Finding the Courage to Talk About Race

Finding the Courage to Talk About Race

The article wasn’t making any sense.

Could I really be that oblivious to the world around me? Was I really that self-absorbed?

In a moment my world tipped, I couldn’t deny what I saw.

White privilege.

Don’t shut down and turn away yet.

I want you to listen, truly listen, to what I’ve learned.

Maybe you grew up similar to me. My town was about one hour outside of Philadelphia, our two streets were Main and Broad and there was no stoplight until I was in high school.

Every single person I saw was white like me.

I had no questions about race or skin color because there was no opportunity for me to realize I should. We learned to love people, it’s just that all the people happened to be white.

When this topic slapped me across the face it would have been easy to shut down and turn away.

Except. . .

The Art of Listening Well In the Face of Disagreement

The Art of Listening Well In the Face of Disagreement

Hush, pause, and ask. . .

Will you tell me your story?

When the disquiet enters your being and your heart beats faster, when you feel the words coming up to violently disagree, to tell your side of the issue, to give a piece of your mind . . .

Hush, pause, and ask . . .

Will you tell me your story?

Give your entire being to listening to this other person as they speak.

We can’t always understand that person’s situation, but we can empathize with the emotions in a situation we’ve experienced.

Every life is unique and valuable. What can you learn by listening to that point of view?

Instead of putting up blockades when the story you’re hearing makes you uncomfortable, keep your mind open to new ideas and perspectives.

What is it that is making you uncomfortable?

How I Use Children's Books to Develop Cultural Awareness in our Home

How I Use Children's Books to Develop Cultural Awareness in our Home

What if we were all the same?

That is the question I posed to a group of kids after teaching about the Tower of Babel, the event when God scattered the people of the earth.

While discussing skin color, one little girl told us, “Well, there’s only 3 colors of people: white, black and tan.”

I pulled out a piece of blank paper, held it next to my arm and asked her if my skin was white.

She and the other kids were wide-eyed with the discovery of the information that, no, my skin was not even close to white and neither was theirs.

Due to the fact that our society has normalized whiteness, the majority of people who look like me are never made aware of the necessity of talking about skin color. Because of this, as adults, we may be embarrassed to talk about it because we never have, we may be scared to talk about it in case we offend someone, or we may just be oblivious to the entire issue.

To increase our appreciation of others and to build a better understanding of the variety of people in our world, we use children’s books to open the racial conversation in our home. 

How to Create a Morning Routine That Works For You

How to Create a Morning Routine That Works For You
This is part 2 of a 2 part series on creating a nourishing morning routine. Part 1 is about finding your why and part 2 is focused on the practicalities of what to include in a morning routine and tips to make it happen.

Last week I told you why I think a morning routine can be good for your soul. In a busy society it can be wonderful to get up and going before other people do.

Maybe you like the idea of it and want to try waking up early, but you're not sure what you would do. 

Here are some tips and ideas to get your morning routine started.

Why a Morning Routine Can Be Good For Your Soul

Why a Morning Routine Can Be Good For Your Soul

It’s 5:00 in the morning. I’m waking up to gentle music filling my ear instead of the harsh, repetitive alarm. I smile as I anticipate my morning. First Jesus and coffee, next writing.

For the next 2 hours I get to engage with the things that matter to me deep in my heart: a connection with God as I revel in the astounding beauty of the sunrise each morning, time to do work that I love so much it doesn’t seem like work at all, and letting creativity pour out uninterrupted.

By the time my kids get up I have filled my soul to overflowing with deeply meaningful moments. The things that define who I am without the boundaries of mama attached.

The overflow pours out of my heart and soaks my husband and children as they wake up and come snuggle before breakfast.

I am ready to be a present and purposeful mama.

This gentle morning routine was not how my mornings used to begin.

Before I was convicted to change, my mornings went something like this:

Around 7:00 one child stands and stares at me until I jolt awake, my skin crawling with jitters. The other has wet through his diaper and I need to get him in a bath and take the sheets to the washer. The first one is demanding breakfast as I finish the other’s bath. Quickly I pour cereal and milk while I get the other dressed. By the time I put him in the high chair, the cereal and milk I poured is painted onto the table.

Sigh or yell because this is all before coffee. Quiet time is nonexistent. Writing or any other hobby? Not possible.

I was exhausted each day by snack time and I knew this was not working. But what could I do?

