1.07.2021

The day after...

I q-dropped PoliSci. Twice. I just didn't really have any desire to understand how government works when I could be doing more important things like figuring out how to win Derby Days. 

But while my understanding of our complex government may have taken years to comprehend, I have never misunderstood the magnitude of the meaning of democracy, the privilege I hold as an American*, and the importance of leadership in the pursuit of our liberty. 

*It took me longer than I'd like to admit to understand my privilege as a white American.

I grew up believing what the adults around me believed. I remember being so sad when George H.W. Bush wasn't reelected but also not fully recognizing why I was or should be sad. As a 6th grader I had other things to worry about like the growing zit on my nose and the fact that I had an inappropriate crush on our PE student teacher. 

I also remember the letter. You know the one. The one that a great leader wrote to his successor. The letter that took courage, humility, and honor to write. The letter that put others before himself. The letter that focused on the betterment of the people through the example he set. The letter that has become a tradition in an office that should represent all that is great about this country. And while it may not have been a long standing tradition, it was an important one. A powerful one. The notion that a nation could transition between leaders, ideals, passions and visions with mutual respect is something to be proud of as Americans. 

Humility in leadership is one of the most important characteristics a person should exhibit. Knowing when to lead and when to ask for help and better yet, when to admit that you just aren't the best person for a job can determine the legacy you leave. I've spent my career trying to teach that to young adults that will one day rise to lead our classrooms, businesses, hospitals, universities and this great country. I have witnessed them ask for help, seek outside perspectives and continue to grow knowing that they never stop learning, they never know everything. 

But yesterday, we witnessed the opposite of humility. We watched as the leader of our country exhibited such selfishness and greed that he knowingly put our entire country at risk. A hunger for power at all costs. What we witnessed yesterday was not patriotism. It was white supremacy. Insurrection. Treason. Terrorism. In my opinion, an attack that was more harmful than 9/11. These men and women didn't represent outsiders trying to take down the American way, they walked in our nations capitol holding American flags, claiming to represent the ideals of our nation and attempted to destroy almost 250 years of democracy. 

This didn't happen overnight. We watched the fall in slow motion with every lie from his mouth and horrific rhetoric on Twitter. And we won't be able to fix it overnight. Things won't magically change on January 20. It will take more work to undo the harm than it took to create it. 

And while my hope rests in Jesus, the work rests in US.

You and me. The way we speak to each other. The way we help our neighbors. The way we stand up against racism in real time with real actions and not just through a like or share on social media. We have hard conversations with our children. We create space for respectful discourse. We are open to questions and are prepared with answers. We quit blaming the media and start taking ownership ourselves. We do not turn a blind eye to obvious hate. We quit buying into ridiculous conspiracy theories. We acknowledge the injustice of systemic racism and we work to change it. 

We start with me to make it better for we. We each work to become humble, courageous leaders in our homes and communities. That's what I'm telling my kids today... the day after we witnessed us at our worst. There is still hope for us to become our best. 



3.15.2020

Three little words...

Wow.

I almost don't even know how to do this anymore. Do I make a new introduction or can I assume you still know who I am?

I've kind of lost my touch. Truth be known, writing brings me a lot of joy... but somewhere along the way I lost it.  If I'm honest with myself, I didn't really lose the joy for writing, I got frustrated that no one seemed to care what I was saying. My ego got in the way. I didn't get enough comments. Friends didn't share my words with others. The only real consistent encouragement I got was from my Momma (thanks, Mom)... but even then it felt more like she wanted to know what the kids were doing and less about what I was writing  (sorry, Mom).

So what brings me here, today?

Well.... to be specific....

Chaos.
Fear.
Uncertainty.
Faith.
Hope.
Love.

All these emotions I'm experiencing have no where else to go but into words.

I committed to reading the bible this year and I'm trying not to let the fact that I am heavily into the Old Testament be a dire sign that God is trying to wipe us clean for the giant mess we've created of this world. I'm sure some of you are feeling some of the same feelings I am. So let's figure out how to get through this together, shall we?

Chaos

Y'all. HEB looks like it was ransacked by some college kids needing a late night snack because they have a case of the munchies. (So I've been told - that is NOT from personal experience). Schools are closed. Conferences cancelled. Entire sports seasons have stopped. Chaos is the only way to describe it. And through so much chaos I can't help but feel a little...

Fear.

This is SCARY y'all. I have tried hiding my tears from my kiddos as best as I can because I don't want them to be scared. But I am SCARED. For my family. For my parents. For my friends. For strangers. Just scared. I need my momma, but I also want her to cover herself in bubble wrap coated in bleach and stay inside a closet for the next 8 weeks, so...there's that. There's also just so much

Uncertainty.

We basically know nothing. I mean, some people know some things, but we don't really KNOW anything.

And that got me thinking about Noah and Abraham and Joseph and Moses... can you imagine the chaos and fear and uncertainty each of them felt? Noah was told to build an ark with very specific dimensions and doing that kind of precise project makes me want to weep. Abraham was told he would be a dad at the ripe old age of 100. Joseph was nearly killed by his brothers. And, poor Moses spent 40 YEARS taking an a 11 day road trip to the promised land that HE NEVER GOT TO SEE.

Chaos.
Fear.
Uncertainty.

But through all of that, they had three things that are even more powerful...

Faith.
Hope.
Love.

Their faith guided them through their darkest hours. Their hope gave them reason to continue in times of chaos. And His love, well, His love is what carried them through... and that same love is what will sustain us today, tomorrow and the days after that.

