The reality is...

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I was wide-eyed awake at 1:30 am this morning. I had a dream that our girls were trying to 'skydive' from the balcony of our house and I was trying to run, in the middle of the night, to catch them. Naturally, after waking up to this odd dream (100% random) I couldn't go back to sleep. My dream felt so real, even though I knew both of my girls were sleeping upstairs (and yes, I checked their monitors to be certain).

Perception and Reality-- it's interesting how the first impacts the latter so often. Take this dream for instance-- not real, not remotely real, yet it felt that way for a few hours. This got me thinking-- what if I started acting on those feelings from that dream? What if I started viewing the girls in light of that dream, wrapping them up in bubble wrap because they can't be trusted in the middle of the night from shenanigans? Forcing them to sleep within eyeshot just in case? And then take it a step farther- what if I viewed them and treated them accordingly for the rest of their lives, all because of one perception of their judgement? 

How often do we let our feelings and ideas and mischaracterizations guide us in operating as if it is the truth, most especially about people? I know I'm guilty.

Perceiving someone as rude and therefore he/she is rude. Perceiving someone as cold or harsh therefore he/she is cold and harsh. We stamp people with labels and then hold fast to that label for a lifetime, sometimes. 

Some people would argue-- 'But this is intuition, I'm a great judge of people'. Or-- 'I had a gut feeling so I acted on it.' I think there are times when intuition is in play-- especially as a parent, I see this. Often, when we advocate for others and their needs, we do have an intuitive ability to read the situation especially for someone in the midst of struggle. 

But oh-so-often, this becomes a statement to justify our feelings that are dwelled on or acted upon, turning perception, warped or maybe justifiably, into an operating truth. 

While we shouldn't operate as nieve, foolish individuals who can't see a pattern that negatively impacts people, we should filter thoughts, ideas, and feelings through lenses of empathy, asking ourselves 1) where our perceptions might be incorrect or not real 2) what world is this person coming from. Not a literal part of the world, although this might be true, what is this person's framework for life? For today? 

"That is, when we judge the actions of others, we should put ourselves in their place, trying to understand how they see themselves and their world. And when we judge ourselves, we should see ourselves as others see us, overcoming the ease with which we find extenuating circumstances for ourselves." -Riso/Hudson (Personality Types) 

What I appreciate about this statement is that it brings into reality that we are constantly judging or determining more about those around us. (Don't view "judging" in the same way we use this word in society.) When we start to operate in this manner-- a manner of grace and a filter for feelings-- I have found, that relationships flourish tenfold, that we let people off the hook, our own hooks of perception. (Also the direction of this post was less self-reflective but that last line-- 'overcoming the ease with which we find extenuating circumstances for ourselves. Put a pin in that.)

For young professionals, this could be a game changer in the workplace, allowing for both empathy and accountability. A balancing act, not something that naturally happens, but with intentionality, we can choose to filter our perceptions. 

Also, side note: We will continue to study this idea-- the Enneagram-- on the Sharpen podcast in the coming months. Stay tuned! 

Pick up rocks

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As a child, I would hear other kids at school talk about getting grounded as a form of discipline from their parents. Grounded? I wondered what this meant and entailed. So I asked one day.

You know, when your parents make you come home after school and sit in your room without getting to watch tv and maybe do chores and stuff.

What a dream! You see, this farmer's daughter has never been grounded before. Now, don't interpret as never needing discipline. For me, my Dad would give me a 5 gallon bucket and send me out to the farm, walking the fields to pick up rocks-- Big or small, put them in the bucket, take the bucket to a ditch, pour the rocks out there, and start all over. Actually, now that I think of it, picking up rocks is the most natural form of getting grounded... literally. So yes, he grounded me with this practice. 

It was an easy concept that would make a teenager do anything but get in trouble (and also ticked off to no end because who in the world gets told to pick up rocks that are in a field?!? Walk in a field and you'll see what I mean.). Now I can admit: It was character building, for sure, and it also showed me the need for those rocks to keep the ditch from washing out. I hated it and I learned a lot from picking up rocks. He also had a few other tricks up his sleeve like this for kiddos that didn't want to listen to a parent. #bestalternativestogrounding would have been his hashtag for my brother and I. Also: #isyourbuckethalffullorhalfempty #allnaturalgrounding (Ok, I'll stop humoring myself.)

