Friday, September 30, 2016

Trust Bridge.

One of my favorite things to do each night before climbing into bed for the night is to do one last check on the crew. There is something so beautiful (fact: they are sleeping) about a sleeping child. The glow of their night light illuminating their little face delights my mama heart to the core. Bedtime in our home has not always been peaceful, we struggled through adjusting to sleeping in our rooms, beds, through the night, struggling with nightmares and trying to fall asleep. Each night and child bringing a variety of needs through the night, I saw hours that I didn’t know existed. During my quest of motherhood, I often wondered what those nights before living with me must of been like? Did they sleep? Were they ever fully able to relax and experience peaceful rest?

Trauma takes its effect on the body, even when the memories fade and the details get blurry the body still remembers, it is hardwired to react to the first sign of trouble. I have loved watching my babies go from struggling and fighting sleep to slipping into restful sleep each night. The key factor for that is they feel safe, no longer having to protect themselves from all of the monsters chasing them. These past few weeks, I have been acutely aware that these kiddos trust me. They can rest easy knowing now there is someone fighting for them, healthy parents stay awake so they don’t have to.

It took months of situations, scenarios, questions, fears and conversations for them to discover I could be trusted. Post adoption we have had another wave of testing, as if they are making sure this isn’t too good to be true. Early in our journey together I had to repeat the phrase often, “I know you don’t trust me, but I need you to let me show you I am safe.”

One of my kiddos has the knack of remembering things. They collect mistakes and when they are needed in battle, my perceived and at times actual letdowns become the arsenal against me. We have had to discuss this often, I explain I am not perfect and I will fail, I need lots of grace but beyond all of that I am not going anywhere. Their learned default is to assume people can’t be trusted and a whiff of letdown in the air kicks the bondage of self preservation on and the walls go up.

We use the imagery in our home that trust is like a bridge, a lie can destroy a few feet of the bridge, with hard work it can be rebuilt over time but each lie sets us back. My crew knows by now, I am not going anywhere and I am committed to them but when I let them down or they tell a lie our bridge is damaged. A new part of this exercise we have talked about is remembering that our whole structure is not ruined each time a mistake is made, over time a foundation of trust has been built. The ebb and flow of trust affects the length and stability of the bridge but not the foundation.

What a beautiful truth I have discovered, I don’t have to fight so hard. Much like the ways I fight for my kids and their safety, God who knit me together in my mother’s womb fights for me. I realized that over the last several years somewhere along the way my trust bridge with God has been damaged. It has happened over time, in the moments when God didn’t answer my prayer the way I thought He should, or when He let me down in my limited view of what all is going on. I have mastered the art of fake trust, spouting trust platitudes yet at the core I have discovered I feel the need to be actively trying to make things happen. Looking at that way of thinking through a tangible example with my kids, it would be like if they didn’t feel that I wouldn’t actually follow through with something, they institute a backup plan, just in case. As a mama, that would break my heart to think my children thought they had to help me along and what does that do in my kids? So, what does that lie do in my own soul, if I think I can actually affect the outcome of a situation because I made sure to always have a backup plan, then do I actually trust God with my future, do I actually believe He is good? Much like a similar situation would my kids really trust me if they felt the need to be ready at a moment’s notice to institute an alternative plan? Is it trust if they are actively working for something?

Wrapping up my twenties has showed me that I spent most of it trying to do more and be more in hopes that it was changing the course of things. Don’t get me wrong I don’t believe that we are to sit by and let life just coast by we are called to be active but there has to be an element of accepting what is and embracing the journey with an open hand, living and loving well. It is not okay for us to sit comfortably by and watch life happen, we are called to take part. There is a difference between the mindset of trust and the mindset of inactivity. Trust means, I am going to actively move forward on the path I am on and come what may, I will take each step in stride. Inactivity means, sitting by never pursuing the calling, never taking the steps down the path.

