Get on the Field

Do you ever feel like you’re on the sidelines of life, watching everyone else have all the fun? You’re the chipper cheerleader or the rude dad barking at the ref from the bleachers, but you’re not playing the game.

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At the risk of sounding ultra-spiritual, I believe one way Satan makes us ineffective as believers is to get us to “sit the bench” and watch our lives pass us by. There is no era more prone to this than ours of social media.

We scroll feeds. We watch YouTube videos for humor. We follow transformations on Instagram instead of journeying through our own. We binge watch (isn’t that even the grossest terminology?!) TV shows. We Netflix on Fridays. We are taking life sitting down, becoming fat and lazy–if not in our bodies, in our minds. I am guilty of this too, friends. Often I have to remind myself, “Ashley, put down your phone. The people you love are right in front of you. Be present.”

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GET ON THE FIELD OF YOUR OWN LIFE.

There is no place I get a swifter kick-in-the-pants of perspective more than the Endeavor Games.

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This is an adaptive sports event–a pre-qualifier for the Paralympics–for people of various physical disabilities. That word, disability, is laughable here. These athletes are ABLE. They are blind but fast. They have one limb–ONE LIMB–and swim 800m. They use wheelchairs to race and play basketball. They run on blades. They are real-life superheroes in my book.

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These individuals have every right to sit on the sidelines of their lives, watching us able-bodied people have all the fun. Oh, but no. Excuses dishonor them. They’ve decided (or someone in their lives has decided for them, perhaps) that life is a GIFT. It is meant to be lived…messily, frustratingly, joyfully and victoriously.

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Finn has “competed” in the Endeavor Games at UCO for the past three years. This year our goal was to not get disqualified by crossing over the lines. Success!

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He took home three gold medals for the 20, 60, and 100m dash! This was the first year he was actually crossing the finish line first and he kept looking back over his shoulder to find his buddies.

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This child continues to amaze me with his joyful spirit. It truly humbles me that God chose me to be his mom.

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Paisley was SO ANGRY that we didn’t clean off Finn’s old wheelchair in the garage and let her compete. 🙂

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She’s not a side-liner by nature, and I love this about her.

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Stop watching others live. Stop giving your very best for another person or corporation’s advancement.  Start living your life. Use your gifts, given specifically to you by God. I need your friendship, your talents, your wisdom, your drive, your love to become the best version of me.

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Sweet friends, The Whites, came to cheer Finn on!

We need you to get in the game of your own life. Your children, your marriage, your career, your friends, the Kingdom depends on it.

“Life is either a great adventure, or nothing.” Helen Keller

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Between My Ears

I’ve learned a very profound truth from Finn and Paisley this month:

What we say about ourselves in our mind eventually becomes our reality.

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Mindset is EVERYTHING for any real life change. Yeah, yeah, yeah…but I like action. I’m a doer. I do things…I don’t generally spend much time thinking about things. I often tell my clients not to “think about it, just do it.” We can waste time contemplating, worrying, planning about the good habits we need to establish instead of actually doing them.

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In January, Craig preached about personal declarations, a message called, Words to Live By. Joey created his and recites them every morning. Great idea, I thought, but not for me.

Last month, my business mentors noticed I’ve been speaking negatively about my leadership skills, feeling very much like a failure. They told me to change my mindset. “It’s all between your ears, Ashley.” A couple friends told me to find and recite daily affirmations. Okay, okay.

So, I did. I found some online and then changed the verbiage so it included God instead of “the universe” and I taped them on my bathroom mirror under a note card with the word, SERVANT, my word for 2017. They are statements about the kind of leader, entrepreneur, mom, wife, and believer I AM and the kind of life I WANT.

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I can’t tell you how awkward and clunky it feels to say overly-positive, optimistic, almost arrogant things about myself in the morning. It feels…contrived; and I value authenticity so much that to say positive things when I’m thinking negative things almost affronts my core values.