Fast forward 20 years later and I find myself picking up rocks still. Literally, when I plant test plots with farmers, I try to pick up rocks in their tilled fields to keep them from messing up equipment. I do get looks but I think they appreciate it-- and now they know why. Ha! But I also view the small things in our work, the small things we sometimes don't want to do as 'picking up rocks'. It is important to our work, serving those in our workplace, and making progress to keep things from coming washing out below our feet, just like a ditch with no rocks to keep its banks stable. 

I see so many bloggers and writers talk about outsourcing the work you don't like to do-- you know, do the 'important work'. I do agree you can get caught up in things that do deter from your role and work at hand and there are some things to outsource or delegate. I also agree that as someone changes in roles of leadership and as life changes as a whole, you begin to see tasks that need to be transitioned to someone else to do the new work at hand. 

With that said, I think the message young professionals need to hear is to pick up the rocks. To do the small and maybe sometimes not so glamorous work at hand. And unlike the younger version of myself, to do so with joy and gratitude, as this is the work that is important. It is. And it matters to people. Keep the banks stable, do the work we've been given with diligence. 

Stairs in the City

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I recently heard an analogy around obstacles in the workplace-- likened to stairs in the city when you are on crutches. You all of a sudden notice all of the stairs-- a couple to get into the front door, a bunch to get to the second floor, and even breaks in pavement that are now more difficult in your walk. If you aren't on crutches, you don't notice or think about these stairs unless you're winded from tackling several to get on your way. Think about a large city, too-- all of the stairs that folks go up and down all day long without thought-- while someone on crutches must plan and calculate every move, while also facing the surprise of stairs that they couldn't possibly have planned for in advance. 

I hesitated to write a post on momhood, seeing that I'm only 4 years into it. But the thing about challenges and obstacles is that we sometimes forget what it felt like or what we had to think about so often.... or we even harden our minds and hearts to develop somewhat of a "martyr" mentality-- as in, "I made it through that and it only made me stronger, so can you." I've found that mindset in the workplace and beyond does no one any good, and forgetting the past is a blessing and curse for me, so I write. And also as I write, I know that I write from a standpoint of privilege on this subject. 

Almost 4 years ago, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first. Excited as we were, there was also uncertainty as all parents feel (and still do feel). Focusing this experience specifically on the workplace, I could all of a sudden 'see the stairs in the city'. You hear other women talk about the challenges of morning sickness while also trying to lead a meeting; the literally dragging of your body to get out of bed to go to work 6 six weeks after giving birth; the year of stress, planning, humiliation, and pride of breastfeeding and pumping; And amidst all of this, you hear about women who are navigating this as single parents or in a far more challenging and difficult situations than your own. 

You hear all about it but now it's real life. And it means something for you. And while some of this is the beauty of motherhood and the challenges one faces, there are some things you want to see changed. 

I work in a male-dominated industry, most especially when it comes to the leadership of companies and organizations. What is encouraging to me is that our industry sees the impact women have upon the progress of agriculture and therefore recruit, develop, and retain women in traditionally male roles. When we aren't recruiting, developing, and retaining 50% of our population's gifts, we are losing as an industry. 

Where I see progress to be made is that crucial stage of motherhood-- the first few years when a mom returns to work and is navigating a whole new area of life. I could list article and link and post after another on this; the data is there and worth your time to review. Essentially, 43% of women with children leave the workplace. Many women want to leave and work from home full time. For women that want to stay in the workplace, how can we retain them and to do so well? In a way that says we not only have company values but we live them out down to the granular detail of our conversations and efforts for mothers returning to work?

 This is somewhat of a buzz topic right now, so I don't attempt to delve in as a expert but more so, recalling the past 4 years as a woman in the first few years of her career with two little children reflecting on what went well and what can go better in the future. I also recently heard a comment around "accessing the halls that only we walk to represent those that might never walk down our halls." May it be the agricultural community or a young professional or whomever might read this post, my hope it that this message gets into the halls of some places to start a conversation around improvement and engagement. Be the carrier into your sphere of influence, even if this season of life and the experiences that are mentioned are ones you might never personally experience or haven't to date. 

1. Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Friends and family members say one of the most difficult things about grieving the loss of a loved one is when people won't talk about them, even hesitant to use their names or talk about their qualities. It was always strange to me that the workplace environment operated this way with mothers of newborns: don't ask, don't tell. This also leads you to not feel open to bringing up your child in any capacity on your own accord. Going back to work after maternity leave does involve grief-- grieving that time away from your newborn baby that feels like a part of your body is elsewhere. By asking and telling, we open the conversation up to more than just "oh yes, she is doing great with her bottles this week" (while that's also pretty significant!). We open our employees and co-workers up to sharing the challenges and new perspective she has in a way that doesn't tell her that part of her life is non-existent. 

