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“I’m Proud of You, Kid.” Praising the Little Big Things

One hazy, hot August evening, six-year-old Mister Cameron and I were walking hand in hand to the car after swim lessons. He had been cranky and out of sorts all day, as he tends to get when he’s tired (see pretty much ALL OTHER POSTS about Mister Cameron to know this is true).

During his swim lesson, he had overestimated his lung capacity and ended up with a snortful of water.  I had been on the edge of my chair, watching, expecting a meltdown of epic proportions…but it never came.  He just took a deep breath of actual air, shook the whole thing off, and moved on.  It had been a stunning and unexpected display of maturity and resilience and my heart had exploded.

“Dude,” I said tentatively as we walked, knowing that pretty much everything I had said to him that day seemed to rub him the wrong way, “I know I say this a lot and you’re probably tired of hearing it, but I’m super proud of you.”

He heaved a deep, pleasant sigh, squeezed my hand and said, “Mom, I could never ever get tired of hearing you say that. Like, never ever.  It makes my heart feel soft.  And cozy.”

Again, my heart exploded.  It makes his heart feel SOFT and COZY?  My goodness, sweet boy…

Even when he had been given an opportunity to grumble and gripe, I OPENED THE DOOR WIDE OPEN WITH MY WHOLE, “You probably get tired of hearing this, Dude,” bit, his heart felt soft and cozy and it even melted the cranky enough for him to say so.

All because I told him I was proud of him.

Maybe it wasn’t only the fact that I was proud of him that melted and filled up his heart, though. Maybe it also had something to do with why I was proud of him.

I’ve noticed that the times when my motherly pride (and Daddy’s fatherly pride) seems to delight and reward my kids the most are not necessarily the BIG MOMENTS, the successes and accomplishments.  Dance recitals, home runs,  great reports from a teacher-  OF COURSE we are proud when they succeed, when they accomplish, when they execute an obvious job-well-done.

But it really seems to fill their cups and touch their hearts in a special way when we notice the the “little things,” the ones that might seem small in the moment, but feel very big to them. The things that take courage, resilience, and strength. The things that don’t always result in immediate success, but the things that true success is really made of.

We are proud when they try hard.

Even if it doesn’t work, even if they don’t quite get there, when we see them PUTTING THE EFFORT IN, we should tell them it makes us proud.  Trying hard, even when it’s hard and things aren’t falling into place, is what success is made of.

We are proud when they improve.

They may not be the best on the team, they may be struggling to remember those sight words, but when they improve, when they do better than last time, that is something to be proud of.  We aren’t going to be good at everything in life, but improving and moving forward as much as we can- that is what success is made of.

We are proud when they show resilience.

When they fall down and get back up again.  When a toy breaks and they take a deep breath and ask for help rather than melting down in tears.  When they stop themselves from an impulsive decision. When they notice and name their feelings, fatigue, hunger, and seek solutions.  We are going to have trouble in life, we are going to struggle and we are going to fall- but taking care of ourselves and getting back in the game- that is what success is made of.

We are proud when they show strength of character.

When they are kind, especially when it’s hard.  When they are honest, especially when the truth isn’t pretty.  When they are thoughtful of others. When they see someone who needs a friend and reach out.  When they are polite. When they are thoughtful.   Integrity and respect for themselves and others is the stuff that success- and a better world- is made of. 

In addition to the instincts of a mama’s heart that tell me that this particular brand of praise is important for our kids, it is also straight up behavioral science that positive reinforcement is one of if not THE SINGLE most powerful tool in shaping behavior.  The behaviors that get the most positive feedback are the behaviors that are most likely to be repeated. And do we want our kids showing effort, pursuing improvement, demonstrating resilience, and valuing strength of character in themselves and other? You betcha we do.

So watch your kids today- and every day.  Watch for the “little things” that are really BIG things. Big to them, big toward building successful humans, big toward making the world better.

And call those things out. Name them. Praise them. Tell your kids how PROUD you are of them.

