The small and the great

Two years ago this fall, I attended a one day leadership event in Indianapolis, IN. The keynote speaker of the day was an influential CEO. He spoke authentically, shared relevant stories, and inspired the group that sat in the audience.

That was all great but the best moment happened off stage—and actually when he wasn’t even around.

A friend of his was telling me how awesome his keynote would be today but more so, he is a person who does the important things in life. I was interested to hear all of the important things he was doing in life, anticipating global projects and large-scale foundation work in philanthropy but I found myself surprised that the first thing his friend commented was, “He was committed to teaching Sunday school every week at his church and loved doing that each week. He has done that for the past 30 years.” That was the first and last thing he said about his buddy and the important things in life.

And I loved that moment.

We frequently hear young professionals talk about how they want to do the important things in their lives, may it be in the professional work they do or on the personal side. That work tends to be associated with a large stage like that CEO stood on that day or a published book or a title with more than 5 words (because we all know the more words you add to your title, it sounds more intense-- Ha!).

Often folks will comment, “Do great with little.” as an encouragement to stick it out (with the little projects, smaller groups of people, smaller budgets) now in hopes that one day you hit the big stage or land the book deal or whatever the public display of success is—to do the great.

But what I loved about that CEO is he certainly did great with the little—as in he took great responsibility for his weekly Sunday school class and had done so for 30 years… but that also was his great. That smaller scale, routine interaction, without a stage discussion was the goal; it was ‘the great’.

What is your great? The great that you will commit 30 years toward the work? And had not his friend shared that with me, that work would never be known in a public way—what is the great?

The Capacity Card

I'm at my capacity.


I’ve reached my limit.


Both are common phrases we hear in the daily conversations, and often times, this can be true. But as I think about this as a young professional, I wonder if we haven’t simply adopted these into our vocabularies with a false sense of what is truly going on.

When I say, “I just don’t have the time for ________.”, I am reminded of the above phrases of being at capacity or at a certain limit. I think we would better serve ourselves and others by saying, “I choose ______ instead.”

Here are a few questions I am asking myself when I feel a “I’m at my capacity” statement coming on:


1.       Am I being stretched to grow in some area and uncomfortable with this?

2.       Am I not prioritizing and using my time in a way that allows me to do what needs to be done?

3.       Am I not resting well when it is time to do so, always being in “go mode” and therefore unable to properly reboot?

And most of all,

4.       Is God teaching me something now that I need to lean into, despite it not feeling great?

Let us not throw down the “capacity card” the next time we feel a bit pulled and ask the tougher questions. It may certainly be the case. But if not, it may be a unique opportunity to embrace something constructive and restoring in our lives. 

That one piece of paper

This time of year in agriculture, specifically row crop farming, is full of meetings and trainings as we prepare for harvest. Soon enough, combines will be running. It’s the most rewarding time of year.

As young professionals, we are all engaged in meetings in some fashion or form. Some of us have meetings all day, every day.

We all want to show up to a well-organized meeting with relevant content and a progressive nature. Sometimes we’re the ones behind that process, other times we are simply a meeting participant. 

Back in June, I traveled to my company’s national sales meeting which is full of sessions in which we listen with a goal of understanding the year in review and the plans for the year ahead.

In one of my break-outs, one of the presenters walked over and handed me this piece of paper:

He asked me to fill it out and provide feedback on the session. I agreed and for the remainder of that hour, I don’t think I stopped engaging in the meeting in its entirety.

(Not going to lie, a week of meetings can cause one to zone out here and there. What’s for lunch today? It is time to go pump again? Wonder what the kiddos are doing now? Wonder what the hubby is into now? Did he remember to pack fruit and not cookies for the car ride?)

Ok… you get it.

BUT with this one note, I engaged. Fully. I was jotting down feedback which led to other questions to ask during the session itself.

I share this with other young professionals as a very, very simple tool to keep when you feel like your engagement meter is off. Simply jot down these questions, write your feedback, and watch yourself engage better.

Also, lesson learned—what a growth mindset from this individual to walk into a room after doing this presentation no telling how many times and ask for continuous feedback.

When silence is golden

I had a conversation this week with a fascinating individual in the business world that shifted to discussion around families.

Twist my arm and I’ll tell you 100 things about my crew (and show you pictures if we’re together in person).

This person shared with me the journey of parenthood and how this has looked different and has been a huge part of the life story, in a unique way that has come with both challenges yet blessings. I was both honored and thankful to hear this individual walk me through some career wisdom using these experiences as a parent.

Shortly thereafter we discussed blogging and social media. In my millennial thinking—you know, the day after the life changing experience, you need to post about it with the aim of vulnerability, transparency, and authenticity—I asked if there was a blog post about this parenting journey as just shared with me. I mean afterall, this person likes to share career advice on a blog so of course this was a blog post.