But, here’s what I’ve learned: when I’m filling my mind with positive thoughts, my thoughts become positive. Imagine that. 🙂 Thoughts of gratitude will have the same effect.

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“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

My kids reinforced this truth for me. Here’s what I’ve heard them say just in the last week:

Finn:

“I’m so strong.”

“I have lots of friends.”

“I can do anything.”

“I’m like a superhero.”

“I am really fast. No one can catch me.”

Paisley:

“I am so pretty today.”

“I am really really big.”

“I am so strong and brave.”

“I am going to be a princess in a really big dress.”

“I am so good at coloring.”

 

Where did they get such confident, overly positive thoughts? Well, Joey and I, of course. They’ve adopted our beliefs as their own. What’s in their minds hasn’t yet been polluted by comparison or the opinions of others. I envy them.

Last week Pastor Craig reminded us that comparison either makes us feel superior or inferior…and neither honors God.

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When did I stop believing what my Heavenly Father says about me?

Probably as I scroll through Instagram. Or when I’m not in the Word, filling my mind with my Father’s thoughts. Or when I focus on my failures instead of my potential. Or when I allow Satan to warp my truth.

So much of the battle for all good things in our life is won (or lost) in our heads–between our ears. I pray you are combating your negativity with simple, biblical truths. And though it may be awkward at first, try say something positive about yourself and the life God gave you every morning.

Sustainability

You want to get fit; and you mean it this time, so you clear all the junk out of your pantry and get a sitter so you can meal prep for six hours on a Sunday. You hire a trainer and commit to 5x/week. You eat chicken breast basted in filtered water, quinoa and steamed broccoli for dinner  e v e r y    n i g h t   for a week and a half.

Your results don’t come fast enough, so you…

quit.

It took you three, ten, thirty years to get out of shape, but you want to transform in two weeks.

If you can relate to this scenario, you’re not alone. So can most of my clients. Here’s what I teach them: sustainability.

A common characteristic of my clients who struggle the most is that they are “all or nothing” types. Extremists. They work out 7x/week, eat kale and ice chips…or they binge all night long and don’t step foot in the gym for months. I’m guessing they behave this way in other aspects of life too–relationally, financially, spiritually.

Perfection, though alluring, is not sustainable. It is much healthier to be “really good” in the long term than to be “perfect” in the short term. This means you’ve got to find balance and pray for self-discipline. Small, seemingly insignificant good choices yield massive results when compounded over time (The Slight Edge). Time is the main ingredient; the secret sauce. There are no short cuts for lasting health. effort-consistency-time

My Secrets for Sustainable Healthy Living:

  • Find recipes you look forward to–that you salivate over–so you’re not tempted to go out every night, “cheat,” or order pizza. No one can eat bland chicken, rice and steamed broccoli every night and enjoy their life. This means you should try new foods you’re not familiar with. You just might LOVE THEM if prepared properly. Eat REAL FOOD! Not chemicals, processed crap and genetically modified junk.
    • (If you need help here, click on my Online Training tab and order some recipes from me. If you have my cell phone number and we’re friends, text me and I’ll send you a few of our favorites.)DSC_0010-2-850x563
  • Hire a professional. A good nutritionist or personal trainer just may be the best investment you’ll ever make.
  • Get your spouse (or a close friend or family member) involved.
    • Look them in the eye and tell them you’re ready for change and you can’t do it without their help. Go to the doctor together and hear it from a physician. Remind them you’re a team. You’re better together. Set goals. Make it a family competition if that motivates you. IMG_7143
  • It’s easier to maintain a healthy habit than to start and stop.
    • Think about the dishes. What if you left dirty dishes balancing in the sink and spilling up onto the countertops all week long…then spent several hours washing and drying them all on Sundays. Your kitchen would stink, you’d have fruit flies (sick out!); you couldn’t invite anyone over for embarrassment. Wouldn’t you just dread Sundays?! The same is true of exercise and proper nutrition. tumblr_inline_n5baj7ZV1H1qbj2nm
  • Schedule your exercise, preferably before, during, or after work. Don’t go home first…you won’t want to come back to the gym. Put it in your calendar and set alerts.
    • Attend a group fitness class.
    • Train with a personal trainer at the same times weekly. I’d love to have you in one of my small groups at Sky! I’m currently booked for private training.
    • Set an appointment with yourself to workout at home. Put all distractions away; give yourself 15-30 minutes while the kids nap or once they’ve gone to sleep. 82a47d4ed769fc2f12770c83b6313016
  • Develop a “why,” a reason to invest in your health–one that gets you out of bed in the morning. If you’re a mom or dad, you’ve found your reason.img_3803
  • Find some products you LOVE. This will give you a few “go-to’s” when you’re tempted to choose something unhealthy or when you’re not prepared.
    • Here are a few of my favorites (we’re never without them):
      • Arbonne’s vegan protein powder (daily breakfast shakes, homemade protein bars)chocvan
      • Green apples (lowest glycemic index) with MaraNatha almond butter
      • Quinn Rosemary and Parmesan natural popcorn
      • KiZe Cocoa protein bars for me, Clif bars for Joeycoco_3cbb6e14793f226eea7d2220a2e68abe
      • Arbonne’s energy fizz sticks (My fav are pomegranate. Joey’s are the citrus.)
      • La Croix (Cerise Limon flavor) sparkling water
      • Terra sweet potato chips
      • Whole Foods hummus
      • Onyx or Brandywine coffeeSugar_Skull_Bag_Pic_3-20-17_800x
      • Arbonne’s herbal detox tea with organic, local honey
      • Target’s Archer Farms raw almond 100 calorie packets

My hope and prayer is that the healthy habits you develop and the wholesome foods you enjoy become the way you live; your lifestyle. They are not for a bikini or a wedding or a competition, but for every day. There is no finish line.

Jesus warns us, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Don’t allow unhealthy habits or inconsistency to rob you of life–life to the fullest.

How to Treat Kids Who Are Different: Part II

I know it can be awkward when your child asks an innocent, valid question about someone who may look or act differently. We don’t want to say the wrong thing so sometimes we avoid the situation/conversation altogether. I’ve been there.

I think before we can teach our kids anything about how to treat people, we first have to examine how we treat people. If we don’t spend time with people who look, move, live, worship, vote, or speak differently than us, why would our children want to?

First, let’s talk about verbiage.

  1. PLEASE remove the “r” word from your vocabulary. You know, that word you’ve used when you feel silly or stupid. The word that means “late or slow.” This word, to a special needs family, is the equivalent of the “n” word to an African American family. It is degrading and ugly.
  2. When you’re talking to your child about someone who may be different, try not to use the word, “wrong.” This implies they are broken, not right…less than. Wouldn’t it feel awful if a blonde child asked your brunette child, “What’s wrong with your hair?” For example, instead of asking, “What’s wrong with you/him/her/them?,” ask, “Why are you in a wheelchair?” “Why do you only have one leg?” “Why do you use that device?” “What’s your name?” “What’s your story?” I like that one the best.
  3. Speak in positives, not negatives. We say Finn “uses a wheelchair to get around” instead of “he can’t walk.” Say what they CAN do, not what they can’t. img_6605
  4. Remind children that we’re all different in some ways, and give specific examples of people they know. I wear glasses because my eyes don’t work quite right all the time. He has lighter skin and not a lot of hair. Her dark skin is beautiful, isn’t it? You have freckles, but I don’t. He has more energy and excitement than you. She likes to be quiet.
  5. Most importantly, tell children that although someone may be different, we all have similarities. Finn loves Paw Patrol, do you? He doesn’t run, but he can race you in his wheelchair! She has red hair like you! He’s the oldest too. You guys both have the same color eyes…

