Since I’ve embarked on a new work journey, I’ve gotten to do exciting new jobs things like buy office supplies, create new spreadsheets, and decorate my office. The new job task I’ve hated – selecting a professional headshot for work.
Since I work in a male dominated field, my coworkers wear suits for their photos which is great for them but not really my vibe. I started flipping back through old headshots that might be professional enough to make the cut but they just didn’t feel like they encapsulated who I am today.
I considered using one taken by my friend Nicole Cole in 2017 but that 3 year old photo didn’t look like me. The smile is fake, the shoulders look tense, it was just all wrong. I do remember her and that season. She was striving – striving to fit into boxes not built for her and that girl is no longer me.
Krisy Thomas sent me the photos we took a few months ago at a styled shoot and I landed on this one. It’s not perfect. I could rattle off about the bags under my eyes and the laugh lines on my face but that’s the 2020 version of me – exhausted as a working mom with two jobs yet so much laughter with my husband, our cute kid, our friends who are like family in our little city, and our actual family who remind us what home feels like.
And y’all – that’s 2020 in a nutshell. We’re all exhausted from the loss and grief and the never ending disappointments but our people are the ones holding us together. Of all the things I have hated about this year, the fact that we’re all walking through this year together is something that I’m hoping brings a shared sense of authenticity among us.
May we link arms with our people and hold each other up with a shared hope that better days are coming.
I’d greatly appreciate it if you’d take two seconds to click the link below and follow my new facebook page for work and share it with folks that might be interested in my services! I’m so honored to get to walk with families through conversations that greatly impact the futures of their families through what I do with WoodmenLife.
For starters, you can either think ahead and throw your chicken breasts in the crockpot with a cup of chicken broth for 4-6 hours on low. If you don’t have that kind of time, I recommend throwing all of that in the instant pot on high pressure for 8 min with a slow release.
Once your chicken is cooked and shredded, set it aside for a bit.
Sauté some green and red peppers, an onion, and garlic with some butter til cooked through. (We love mushrooms in our house so we slice some up and throw those in too.)
Mash a block of cream cheese in with your veggies until smooth. (If you’re like me, you toss that baby in the microwave for a min or until it sounds like it’s gonna explode so it’s softer and easier to mix with the veggies.)
Add a can of rotel tomatoes (or two, depending on your spice level and love for tomatoes), a box of chicken broth, 1/2 cup or so of heavy cream (you do you!), and a packet of taco seasoning.
Mix well and bring it to a boil.
Turn it on low and let her simmer for 20 min or so.
If you haven’t shredded/chopped your chicken, now is the time.
Once the soup has cooked, stir in your chicken.
Salt and pepper as you wish.
You’re going to want to top this with shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro, maybe some avocado. I often care more about my garnishes than my soup ingredients so have fun with it.
This recipe is low carb friendly but if that’s not your vibe, crumble some tortilla chips on top!
In the midst of a million disappointments I’ve had in 2020, the one that’s been most heartbreaking for me and has been a heavy burden in my spirit – the political discourse among Christ followers, specifically in our online engagement.
As Christ followers we must work towards unity and peacemaking. It is at the very core of who we are as believers. We cannot do so by prioritizing public displays of political opinion over pursuing Christ likeness in our words, in our social media engagement, in the way we treat others.
We cannot both love Christ while also hating Republicans or Democrats.
We cannot share the love of Jesus while also sharing articles and memes that mock those who view the world differently than you.
We cannot mourn with those who mourn while also publicly questioning the validity of the Covid-19 death count because that fits a certain political narrative.
We cannot make peace and stand for justice as Jesus commands while also posting snarky comments, sharing articles and information that are not known to be based on facts, and making bold claims that add to the division among us.
We cannot hold tight to our values of human life while also refusing to take proper precautions that could save the lives of those we come in contact within our communities.
We must choose to value our gospel witness more than our politics.
We must learn how to have dialogue with one another even when we disagree rather than dismissing the thoughts and opinions of those who disagree.