Practically speaking, it could look like:

- Hey, how you are doing with the transition back to work? Anything I could help with to make your transition go smoother? 

- Now, tell me about that little one-- what is he/she discovering or doing right now? Remind me of his/her name again.

- It's an exciting and tiring season of life. Please share any opportunity that we can do to make your transition go well and please share your pictures of (insert name of baby) as often as you take them.

2. Breastfeeding 

Oh man, some people are squirming in their seats. And that's quite unfortunate seeing that it is the 21st Century. (Ok no more sarcastic remarks.) This is not a breastfeeding vs formula conversation-- a "this or that" thing. It is merely a "this" thing. So when we have women in the workplace that are breastfeeding and pumping, how can we act like we've never heard of, thought of, or processed that this is an actual thing. (Ok, I lied about the sarcastic remarks.) Companies and organizations and churches and any place of public that say their women are important to the progress of the work being done must think through this one. Just like stairs in the city, gather your female influence and ask them if conferences, daily workplace environments, and other aspects of the role and work accommodate. She is seeing the stairs in the city and planning around them approx. every 3 hours, so odds are she can give you a hour by hour overview of your accommodations and systems in a snap. 

Practically speaking, it could look like:

- We want to support you during your time pumping in the workplace (or insert affiliation). Can you see any challenges now to accommodate this?

- This can be uncomfortable at times to navigate so if you ever experience any issues or a lack of support, please reach out and offer your feedback and ideas. 

- (Seriously men: if your face turns red at this subject and you manage or lead women, I would ask a close friend or your spouse to have a conversation about breastfeeding out loud. This is not shared to belittle anyone-- practice it outloud so that if you have a female employee that shares she is now breastfeeding after having a baby or brings up ideas to improve the current accommodations, your face doesn't turn bright red. It happens oh-so often and it communicates that as a people leader, you are not able to have this conversation because you are embarrassed which communicates to the female that you think she should also be embarrassed.) 

3. Feedback

Now, more than ever, your team mates and employees need your feedback. I'm not going to say that only the positive feedback is needed-- it is all needed. I always felt like the 'room to improve' felt better than the positive feedback only because it showed I could still do it and my work was valued. Managers, co-workers, etc. etc. please keep this in mind: use of the "before or after you had a baby" to frame up feedback is most likely not helpful. Not always, but most likely there are far better conversation openers. I've heard it all personally and from friends in the workplace post-baby-- before you had a baby, you did a better job with this; before you had a baby, we saw you more often to just drop by or drop in; after you had your baby, you seem laser focused and so serious. While I think feedback needs to be honest and helpful, framing this up for a woman who has experienced birth, recovery, and is now assimilating back into the workplace is worth thinking through vs. chin wagging. (Shout out to you, Ian, for this phrase.)

Practically speaking, it could look like:

- I just wanted to take a minute here to affirm your work and the (fill in the blank) that you've been bringing to the table this week. Where do you think the gaps are in that project you're working on and how can I help? 

- One thing that I think could be helpful to you is thinking through (insert area for improvement). Your ability to (insert area of strength) is so strong, you have such an ability to accomplish phenomenal work. How can I help?

Want brownie points and to communicate that you care about your mothers returning to work?

- You've been back to work for about 6 months now. Can you offer us feedback on what we did well to support you during your transition? How could we have done a better job? We certainly want to be doing the things that help support our mothers returning to work like yourself because you are such a valuable team member here. 

I recently heard a comment that we need more politicians and policy makers that know the price of a gallon of milk. I'm not pigeon holing mothers into doing the grocery shopping for their families solo but I also recognize that moms of little ones are in the know-- in the know of social injustices, especially toward children and families; the cost of basic needs that it takes to provide for a family, and most often, they know the price of a gallon of milk. We can't lose mothers, especially during those crucial years after having children, because of our lack of engagement with them-- the conversations and improvements and progress to be made in our businesses, organizations, and communities. We need the gifts, talents, and influence of these women and as we think about the stairs in our cities, let's be mindful not only of the barriers to helping these women take the next steps but also making the changes that help them move ahead and make us all better as they do so. 

Signal

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One training I look forward to ever so often is a defensive driving course that our company has each employee attend every 3 or so years. Past trainers have worked with the NYPD to train them on high speed chases, so naturally I feel super legit going to this. 

We practice in the 'snow car' which resembles driving on ice and snow. We do a mock test where texting is involved to show the dangers. We practice backing into all parking spots and how to brake instantly. 