To provide well-rounded insight, I asked six brave moms of uniquely different children how they want their kiddos to be treated. Here’s what they said:

Brenda:

Sometimes the moms apologize for questions their children ask. And sometimes they join in explaining. I don’t think an apology is needed. Kids notice the difference but I also think they are better at adapting. They see beyond the wheelchair and see the kid (at least in most instances). They have an innocence…

Basically, I encourage the questions even if it’s awkward. It’s a learning moment for all! I never realized how “not” disability friendly our world is. The more we talk, explain, and educate the better the opportunities for change.

I’ve been so surprised by how many people are willing to think outside the box and help include my son. They just don’t know how to sometimes.

Last, thought…. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for my kid. Yes, he struggles with things and has been through so much throughout his short life, but I don’t want that to influence how you treat him. The more normalcy in the chaos helps him to develop and grow like his peers. It builds his esteem and character. I put him in time out just like others his age.”

No apology necessary. Ask questions and push through the awkwardness…your kid (and you) will learn a lot and you’ll make our child feel valued. Include us in creative ways! Don’t feel sorry for us.

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Christi:

When kids ask “What’s wrong with him?” my response is, “Nothing. He was born where his legs don’t work like yours or mine, so he gets to ride around in this cool wheelchair.” Most of the time this is a satisfying answer and they move on.

My mom told me one time of a book she read, and in that book it said that everyone has their own disability. If you think about it there is something off/different about each of us. Someone who wears glasses obviously has poor eyesight, and that’s their disability. And not all are visible.

We just have to talk, educate and make it normal to not be normal. I tell Ryder all the time that it’s better to be different, because no one else is exactly like him and that is his power. “

We are all disabled in some way, right? Some of us came from crappy homes. Some of us aren’t very good in social situations. Some of us are too loud or too quiet. Some of us struggle with addiction. Some of us struggle in our minds. Some of us feel mastered by food. Finn’s disability (and others like him) is just more visible. He can’t hide it. I think this actually makes him MORE FREE to be himself.

I love how Christi tells Ryder his “ab-normalcy” is his “power.” Our differences can be like our super-powers! I cry like a baby in every super-hero movie because the story is the same: they are born a little different, pushed to the fringes of society, and then rise above it all for the greater good. Mighty Finn.

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Stephanie:

“I love it when parents and kids ask questions. I love to tell people about Caleb and about Down syndrome.

Caleb and Tyler (siblings) are quite a pair. Sometimes Tyler is a bit too much of a “mother hen”. Most often, though, he is Caleb’s biggest cheerleader, helper and friend. I love watching them together, and I think they are both better people because they have each other.”

Keep asking questions! Don’t “shush” your children. Approach us. Value us.

I’ll never forget this little boy in a doctor’s office when we first moved to Tulsa. We were in the waiting room and my stomach dropped when a 7-ish year old boy approached Finn. He looked Finn in the eyes and asked, “Do you want to play with me on the slide?” Then he looked at me and said, “I can help him get up.”

I watched through my own tears as this little boy lifted Finn up the steps onto the next platform to go down the slide and then cheered him on at the bottom. Changed my life.

WHO ARE YOUR PARENTS, CHILD?! I WANT TO KISS THEM ON THE MOUTH! (He was with his grandma and I gave her the highest praise for her mature, kind little grandson.)

Raylea:

Your friend’s intentional parenting is what is sticking with me today. As my kids have aged, it has been increasingly hard to keep them involved with peers who don’t have disabilities….

In the last year, we have been involved in Special Olympics, and I have found some spectacular ‘typical peers’ there! There are High School kids who volunteer to play sports with my kids…they want to be there. Several of them have a sibling with special needs, but they are there to help whether or not their sibling is. Parents should encourage their kids to participate in a peer program like this.

