsy results come back positive.

Even when the water comes in the front door.

Even when the person you have prayed for seems like they’ll be lost forever.

Even when you don’t get the job.

Even when that friend turns their back on you.

 

As a believer in Jesus, there is hope because of the work Christ did on the cross. Our hope is that this isn’t our home. That this isn’t all there is.

Last fall I attended a funeral of a 20-year-old who died under tragic, senseless circumstances. His Dad got up there and talked about the hope, peace, and love of Christ. If on the worst week of this man’s life he was able to have hope in Christ, there’s something tangible there. That peace, that joy, that hope doesn’t come from reading a bunch of self-help books or doing yoga everyday.

It comes from Jesus.

Last night our senior pastor passed away after complications from a heart attack. He was 55. It’s a tragic loss. But, his wife exudes this hope. Is she broken and hurting? Definitely. However, she is choosing to praise him, even when the worst happened.

Christ calls us to hope in him in the even when’s of our lives.

Christ alone is what enables us to say “yet I will praise you” even in the worst circumstances.

Worst Dental Health Mom Ever: A Cautionary Tale

I’ve learned something revolutionary that I need to share with you.

You have to regularly brush and floss your small child’s teeth. I mean, even when they are a baby.

After you read that last line, you found yourself in one of two groups. One of these groups is the one that knows this, does this, and is baffled/disgusted that I didn’t realize this. The other group is the one that when their friend said something about flossing their 15-month-old’s teeth…you laughed out loud.

I’m in the second group. I distinctly remember a conversation a few years ago in which one of my friends mentioned flossing their 2-year-old’s teeth. I had truly and honestly never even THOUGHT about flossing my 2-year-old’s teeth. That sounded utterly impossible to me. I just laughed and said “Why? They’re just temps anyways!” 

There were other warnings along the way. For instance, when my pediatrician would ask at well-checks if my child had seen the dentist yet. I found myself chuckling at this question. I probably should have realized it then that maybe my lack of discipline with my child’s dental health needed some adjustments.

I finally made a dentist appointment for my oldest (Kate) when she was 4. It was an epic disaster. Kate flipped out when the hygienist started touching her mouth and pretty much ended up verbally assaulting the poor woman.

So, after that unsuccessful attempt at the dentist, we just didn’t try again. BTW, that’s probably not the best value to instill in your child “Oh, you don’t like that? Just never do it again!” Hindsight’s 20/20.

Fast-forward to present day. Kate turns 6 next month. A few weeks ago she told me that it hurt to eat on one side of her mouth. So I took a look…at her visible cavity. I finally made a dental appointment for her. The overall damage? 6 cavities. $1600 worth of dental work. Cue the guilt for being the worst dental health Mom ever.

Now, there are some really sexy ways to spend your money. Car repairs, a new water heater, energy efficient windows, just to name a few. But $1600 for TEETH THAT ARE GOING TO FALL OUT? That takes the cake.

So friends, don’t make the same mistakes as me. Brush when you don’t feel like brushing, floss when it sounds like the most preposterous idea in the world…because nobody needs to drop 4 figures on baby teeth.

Uncommon

I have a tribe.

I mean, a serious tribe of friends. The type of friends that I can laugh with, cry with, pray with, put down as an emergency contact, have chaotic family dinners with, and swap kids with. One of these friends even took care of my 18 month old for 11 days while I was out of the country last summer (she would not let me talk her out of it).

It’s uncommon.

It goes against any notions of trying to live life in my own bubble. We do life together.

So when a member of this tribe came to us with the news that her family is moving to another state…it rocked us all.

As I listened to her sob that day the thing she kept coming back to was “how do we leave this? We will never find this again.”

The more I’ve had time to think through her devastation of leaving her tribe and the relationships she has built (mind you in only 5 years) and reflect on how we got to this level of community in the first place, I’ve come to a few conclusions on the process of building community.

  1. It takes time. You don’t meet a Mom at the park, talk for 20 minutes, then ask her to be your emergency contact person for your kid’s school forms. Foundations of relationships are built from face to face time over hours, weeks, months, and years. It’s not just through a screen, it’s not just being with them a couple of times.
  2. It means going to social events even when you don’t feel like. At least in the initial stages. When we first moved here there was a group of women who got together on Sunday nights from 8-10 at a local Starbucks to hang out. When I first started being around the women that went there I was still teaching and coaching full-time. There were Sunday nights that the LAST place I wanted to be was sitting in a cold Starbucks because I was exhausted. But I went. I was really tired on some of those Monday mornings but I was in the building stages of something more important, relationships. So go, even if you don’t even drink coffee at 8:00pm (I don’t).
  3. It means having friends that you probably wouldn’t have hung out with in high school. High school was weird anyways, right? If I was going to classify the people I’m friends with now based on their high school reputation we’d have a few jocks, a youth-group junkie, a preacher’s kid, a choir girl, a math Olympiad team member, a drill team member, and a skater. We probably wouldn’t have all sat at the same lunch table, but it doesn’t matter…because we’re adults. We have an age range of 8 years among us, our W-2 forms have varying amounts on them, and (gasp!) we don’t all vote the same way. Shared experiences and similar life stages make those differences fade away real quick.
  4.  It may feel like dating at first. You have to put yourself out there. You have to ask people for their numbers (or just figure out how to spell their name so you can find (stalk) them on the internet).  When I walked into a women’s bible study for the first time I sat next to a girl because she had on a cute chevron dress and she looked athletic. We are good friends now, but I totally speed-dated her.
  5. The catalyst may have to be you. If you don’t see people doing life together where you are, cultivate it. You may have to be the person to invite someone over. You may have to organize get togethers. You may need to be the person that creates the group text. It may not be your personality type to do this but most people desire to have close relationships but they are just waiting to be invited in. Invite them.
  6. You have to be willing to ask for help. Doing everything on your own doesn’t create a sense of community. Let your friends help you, even when you don’t think you need it. This can be as simple as asking for prayers when you are in the middle of something tough. On the flip side of this you have to give help as well. Take a couple extra kids for a day, invite the Mom and kids that are solo for the week over for dinner, or drop off rations at a friend’s house who just got hit with the stomach bug  (totally acceptable to knock the door and run away in this situation).

 

Starting from scratch is hard. But, we aren’t meant to close our doors and struggle through life alone. Be uncommon in your relationships and find people to live life together with.

 

And if you in the Oklahoma City area and you are looking for a friend that loves people in extraordinary ways, I know of one coming your way.