After all of the training and practice rounds, the trainer reminded us all that one of the most important things you can do to prevent an accident is use your blinkers to signal lane changes and transitions. Braking in advance would also be included. The defensive driving trainer of the NYPD would remind us all that one of the most effective practices you can take on in the vehicle is signaling your plan of action, a communication plan if you will.

I think he's on to something outside of the car, too.

Most 'disasters' in our work can most likely be by passed with an effective communication plan that gets to the people that it should. Most small 'accidents' usually won't happen when we create a habitual manner of communication on our priority areas and thus actions in life. 

One of my husband's pet peeves is when tail lights are out. He will offer to fix them on the spot for you because of the safely implications when those lights are out. For myself, I am trying to look at the broken pieces that prevent effective communication and fix them on the spot. 

A few learnings so far: 

Things 3: I've been using this app for a month now and it's a favorite. It's a great way to create small, actionable steps into each day. Take a large area of life or a project to be completed, break it down with the app, assign deadlines to each task, and bam. A solid communication plan mapped out day by day. The one feature I love is having an inbox-- this is where you pile up the random thoughts, ideas, things to be done. You have to discipline yourself to review this often and assign each task or idea to be actionable but it gives a lot of freedom to brain dump throughout the day, knowing that it will get done. Also, the 'Today' feature allows you to see just what you need to get done that day. I like having those and just those tasks in front of me. 

Death by Meeting: This is a great, quick read to frame up meetings-- when to have them, when not to have them, alternative ways to communicate with a group outside of the traditional 'meeting'. Take a few nuggets from the book and implement into your weekly, monthly, and yearly calendar. IE if you are married, a weekly 'family meeting' to review the week ahead; for the most significant aspects of your life, every quarter have a strategic meeting for that space. 

Lastly, Just Ask: Want to know if your communication is effective? Just ask those that it impacts the most. Plug in dates in the calendar to ask for feedback in this area. Some might find that a strange ask but it is far worth it to be strange than ignorant! 

Burn the Chair

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In Kentucky, we have Mamaws not necessarily instead of Grandmas, just more Mamaws where I grew up. 

My Mamaw is now in her 80’s, still sews for the community, and that lady can create a heck of a burn pile. A burn pile, you ask? A pile of things that can be safely (mostly) burned to get rid of instead of hauling to the local recycling drop-off or garbage collection. 

My Papaw (again lots of Papaws in Kentucky) had a chair that he didn’t necessarily love so it ended up in their attic, however he didn’t want to get rid of it. My Mamaw is the queen of getting rid of the excess. Everyone talks about their grandparents keeping everything— not my Mamaw. She once tried to throw away a beautiful crystal punch bowl set because she didn’t use it. I laughed about that one for days and still do. 

Back to the chair…

My Mamaw knew that she couldn’t take the entire chair out of the attic at once because he would see it and want to keep it. So in her free time, she would go up in the attic, yank off a piece of the chair, burn it along with the other items in the burn pile, and little by little, she got rid of that chair without any maritial disputes. After learning about her method once the last piece had been burned off to ashes, there were tears and laughter. 

Now the lesson here is not that you should burn your spouses items without telling them. Open and honest communication is always the best route. Also husbands— do not make your wives angry because they now have inspiration from my Mamaw. 

My Mamaw did reveal two important things to think about to an audience of young professionals: 

1. Little by little works

2. Eliminate the excess and unused

Slowly, she was able to chip away at a large project. We all have those messes in the home or office— a file cabinet crammed full of papers or a closet full of unused clothing. When we try to tackle the mess all at once, we usually burn out or overcommit and run out of town. So build it in— little by little— your plan to clean up the messes and clutter and excess in 2018.

So about that excess—

The funny part to the story was that my Papaw never knew the chair was missing. He never missed it because it served a function or brought him great joy. How many items in our office spaces or living spaces fall under this category? By now, you’ve seen a TON of blog posts and articles on cleaning out the junk at the start of the new year. Other than making a tackle list, tackling it little by little, and getting rid of the unused and excess, I have no more insight. It's just a 'do thing'.

A few items and spaces to consider as a young professional:

1. Excess binders from conferences and trainings: Using One Drive app, scan the key pages you want to keep and toss the rest! Take to recycling, better yet. 

2. Pens-- how do we end up with so many darn pens? Bag them up and find a better home or pitch them. Purchase only Sharpie pens or these Papermate Flair pens

3. Trinkets, may they be from conferences or just lovely branded merchandise, most often don't bring any joy or serve a function, especially in our work spaces. 