1.29.2019

Dear 30 year old me,

Dear 30 year old me,

In exactly 30 days you will be 40 years old. When Dad turned 40, the entire store of JCP was turned into a graveyard. The "marketing ladies" made tombstones, his office was filled with black balloons, and I think black crepe paper was just about everywhere in the break room.

Needless to say, we thought 40 was "near death" old.

I have other ideas about this milestone age now. But today isn't about nearly 40 year-old us... it's about 30 year-old you and a few things that helped us survive and maybe a few things I wish I would have known... but before we get to that, let's look at us at 30...


I specifically chose this picture because know that it's one of 4 times that you will look this good for the next 10 years. HA! (Shout out to professional hair and makeup for Niki's wedding!)


Life isn't going to be exactly what you planned and that's ok.
Not one single bit of your life can be orchestrated solely by you. It's impossible... and that's what makes it so beautiful. We can get all the degrees we want, pick out the perfect house, say yes to our dream job, and even decide how many kids we want. But we actually control zero parts of what happens to us - and that's life. Every disaster, every success, every challenge, every easy day, every obstacle and every milestone... there's beauty in each piece of our individual puzzles.

No one has a better life than you do, different? Maybe. But not better. 
(Spoiler alert: this is still something we're gonna be working on at 40) Say this to yourself every time you get a case of the greens - you know, jealousy? We all have different stories to tell, and life would be so sad if you missed out on telling yours because you were so wrapped in someone else's. Don't fall for the lie of social media - we all show the highlight reels... but the good stuff, the REAL stuff is important, too. Sometimes it's hard to watch other people do things that you aren't doing and not feel like a "failure." But, there's a strong possibility that those same people are looking at you and wanting a little slice of your life, too.

Get in a selfish routine. 
Sounds weird, right? Don't get me wrong, doing for others is awesome, but making time for yourself is important, too. When you pour into yourself (by reading, relaxing, sleeping, eating well, exercising) then you have a lot more to give to those around you.

It's okay to ask for help.
Asking for help doesn't make you weak - it makes you smart. "It" really does take a village. Raising children, owning pets, working, going to school... even being married takes more than 2 people sometimes. Ask your village for support - they will never let you down.

Cheer on your friends. 
Be excited about the success of your friends - even when you aren't accomplishing big things. Remember that "no one's life is BETTER... just different" lesson? It applies here. Be on the front row, cheer the loudest, support their dreams, buy their products, like their pictures, comment on their blog posts, share their story... CHEER THEM ON!

Recognize the power of no.
Girl. JUST SAY NO. You don't have to be everything to everybody every single day. Those two little letters hold a powerful punch. And by saying "no" more ... you give strength to your "yes!". Sounds weird, but it's true. People will come to realize that your YES means you are committed because you don't give them away so easily. Let's practice, real quick: "Sorry, I can't commit to that right now." ... "I know that I've done this before, but this just isn't my best yes." [Thank you, Lysa T.] ... "It's a no from me." ... "My talents are better suited else where." ... "I've already committed my time other places."

Girlfriends are one of your greatest gifts.
You are going to meet new people throughout your life. Be grateful for the individual role that each woman plays in shaping who you are. Your work friends, your best-friends, your new friends, your old friends... they all have a piece of you and you need every single one of them. Savor that time, appreciate that kinship and foster every single one of those relationships. You will laugh and cry and cheer and scheme. You will solve each other's problems. Your girlfriends are one of this decade's greatest blessings.

Everything doesn't have to happen now.
Believe it or not, you don't have to drive a fancy car, go on exotic vacations, build a dream home, cook lavish meals and also have a six-pack. (Which is great, because, spoiler alert, 10 years later and you still haven't checked off any of those items). AND THAT IS OKAY! We (hopefully) get to live on this earth for a long time... enjoy the season of life you are in without worrying about all the things you haven't done.

Your spouse/partner is not actually trying to drive you crazy.
It may feel like it, but they're not. :)

Your children's favorite toys will be blocks/legos, cars, dolls, books and dress up clothes. 
Don't waste money on the "latest and greatest" fad. They always come back to those five things. The money we would have saved??? We could have gone to Italy and back 15 times by now!

No one has it together. 
Yep. We are all a bunch of big fat fakers. All of us are worried we aren't doing something right, we're messing up our kids, we aren't giving our all at work, we could be better partners... the list goes on. The truth is we are all doing the best we can, and that's all we should expect.

Choose your joy.
By now, you are a broken record at telling the kids "choose your attitude"... sometimes we could use those same words of wisdom. As Ms. Hawkins ended 95% of her announcements in Jr. High... "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it." There is so much power in our choices to choose joy, happiness, gratefulness... in those moments that have you stressed, worried, angry... choose joy instead.

Seek Him first.
Most important piece of advice in this list. Seek Him first. Seek Him always. There is nothing that we can do to ever lose the love of Christ. You are going to walk through stress, disappointment, anger, fear, joy.... give it all back to Him. The beauty of Christ is that we are never alone... we never have to solve on single problem alone. He is there for all the big and small and hard. Seek Him first.


In closing, you are going to love your thirties. There is such a gentle gift in aging. You begin to focus on the important things, you hold on to the dear things and you let things that don't matter fade. And you finally FINALLY figure out your best hair. Savor every single second of this decade. The best really is yet to come...

Love,
Your older, wiser (and honestly better looking) self.