Saturday, June 21, 2014

drowning out in-security

Lately I've found myself enamored by my friends who are moms.  Its funny to think about the girls that I've known since high school who I drove to Sonic with for after school snacks or sat in the stands with and played powder puff against.  Or, the girls who I explored crazy shenanigans with in college raising some little ones of their own.

But, its more like an out of body experience thinking about them having the title we always talked about and dreamt about.  More than that, for me, its been the reality of watching the layers of being a woman unfold.  For most of our lives we've shared some form of insecurity.  Most of it was related to body image.  Even as little girls, we were opinionated about what colors we would wear, when we were too old for ruffles, how big our purses were and what kinds of shoes we had on.  When we got to middle school, our judgments began to wear brands and we knew whether we were part of the haves or the have nots based on the letters on our purse or the boots on our feet.  Once we got to high school, cliques really began to form and the kids who "had it together" were divided by whether they were in athletics, cheered for the athletes or just sat in the stands.  We got to our sophomore year and wheels began to define us, name brands resurfaced and which neighborhood you gathered in on a Friday night said whether you were a good kid or a bad one.  Our self image began to waffle and we never balanced on the fact that we were "enough".  Then the college letters began to roll in, we had to start really thinking about what we wanted to be when we grew up and summer jobs defined our work ethic and our social status.  Senior year was a blur.  We packed as many social experiences as we could into one year and before we knew it pomp and circumstance was in our rearview mirror and that lousy song that defined the "class of 2000" would not quit playing on the radio. 

Then we went to college.  We feared being the awkward kid, we wondered if the upper classmen guys would think we were cute enough and the matching bedspreads in our dorm room were the only way to begin a connection.  We starved ourselves and we ate weird diets.  All of which were blown with late night trips to Taco Bell and the Truck Stop.  We experimented with love.  We had heart break.  We decided to only be friends with girls and then dumped those girls when the right guy came along with a better offer.  We dreamed, we studied (yes, that's what we were there for after all), we took tests, we advanced toward our future careers. 

We became women; young adults. Our life experiences broadened and we found new things to define us, to group us and to be insecure about.

Then, we split again and went our separate ways, clinging to the memories we made together as the common thread that would bind us for the remainder of life. 

And then it happened....LIFE.

Bad bridesmaids dresses led to yummy baby shower punch.  Big moves at work led to new cities for girls weekends and shopping trips.  Aging parents and grandparents led to support in difficult times and the inevitable surprise 30th birthday parties. 

But along the way, we picked up something....our grown up version of insecurities.  Cocoa Butter cream and wrinkle remover face wash have found their way into our nightly beauty routine.  The length of our shorts got a little longer and most of our summer shirts bear sleeves.  Its our way of protecting ourselves from looking back at childhood pictures with our kids and being more concerned about the wrinkles from sun on our chest and our "overly muscular" arms.  We'll miss the moment of elation on their face at their first birthday party our or annual picture at the pumpkin patch because we will remember the reasons why 32 put more wrinkles in our crow's nest.

Its what we do...we're women.

But, this morning, I ran across an article.  THIS ARTICLE from (I'm giving you permission to click the link and read it fully before you come back)

This summer I've seen more and more of my friends commit to making sure they take the time to remember this summer.  They want to be "fun moms", not moms who sit by the pool covered up under an umbrella, but moms who jump feet first off the diving board.  Moms who make a list of memories they intentionally wanna create with their kiddos this summer.  Some are commemorating them with their own hashtag on instagram (phrases none of us ever saw coming).  Some are taking lots of pictures to make summer fun photo books.  Others are putting their phone down and being fully present.

Its doesn't really matter how they are "recording" it, their kids will forever remember it and frankly, the laughter of their kiddos will drown out the sounds of insecurities any day.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

fathers day repost

In honor of father's day, I'm reposting a post from March about my amazing parents (and a challenge to dads).

Title: Praying Parents
I'm so grateful for technology.  Even on Sundays when its super yucky outside and I'm a scaredy cat, I can still worship and hear a powerful message from the Lord.  And, with all the yucky weekends we've had this winter, I've be blessed to still experience the grace and gift of God's Word and fresh reminders of the everyday gifts He has given.

This morning, Cross Church tied up a men's retreat weekend by letting the rest of us peek into the messages and words that were shared.  The challenge was to men, but the challenge was more to families (those who have them and those who will).

So much of the challenge was to men - to lead their families, to pray with their families, to tell their families they love them and to show their families that they love them.

My sister and I joke sometimes about how we had the dollar store version of many toys.  But, we didn't want for much in life.  Maybe to be super popular, which at the time seemed really important, or to be invited to all the parties or to have a long line of dudes chasing us (all things I'm grateful now didn't happen).  But, the off brand of the Teddy Ruxpin totally did the same thing and I had what I wanted.  I had real Dr. Martens and I had a real Sony CD player and I had a real princess room with real Barbie's on the top shelf (yes I displayed Barbie's instead of play with them!).

But what we never lacked was real love.  Even though I wanted the invitation to the party where I really would rather be was at home on a Friday night watching movies with my parents and eating my mom's homemade treats.  My sister and I would often make a tent fort behind the recliner outside my bed room.  Once we were too big for that tiny space, we would have slumber parties in her room because she had the double bed. 