This is no easy practice, it takes a daily surrender of the things I hold most dear. The stake becomes greater once our hearts get invested. A shift happens and things we once held nicely on the palm of our hand are suddenly clutched in our white knuckle fists.

Following a difficult season I discovered I was living my days, white fisted grasping at whatever I could hold on to. I don’t sit and trust well, this has brought about some of my favorite strengths but I must admit that when it is of out whack in my life, nothing but brokenness oozes. It shows up in my motivation, strength, parenting, relationships but also fuels the lies of worthlessness, love, value and perfection. It is a balancing act, the key to trusting well, is to settle myself in the reality that true trust comes from letting go.

This can only be achieved when I realize that I actually don’t have control over most of these circumstances. People make choices, we hurt each other, the system is broken, children get hurt. It’s not because I have failed in some way, it is all part of the journey, I must accept where I am at, find peace but always pursue health.I am not alone in this and can rest peacefully in the fact that God is keeping watch over me so once I wake, I can do my part and move mountains.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Status Quo

These past weeks of processing life, I am very aware of the phrase status quo. Just follow the “plan” and find yourself happily ever after. Society says our lives should play out in certain ways, achieve a list of things, and fit a certain mold if you do this you will be happy and “normal.” Then there is reality, the mold is hard to fit in. We are not created to be one size fits all and that mold we are all encouraged to fit in doesn’t exist. There really is no "normal" out there, yet the pressure to fulfill that expectation is an unending force and leads to dissatisfaction.

The pressure to make more money, have bigger houses, newer cars and a certain size family surrounds us, it is in the media, our friend’s lives and the very world around us. Anything outside the parameters set by social standards make people uncomfortable and often results in disapproval. There is nothing wrong with the status quo life, however what if we were meant for more? What if status quo living simply distracts us from pursuing more? It is there in these questions I find myself seeking, choosing the path of the unknown, settling into a blessed life that is uncomfortable at times. It is there in the discomfort we feel the winds of change, see the perspective shift and experience the thrill of the unknown.

Compliancy is the thief of our dreams, the moment we give into it, we lose sight of our calling. Compliancy shows up in my parenting, my diet, my relationships and my home, in those seasons life can be a bit more predictable, the flip side is I discover that I am losing the muscles for adventure, change and the unknown. I want to steward this life well, I want to choose to actually live this life with purpose. I don’t want normal, I don’t want safe, I want to live fully engaged with exuberance.

God is revealing the things He has called me to, reviving in me purpose, His plan and aligning it all with the skills He has placed in me. One of the most beautiful things is that we possess the very tools we need to fulfill the purpose we were created to do. If we choose discomfort, trust the unknown and embrace the change that will happen within, we see that we can accomplish much with the skills we have been given. The more often we press into the difficult things, the more growth we experience and the easier it is the next time. The hardest part of running will always be the first step, once you get moving, over time, it gets easier.

Let us walk with purpose towards our dreams. Let us seek the things in our soul that make us smile, captivating our very souls while beckoning us from the dangerous comforts of complacency. Walk boldly towards the things you want, grab hold and dream big. Exercise those muscles and seek the discomfort and in tune to the small voice within that whispers your dreams.

Let us all be adventurers and discover the things we were created to do. Just think what would this world look like if we stopped limiting ourselves to the confinement of those things we feel we should do, forever settling in the comforts of status quo. Instead let’s be influencers, movers and game changers.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

One Year Wider.

This October I turn thirty, as a self reflective person I have been on a quest to end my twenties well. Assessing the things I want to carry over to my thirties and what to leave behind.What is the very mindset I want to declare over my life shaping this next decade? In your thirties you are no longer desperately trying to figure out you are, instead you are settling into the rhythm of who you are. It seems the best way to approach a year older is to look to those who are younger in my life, these past weeks my kiddos have revealed to me some truths I want to claim. 