The individual kindly responded, “No, I have not shared this on the blog and never intend to.”

I immediately heard the lesson this kind and wise individual was sharing with me ever so graciously—

Some things just aren’t meant to be broadcasted and shared.

Years later, this person still put up a fence around this personal area of life. In an effort to love and cherish those in the closest circle known as family, this person chose to safe guard people over going viral and gaining over night blog subscribers… or whatever the virtual world has to offer.

I instantly needed this reminder and learned so much from a quick segment of our conversation. Not to say that personal matters in life should never be shared, not at all.

But I think what the world needs more of is folks like this individual—who know that we must safeguard some experiences—hardships especially—in an effort to protect and love those around us. It’s so easy to get caught up in “this is a great post about my life—vulnerability, relatability, and authenticity.” The strength and love in the story or experience is sometime best kept in confidence.

My husband would be so upset but since he doesn’t use social media I can get away with this (shhhh don’t tell him):

I remember a few years ago, he was selected as a golden ticket winner at our local Kohl’s. He was shopping at Christmas time to buy me a Kitchen Aid stand mixer and because of his selection, he was told he would get the entire purchase for free. He told them thank you but that there would be someone else coming in that he would rather have that ticket—and left it to the manager to decide how to bless someone else with this gift. He never told me—he never told a soul. The only reason I found out is that weeks later we were back in Kohl’s and the manager recognized him which then led him to tell me the story to eliminate my confusion after seeing them interact.

Ok, so the cat is outta the bag now on that story. But the beauty in that moment was that no one found out. Not a post on social media or a blog or any outlet to share the experience… and I so admired and loved that.

There is such humility and love and grace in choosing not to share some stories, and this lesson rang through this week. I am thankful for encouraging and gracious conversations that serve as a reminder to me.

I did it.

Our spunky two year old Cora has learned the art of the blame game. You know how it goes—

Caroline did it! (If Caroline simply touches her face and it apparently really *hurt*.)

Daddy did it! (When Tyler puts her to bed at her regular bedtime but she isn’t ready.)

Mommy did it! (When I brush the tangles out of her hair very carefully but she wasn’t having it to begin with.)

Just the other day, Cora bit her tongue while snacking and talking at the same time (I feel your pain, sweet Co). And after the tears were dried and she processed what happened, she proclaimed-- ‘Cora did it!’

I had to keep myself from laughing, of course. But what an example of owning up to a problem! The mind of a child is often a refreshing reminder to us all, and this was a great example.

How many times would it be easier to say—he did it, she did it—rather than

I did it. My bad.

A two year old can remind us all that one of the most powerful statements can be—it’s my fault. I own this. Although that can be very difficult and go against our pride, it is fundamental for leadership and for all relationships in life.

So the next time you blub up at work, are at fault in a relationship, or even if you bite your tongue, please proclaim '(insert your name) did it.'

Thanks for the life lesson, Cora!


How is it with two?

A question I get quite often now-a-days is:

“How is it with two?”

You see, in September we welcomed our second daughter into the family. I’m not sure what all has happened over the past three months (aka lack of sleep), but it has all been wonderful and evidence of the Lord’s infinite love and grace in my life. Sweet girls, they are! (Except the diapers…. Those aren’t so sweet.)

Photo by Danielle Hayden, Two Arrows Photography

Photo by Danielle Hayden, Two Arrows Photography


So to answer the question, as a working mom of two under two (C just turned two in December), I’ll share a bit of what I’ve learned:

1.       I’m getting used to being late

To church, work, you name it. But I’m not letting that become my excuse to lean on, either. I really try to get all bags in the truck the night before—literally everything packed except milk. And then if crap literally hits the fan, (which it will, right mommas? Sometimes LITERALLY) you can be somewhat prepared. Fortunately I have a great manager, great team mates, and great customers that have been there, done that. Heck, sometimes they even give me a paper towel to wipe the spit up off my shirt. Some of you just made a “that’s gross” face.

2.       Speaking of milk…..

It’s literally all about milk at our house. I’m either pumping all day between meetings for the baby or running to the grocery (aka Dollar Store in rural Thruston, KY) to get milk for the two year old. Got milk? Yes, all the time. Because two little ladies might have their world fall apart if we don’t. Working mommas that want to keep nursing when you go back to work—you can do it! I’m happy to give some practical advice to anyone interested.

3.       Rock solid immune systems, expected arrival: Kindergarten

I’m convinced that the girls are going to have rock solid immune systems by age 5-6. Sickness found itself in our house all of December. If anyone reads this from our daycare, they are laughing because every time I see their name pop up on my phone, I’m thinking and sometimes answer, “Who’s sick today?” Working mommas know that they then have to take off work or have someone cover at home for at least the next two days—and that’s like orchestrating a military operation, it seems.