I wish that all parents would be intentional with their kids. Evaluate whether their schedule is adding lasting value to their life? Do they have time to help a neighbor or a friend in need? Do they have time to participate in activities that are inclusive of those who are different? …

I want them to be given the opportunity to succeed at age appropriate skills, but I feel like they are losing the ability to engage in age appropriate skills because everyone else is ‘too busy’ trying to achieve some unrealistic goal.

I do enjoy when kids are naturally curious about Micah. I don’t discourage questions. I like to answer them. The most common question is, “What happened to his leg?” when they see his AFO or his wrist splint. He will respond now, “Nothing happened, it just helps me walk better, or use my arm better.” And then they head off to discuss Star Wars or Captain America. Cool.

People need to know some of the ways he is different so they can understand him. He wouldn’t ever want someone to think he was being unfriendly because he didn’t wave back when they wave to him. He simply didn’t see them!

A doctor once referred to Micah’s weaker side as his “BAD SIDE” and that chapped me. I would encourage people to avoid using negative terms when referring to our kids in any way.

I want to ask my kids how they want to be treated…that may be Part III. 😉

Be intentional in your parenting. Help your kids invest more in people than sports or activities. This will help them become adjusted adults.
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Ask questions–there it is again! Avoid negative words. Try to understand.
Brooke:

“Just treat Cash the same as you’d treat any other friend. He can do the same things other kids do, especially when he is encouraged and cheered for. (But isn’t that what we all want?)  If we were all the same the world would be a super boring place!

…Honestly it would thrill me to death if they took the time to research and maybe attend a local event that benefits people with Down syndrome.


I would want parents to tell their kids to be kind to ALL people. Just because someone is different than you are doesn’t mean they are weird or bad or scary. They want friends just like the rest of us. We are more alike than different.
We are more alike than different. Take time to research and understand your friends who are different.
Encourage your kids to get to know other kids who are different. Attending a Buddy Walk or Special Olympics or Endeavor Games adaptive sports event is a great start. At these events, you will feel like the different one…and that’s not so bad.
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Jordan:
“Ask.  Please ask.  Don’t scold your kids for asking.  I love the chance to de-mystify braces or a zip zac or the scar on Poppy’s back that most kids think is a “belly button on her back.” I’ve been the mom completely anxious around a kiddo with special needs, just cringing and praying that my kid wouldn’t be the one to say something insensitive.

…I love the opportunity to get to normalize something for a young, formative mind.  I love to watch it not matter to them as much as I thought it would.  Like when I said to the little girl asking why Poppy had a belly button on her back: “That’s actually a scar because she had a surgery when she was really, really small.”  “Oh, I like her ponytail too.”  Very un-scary.  

I also love to let Poppy hear us talk about her proudly and confidently.
Please ask.
We get a lot of “oh, what happened to her?” or “oh, what’s wrong with her”.  While USUALLY these don’t upset me, the kindest and most inviting way I’ve ever heard a stranger ask about Poppy was “Would you share with me about why she wears those braces?”  I loved it.
Be mindful of the setting.  I’ve had people yell questions at me across a crowded public space.  I recognize this as someone who was probably really passionate about identifying a commonality, but it was embarrassing and made me feel like I should protect Poppy.
Invite and include.   We’ll decide if it’s something that we can’t do (ie.  A gymnastics party or a party at a Bounce house).  Most special needs parents and kiddos are pretty good at figuring out how to adapt, so we’ll either figure out a way to make it work.  Don’t assume that being asked might be too painful.  Being uninvited is usually more painful. 
Again, let your kids ask. Who cares if you’re feeling awkward, but be prepared with a response. Invite us! Include us! We all want to be invited even if we can’t make it, right?!
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THANK YOU, moms, for your input. You and your husbands are saints in my book. I know well the difficulty of cathing and lifting and worrying and struggling to put on jeans and pre-op and post-op and being left out and IEPS and ER waiting rooms. God is with us.
THANK YOU to those of you who have responded so well to these posts, wanting to learn and teach your kiddos. Jesus smiles when we love (all) people well. The fact that you’re reading this makes me feel you value Finn, and if you value Finn, you value me.
Please add to this conversation if you have any input or questions! I know there are many other friends of mine who have great wisdom here.
There are also many differences unmentioned in this post…racial, religious, behavioral, terminal disease, etc. I want to know your heart.