One of my kiddos had a dentist appointment this morning, our first experience at the dentist resulted in a cavity being filled (insert neural pathway dentist equals pain). I watched my child today climb up into the chair all smiles, but when it came down to business mouth clamped shut and fear set in. Three adults pleaded, pep talked, and threatened this child to just open up, she was loudly wasting everyone’s time. All we were asking for was a wide mouth, after 15 minutes of convincing and 5 seconds of compliance we had the much needed x-ray. Whew. I realized how often I find myself doing that exact same thing, choosing fear over experience. It doesn’t matter how many people are cheering me on, how rational the thinking is or even how brave I am feeling, I stop myself, shutting my mouth tight. I don’t want to waste time anymore with the pep talks, I just want to look beyond my present fear and open wide. In my thirties, I am going to choose to be brave.

One of my kiddos has this incredible dream of being on America’s Got Talent, they want to win it by singing. They talk about it, dream about it and visualize what that victory would be like. They have a vision grabbing hold of what they want to do in this life and they are boldly proclaiming it. They are dreaming big, they aren’t focused on the journey, struggle, statistics, challenges, or technicalities to overcome, they see the dream. Something happens to us adults, over life we quit dreaming, pursuing and stop going after the things we want, instead we convince ourselves we are too old, too busy and suddenly all we see are the challenges. I want to find my dreams again, I want to grab hold of the vision merely glancing at the warnings. In my thirties, I want to dream big again.

Skateboarding has become a passion in our home, with a little formal training here and there my crew has become quite good at it. This past weekend we were doing some boarding with friends and one my kiddos was trying to get a trick figured out. Each time the board would go flying, the tears would come and the self doubt was declared for all to hear. At times I would just watch to see what would happen, other times I would insert myself and soften the blow with a pep talk. I watched over the course of an hour, they tried and failed, the same cycle playing out, until the moment they got on the board and found success. At any point the board could of been put away and the lesson never learned, I reflected how often I do that in my own life. So eager to get to the finish line only to quit right before I reach it, forever missing out. This revealed to me two things, to get back out there and to surround myself with people who believe in me. In my thirties, I want to press into the hard stuff and surround myself with people who encourage me to do that.

I am so inspired by my crew, everyday they are teaching me things. They help turn my eyes from the to do list to the moon, they remind me to laugh loudly and dance crazy. This year I am not turning one year older, but one year wider. In this next decade may my focus not remain small, my view not narrow and my heart not closed but that I would embrace the beauty around me. I have a brilliant purpose to fulfill, I was created for such a time as this, and my dreams still matter. If I can cling to this mindset in my thirties, I can’t even imagine the ripple effect for the decades to come. I want to greet thirty with a smile on my face and a "just you wait kind" attitude. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Questions.

Tonight as I did dishes one of my babes, laid on the kitchen floor firing off about 25 random questions. I realized in that moment, they feel safe with me. They are asking my thoughts on something because they trust me, trust that I will tell the truth. What a beautiful thing it is to have a question asked of you, it signifies you are a safe space for someone. On the quest to adulthood many of us lose trust in the world around us, we begin to seek after what Google says rather than the humans around us. We live in such an answer focused world, yet many of us don’t feel confident to ask or admit at times we don’t know something. I realized, the questions my crew ask are giving me glimpses into their little souls, the things they think, care and wonder about.

I heard a talk on educating our children, the speaker shared whenever we receive information on a new topic, we hold what we first heard against everything else we will hear on that topic over our lifetime. The questions my children ask now are laying the foundation of the rest of their lives. These early questions, are so very important, they are more than a glimpse into our children’s thoughts, they are utterly shaping their worldview, morality and beliefs.

Here is a glimpse into some of the questions I was was asked this week:

Are unicorns real?

Will you ever get rid of me?

What happens when you die?

How do you spell, this page is x’d out?

Do creatures eat houses?

Can I get a pet shark, just a little one?