It will make a difference- in the moment, in the future, to them, and to the world.

Posted in Food, Uncategorized

The Table on the Go: Grace When It’s Needed Most

The text message flashed up on the screen and took my breath away.

Cancer.

My precious friend, a mom of two little girls about the same age as my kids, had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

First, I hit my knees. I pleaded with God to flood her body with healing and for the peace that passes understanding to flood their house.

Then, I hit the kitchen. Hands flying, pots and pans clattering. Chopping, stirring, sauteeing on pure instinct. I felt powerless to help her, but people have to eat, and food is something I could do for her family.

It’s a rhythm I learned from my mom: when the going gets tough, we get to cooking.

Growing up, I used to assume that everyone thought their mom was the best cook ever. It turns out; everyone actually thought my mom was the best cook ever.

Her food is detailed and delicious, but not fussy. Her table is always beautiful, but unpretentious. She is pure hospitality, making you feel warm and welcome. You leave her home so much more full than when you walked in—both in spirit and in stomach. I have yet to see anyone better than my mom at taking her special brand of gracious hospitality, warmth, and comfort to the people in her life who are experiencing a moment of need.

Over the years she has perfected and streamlined her methods, so she doesn’t even need much notice to get food to people. Someone can share their news with her, bad or good, and she can turn around and bless them with a meal in a matter of hours.

In those first moments, when the world has turned upside down, but people still need to eat, my mom slips in quietly, the hands and feet of Jesus, feeding His sheep with home cooking and grace.

She has passed on some of her tricks to me and, while I’ve nowhere near achieved her Maestro of Meal Delivery status, I have managed to get from bad news text message to delivered meal in a matter of hours a few times. Here are a few of the best practices I’ve gleaned from my mom that allow for the quick and easy sharing of meals with people in their moment of need.

Join me over at the Kindred Mom Blog to read my mom’s top tips (and if you happen to know my mom, you know you need these tips!

https://www.kindredmom.com/2018/09/11/the-table-on-the-go-grace-when-its-needed-most/

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Time for a Time Out

August is here.  The start of the school year is coming.  And there’s a lot of exciting stuff going on over here!

As I may have mentioned before, I’m putting the finishing touches on MY FIRST MINI E-BOOK, which will be released in September!  It’s a short collection of seven bits of grace for the struggles of motherhood.

Also, I’m working on some writing to submit to a few OTHER websites, other than my own, which is a big and necessary step for all of us who wanna be writers when we grow up.

And I’m doing all of this…with kids in tow.  Kids who don’t start school for another month.  Kids who are fighting.  A lot. Soooo much fighting.

Anyway, it’s super important for us to know our limits, our priorities, and to know when to change our rhythms and shift our focus. You know, give ourselves GRACE.

So, I’m going to take a break from publishing new content on the blog in August so I can focus on finishing up the e-book (’cause I’m doing it all myself with help from my actual real life friends,  there’s no publisher or agent or anything driving this- oy) and get some content written to submit some other places so we can invite more people to our GRACE PARTY over here.

See y’all in SEPTEMBER with exciting new stuff to share!

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A Love Letter to the Hot Mess Mom

Dear “Hot Mess” Mom,

I’m writing to you today to thank you for being you and to let you know that you are my favorite, you are absolutely my people, let’s be besties.  Whether you haven’t showered in three days (or five…or seven), have no idea what’s for dinner tonight, CAN! NOT! seem to keep your house from looking like a cyclone hit it, have never once been on time for preschool drop-off, or haven’t worn anything but sweats in two years because nothing else fits- I think you are glorious.

And those of you for whom your “hot mess” feels a bit deeper, if you’re battling a mental or physical illness that makes you not want to get out of bed or get off the couch, wrestling with demons from your own childhood that have been dredged up by becoming a mom, harboring worry, resentment, and/or stress in your life or relationships that are eating away at you- you are glorious as well and I love you.