4.       Lastly, baby + toddler= weightlifting

For moms that have twins, how did/do you do it?! Seriously, carrying a toddler on one side, baby on the other feels like I’m in extreme weight lifting.  

All of the comments with “working mom” aren’t meant to say moms that work inside or outside of the home have it more difficult or easier than the other. Actually, they both come with sacrifices that look quite different and some that are the exact same. Which leads me to the entire point of writing this post…… Everything in life comes with trade-off’s. Everything.

If anything, the biggest thing I’ve learned with two under two is how valuable all of my momma friends are—not just in giving advice but their influence in my life. I respect them all and know they all sacrifice in different ways. But the one common thing among them all, they all sacrifice big for their families.

So the same moment I’m packing bags at 11 pm in my truck for the next day since we have to be out the door by a specific time, another mom is working a late night shift that allows her to be home three days straight. Another mom is enjoying quiet time on Pinterest because she gets NO QUIET TIME ALL DAY LONG. And another is grading papers of her students and looking forward to the summer break with her kiddos.

You see—all different scenarios, all sacrifices, all amazing moms.

Nothing new and profound here, just the way I’d like to answer when I get that question—How is it with two? 

Ministry Appreciation Month-- October

As I was purchasing every item in Wal-Mart before the baby arrives (no seriously), I came across the card section stating:

Ministry Appreciation Month: October

Am I the only bad Christian out there that didn’t know October was the month for this? Eekk, for years I have forgotten to acknowledge those in ministry.

So my pregnant self and my giant cart full of EVERYTHING waddled over to pick up a few cards because this month is very important (now that I’m aware).

If you’re like me and were not aware of this month’s highlight, please take the time to consider the individuals in ministry that impact your life—it could be an individual, family, couple, organization, the list goes on and on.

‘Therefore encourage one another and build one another up….”

I have friends who are dedicated to full time ministry that sacrifice so much to be able to dedicate their lives accordingly. Living across the globe from family in hostile environments, driving their car from college that was already “old” in college, broken in prayer for those that they serve…. They love so big and so sacrificially. And it’s all for the sake of the gospel, that’s their motivation. What a sweet reminder during October of how all Christians are called to live in the exact same manner—we are all full time ambassadors no matter our "titles".

How can we love these people in our lives? Well, start with the card aisle in Wal-Mart and go from there….

To All of our people in Ministry: we love you, we thank you, and we celebrate you!

Quiet Time

Approximately two years ago, I would get out of bed at 5:00/5:15 am, rested, and go down to the kitchen for a cup of coffee and quiet reading time in my Bible.

It was seriously the best way to start my day.

I would also let the dogs out for their morning bathroom break, feed them both, make myself breakfast, potentially tidy up the kitchen, and then have plenty of time to shower and get ready.

The routine of it all today makes my heart leap a bit! More so, the kick-start of Biblical truth to start my day was such a foundation in beginning a day with the right mindset.

Sometimes I would get up even earlier because 2-3 days a week I had sessions with a personal trainer. So throw a workout in that mix and give me a slice of humble pie. Because I felt awesome about myself.

Fast forward two years later and things are very different. No morning reading for any length over a cup of HOT coffee. I’ve now acquired a taste for cold coffee, seriously give it a try! (All the moms of littles are nodding, I think.) The dogs follow me around as soon as I wake up, still early but because Little Miss is an early-riser, as well. They seem to be saying, “We will follow you around to make sure you don’t forget about us and our bladders.” Workouts are when Little Miss is of the tolerant attitude to go on a walk or run in her stroller- some days she can’t even handle me pushing her around in a cushioned device, it’s rough for her I tell you.

All in all, take the routine two years ago and shift it around like a Rubik’s cube and wah-lah—you have the routine of today!

At first, I felt less—less Christian, less professional, less adult, less wife, less you name it. My morning routines were a very good and healthy routine to develop, but I had gotten to a point of idolizing them. I just checked every box and boy, it made me feel better because of that. But most of all, I think it was because I had “quiet time” before and this was just not the case anymore.

Church sermons, podcasts, leadership books, professional development seminars—they all tell me that a solid morning routine with quiet, reflective time is so significant. And although that has somewhat come back again, the truth is I just can’t have the quiet time like before. And that’s ok. I’m… We’re…. not less of anything because of that. I recently read in a book that each and every time a baby cries out in the dark of night, it is a sound reminder to Satan that precious, God-breathed life is in the dark of night. The noise-- early rising toddlers, beeping and buzzing emails, trailing-behind dogs, washing machine running at 4 am—it’s good and ok.