Do animals talk? 

How do cats live outside? 

Are fairies real? 

Have you ever heard of a snow fairy, pretty sure mine is one, that is why she has been gone for so long?

Can a vampire have a baby?

What is the biggest world?

Where does edamame come from?

What do coyotes eat?

Will I die if I eat cucumbers everyday?

What is your favorite color?

Where does Meghan Trainor live?

When you get married, can you marry someone who can build, so he can build me contortionist toys?

Have you ever rode on a unicorn? A flying horse?

Seriously?

Is magic real?

Did God make everything?

With the importance in mind, I am slowing down, listening and answering my children’s questions differently. Sowing seeds, along the way, speaking truth and challenging the very lies that have already rooted themselves in their souls. 



Monday, September 12, 2016

Feeling Small.

Growing up we camped a lot, I have fond memories of adventures to new states, exploring the world around us in a very intimate way, in a way we became one with the world around us. Something about sleeping in a tent, the sounds of the woodland creatures, chirps of a cricket, and being awakened by the sun’s gentle and warm reminder. I love it, there immersed in nature, I find purpose.

As a mom, I desired to share the gift of tent camping. We spend our summers sleeping in tents, learning to enjoy the sounds of the world around us, peeing outside and getting dirty. We stay up late, play with bugs, catch frogs, get wet and climb trees, living our days by very few rules, there in the wild. I watch my kids and dogs run free, doing the things they were created for.

Since we experience very cold weather we only really get to enjoy it about 5 months out of the year, at least comfortably. A couple of weekends ago, we went camping and it was perfect weather, one of my favorite things is to leave our rain flap off, risky move, since midwest weather can turn on a dime, but I love it. Laying in the tent with the dogs and the crew watching the stars, dreaming big and whispering wishes. This particular weekend we had an even greater treat, it happened to be a clear night with a meteor shower. As we watched the lights zoom across the sky, we marveled at the sheer vastness of sky above. The night sky has a beautiful way, of reminding us we are small, yet in that smallness not insignificant.

Being outdoors, stirs, heals and focuses my heart. As the sun sets and coolness fills the air, around the campfire it seems as though life pauses, the combination of darkness and flickering fire, hearts become vulnerable and real life is discussed. As the fire and conversation dwindles, we return to our tents, laying there I try to ignore the lumps beneath me and slip into sleep, I stare at the stars and contemplate life. When, for a brief moment responsibility slips away, the world is quiet, accompanied by the sounds of nature. It is there I feel the weight of life melt away and for a brief moment it all seems so clear, overwhelmed by the beauty and the goodness of this life.

The practice of allowing ourselves to feel small is important. The daily grind of life, makes it easy to be consumed by our own circumstances, to allow moments of smallness refocuses our heart and reminds us that life is so much bigger than just us. Our contribution is so important and needed, but we are merely a part of something greater.

In a culture that breeds self focus, it is easy to be consumed by our world, giving us the perspective that it is all that matters, it really becomes a hurdle to look beyond, casting a shadow over all we do. Like nature, the world is made up of many people, working together for the greater good. In nature, trees, a stream, bees and rabbits, all consumed and motivated by their role in the forest.

What would happen if we lived our daily lives viewing our role as significant, vital even? Each choice we make though small has a ripple effect that changes the very course of our environment. Much like a tree brings shade, worms decompose, each part is essential to the health of the forest, each of us living out our call in our world has the potential to change the world around us. When I spend my time observing nature, I realize how important my role is. I am currently finding myself in a season of life, I am renewing my focus and looking beyond myself to the direction I am heading and navigating the very effect that has on the world around me. Desiring to do good for my world, desiring to pursue my specific role and looking to those around me and watching as they do theirs, in those moments I realize there is such beauty in this life watching us work together.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Becoming Mama.