Because, my sisters, you are my people. You are the ones I want to sit in my own messy living room and drink coffee with and discuss the realness of life.  You are my jam. I love your messes- OUR messes- because they make us perfect for one another. The knicks in our armor, the rips in the supermom capes, those are the places where we reach out and connect.  They make us accessible to one another and give one another permission to come to connection just as we are.

Read more of this love letter from me to you over at the Project Mother blog:

https://projectmother.co/blog/a-love-letter-to-the-hot-mess-mom

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Five Minute Friday: Secret (Lord of the Rings

I’m a Lord of the Rings nut.  Love the books, love the movies, and I could probably speak entirely in Tolkien quotes if called upon to do so. Not in Elvish, though. Haven’t gotten that far.

So, obviously, this image of Gandalf from the beginning of “The Fellowship of the Ring” is what popped into my head when I read the word “secret.”

Gandalf is encouraging Frodo to keep The One Ring, “The Precious,” secret and safe, lest the servants of the enemy find out He has it and come to take it from him.

I feel like most of us have a “Precious” in our lives- or more than one

There are things in our hearts that feel like “The Precious,” like VERY BAD THINGS will happen if we let them out into the light and let others know we have them.

And in some ways, this is true.  When the agents of the enemy, those influenced by the power of the one who seeks to destroy us all, learn that we have certain things in our hearts, they will use it against us.

But flip side is what happens in Rivendell.

Once Frodo gets The Precious to the home of the elves, he finds a group of allies at The Council of Elrond. An unlikely bunch:  an elf, a dwarf, two men with secrets of their own, three other hapless hobbits, and Gandalf himself, assemble to stand beside Frodo and help him carry this burden, “As long as it is yours to bear.”

Frodo is strengthened and protected by The Fellowship of the Ring.  He would not succeed in his quest if not for them. Each plays a part in his journey to lay down this dark burden, each risking his very LIFE for Frodo and the Ring.

What is your Precious?  Is there a heavy secret weighing down your heart, eating away at your heart and weakening you? Is there a BEAUTIFUL burden, a secret precious dream that you feel God calling you to?

Whatever it is, you need a Fellowship of the Ring.

JRR Tolkien was a believer in God, the image created by this Fellowship was no accident.  Pray that God will bring you your Fellowship, your crew to carry this burden with you and help you lift it up and lay it down.  I will pray that for you right now, whoever you are.

Will you pray that for me? I need it, too!

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SUMMER BREAK!

Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, Dear Readers!

In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been publishing here much lately.

ALL OF THE THINGS have been going on- good things, God things, happy things, positive things, but when your primary gig is being responsible for  two small children 24/7 ANY things that are even THINGS take up more space than is even reasonable.  Am I right?  These kids, man.

So, I’m making it official and taking a “Summer Break” from publishing here.  I’m still writing, getting posts lined up so I can start publishing weekly again come fall and not have it be a super stretch and I have some posts ready to go over on the Project Mother blog this summer as well.

But as far as AWAP goes, I’m on vacaaaaaaaay!  See you in the fall <3 <3 <3

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A Moment of Silence (Memorial Day Post)

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Today, Memorial Day,  we remember and honor those who have lost their lives protecting and defending our country and our freedom.

Let’s honor them with a moment of silence.

During our time of silent prayer and contemplation in their honor, let’s think about those they held dear, those mourning them, the ones they gave their lives protecting. And let’s think about how we can honor the memory of the fallen by loving on those they loved most, those their heart ached to go home to, those who ached to see them come home.

If you know anyone who has lost a loved one in the service of our country, consider how you might reach out to them and make them feel loved in the coming days and weeks.  Anything from an open acknowledgment of their loss today to a quick text next week just checking in on their life and telling them you’re glad to have them in your life.

Mark your calendars or set reminders in your phone for a few dates in the future to do the same, to send rays of sunshine at times when they least expect it.  Lift their spirits and help them feel some love.