I can and will walk with the Lord in the noisiest of times. Actually, I walk closer because I feel less control and am reminded of all the life HE has created around me.

Young professionals, maybe you needed this reminder today? I do and did every day.

I want to be intentional about quiet time to read and think but sometimes, it just aint gonna happen.

So in that moment, join me in saying—

Quiet time? Not right now. I choose the noise and Lord give me this day my daily bread. Grace for the moment and just for that moment. You’ll meet me every hour, quiet or noisy. I’m not less of anything. (Except can you make me less sleepy, Lord?)  

Let me catch my breath here.

On Monday mornings, my team routinely has conference calls at 7 am. For those of you with little ones, you can picture the household at 7 am with a one and a half year old plus two dogs eager for breakfast (Well, we have a Great Dane so correction: one dog and one horse eager for breakfast), so my husband and I have tried to map things out for these Monday’s so I can take the call and chaos is minimized. And we normally do well…

This Monday was a little different.

I was preparing to be gone for the week for a work sales meeting. He also had some traveling in place and Little Miss was going to Grandma’s for the beginning of the week. Speaking of which, this is what happens when Little Miss goes to Grandma’s. Poor girl, she’s suffered through Rice Krispies and this all week.

I had just finished chasing the little one around the house, up the stairs, into the toy room while carrying her luggage (why does a one and a half year old require more luggage than Mom and Dad combined?!) and my time frame rolled around on the call. Perfect timing! This pregnant lady was literally panting. Like breathing into the phone, sounding like a Derby horse that had just ran the race. Panting.

I tried to smooth it over—jumping straight into my piece for the day but I just could not catch my breath. I tried shortening my sentences, choosing the quickest way to say whatever needed to be said to get through my report. I’m sure it was so obvious (and awkward) to my team mates that I couldn’t talk and breathe that morning.

Eventually I had to stop and say,

“I’m sorry. I’m out of breath here.”
“I just ran up the stairs after the little one.”

(Embarrassing that’s what did it)

And with that statement, my breath came back to me. Amazing, huh? Pausing for a few seconds gave my lungs time to settle.

Lesson learned.

The days are sometimes long and tough. It is ok to say “I’m out of breath here” rather than go on, doing a sloppy job just to get through something. Literally and figuratively, we will run out of breath from time to time. It is actually quite freeing to admit you can’t keep up, take the pause you need to re-group, and then get back to work.

Daily retreats, if you will, can look different for all of us. But they are so important. Trust me, my team mates could hear me suffering on the other line; folks in our lives can tell when we’re struggling and need a moment. Don’t be afraid to admit it—don’t be like me and try to “fake it till you make it”. I was on track to a sloppy update which wasn’t fair to anyone who had given up time to be on the call.

Young Professionals: we must be willing to admit when we’re out of breath. This will only serve us and those around us better as we admit we have reached a limit. But, take a moment and be willing to get back to work, not using it as excuse to cut out. 

Oh and note to self: DO NOT TAKE THE STAIRS during a conference call for the next three months. 

Rich Friendships

Now, more than ever, I have realized the value of good, adult friendships. Now-- meaning after spending this past weekend with two of my best girl friends in life.

We stayed up late each night talking about our dreams, life struggles, and everything else in between. Now don’t picture an episode of the Gossip Girls in action—these ladies HATE gossip (An attribute of them being great adult friends). If your adult friends love gossip, you need new adult friends. End of story. 

Adult friendships are one thing that I think makes life so rich. And it saddens me when I hear other adults say they feel alone in life without deep, meaningful friendships. I know just how important these are in my life, day in and day out.

And although I’ve only done the adult friendship thing for just a bit here, I’ve learned:

A.      You can only go deep with just a few:

In adulthood, not everyone is going to be your best friend nor is that a healthy goal. To really go deep in conversation and life together, only a few friendships, true friendships, will develop.

B.      Maintain and Invest:

It is SO DIFFICULT to have adult friends, especially when those people live across the globe/country. It takes investing our resources and energy into these people to maintain that quality of living life together as best we can. I am so thankful for friends that have spent time and money to travel to see me post-college, and I will always view a flight to have face-to-face interaction with my friends as a valuable investment. But hear me now, it takes intentionality and it is SO WORTH IT.

C.      They won’t tell you what you want to hear:

“I think you’re just being selfish.”

“You need to keep a check on your heart with this situation…”

I have had those exact statements and many more versions spoken to me by my true friends. They know they won’t hurt my feelings because their truthfulness and perspective is too important to leave out of the conversation. I am so thankful for their willingness to be a voice and not side-step things in life. 

The Shift

High School and College can be a flurry of extracurriculars, right?