When my crew calls me mom, my heart still flutters a bit. This long awaited title achieved, may I never grow tired of it. I love being a mom, I love being their mom and I love my story into becoming a mom. Our story unique, a little messy, yet filled with beautiful glimpses of redemption, restoration and such purpose.

My own journey into motherhood was an unique one, an overnight life altering shift. Just another day, when suddenly kids get dropped off on my doorstep and I am supposed to know what to do, as if I could merely put on the name tag that read, “mom.” I would imagine this is a similar feeling to leaving the hospital with your brand new bundle of joy, suddenly you are in the soul provider for this tiny human. Your life is ever changed, you can’t go back to a place in your mind before them, what did you do, who were you? Suddenly your heart is split up among them, pieces of you just walking around in their tiny little hands.

New “normal” settles in and I begin to do life at a different pace, unable to imagine what it was like before. My days morph from long walks, dinner with friends and quiet evenings to chaos, sticky surfaces and wet things (so many wet things). Life is not what it once was for sure but somehow I don’t notice or maybe I just don’t care. I adjusted and my new life unfolded and this new title, “mama,” something ignited in my soul.

There are times I forget that these babies, in fact, did not grow inside of me. We get into such a rhythm, enjoying life, and something happens and I am reminded I am not their only mom. That realization is heavy, it is a sharp jab, that jolts me to my core, it is something I grieve, not for my sake but theirs. No matter how beautiful our story is, it is because of brokenness. The brokenness that beckoned their parents away and left deep wounds on their souls. Scars forever there, reminders of their past.

We got a letter from birth mom, this was the second letter that has come, I never responded to the first. For one month, I have been mulling over what my response would and should be. What do you say to a biological mom who is asking for contact? Calling them by their old names, asking to see them, missing them, asking to know how they are for not knowing haunts her. Her choices have gotten us here to this place, her loss is my beautiful gain, such a paradox, such a tragedy.

Destruction and great suffering mark our story yet, in the midst of it all, hope shines through, this story is being rewritten, redemption has come. Unlike a literary tragedy, this will not be a story displaying the downfall of them, instead they will get their much deserved happy ending, they will find themselves strong and brave warriors.

Each chapter of birth mom’s story is being written, currently, it is categorized as a “tragedy.” What a paradox indeed, her loss is my gain. I have always been a good sport, but this time at my core is the desire to win. A relationship with healthy birth parents, is important and healing, yet at my core is the whisper of a wish that our birth parents would just go away. The moments they interfere with our little world, it is difficult to love well. Nothing makes me more aware of my own brokenness, than when birth parents invade our space, my achy heart gets territorial and insecure.

This is my reality, I am not and never will be their only mom. The paradox suddenly shifts when I realize that, loving my babies well, means loving their birthparents. It all comes full circle, maybe that is what Mother Teresa meant, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” The thing is I have enough love for not just my babies, but their parents as well. I don’t believe I can love well only one of them, for they are connected.

I can love our birth parents when they show up to our school unannounced after termination, just to check on the kids, even though they chose to not have their goodbye visit. I can love in sobriety and not, I can love them in their brokenness and I can love them when they have that precious Little One my soul longs for. I can love them because maybe that is the point of it all. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Loving them well, is part of the deal. I am forever tied to them, whether or not I have contact with them, whether or not they are involved or present, whether or not parental rights are terminated, I am called to love.

Our reality is these babies are mine, always and forever. I have complete say in what contact looks like, I get to be Mama Bear. Right now, they are not ready for contact, but I am, I need to love these parents until my crew has healed and received the tools they need to be able to love them well. Foster care really isn’t about the children, but for that brief moment when removal happens, from that point on it is about these parents. The best way to love my crew, is to love their birth mom as well, to show her that she can have her happy ending as well.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Imagination.


One of my favorite parenting decisions I made was not have a television in our home. We are not completely deprived, we get Friday night movie night, with a projector and sheet and Saturday morning cartoons via a laptop and Netflix, we do indulge but it is a big production when we do. Our home is filled with the chatter of little imaginations, everything becomes a character, we are transported to other magical worlds, filled with mermaids, fairies and all of the babies.