If you’re reading this and you lost someone close to you in the service of our country, thank you.  Your loss is beyond comprehension.  The bravery of your loved one, your friend, the one you served alongside, it is breathtaking.  You are in my thoughts and my prayers today. I’m going to hug my babies, kiss my husband, walk in safety and freedom, and know that every bit of it is made possible by the hard work and sacrifice of your loved one- and yours as well.

God bless you.

 

 

 

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Three Reasons Why Noonday Collection is EVERYTHING to this Mama’s Heart.

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of spending an evening with some of my fellow Portland-area Noonday Ambassadors and…JESSICA HONNEGER, FOUNDER AND CO-CEO OF NOONDAY COLLECTION!

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Me with JESSICA HERSELF. You know, know big deal. 😉

I have written before about Noonday, about my journey, and about how it has caused me to grow, to stretch, to believe I could do hard things, and to give myself permission to show up to the things I feel called to be a part of, whether anyone else has invited me or not.  You can read more about that journey herehere, here, here, and here.

I was reminded that evening in a BIG WAY why Noonday Collection is pretty much everything to where my heart is at right now, another example of how God’s purpose for this Noonday journey of mine keeps unfolding.

During their talks with us, Jessica and Noonday’s VP of Sales and Ambassador Development, Allison Lime, spoke to something that is pretty much entirely all of what I’m here for right now, and that is MOMS.  Jessica told stories of how Noonday has impacted the lives of families around the world. Allison asked us in the room to share our “why” for signing up with Noonday, and so many of the stories of the women in the room centered around motherhood.  Here are my three biggest takeaways from listening to those stories.

  1.  Noonday Collection is empowering moms around the world to be able to provide for their children.  Extreme poverty around the world puts moms in positions that no parent should have to be in:  Considering whether she should give her child up for adoption because she can’t afford to feed her, debating whether to sell one child into slavery to afford to feed the others, leaving her babies alone at night while she goes work the streets as a prostitute to earn the money her family needs.  I  have a physical reaction to hearing these scenarios. My mama’s heart aches DEEPLY at the prospect.  But these are the stories of some of the moms and dads who work for Noonday’s artisan partners around the world- moms and dads who ended up NOT having to take desperate measures because of their dignified jobs with Noonday’s artisan partners.  When we partner with Noonday Collection, either as Ambassadors, Hostesses, or Customers, the sales we generate translate directly into orders or our artisan partners, which means MORE JOBS for people who need it.  Dignified employment and a sustainable income means POWER for moms to make choices out of what’s best for them and their kids, not out of desperation.
  2. Noonday is enabling moms (and dads) to adopt and bring kids home to their forever families.  Noonday Collection was founded out of Jessica’s  own journey of adoption and it has maintained strong ties to adoption as it has grown over the past six years.  Noonday allows hostesses to turn their trunk shows into benefits for adopting families to help offset the astronomical cost of adoption.  Because of its ties to the adoption community, many of our ambassadors are also adoptive mamas. All of that combines together to make Noonday such a force of light and strength and support for adopting families.  So far, I’ve been able to partner with three adopting families to help raise funds to bring their kids home and I’ve cheered countless other families on through the Ambassador Community. It’s a privilege to be a part of connecting kids with their forever families and mamas with the little ones their hearts are longing for and to be a part of a community that gives so much support to adopting families.
  3. Noonday is connecting moms around the world to PURPOSE. Sometimes as a mom, my heart aches to MATTER to someone outside of the borders of my home.  I mean heck, why else would I have even started this blog, right?  And I know I’m not alone in that ache on my heart- we are built for connection. The desire to matter to others and to help others is innate in all of us. Noonday Collection provides Ambassadors, Hostesses, and Customers with the chance to do that. We are also providing opportunities for women around the world to step into purpose as well- and to know that they are enabling OUR purpose as well. That mutual connection, the symbiosis of Noonday Collection here in America and our artisan partners around the world just feels sacred to me.  We couldn’t do what we do without them and they couldn’t do what they do without us- we all know we matter to one another, to other moms and other families, and that is beautiful and powerful stuff.