Sign up for EVERYTHING

Build that RESUME

NETWORK and build connections

And although over time we learn to channel our efforts and be a part of impactful organizations and endeavors, I believe that young professionals lose our zeal to sign up. We go from stage to stage of our thinking on “the extra stuff”.


High School & College: It’s all valuable; I need to do it all!


Post-College: Wait, did that time spent amount to anything?


Early Career: I need focus; no more “extras”


So this shift for many of us has taken place…

We don’t raise our hand to join an organization, volunteer for a project, and lead outside of our day-to-day responsibilities with work. We don’t mosey down the street to meet our neighbors as we once did in college in a dorm setting or in the classroom. Why? We don't have the time or energy or focus to do such. 

I get it.

There are seasons in life that call for this and some opportunities, although great ones, are not good for us individually and our life circumstances. After my first was born, I felt the tug-of-war between raising my hand to lead initiatives at work, for our church, and other professional and personal opportunities.

After learning from some wise professionals, here are a few bits of encouragement on how to think about leading in our personal and professional lives:

1.       Essentialism

Is it an opportunity with a YES said with 90-100% certainty? Then yes, it is. All other options are a big NO. We MUST be committed and passionate about the opportunity at hand. Don’t let guilt lead us into taking on any option presented in life.

And opportunities don’t always come about at the team meeting or through a weekly email update. I’ve had some great mentors share that sometimes it’s not at all about “raising your hand”; it’s more about presenting the plan. By taking an idea to your manager, one that you are 100% excited about, you can not only commit to the right things in life but also be the initiator behind those great ideas.  

2.       Serve

A list of excuses doesn’t shadow over the fact that serving is important. I hear many young professionals say—“When I’m retired” or “If I had work-sponsored service projects”. But we are called to serve in our communities in some fashion in the here and now. 

What organization or group can we get behind both with our resources? Time and money are both resources we can offer, along with numerous others. We discussed the money aspect in a previous post:

3.         Network, always

Never lose site of the value of networking. This doesn’t always comes in the form of meet and greets and often takes more time than we millennials expect to put forth.

I sometimes forget that networking is about building credibility and building credibility is about proving character over time. So networking is not for the short-term—it is a lifelong process of connecting, following up, and making things happen.

Someone else is better to inform our generation of the “how to’s” but our reminder is the value of finding opportunities to do this and scheduling time for such a valuable part of our lives.

Now it's our time to make another shift into thinking about our involvement in the workplace and in our communities. 

Money and Millennials

I have two motivations for this post, and I’ll be fully upfront about them both:

1.       I want Millennials to understand their footprint when it comes to money.

2.       I want you to learn about EDGE.

Sometimes we Millennials forget our influence—to vote, to work, to serve, and to give. Money and Millennials. Believe it or not, those two carry quite influence.

By 2018, Millennials will have more spending power than any generation—surpassing the Baby Boomer generation.

In 2015, the expected spend of Millennials was $2.5 trillion.


This group of young people carries influence with the money they spend every single day. If there was ever a time to be shaping our financial plans and goals, now is the time. We must see that the $2.5 trillion spent in 2015 determines more than just Apple’s marketing strategy for the future—this money determines the influence made upon communities of people. Churches. Organizations. Missions that have a vision for the future with success that hinges on Millennials.

Don’t each of us want to leave a legacy? 

I had the opportunity to give this talk last year on “Leaving a Legacy” which includes some of the information shared in this post:

 A few practical applications based on this information for Millennials:

1.       Do we have a functioning budget that identifies areas of excess?

Budgets only work if we visit them on a regular basis—for some this is weekly or monthly. Several friends are huge fans of Mint, an app that allows you to set financial goals and track them according to your plugged in bank accounts, credit card(s), etc.

Let’s not make light of things like a “shopping problem”, eating out way too often, or splurges that throw off our entire month. The online shopping world makes this a terrible temptation, huh? Remember that building our legacies will not include the times that we stayed in a rut and continued overspending on something so minute.

2.       Do we have financial goals?

Set some financial goals for yourself and share them with the people that need to know. Paying off student loans by a specific month and year, doubling your annual giving to a specific organization, and purchasing a home by a certain time frame with 20% down are all great examples. Be specific when it comes to your timing; for me, this is the fire I need to stay on track and not deviate from the plan.

3.       Do we have a partner to achieve these goals?

I remember setting up an appointment with a financial planner after college graduation and accepting my first job. I felt utterly silly. What did I have in my name? A bachelors degree and a few cows. Seriously. But I am so glad that I made that contact and have built financial plans with this person. We all need a partner who is an expert in this space and is someone we can trust. Have someone on your team that is thinking for you in this area, deciphering all of the complicated financial lingo, and keeping you on track to achieve your goals.