It’s hard to fight over the television when you don’t have one and anymore nobody even asks for it. It’s one of those decisions I am not overly protective of but to me no television equals peace. My friend, Jordan, asked one day, “if you don’t have a TV what does your furniture look at?” My response, “my couches face each other for optimal socialization.”

The things they come up with are incredible, objects transformed and worlds created around them. Recently at family dinner a spoon became a princess and a crystal candy dish a beautiful woman in a dress, there is a flip side to this imagination, I learned this summer.

We had spent the afternoon at my parents, like always the kids were upstairs playing in the toy room. We were there several hours and said our goodbyes and headed home, me no idea of the imagination that had taken place in the toy room that day. Days later we happened to be at my parents again, I had gone upstairs to borrow something, upon opening the sliding closet door, the smell of putrid decay invaded my nostrils. I immediately coughed, gasped and covered my nose, wondering what the source of that smell was. I began investigating, exploring for the source of the smell there it was, a small dark blue trash can. Inside appeared to be wads of wet toilet paper, rightfully so, 90% of parenting is asking why are things wet?

My parents have two little hedgehogs, I assumed was it was a misplaced can of hedgehog waste. I quickly grabbed it and took it outside, briefly mentioning to my mom in passing what I had found. The puzzled look on her face clued me in that she had no idea what I was talking about. I told her of my discovering and both of us, directed our attention to my three lovely children. So sweet, surely this is not something they did, as any parent does, I briefly and calmly ask some leading questions, tactically trying to prevent the lies. Open question about what games they had been playing a few days before, slightly more direct about what they did in the garbage can, to a full out discussion about the effects of human waste on the body, with an emphasis on waste

So now ever so curious, how this played out, I began to ask what kind of adventure they were on. The answers, explanations and questions came flooding in, here is the filtered answer for you, “we were camping, we all needed to use the bathroom and it was the only place to go.” My ever calm response, “no, the bathroom, the bathroom that is your ONLY place to go.”

I discovered after much detail that lying beneath the damp toilet paper was a ecosystem of disgust, things I would not want to see or touch. So as any sensible parent would, I suggested, since they so nicely took turns filling the trash can with waste, they can now take turns cleaning it out. It took lots of soap, bleach, time, gagging, and declarations of “we are never doing that again.” The result a semi clean toilet can and a new found appreciation for indoor plumbing.

This story, I consider to be one of the moments where I earned a parenting badge, trial by fire, a badge of survival. It also reveals to me, one of my greatest needs as a parent, is to laugh more at the things my kids do. I am not a serious person, I actually love jokes, pranks and scream laughing out loud. Somewhere in the chaos of parenting, I got serious and things got heavy. So much of my joy in parenting is missed in taking things so seriously, my friend who laughs often at his kids showed me that. I am slowly down, being silly and laughing with my kids more and I can say, my heart is lighter and my kids are happier and have incredible imaginations.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Meet the K Crew: Charlotte


This is Charlotte, Charlie or Char Char, my natural leader as the oldest of the crew she is really developed the skill of being in charge. She is strong, brave, smart and motivated. She inspires me daily to be more organized, kind and forgiving, she lights up a room with her smile. Her once dark eyes now sparkle to the world around her. Her love for Jesus is contagious, simple, and pure. 

Her name is Charlotte Elizabeth- “Free, Pledged to God. I gave her my middle name, I love having that bond with her. She is indeed free from her past but not unscathed, her wounds are deep, the healing process is long, the work is hard and the questions endless. We struggle, fight and push through the things we were taught to think were normal, we heal. We have a promise in our future and it is going to be good. 
She loves to be in the kitchen, helping and learning. She has fallen in love recently with reading, spending her nights after being tucked in, reading with a flashlight. She has her own sense of style, dreams (current dream to sing on America’s Got Talent) and passions. She is one of the best big sisters I have ever seen, she loves well. She adores babies and has a mama heart, spending her afternoons playing dolls and Barbies. She has this spirit of adventure, she loves to try new things and dream big, I pray she never loses sight of that. This past year she has learned skateboarding and softball, she has this ability to see something done and then to try it and succeed. She is going to grow up and do great things.
 