I had to leave early that night to get home to an extremely sick Kenzie.  I said goodnight to Jessica, who took the time to talk to me for a minute right before I left (that woman makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room) and I ached to stay longer and chat with everyone.

But as I lay in bed that night, brushing the hair off of Kenzie’s burning forehead, I knew that that moment was just as important to connecting me to my purpose with Noonday as it was sitting in that room with our founder and other Ambassadors.  The compulsion on a mama’s heart to provide for her children is one of the deepest things I have ever experienced.  The idea that, through partnering with Noonday collection, I help enable moms around the world to provide the food, shelter, and medical care that their kids need is EVERYTHING to me right now.

I’ve set a goal for myself to sell enough Noonday this Fall to earn a trip to meet some of our artisan partners this summer.  So far, the going has been rough, but I am encouraged to keep fighting to reach that goal so that I can sit across from these women and thank them in person for breathing such purpose into my life.  It’s such a beautiful thing when women come together to support, encourage, and enable one another to be all we can be for ourselves and our families. I’m so glad I took the risk a year ago and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

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I Am Not a Morning Person, Bless My Heart

IMG_9788Me– So my blog post this week is about me NOT being a morning person.
Husband– BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Me– Why? Why is this Funny?
Husband– HEE HEE HEE HEEEEEEE!
Me– JEFFREY!  WHY? WHY IS THIS FUNNY?!?!?
Husband– Because you are SO not a morning person!
Me– JEFFREY! DUH!  This is why I’m writing a blog post about me NOT being a morning person. I couldn’t very well write a post about BEING a morning person, why is it funny?
Husband– *still laughing* Honey, that’s like writing a blog post about water being wet.
Me– I’ll bet people have blogged about that!  And published articles in scientific journals about the wetness of water. It’s in textbooks.  IT’S NOT FUNNY!
Husband– BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHHAAHAHAAH!!!
Me– *glares*  And just for that, I’ll be retelling this at the start of my blog post.

And now that I have made good on my threat, please enjoy the following blog post about me not being a morning person:

Picture it…my room…some random weekday morning at some ungodly hour (aka some time before 8am):

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I am plucked forcibly and against my will from some blissful dream or another by the insistent shout of my two-year-old daughter echoing from down the hall.  “MAAAAAAAAAAAAHMEEEEEEEE!  MOMMAAAAAAAAAAAY!”

She is awake in her crib and ready for me to present myself, bright eyed, bushy tailed and at her disposal for the next eleventy billion hours that stand between now and nap time. I also hear a clattering and humming coming from my four-year-old son’s room, letting me know that I’m the only person in the house who isn’t up and at ’em.  Their father has been gone for hours, he gets up at 5:30 for a first-thing date with the gym.

I groggily reach over and grab my phone.  7:02 am. Seriously? That late already?  Because it sure feels like it should still be dark outside. UUUUUUUGH!

In a moment of self-indulgent denial, I open Instagram, promising myself I will extricate myself from bed when I’m done catching up with what the rest of the world was up to while I was sleeping.

I immediately regret this choice.

Apparently all of the Moms of Instagram have been up for hours, their coffee steaming from hand-lettered coffee mugs, reading their devotionals by the light of the sun’s first rays, blessing us with a Clarendon-filtered glimpse into these  treasured first moments of the day with Jesus.  #blessed #earlyriser #startingthedayright Meanwhile, I was over here knocking out one of the seven deadly sins before I even got out of bed. #sloth #fivemoreminutesmom #ohwaitiamthemom

“MOMMAAAAAAAAY!  I HUNGREEEEEEEEEEE!  I HAVE A TINKY BOTTAAAAAAAAAAAAM!”  My daughter shouts again.

So, I drag myself from bed, stagger down the hall and begin our day. I always feel three steps behind when we start our days this way (which is always), but so far that hasn’t been enough of a motivator to get me to change anything. I’ve been able to somewhat mold myself into the sleep patterns of a functional adult, but the fact remains that getting up before 8am is not my jam.