We have to stop viewing Republicans or Democrats as the enemy and view them as image bearers of God, created in his image, human beings worthy of respect no matter their political affiliation.
We have to stop and ask if what we’re sharing online is contributing to the work of unity or furthering the division.
We need to get back to the basics of filtering even the tiniest decisions through the lens of what Jesus would do.
Church, the world is watching. And if I’ve learned anything in 2020 is that God was not kidding around when he told us in his word that He opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.
May we repent and turn from our sin – and actively work to use our online engagement as a tool of encouragement that fuels Kingdom work rather than torching it.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I caught a Joe Biden ad on tv that spoke of “restoring the soul of America”. Micah asked what that meant and I did my best to answer but I’ve been thinking about that question a lot ever since that conversation. While I don’t have all of the answers, I do know one thing for certain – Joe Biden cannot restore the soul of America.
I mean zero disrespect to President-elect Biden but the task of restoring the soul of America is not a one man job just as the fault of division does not rest solely on the shoulders of President Trump. I am a firm believer that responsibility belongs to our leaders and while I do believe that President Trump has been a contributor of the division we see, the fault is not his own, we have played a role in it as well. While it is now up to President-elect Biden to contribute to our unity by spearheading those efforts, the job is not his. It is ours.
Just this last week, I have found myself reading (briefly) through the posts of people I know and I have come to this conclusion – division is dispersed in the shadows of social media engagement, for sure, but unity is created in the light of day by engaging our communities. We will never compose enough inspirational words on social media to unite us as Americans. The work of bringing forth unity starts with prayer and then sprouts hands and feet to serve our neighbors.
So how do you join in the work of restoring the soul of America?
Let’s start here:
We have to stop allowing social media to be the place where we express political opinions, engage in political conversations, gather/share politically driven news articles.
This might sound funny from the girl who hardcore geeks out on politics but this goes for me too. I think there’s a time and place for such conversations but what I’m learning is that those instances are rare. Instead, if you enjoy talking politics and sharing articles and whatnot, send them privately to a friend or two that you enjoy engaging in these sort of conversations.
Let’s all practice asking the question, “How does this post promote unity?”
2. Get out of the echo chamber.
What does that mean? How do I do that?
Mixing up your news sources is a good first step. If you are politically more conservative, turn on CNN or MSNBC instead of FoxNews or vice versa. The beauty of being a critical thinker is that you can listen to something, even when it is biased and still be able to take away a new perspective.
On the flip side, maybe turn off cable news all together and go for more traditional print media sources. I personally prefer the New York Times. I have their app on my phone, I listen to their podcast The Daily each morning, and we receive a physical copy of their publication each day. I also enjoy the reporting out of Politico, AXIOS, and NPR. Consuming my news in this way has done wonders for my mental health surrounding our political climate.
Also, resist the urge of unfollowing those who disagree with you politically on social media – or rather joining another social media platform that caters to your political narrative. We will never have unity if we refuse to listen and respect political opinions that are different from our own.
3. We’re gonna have to get comfortable with accountability.
I believe one of hardest parts of this quest for unity will come in the form of the accountability that will be necessary both on the giving and receiving end. Brothers and sisters, when we as followers of Jesus are not being Christlike in our social media engagement, it hinders the spread of the gospel. If we are serious about the mission of God, we must be serious about holding each other accountable in word and deed.
4. Get out and get to know your neighbors.
We often see the signs in the yards of our neighbors in an election season and make assumptions about who they are based on the candidate they support. Assumptions do not promote unity but often its the opposite.
It’s in the conversations on the sidewalk and at our dinner tables that open our minds to the perspectives of others in our communities.
Get out there friends and do the good hard work of promoting unity within your community by better understanding the different political perspectives that each of our neighbors bring – and then use that perspective alongside your own to best advocate for the needs in your community.