4. Maybe the most important-- email! Get it cleaned out and filed away. Create your system and keep with it-- using the book mentioned in bullet #1 to help guide. 

A few resources as you prepare to burn the chairs in your lives:

1. Read the book Getting Things Done. It's my all time favorite book for organization. 

2. Emily Ley has some great resources with her 'Simplified Life' message. 

3. Home Edit has some great inspiration for organizing. 

I mentioned that the chair ended up as ashes after making its way through Mamaw’s burn pile. Folks, all of the material possessions we *think* are so dear end up essentially as ashes, of course after moth and rust make their way to them. The best way to eliminate the excess is not obtaining it to begin with so let’s commit to that in the new year. 

That and burn the chair! (That felt like a really powerful yet awkward statement in my head!)

Yes And

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I've never been a part of stand-up comedy training but I'd love to one day. Not because I think I'm funny but because of the way in which comedians train, I think I'd take so much away. Same is true for an acting class. Any one want to join me? Now I'm all excited that you might raise your hand and come with me to one of these classes, and overnight we'll both be instantly funny!

One of the basic principles you might in either one of these classes is "Yes and...." This means that you respond to yourself or the people around you with a "yes and" mentality (and sometimes even those exact same words). You won't hear "no, the original plan was" or a "yes but we've already decided that you play this role and I'm this person." Creativity in stand-up comes most often with a "yes and" framing up the conversation or segment. 

Watch a comedian. He/she might notice that the crowd gives a big laugh after talking about the family cat. The story up next is about the comedian's neighborhood and according to the outline, it's time to move to that segment. Yet, instead he/she takes on "yes and" and mentions something else about the family cat which then leaves the crowd laughing even more. 

Unpredictable characters in a skit with crazy, unorthodox one liners. How shall I respond?

Yes and I will be flexible and imaginative and adventurous.

Hummm... sounds like something of interest for us non-comedians too, huh?

I witnessed this in a leadership course a few years back. A local guild of actors came in to train us on this mentality and even using this phrase in our daily life. We used this phrase "yes and" in several skits to break the ice. When you have us boring business folk, you have to lighten the mood and get everyone opened up to an ounce of foolishness. It was quite drastic how different a "yes and" sounded in every situation, for fun or real-world, most especially over a "yes but". 

Yes And....

Signifies a cooperative spirit

Leaves the table open for discussion thus creativity

Puts people over the process

Facilitates vs. Dictates

As we go into 2018, I believe that "yes and" might help us tremendously. Over the past two weeks, I've been working intentionally on crafting my 2018 goals, big and small. I'm excited for short term and long term goals to continue or begin for the first time. With that, I need remind myself of that training of being a "yes and" person as things don't always go as planned or when opportunities surface that I had never dreamed of in December 2017.

Yes the goal is this, I thought it would look like this, and now there is something totally different that has surfaced.

What this doesn't apply to is our core values- how we operate out of conviction. Let's be clear on that. 

I've learned this is most especially helpful with feedback, brainstorming, and meetings in general. Maybe you don't agree with someone's idea to the fullest. "Yes and" becomes a way of adding your idea without being that jerk that says "That's terrible and you should go home and/or find a new job." Don't mis-read this is a lack of honesty or being a "yes man" or "yes woman". This is an intentional use of words that continues the conversation beyond our self frameworks.

It's also a great way to give feedback. For example, someone checks out of a project or task because of believing a situation is out of his/her control. "Yes, I agree with your thought process of that being an external factor at work BUT I think we can also do something about that challenge. What are some ways we can bring it back into our court?" Now swap out "but" for "and". "Yes, I agree with your thought process of that being an external factor at work AND I think we can also do something about that challenge. What are some ways we can bring it back into our court?" It sounds and feels and acts different.

I could spend hours watching Jimmy Fallon episodes online (but thanks Lara Casey with Cultivate What Matters for keeping me on track by spending my time a bit more intentionally... Whoops, I should have said AND thanks Lara Casey....) My favorite parts of the entire show are when Jimmy Fallon and Higgins basically do their own impromptu comedy on the most random of things. Watch these guys-- they truly take on a "yes and" mentality. And the result is creativity. 

Yes, and a good deal of laughter. 

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!

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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: 

http://www.kirbyogreen.com/blog/2016/5/25/money-and-millennials

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.

Wow.

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:

https://vimeo.com/truthatwork/review/146639806/2a7fce6dd3

 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:

http://www.edgementoring.org/

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:

https://vimeo.com/92651492

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.