Oddly, I happen to love the early morning hours and and I desperately admire those who have the body clocks and/or self-discipline to own them. I love the way the first light of the day makes the world look, the smell and feel of the cool, dew-drenched air, the world even SOUNDS different first thing in the morning, it’s like I can hear everything just that more clearly.  And yet none of that ever seems to matter in the face of the warmth and coziness of my bed and the irresistible pull of five…more…minutes.

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Motherhood has made me even LESS of a morning person.  Life with little kids means that in every moment of my day I am subject to the whims of tiny humans who rely on me for every little thing- I’m basically on duty for 12-14 hours a day with people who haven’t yet learned about grace, boundaries, or common courtesy, and whose learning process for those things involves testing, pushing, and battling in the trenches with their “safe person,” who also happens to be me.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the privilege, both of having kids in the first place and of being home with them all the time.  This is exactly what I wanted, it’s fleeting, and I’m trying hard not to miss a moment or take it for granted. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy and some days I’m not super anxious to wake up and get to it.

Not only is getting up in the morning to start a day of being “on duty” not the most appealing prospect, going to bed at night and ending the brief stretch of “after work hours” isn’t super enticing either.  Those hours after they are asleep are precious.  It’s the only time I *truly* get to spend both by myself and with my husband.  I am LOATHE to give those hours up to sleep each night.  I do it, and usually at a decent hour, because #adulting. But it’s never unbegrudgingly.  (is that a word?)

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And yet still, the pull of the morning hours is there for me.  I *want* to be one of those people who breathe in the quiet of the first hours each day.  I would love to join the Instagram moms who are up at the crack of dawn, sipping warm beverages and getting our hearts right with God before the day begins.  I don’t want my morning sloth to be chuckle-inducing for my husband, I feel like I *should* be up and making the coffee while HE slumbers. But I also know that God does not deal in shame and comparison.  His voice may be calling me to claim the mornings as my own, but He wouldn’t do it in whispers of how the other moms’ mornings “measure up” and mine don’t.  This is about Him and me, an A and B conversation, and the Insta-moms can just “C” their way out.

And fortunately, God is patient with me.  He sees, He knows, and He is walking with me right through everything.  So, what is the point of this blog post? Well, I don’t rightly know, other than just to throw out there that if you are not a morning person, you are not alone. And if you feel a certain modicum of shame attached to your penchant for eeking out even the last second of sleep in the morning, you are also not alone. Oh, and also to say that I’m planning to start getting up at six every morning here very soon. I had planned to this morning, but then my daughter woke up at 5:45 and that was before 6 and so she went back to sleep and so did I and then BOTH of my kids slept until 7:45- HALLELUJAH!!!

But I will…tomorrow…I promise 🙂

 

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OLYMPICS! And Why I LOVE Gold Medalist Michelle Carter

You guys, I love the Olympics. Like, LOVE!  I always do, every single time, and the magic is not wearing off at all as time marches on.   The Olympics are basically  16 days of Disneyland at my own house every two years. The 1988 Calgary and Seoul games are the first that I really remember actively watching, and almost 30 years later I am even more in love with the whole thing as I was back then.   Winter, Summer, I don’t care.  I love and am here for exactly all of it.

The multitude of NBC channels and the on demand availability is allowing me to pretty much completely immerse myself in the Olympics- inasmuch as my two- and four-year-olds will allow. I mean, I have to pay *SOME* attention to them as well.  But I’m trying to watch at least a little bit of every single sport and make sure my kids do as well- and also that they see both men and women competing in all  of the events in which both men and women compete.   Basically, picture me sitting in a giant hot tub of Olympics with just my face showing, water bubbling around my ears, and trying my best to keep my kids in the tub with while they’re desperately climbing out at the edges trying to head for the Paw Patrol Pool (PS I know hot tubs aren’t safe for kids, reality is not relevant to this metaphor).  I would also like to send a big shout out to the stomach virus that has had me somewhat laid up for the past few days for giving me the chance to parent less and watch more. I’m not sure it was an even trade-off, though…just looking on the bright side.