4.       How do we think about leaving a legacy?

It is so tempting to avoid giving generously as a Millennial. We have college loans, vehicles to pay for, young families to support all while being in the early stages of our careers.

But think about our money’s impact both positive and negative. The more we grasp on to it tighter and tighter for self-interest, the more it takes over and consumes us. We may become excellent at budgeting and saving but have our identities wrapped up in $$$. On the other hand, becoming an excellent steward while giving generously becomes a healthy cycle and starts us on our path to leaving a legacy.

These words don’t come from someone who is acting as if she has this figured out, nailed down, and living out well. I’ve been fortunate enough to surround myself with excellent examples of stewards who give generously in their communities. These are their words of wisdom and the proof is in the pudding with those folks—years of consistency and years of leaving a legacy.

On to motivation number two:

I had the great opportunity last fall to participate in EDGEx (video shared earlier) at America’s Best Hope, and this was only possible because of an organization called EDGE. If we’ve spent more than ten minutes in conversation around personal and professional development, we’ve likely discussed EDGE, an organization I’ve been blessed to be a part of for almost four years.

EDGE mentoring is a faith-based organization focused on mentoring millennials by partnering emerging leaders who are hungry to grow with seasoned mentors who want to invest in the next generation.

If you are a young professional, man or woman, seeking mentorship that reflects this focus above, check out EDGE:

Rain-X for the Ears

In Kentucky, we’ve had quite a bit of rainfall the past three weeks. For folks in agriculture, it has been a long three weeks of wanting to get back into the fields during a time of year meant for planting the crops and working hard.

This has been the common view out of my front windshield.

My husband, a safety specialist, insists on frequent application of his beloved Rain-X. I’m not opposed to the product—it’s just not my priority on Monday morning out the door.

The basics of Rain-X: you apply a coating to your windshield so when rain, sleet, or snow comes a falling, it acts as a barrier between your glass and those rain drops slide right off leaving your view more clear thus making the drive safer. Results show visibility improves by a full second or more—Safety Hubby loves this one.

Coating. Rain drops just glide right off. Safer, clear vision.

Here’s where we’re going.

Anyone on social media these days?

There are lots and lots of articles titled something like this:

What NOT to say to ________________________ (specific group of people)

An example of this would be this hilarious, yet so good video on behalf of adoptive families:

I can’t say I understand these comments but I’m assuming adoptive families are so appreciative of this video. While it takes a comical route, I’m sure these comments have been said and are so frustrating.

Honestly, though, I can’t keep up with all of the “What NOT to say” articles, videos, and such that exist. Popular among millenials, everyone has seemed to create a “what NOT to say” for their peeps.

And while many of these bring light to insensitivities that exist and provide an understanding of what it’s like to be among a group of people that feel midunderstood, is anyone else afraid to say anything to anyone for fear of violating one of the ten or fifteen “not to’s”?

Maybe we need a little Rain-X for the ears?

An intentional barrier that allows those comments, when insensitive or rude, to slide right on off.

“Oh and let them continue being ignorant?”, you may add? Not exactly.

Think about the description of Rain-X: Coating. Rain drops just glide right off. Safer, clear vision.

When we don’t get offended at every comment made that violates the article specific to our people group and the ten things “not to say” to us, we then have the opportunity to engage with a clear vision.

1.       Assume the best:

Assume that this individual really isn’t sure what to say or didn’t mean to be hurtful. Sometimes we can be frustrated that this person hasn’t engaged with your type of people that often or ever at all. Instead of marking it as “ignorant”, assuming the best about their intentions can really help us individually be in a better spot as the conversation continues.  I get it, sometimes you just KNOW that person wasn’t coming from the best spot. But by doing this, you’re ready for the next step.

2.       Engage:

Correction is ok but tone, word choice, and facials are extremely important. Ah-ha… now the responsibility also falls in our court with the conversation!

I’m not the mastermind of this, example once being a nursing mom who works outside of the home. I'll share a real life example of a work trip from last year. 

Comment when trying to get into the nursing mom’s room during a work trip and finding a young, male adult napping with the room locked (note: did not take place at my company’s HQ):

Me: “Were you aware of what this room is used for?” (wrinkled forehead, harsh tone, red in face)

Him: “Yeah, I just didn’t think it was being used so I took a nap.”

Me: Shakes head, crosses arms, waits for him to exit the room. Ignorant was the word said to self.

Ok, so not a great model of this, huh?

Each opportunity is one to engage. I find this very often with the work that my company does in agriculture biotechnology. Sometimes we need to come off our high horse, stop being offended, and use the moment to engage with someone who may not have been exposed to what we do and who we are.