How to Treat Kids Who Are Different: Part I

This blog post is in honor of Finn, on his 5th BIRTHDAY! I cannot believe it.

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You may be one of those people who want to be different. March to the beat of your own drum kind-of-person. Most of us, however, just want to fit in. I was the “new girl” every two years of my life, as my family moved around the country for my dad’s job. All I wanted was to blend in as quickly and seamlessly as possible, make friends, and become “popular.” Finding a cute boyfriend was a plus.

My son, Finn, however, cannot just “blend in.” Nor, do I believe, he wants to. He sits happily between two wheels, zooming through the lobby at church, holding back the urge to pop a wheelie in line at school, and eager to help me “treasure hunt” for groceries at Whole Foods.

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Finn’s 5th birthday party: bowling and pizza with 19 buddies from school and the cousins!

He is obviously different from the average five year old…and he seems okay with that.

When Finn was born, OU Children’s Hospital hooked us up with another family for emotional support. This child was several years older than Finn and also had Spina Bifida. I got up the courage one morning to call his mom, Debbie. I asked her what her son was currently struggling with. “Well, he’s really ornery and lately he’s been in trouble for annoying his big sister.” Her answer took me off guard! It was a relief, honestly. I expected something medical and tragic in nature, but her wisdom assured me that Finn will likely be like any other boy–mischievous and annoying, just on wheels. 🙂

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Spina Bifida will be a part of his life. It will not define his life.

Your differences will be a part of your life. But don’t let them define your life.

When you are unique or have a child who is unique in some outwardly obvious way, it is common to get stares, double-takes, sweet and curious questions, rude statements, unsolicited advice, and oftentimes unwanted attention.

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I hated this for the first two years of Finn’s life. I avoided birthday parties, crowded doctor’s offices, playgrounds…anywhere some child or parent might ask or say something I didn’t know how to answer. Now, though, I love to share Finn with the world; it just took some maturing, prayer, and preparation on my part.

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Cousin Ev, Tucker and Sully came all the way from Missouri to celebrate!

Today a sweet college friend messaged me and told me she took the initiative to tell her son all about Finn recently. She showed him videos of him wheeling up ramps and being silly. They laughed together and had a good conversation about being different. Her kindness and intentional parenting prompted me to finally write this post I’ve thought about for years. Her words: “My prayer is that God will continue working in his already sensitive heart…and that he will have eyes to see and a desire to befriend kids who are different than him.” Thank you, Claire.

I’ve had several friends ask great questions in confidence, “How do you like Finn to be treated?” “What should we say when our kids ask questions?” “Do you like to be approached or would you rather be left alone?”

These are all valid questions, and ones I will answer with the help of a few other moms of uniquely awesome children. That info will be in PART II of this blog post and I hope to post that late Wednesday night or Thursday.

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My mom and Finn share a birthday (today!). We celebrated my mom’s 60th in Dallas this weekend! She’s the cute one holding Paisley on the right. Check out Finn at the head of the table. 😉

I’ll leave you with this tonight. One of the best quotes I’ve heard on this topic is:

“If you want to know how to treat a child with special needs, watch their sibling. They will show you.” (simplyrealmoms)

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Hotel giggles and shenanigans…TOOK THREE STINKIN’ HOURS to fall asleep!

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SO GRATEFUL for their friendship. Thank you, Jesus.

Come back Wednesday night (or Thursday if I don’t get to it) for some more insight (and other opinions) on this topic!