One of the people I have “met” this past Olympic week is shot putter Michelle Carter.

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She is the first American Woman to win shot put gold. Near as I have seen, Michelle Carter has two main jobs: Professional Makeup Artist and shot putter. That’s right, she makes her living making herself and other people look beautiful and also throwing heavy objects better than any other woman in the entire world.  You can find out more on her website, I personally want to hire her to do #allthethings.

I also want to take a sec to honor the fact that she is a strong, successful, radiant black woman who is breaking ground and shining bright in a season where things have seemed particularly dim for people of color in our country AND she is showing that women can be beautiful and strong at any size.  Also, she posts stuff like this on her Instagram:

 

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But the reason she is so near and dear to my heart is because I see reflected in her so much of my sweet Miss Kenzie.  Yesterday, watching track and field had Ms. K running around the house at top two-year-old speed. “I WUNNING! FAST!” She declared.  “Are you Tori Bowie, sweetie?” I asked, “Are you Brianne Theisen-Eaton?”  “NOOOOO!” She indignantly declared, “I PWINCESS SOFIA!”  and took off running like a shot.  I cackled out loud, but then I stepped back for a minute and realized that to this child, there is nothing  mutually exclusive about being a “pwincess” and running fast. To us adults who have spent the past several decades being conditioned to certain ways of thought there might be, but not to my fast and fancy Princess Sprintsalot.

On her birthday weekend, we attended her Uncle Kyle’s birthday party on Saturday where she ran in the dirt with her brother and her her cousin, climbed all over the todder-sized construction machines, and needed about five showers when she got home. The next day, she couldn’t WAIT to wear her pink dress for her own party and lost her ever-loving mind over the new clothes from Grandma and Grandpa (which Grandpa had picked out, by the way, SO CUTE!) and the dress-up trunk from Nana and Granddad.  She saw exactly zero conflict of interest there.

That space that she’s living in right now, a place where she can be both strong and fancy, dirt-covered and beautiful, a princess and a superhero at the same time- and guess what? When you think about it, that space is TRUTH, y’all. All of these boxes we try to put women in, the one-or-the-other mentalities, the need to make sure that women aren’t too complex or confusingly muti-faceted, that is something that happens along the way. God did not say unto us, “And I shall make thee, women, into two kingdoms,  the Pretty and Fancy and the Strong and Capable.”  Nope, He made men AND women in His own image, women are His image-bearers and that means that we can represent any and all of the things in His nature that He calls us to and to Him, none of them are mutually exclusive.

That is where Michelle Carter lives in her life and she occupied it on the grandest stage this week. Engaging beast-mode in a way that would probably make Marshawn Lynch himself have a seat in deference, while wearing a fierce red lip and some perfectly crafted lashes. Head to her website to hire her to throw shot put and do your make-up. She is the strong and the fancy, the beautiful and the beast-mode. She’s showing my daughter that yes, she CAN BE and ALREADY IS everything that her little two-year-old mind believes that she was created to be.  I mean, if she JUST wants to be the president of the fashion club or decides that she’s all about being a construction worker and make-up is like, eew, then that’s just fine. She gets to discover for herself what God put in her and I’ll be over here cheering her on.  But women like Michelle Carter, women who are strongly living into all of who they were created to be, they show Kenzie that she can also be ALL of who she was created to be, all at the same time, in the same space, and she can SHINE.

THIS may just be why I love the Olympics so goshdarned much. I get to “meet” people like Michelle Carter who remind me of some of the many things that still right in the world and are even, dare I say it, getting better.  And didn’t we need this right now?  Didn’t we need some RIGHT and GOOD to come together around? I know I did. I feel reminded that the world is still an amazing place with goodness still awaiting my son and daughter as they grow.  Thank you, Lord, for the Olympics.  And there’s still a week left!!!!

OK, I gotta go. I’m missing synchronized swimming and pommel horse! And there’s handball later. I’m not even sure I knew that was a thin…