3.       Move on:

Even if the conversation didn’t end with a lightbulb moment for the other person, move on! No need for a Facebook rant, although if you’re really worked up a text conversation with a good friend could be beneficial, especially someone who knows what you’re going through.

Rain-X for the ears… apply the coating and watch it work wonders!

The weekend before Mother's Day

Churches, schools, offices, and more will be celebrating their mothers this next week. As we should! I can easily look to my own Mom—a farmer’s wife, full time employee with essentially 3 full time jobs (wife/mother, banking, farm bookkeeping and farm work). And I think of my mother-in-law—a woman who worked full time and for many years raised two boys as a single mom and served in many leadership capacities for her community.

My Mom and I: no caption does her justice! She is the most selfless person I know. 

My Mom and I: no caption does her justice! She is the most selfless person I know. 

Let’s celebrate these moms-- And moms with different stories all day long!

My MIL Sharon and I: so thankful she was the one who raised my husband into the man he is today!

My MIL Sharon and I: so thankful she was the one who raised my husband into the man he is today!

But we’ve got a week now and need to tap into our hearts. We need to celebrate our moms, as well as several other women in our lives:

A)     Women who mother

My EDGE mentor Valerie and her daughter came to visit Cora and I shortly after she was born. She is a woman who mothers so many other young women, along with her own children. 

My EDGE mentor Valerie and her daughter came to visit Cora and I shortly after she was born. She is a woman who mothers so many other young women, along with her own children. 

I’m not talking about your “Mom-Mom”. But let’s think about the other women in our lives who mother us with selflessness and sacrifice. Do you have a professional mentor? A teacher?  A Bible study leader? A neighbor? A peer?  Think about it. Write their names down and let them know those motherly attributes that mean so much to you and others.

B)      Women who are struggling with infertility

This is a really tough week/weekend for women who have struggled with infertility. I'm so thankful to see that this past week has been National Infertility Awareness Week and has been lifted up by men and women. Let us not be so quick to forget many women in our lives who desire to become mothers but have not yet. What’s her love language? A small gift, a card with sweet words, quality time together, or a big hug—think about it and follow through.

C)      Our friends who are mothers

I struggled to pick just one mom-friend photo because there so many wonderful ones in my life! But I just had to pick this gal- my best friend since we were babies. Betsy is a mom to TWO TWIN GIRLS who also works in our hometown's school system mothering other children along with supporting her husband's business. She has watched Cora for us during our move to KY and we share texts on diaper rashes and such. I admire her work ethic so much, along with her ability to be flexible (I guess you have to be with twins, huh?). 

I struggled to pick just one mom-friend photo because there so many wonderful ones in my life! But I just had to pick this gal- my best friend since we were babies. Betsy is a mom to TWO TWIN GIRLS who also works in our hometown's school system mothering other children along with supporting her husband's business. She has watched Cora for us during our move to KY and we share texts on diaper rashes and such. I admire her work ethic so much, along with her ability to be flexible (I guess you have to be with twins, huh?). 

I don’t know about you but the sweetest moments happen when another woman stops me in Wal-Mart and says—“Hey, you’re doing a great job there, Mom.” Or just the other day, my dear friend Katy was so encouraging to me regarding being a mom—and it was DAY. MADE. Katy is not a mother herself and I have no clue about the woman in Wal-Mart, but there’s something about that thoughtfulness from another lady that means so much. So if you’re a mother or if you are not, think about some friends who you can encourage because your words will be a sweet as honey.

All three of us girls: I feel such a privilege to be a mother to little girls that, I pray, become strong women. 

All three of us girls: I feel such a privilege to be a mother to little girls that, I pray, become strong women. 

Neighbor Well

Help me out (and yourself) by going along with this quick exercise. Will you pass the test? Less than 1% of people will. Now that's encouragement, huh? 

Use this diagram to get started.


Another option is to use a blank piece of paper and write down numbers 1-8. Under each number write A,B, C.

1. Let's start by writing down the names of the 8 people/households who live closest to you in each block or under numbers 1-8 on your paper. If you live in a neighborhood- the 8 closest homes going left and right (or however your homes are laid out). If you live in the country, the 8 homes closest to you. If you live in an apartment, the 8 closest apartments. You get it. 

2. Next- under each of the 8 names, complete the following:

A: Write the names of the people who live in those homes. Last names are great but not necessary.

B: Write down relevant information about each household- information you would know based on speaking to them. IE Volunteers at the Nursing Home vs. Drives a white truck (because you can just observe that from afar).

C: Write down in-depth information (at least one blurb) about each household: what motivates them, what concerns them, what are their spiritual beliefs or practices, etc.

Feeling a bit crappy? Yeah, me too.

About 10% of people can complete all 1-8 of Section A with their neighbors’ names.