Present Over Perfect

Shauna Niequist is my favorite Christian author for her raw vulnerability, her transparency, expert story-telling skills and her love for good food. I cook recipes from her book, Bread and Wine, weekly.

I knew her most recent book, Present Over Perfect, would rock my busy little world, so I put off reading it for several months. It would slow me down, settle my heart and convict my soul, and I wasn’t ready to be reigned in. The title speaks for itself–stop trying to be and just be.

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All my life I’ve been an achiever, a doer. I value efficiency, honesty and follow-through. In job interviews, I take pride in the fact that I’m responsible–I do what I say I’m going to do–and I’m efficient–I can do more work in less time than most people. I am goal-driven and feel incomplete until my goals are met. Even then I feel like I could have probably done more, been better.

These things, of course, matter very little in the Kingdom of God. At the end of my life, Jesus is not going to ask me about my work ethic. He’ll ask me how I treated people. He’ll lift my chin with His calloused hand and ask, “Ashley Dawn, were you kind? Did you obey me? Did you love the least of these? Did you give generously? Were you loving and slow to anger with your family behind closed doors? Did you share My love with my children who were hurting?”

Although the pace of my life hasn’t changed since I read this book over Christmas break, my mindset has. I’m consciously asking my mind to rest, to be fully present with the people I love, and to give myself grace.

Some of Shauna’s truths from this book that…changed me, quite frankly:

“I believed it was better to measure my life by metrics out there, instead of values deeply held in my own soul and spirit.”

Production values. Promotions. Credentials. Grade point average. Body fat percentage.

“The very thing that makes you you, that makes you great…is also the very thing that, unchecked, will ruin you.”

For me this is efficiency, commitment and drive.

Women often do what Niequist calls, “fake-resting. I’m wearing pajamas…It looks like I’m resting, too. But I’m not. I’m ticking down an endless list, sometimes written, always mental, getting things back into their right spots, changing laundry, wiping down countertops. Some might say this is being a mother, a homemaker, or this is what women have been doing for generations.”

For me, this behavior is handed down from a long line of strong, independent, capable, and restless women. My grandma Mary, at 80-something, has a hard time sitting still. My mom never does. If I am, my mind is somewhere else…I’m distracted by everything left undone.

Saturday morning, though, I was so proud of myself: Paisley snuggled up to me on the couch in her jammies and I held her tight, smelling the sweetness of her neck. I couldn’t put my feet on the coffee table because it was stacked high with laundry.  Dirty dishes lined the countertop, and my laptop was open with a business production number that was far from my lofty goal for February. I held my cold mug of coffee in one hand, and my tiny baby girl in the other. I closed my eyes and soaked up the long minutes she let me snuggle, truly resting.

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Paisley Dawn loves to do dishes!

“Busyness is an illness of the spirit.” -Eugene Peterson

“Loving one’s work is a gift. And loving one’s work makes it really easy to neglect other parts of life…Being good at something feels great. Playing ninja turtles with two little boys for hours is sometimes less great.”

I love my job. I get to coach people (mostly women) toward their best self through fitness and healthy living. I’m good at it.

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I oftentimes feel less good, however, at being a mom–and sometimes a wife. I can get more easily frustrated with my kids than my clients. I have better customer service with strangers (WHO COULD CARE LESS ABOUT ME) than I do with Joey, the love of my life. Ugh. Holy conviction.

“This is what I know for sure: along the way you will disappoint someone. You will not meet someone’s needs or expectations…These are basically sharp blades into the hearts of people like me, who depend very heavily on meeting people’s expectations.”

Disappointing people terrifies me. My greatest fears are to let someone down and to be misunderstood. I’ve lost sleep this past year over feeling misunderstood by people I cared about and for feeling like I’ve let people down.

“But here’s the good news: you get to decide who you’re going to disappoint, who you’re going to say no to…What you need along the way: a sense of God’s deep, unconditional love and strong sense of your own purpose…Aim to disappoint the people at the center of your circle [family] as rarely as possible.”