I asked Charlie a few questions:
If you had a dollar you would buy? I would give it to the needy.
What do you want to be when you grow up? A lot of things.
What is your favorite food? HOT POCKETS (said in a Jim Gaffigan voice) Hilarious choice, following our post yesterday on nourishing our bodies.
What makes you laugh? When my brother makes a cute face.
What is your favorite toy?
Barbies.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Nourish.


My mama heart desires to not only teach but educate my children. To explain to them the choices we make in our home and why, but also, the choices of others. I want them to not fear people's opposing views. I desire to show them options and that life is a balancing act of figuring out what our convictions are and living them out against everyone else's, with love.

I have been vegan just shy of 6 years, I am often asked if I raise my children vegan. We choose to have a vegetarian household but I educate them on options, when eating outside our home, they choose. Naturally we buck hardest against the things put on us without our consent, I do not want my children to be vegheads just because I am. I want them to be educated consumers and to just enjoy a variety of good food. Our journey is built on honest answers, chicken nuggets are made from chickens and hamburger from cows, lots of people eat meat and hunt, vegetables are good and make us strong too. Animals must lose their lives in order for people to eat meat, we need to be a good steward of our position. We need to be thankful for it, a life lost, even an animal's life, is something that we need to honor.

Here is a little insight into how we navigate food in our household. At the grocery store, we discuss why we buy some foods but not others, we choose new foods, we discuss how to pick a good melon and what exactly kale is. We pick vegetables from gardens and discuss having chickens someday. Each week we are introduced to a new food, using a thumbs up or down system, we share our opinion on that food. We explore and talk about how blessed we are in America to have the options we have. We learn about other cultures and what they eat. We cook together and choose foods that nourish our souls and bodies.

I have been asked if it was hard when I first became a mom to feed my kids, there was a learning curve, but every parent on the planet will tell you food is a “thing.” If you have more than one child at least someone will complain and not like what is set before them. My crew was raised on a highly processed diet, at first it was a juggling act of meeting them in the middle, over time I have been able to feed them foods that we all feel good about. In our home we eat kale and mac and cheese, there is enough shame in this world, let's instead encourage and educate one another.

I have no intent for having a completely vegan home, however I do desire to instill in them a diet that questions the status quo. I want them to know they have options, that food is meant to nourish our bodies and souls and is best shared with loved ones. I want them to have a healthy view of food, something I have struggled with my whole life. In our home, I do control the food that comes in, based on my convictions, within that I want them to have a say as to what we have and when. Balance and moderation is key. We try new recipes and rate how often we should eat it, weekly, bi weekly or monthly, they have an active say, within reason, what we have.

My journey into veganism, started about 6 years ago. It started first for health reasons. Seeing how my body changed for the better, this was the lifestyle for me. Then came the second wave of my commitment I began to see my convictions change, I desire to be a good steward of my body and this world. It has been a long road of retraining my mind and learning how to cook all over again. I have not always walked this journey well, I have been obnoxious, rigid, lazy, unhealthy, insecure, loose, healthy, hungry, balanced, gluttonous, and challenged. Being vegan has taught me to slow down, enjoy, be more compassionate, and to educate myself, things that have changed the course of my life.

My view on it all, it's not what we do or don’t eat, the reality is there are studies and reports to back it all up. Instead choose foods that give you life, energy and make you feel good. Nourish your body, my friends. When we nourish ourselves we have more time, energy and focus to pursue what you were created to do.