About 3% can fill out line B for each home.

Less than 1% can fill out line C for each home.

In today’s culture of online connectivity and busyness, we have become a culture that does a very poor job of being good neighbors. We leave our homes, go to work or school or you name it, then come back home and stay within the walls of our homes. If we do go out, it’s because of OUR schedules and on OUR time to accomplish OUR needs and wants. I’m guilty of all of the above so replace all the “we’s” above with “I’s”.

I share this because I’d like to go down the road of 'Neighboring Well' here in this space: ideas and inspiration for Millennials to start a new wave of community. How do we neighbor so well that we create a culture change in our own neighborhoods? A range of recipes, acts of service, stories, and testaments to good neighboring will be shared.

It can be scary (who am I reaching out to?), awkward (well, that person seemed to think us asking them over for dinner was nuts!), and daunting (I’m not sure how to make the time or initiate the right way). But the hope is that a few ideas will stick and provide an easy way to love on the people around us.

Ready to get started?  

I pulled this exercise and the information following from a book called “The Art of Neighboring” by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon. (Thanks Matt for sharing!) If you'd like to share this with a group of people, here is the link for a PDF:

Game Faces

The plan is always as follows:

With my game face on-- show up prepared and energized, ready to ask good questions, listen, work hard, and create positive change.

Every time. Game face on. That’s the goal.

As a young professional, we should go into each day with a game plan in order to give our people the best version of ourselves. Game faces are a good thing, hear me on this.

But the past few weeks my game face has gone from an attempt at the above description to two words: morning sickness. Shall I clarify: morning, afternoon, evening sickness. This time of year in my line of work is planting season and for me specifically, plot time! In short, I work with farmer cooperators to plant the newest genetics across my territory to get local data and observations so we have the best information for positioning our products for the year. It’s a crazy season for everyone in agriculture!

The orange stakes are used to mark a different product in the field. Certainly no selfies were taken this year during plots! 

The orange stakes are used to mark a different product in the field. Certainly no selfies were taken this year during plots! 

So plot time—game face should be on because it’s the farmers’ time at stake. And taking extra time that’s unnecessary is frustrating for all involved. You never know when the next rain shower is coming or when something is going to break—so it’s best to keep folks moving right along.

Then it hits: morning sickness. {or afternoon or evening} And the game face is long gone. People waiting for you, watching helplessly because it can’t be fixed like a planter or tractor. And while the empathy displayed is appreciated, I’m truly just ticked because I can’t keep it together long enough to get through one plot.

Anyone else nodding along? Young professionals that have something come along that wrecks their game face? All the prep and planning and then wah-lah. Oh, hello sickness in the middle of a corn field.

But then the magic happened and my mind was blown.

Conversations took place that would have never otherwise. Stories of the day their first child was born and the scare/joy/etc. Stories are shared about how someone's wife had the same struggles. We discuss things like adoption and the beauty of this. Highs and lows of life—this would have never happened with the game face on. Stepping back after plots are wrapping up, I can appreciate this more than ever.

And while, as young professionals, it is important to come equipped and ready to work, there are moments in life that change the gear. So stop, breathe, and remind yourself of how human you are—and the people around you. And maybe, true relationship building could take place as someone sees you struggle.  

On etiquette, crockpot recipes, and passions

The blogging process for me has been about as complicated as a teenage relationship. 

"Yes, I'm ready to make it official!" 

Throws out first blog called "How to be a Lady" on modern day etiquette but doesn't have enough tips and tricks to keep it going. A good sign I'm not the one for that topic! 

"Well, kinda ready. So let's do this blogging thing but low-key."

Blog #2 "Fried Green Tomatoes" makes its debut on topics such as home decor and cooking. Shortly thereafter it is discovered that cooking and home decorating are not my passions. Who knew?

"Let's just keep this thing private. No one needs to know. Cool?"

Time frame where I knew I loved to write, except on topics for young professionals and millennial "stuff"

But I'm young and the experienced folks are the ones that need to speak into these areas. They have the years, I just have the yearning to learn more. 

That was the thought. To live out my calling but never talk about it. Well that makes perfect sense, huh? 

So I bolstered down in the fall of 2015 to discover what the value really was in blogging. 

Why not create a space for young professionals to learn together? Write about the topics you love discussing, not with years of experience but with a heart set on growing and learning. And do this as a peer among peers. Feel the freedom? I did. We're all in the same boat here. 

And this became the result. No more recipes for the crockpot (although I'd love yours), ideas for painting your the interior of your home (again, I'd love your recommendations!)-- now I enter into an area that is my jam and butter on a biscuit. 

Round Three: Let's try this again. Let's learn together and make an impact on our communities all the while.