Ah, my purpose. I know my purpose, my “chazown”: helping people live life to the fullest through healthy living. Inspiring people to reach their God-given potential.

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Our relationships are like concentric circles, with those closest to us at the very center. Then our most trusted friends and extended family. Then more friends. Acquaintances and co-workers. Strangers. I chose “servant” as my word for 2017 because I want to be a servant FIRST to those people God has entrusted to me at the center of my circle: Joey. Finn. Paisley. If I can’t be really really good to them, nothing else matters.

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Here’s where I’ll leave you (and I’m only on page 55 of 234 of incredible wisdom, but I’m going to play Nertz with Joey):

“We disappoint people because we are limited. We have to accept the idea of our own limitations in order to accept the idea that we’ll disappoint people. I only have this much time. This much energy. This much relational capacity.”

I don’t like to feel limited. Do you? I like to feel powerful and unbridled. But it’s so incredibly freeing to me to accept the fact that I can’t do it all.

I need Joey’s help around the house. I can’t remember everyone’s birthday. I’ll forget some clients’ squat weight. I can’t remember to pray for everyone I want to pray for. I need my mom’s tenderness. I need my dad’s wisdom. I need grace from my kids. I need a committed team to help me reach my goals in Arbonne. I need my training clients to show up to get paid. I need my long-distance girl-friends to check up on me. I need people, and I deeply need God.

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I will disappoint people. I may have disappointed you. And that’s okay, because I am imperfect; an intrinsically flawed, yet redeemed daughter of God, doing my very best. And it’s enough. It’s not perfect, but it’s enough.

The Last Slice

As a child, pizza made me a crazy person. Ask my brother, Chad. I would split the pizza down the middle (my slices were larger, of course) and if he so much as stole a half of pepperoni, I’d flip out. I would have lost a friendship over pizza. It’s embarrassing.

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One of Craig’s sermons last year changed my outlook on life. I didn’t realize it had affected me so much until one evening I didn’t care if someone else took the last slice of pizza. Honestly.

The thought is this:

I live in a place of abundance, not scarcity.

Instead of mourning the last slice of pizza or punching Chad in the arm for taking it, I think, “Take it. We’ll just make/order another.” There’s always more pizza.

Or think of it this way: you either see a half-eaten pie as plenty or not enough. Glass half-full or empty. Bank account never enough or provision for our needs.

This mindset changes everything.

My relationships improve with this worldview. I’m more generous because I’m not worried about “getting mine.” I see people as more important than things (or food). I give of my time and my love and my resources, trusting my friends will also give back to me. And if they don’t, that’s okay too. I celebrate their promotion, their new car and their children’s accomplishments because their gains aren’t my losses.

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Psalm 84:11 “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk upright.”

My career improves. I used to worry that the other trainers or the other consultants would take all the business, leaving no one left  for me. The reality is that whether it’s training or promoting Arbonne, my goal is to help people; and there’s always someone who needs help because we’re all unhealthy in some way or another. As long as processed food, artificial ingredients, obesity and low self-esteem exist, I will always have a job. There are certainly enough clients to go around.

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My marriage improves. We haven’t run out of things to talk about; there are more dinner conversations yet to unfold. There are new, creative ways to show love. More arguments and more reconciliation. We have collected more love and respect for each other as the years progress, not less.

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My relationship with God improves. When I see God as a loving Father and King, I realize that as His child, I inherit those riches. His creation is full of beauty and wonder, waiting to be discovered. He doesn’t manipulate me by withholding good things. He is an extravagant God who lavishes His love on me if I’m willing to receive it. He’s got enough blessings to go around and around and around…but I think I must have eyes to see them.

2 Peter 1:3 “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.”

Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.”

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Jesus, continue to teach me how to be more generous and live life with a mindset of abundance. Thank you for blessing us richly…more than we need.