7 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude Daily

7 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude Daily

Over the past five years I’ve practiced keeping a gratitude list with a method I learned from reading the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. 

Staying consistent for five years has been easy because of the simplicity of the method and the joy it brings to look back at my list. 

On hard days, when motherhood seems like too much to handle, I can grab my journal, hide in the closet, and remember why I love my life so much.

Why practice gratitude?

One of the prominent researchers of gratitude, Robert Emmons, found that a gratitude practice leads to benefits in the psychological, social, and spiritual areas of our lives. 

Reclaiming Myself in the Midst of Motherhood: Guest Post on Kindred Mom

Reclaiming Myself in the Midst of Motherhood: Guest Post on Kindred Mom

There I was, in the middle of the disaster zone also known as my kitchen. A toddler screaming to be let loose from his high chair, the spilled milk from my 4 year old dripping onto his lap and puddling on the floor, the mountain of laundry looming to the left, the dirty dishes piled to the right, and me. No one ever told me about this part of motherhood. The part where emptiness consumes, loneliness magnifies, and the overwhelm of daily life is crippling.

As someone who defines myself as a mother, a moment like that meant I was doing something wrong. Only the social media worthy moments meant I was doing something right. All of the parenting books, magazines, and blogs helped feed my unhealthy striving towards “perfect”   motherhood. Furthermore, the expectations I placed on the behavior of my children was akin to asking them to hike to the summit of Mt. Everest. When they couldn't reach it, I was angry and disappointed.

Being a mom had become my unhealthy, life-defining passion.

Finding Purpose and Rest in the Everyday Mess

Finding Purpose and Rest in the Everyday Mess

Simply Rooted is beginning. 

My journey through life has been filled with experiences of faith, growth, gratitude, and unity. Each day is a practice in one of those four areas. I have been through seasons of exhilaration, defeat, joy, and sorrow.

With new beginnings it's hard not to have expectations. To wonder how things will go and prepare for any outcome. 

One of the most important lessons I have learned in these years is that expectation breeds discontent. My expectations led to a period of utter brokenness because they weren't met. 

I want Simply Rooted to be an expectation free zone. It will be an organic outflow of the lessons I've learned by grace. 

Simply Rooted is going to be a place to explore faith, grow in various areas, get a handle on gratitude, and learn about unity in a non-judgmental space.

Why You Need to Focus on Today

Why You Need to Focus on Today

I sighed in frustration again as I heard Levi wail and Olivia yell, "That's mine!" As I made my way into the playroom I knew the scene I would discover. Olivia holding the toy Levi had been playing with. The toy she now wanted only because Levi was playing with it. For what seemed like the hundred millionth time, I rubbed Levi's back to calm him down and talked to Olivia about sharing and being kind to her little brother. Even though it's been a year since the adoption, every single day we are working through the transition of not being the baby in the family anymore. We are attempting to grow new habits in her behavior. Some days I see fruit and others it seems like we've never talked at all. But for a four year old we focus on today.

That made me start thinking about how I approach goals in my life. I don't typically think about today, I think about the outcome. When this happens, then I will feel better. What if the outcome isn't possible for years? Does that mean I'm going to be miserable until then? 

Maybe this is where excuses stem from. I already feel bad, so I'll just eat this delicious chocolate cake to feel better and I'll start eating healthier tomorrow. The repeating refrain of start tomorrow becomes reality. Tomorrow doesn't come and habits don't change.

How to Start the Year With Intentional Goals

How to Start the Year With Intentional Goals

A pile of books rests on the weathered plank coffee table. A steaming cup of coffee and a slew of colorful pens add to the mix. Quiet music plays and I'm itching to begin. It's a goal planning day.

I have always been a dreamer, looking to the end and getting lost in the details. Every January I would be ready for a fresh start and motivated to change everything. With my vision in mind I would get started. When I hit the end of January and saw no progress I would be discouraged and give up. This would happen year after year. One year I was so intensely frustrated by the lack of progress in my life that I decided I needed a guide for the year. I heard a message on goal planning at the same time and I knew that was what I would do.

Goal planning has become something I can't live without. Over the past four years I have intentionally made space to do this. It has become my lifeline throughout the year to keep a pulse on the things I want to work towards. I have been able to break down these giant goals and see small changes. For a dreamer who struggles in the details, tracking goals keeps me motivated for the entire year because I can visually see the progress I have made.