My parents created an environment of love.  And, one thing my parents did was pray.  I remember family devotional nights in my parents bed where my dad would read scripture and then we would all have our turn to pray.  I remember the time I found, probably snooping in something I shouldn't have, the letter my dad wrote to me the day I came home from the hospital.  In that letter, he told the story of he and my mom stopping in the hospital parking lot before they even put me in the car and dedicating me to the Lord.  I remember sitting in my parents bedroom when my sister became a Christian.  I remember the prayers in our driveway or living room before the first day of school, especially in middle school and high school when I needed them more than I knew.  I remember standing between our beds with my freshman college roommate's family and praying for the year ahead of us (yea, not a dry eye in the room).  I remember the weekend my parents were up while I was taking chemo treatments and waking up in the middle of the night hearing my dad at the foot of my bed praying.  I remember the Thursday afternoon, last January when I called him and asked him to "tell me I could do this".  Of course he did, but we ended the call in silence after he prayed for courage, discernment and strength. 

Parents who pray for you are a gift.  But, parents who let you know they are praying for you are a blessing. 

I am blessed.

Monday, June 9, 2014

tacos 4 life

Well friends, today was the day. 

The day a dream unfolded.

The day 'ole was heard around Faulkner county.

Tacos 4 Life opened this morning.

While at Ouachita I had the privilege to get to know so many amazing students.  Some I mentored, some I offered advice and some I watched dream and dream big.  Some of those amazing students I even have the privilege of calling my dearest friends.  But, along the journey of life comes some people who are family. 

Austin and Ashton Samuelson are simply that to

I love these 2 for so many reasons, but their hearts to change the world in a way that makes sense for them and more sense for the children they help everyday, moves me at my core.

These two dream God-sized dreams. 

Several years ago they were moved to do something about the hunger issue locally and globally.  They realized they could combine their passion for food and business and learned every lesson the hard way.  But what has unfolded is a perfect example of social entrepreneurialism in the grandest delight and the rest of us get to partake of the joy!

Today they watched dream #2 unfold as Tacos 4 Life fed its first paying customers!

What I love even more is that they built this dream on the indigo model (don't know what I'm talking the video).  Meaning they reached out to local people and asked them to be the first investors.  A local business funded by local people.  What a privilege it has been to invest in this dream and watch it all unfold (yes, I still remember the day we talked about social media plans on the back of a napkin in Panera we they have come a long way!)

I had the privilege a few weeks ago to attend a special tasting just for some close friends.  When I tell you that I've enjoyed partaking in some R & D over the last month with them, I'd drive back through Conway on a late night just to startle them all over again and have those conversations once more.

Taco Truck eating is some of my favorite way to dine and I always love the creative cuisines that they can carry.  But to combine all my favorite food experiences into one place is going to make it really hard not to take a weekly trip to Conway!

Tacos 4 Life is similar to its sister restaurant Pitza 42 in that it is a meal for meal concept.  It mimics the friendly staff and quick service, but it quickly departs on its own culinary adventure and takes you straight down the Mediterranean Rivera, across the open plains of the Texas Hill country and right smack dab down a Mexican street market.  The flavors are new and different, the menu is full of variety, and the ingredients are fresh and homemade.  When I mention variety, I'm talking tacos, nachos, burritos and quesadillas.  But, its not your typical walk to the counter and order the same thing just wrapped in a different package.  Its personalized and every menu items is particularly developed with a specific flavor palate in mind. 

Combine all that together in an environment trimmed with vintage chandeliers, rustic and modern patio furniture  and the Texan in me loved the mounted long horns!  You might even be surprised to find a few things from your grandmothers house that you never new held such mesmerizing charm. 

 So, I mustache you a question?  When we going for tacos?

Seriously to my business minded friends, you must investigate this story.  To my food loving friends, you can pay me later in their guacamole for mentioning this and for people in Central AR who need a fun date night or group place to go, I assure you the patio will not disappoint this summer.  Just try me - I'm willing to be wrong (but that won't happen here!). 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Consider Life Beyond

For many, today is just another Sunday. 
Its a beautiful day and many are out fishing, gardening, laying by the pool and just enjoying being outside after being cooped up inside from all the rain this week.
But in addition to all those things, today is a very special day!

Today is National Cancer Survivors Day!!!

Today is about showing the world what life is like after cancer.  That it can be fully lived.  Fully embraced and fully celebrated!

Survivorship is a term many struggle with.  Guilt is often a plaguing feeling that many experience post treatment.  They wonder "why me" and question what this "new normal" supposed to look like.  As treatments and quality of life both improve, the concept of "life after cancer" has grown.  Now, people who are diagnosed younger are living longer and new studies are being conducted on the long term effects of chemo drugs and radiation therapy. 

For many cancer is now a "bump in the road".  Its something to get through, but more importantly is something to live beyond. 

Working for the American Cancer Society and being in the business of creating survivors, I often find myself forgetting that I fall into that category.  I like to take care of survivors and their caregivers.  I like to treat them like VIPs and I like to make sure they get the honor they deserve.  I've really worked hard in my life to make sure that I don't let "survivor" be a label that holds me back.

Its pretty easy to let a label define you.  Labels bring expectations; both internal and external.  If you let yourself get down, you will.  If you let yourself be held back, you will.  But, if you tell yourself you are stronger, you are.  If you tell yourself you can make it through, you can.

More than once this Relay season, I've watched a group of survivors take a track and lead out walking in pace to Mandisa's Overcomer.  Its the perfect song for the opening lap of a Relay For Life event, but its also the perfect song for life. 

We all have things to overcome and while this song has somehow become synonymous with the cancer journey, let me challenge you to consider life beyond - beyond divorce, beyond loosing someone, beyond moving away, beyond starting kindergarten, beyond graduation, beyond sleepless nights with a new baby, beyond struggles with infertility, beyond building a new home, beyond starting a new job, beyond Mondays and beyond Hump Days. 

Life on the other side is pretty fun!