Be a Cheerleader, not a Competitor

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Ever notice how sometimes themes tend to run through your life? Lately, a theme of running in your own lane has been weaving its way through several areas of my life. A few weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to attend Q Conference in Nashville with a group from my city. Honestly, any other conference I go to from now on will be judged against Q. It was hands down one of the best conferences I have attended. Perhaps because over a period of 2.5 days, we heard approximately 50 different speakers. Talk about information overload! I am still trying to process it all.

Annie F. Downs gave a short talk the first morning and it hit me like a ton of bricks. She talked about how so often we live our lives like we are playing Chutes and Ladders instead of like we are playing Solitaire.  When we see someone else roll the dice and get to climb up the ladder we are jealous or envious and if we were honest, when we see others slide down the slide, perhaps there is a moment of where we think we aren’t doing terrible after all. We spend a lot of time and energy comparing everyone else’s lives to our own. We watch them succeed or fail and judge our own progress against theirs.

The thing is, as Annie said, our hands don’t look like everyone else’s. We were given a unique set of gifts and talents and entrusted with passions and skills. God has put a call on each of our lives only we can fulfill. And He knew what He was doing. (this hit me straight in the face). When we spend our time comparing or wishing our lives looked like so and so, we are doubting God’s perfect call on our own life. Perhaps we question why others have success and ours seems ever elusive.

For me, I struggled so much with watching other people seem to be living out their passion and doing things they love while I felt left out and left behind. This is not the life God has called us to live. We walked out of the room after Annie’s chat and were each given a card to remind us to play our own game. As I have been mulling over the card and her talk, I have come to a couple major aha moments.

  1. We are called for such a time as this. If you have ever listened to Ann Voskamp speak, you have probably heard her refer to the Esther generation and how we were called for such a time as this. As Christian women, I believe God has called us to the work of love and reconciliation and restoration.  This has to start with us. We have to stop competing against each other and start cheering each other on. We have to be agents of love in our families, our friend groups, our churches, and our communities. We have to stand up and say enough. My call is my call and your call is your call and guess what, there is enough room in this world for both.
  2. Her success does not mean my failure. This has been a tough one for me. It’s so easy to view life like a pie with finite slices. If she gets a slice, it feels like there is less for me. But the thing is, there is an endless number of pies. Instead of viewing others’ success as taking up some of ours, lets celebrate each other. Let us encourage and cheer and support and motivate. For much of the last couple years, I have felt so stuck. Unsure of what was next or what to do with the dreams in my heart. And then Annie told us to do the best with the life we have been given and it was like a light-bulb. I have felt stuck because I have been watching others tackle their dreams and felt like I was getting left behind. When God was simply asking me to put my dreams in His hands and trust He had a perfect plan for my life.
  3. We all need cheerleaders. After Annie’s talk, we were supposed to talk with the people we came with about what we felt our lanes were-where or what was God calling us? I told the two ladies I was with where I feel God is leading me and they were both so supportive. When we got home, one of them texted me and said ok, what now? How do we move forward? It was a moment I realized, we all need cheerleaders in our lives. And we all need to be cheerleaders in the lives of those around us. I mean, can you imagine what life would be like if we were all cheering each other on as we pursue our dreams? My dreams aren’t a threat to hers nor are hers to mine. Together we can encourage, cheer, and motivate each other towards the life God is calling us to live.

How can we do the best with the life we have been given? I believe it starts with running our own race and cheering on those around us instead of viewing them as competitors. I believe it starts with vulnerability and community and understanding the world is full of pies, waiting for us all to partake. It happens when we become cheerleaders to each others’ dreams. So friend, join me in cheering on those around you and enjoying pie all around!

The Faint Line

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To catch you up to my current life, I have to go back a little. It all began with one faint line. Ok, well, it began before that, but this is not a lesson in human biology. After one faint line, I went and bought a pregnancy test that declared you pregnant or not pregnant just to be sure.

Yep. Pregnant.

In your late 20s, this is an acceptable thing. Especially if you are married.  And especially if you live in southern Indiana. In fact, I was late to the baby game. Several of my friends were on number 3 or 4. But the faint line was not my plan. Fast forward 10.5 months (because H as I will call him did not want to come into this world), and I was holding my handsome little man. (also, pregnancy is actually 10 months, not 9..)

After a rocky first week, we started to get into a routine and by week 7 of my maternity leave, I actually started venturing out of the house with H. This was nerve-wracking and I realized very quickly how horrible everyone else drives. (and also got honked at several times for going to slow-PRECIOUS CARGO PEOPLE!) I had the great luxury to take a full 12 weeks off work. I cherish those 12 weeks and have become an increasingly strong advocate for paid maternity leave (which I am sure will come up later). H and I got into a routine, figured out breastfeeding, and bonded in some incredible ways. And while those 12 weeks we by way too fast, when it was finally time to head back to work, I felt ready.  I wasn’t sure what I was ready for, but I also did not feel the depression and agony most people described I would or should have.

And so I spent a final weekend snuggling with my little man and preparing everything we needed for Monday. I packed diaper bags and work bags and lunches and bottles. I doubled checked the car seat and laid out my clothes and his. I avoided talking about it and even avoided church because I could not deal with one more person asking me about the impending Monday.

 

..stay tuned for The First Day.

Adventures of a Working Mom: The Intro

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The other day I was driving and lamenting to myself about something..I honestly can’t remember what it was at this point and in the grand scheme of life, I am sure it was petty.  In the course of my internal wrestling, I realized how much I missed writing. Becoming a mom certainly changed my entire life (more on that to come..) and I realized I missed this little corner of my world. I abandoned it for a while because I felt I had nothing to say. My former adventurous, traveling the world life has been replaced with a job in corporate America and I often found myself struggling to find any purpose or sense it in all. Mostly though,I was struggling with hitting the publish button because I while I have countless blogs written, I would get to the end and think to myself, no one wants to read this and so it would be put on the shelf and another few months would go by. Near the end of my drive, I decided I was going to stop lamenting and take up writing again. But I was going to shift my focus to write about the adventures and joys and struggles of being a working mom.  I landed on this because here in little southern Indiana, I feel like somewhat of an anomaly and because it is something I do every single day.

According to a statistic from Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of women (with spouses) working with children in the house under 18 is 67.8%  . There are a lot of us moms who work out there. And yet, there is still this stigma attached to it which somehow seems to translate being a working mom into a task we grudgingly do while we spend our days wishing we could all stay at home.  I do not say this to start any mommy wars, because come on, being a mom is hard enough, we should all just stop with the drama and pettiness. I say all this to give you a point of reference. Because.. deep breath..most days, I love being a working mom.

Ok, now pick your jaw up off the floor and stay tuned.  I promise to write about the highs and the lows, I promise to not to impose my decision on you, and I promise to keep it real (also to write more than every 6 months). Because let’s be honest, one of my daily thoughts is, “I hope I don’t leak milk all over my shirt during my meeting.” And now I want to ask you for something. The next time you encounter a working mom, don’t pity her or ask her about staying home. Don’t add any guilt on her lap (trust me, she has enough of that). Just invite her for lunch or dinner or coffee because I promise you, she wants that more than anything and if you are fellow mom, you have plenty in common aside from your working vs. not working status to talk for hours.