I commend President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for their continued message of promoting unity in our country – because I think we can all agree that we need it. And while I believe it is the job of our leaders to spearhead that effort, the real work is done by us. And we have a lot of work to do, friends.
My son Henry is 10 months old and every month brings on something new. He’s in a constant state of learning and some of these developmental hurdles are just harder than others. He’s got teeth coming in, growth spurts that throw his sleep out of wack, he’s trying new foods, learning to crawl is hard work, he now goes to a new place where he hangs out with a group of kids two days a week and has a babysitter on two other days when his whole life has been spent at home with mom.
Transitions are hard for us all.
Can I let you in on a little secret?
Our whole lives are just a string of transitions.
We like to think of life as a series of normal lulls of life linked together with a season of transition and then back to our normal dull life but that’s just not true. Our lives are an uphill climb where we don’t go back to normal, we adjust to a new normal only to face a new harder transition on up the hill. And despite what you might think, it’s actually a good thing. Each hurdle is conditioning us for the next and as followers of Jesus, we know that the hope we find in him is what provides promise for the prize and peace along the journey.
I say all of this to encourage you that life won’t go back to the normal we knew pre-COVID. And that’s not a bad thing!
Transitions change us and grow us in ways that make a lasting impact and we can’t just go back. What matters is what we do in the midst of the transition and how it sets us up to be a better/healthier version of ourselves on the other side.
As a wife and as a new mom, working two jobs and pursuing how God is calling me to serve my community, there are some key constants that have been helpful to me in this year of transition that I’d love to share with you and hope it’s helpful to you as well.
1. Remain grounded in who you are, who God has called you to be, and how God has called us to live. We are never more tempted to compromise than when we are isolated and for many of us, that’s been our reality in some way or another. With every choice you make – big or small – filter it through the lens of Christ.
2. Make a plan. It’s so easy to get caught up in a mindless, mundane way of life when working/studying from home and before you know it, another day has passed and you’ve accomplished only the bare minimum of daily activities. Make a plan as a way to increase productivity and motivation.
3. Be mindful of how you’re spending your time and try to channel time spent scrolling toward things like that enhance your well being – mind, body and spirit. Try reading a new book, going for a walk, reaching out and asking how you can be praying for a friend. If you need tips on unplugging from social media, I’d love to help you with that!
4. Keep dreaming. Good golly it is hard to remain hopeful and to allow yourself the space to dream when it often feels like the whole world is falling apart. But friend, recognize that God is still on the throne and the plans he has for you are not thwarted by this season but instead, this season is meant to refine you as a stronger vessel for his work now and in what’s to come. Spend some time dreaming with the Lord and allow His spirit to guide your heart to a posture of hope, no matter how grim this season may feel.
5. Take care of your mental health. I’ve always said that we ALL need a therapist and I believe that 100%. Whether it’s seeking out professional counseling, taking a long walk, journaling, or talking with a friend, we all need to be proactive in taking care of ourselves and our mental health is often neglected. If you’re like me, you often feel stretched thin as you take care of others but the first step in caring for those around you is caring for yourself.
Many of us entered this year with a spirit of hope and expectancy and likely feel disappointed. I get it. But friends, the same God who walked with us into this new year in January is walking with us now and He is still at work in and around us. May we open our eyes to see his work, trust in his sovereignty, and press on toward a healthier version of ourselves each and every day.
As I’ve waded through the muck of facebook comments, memes and false political narratives during this election, I’ve grown exhausted of the political partisan game of seesaw we’ve been playing. It has opened my eyes to one thing – while our politics may lean to the right or to the left, our prayers should never be partisan. This birthed a prayer guide called “Non-Partisan Prayers” which prompts you with specific people/groups of people to pray for as well as space for journaling starting Sunday, October 4th until election day.
Those who are subscribers of my newsletter, The First Friday, were emailed a link to claim one free copy as a thank you for your support. If you are local to Memphis/Jackson area and would like a printed copy, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
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It’s been a very busy couple of months in the Grooms household. Between job transitions and our baby boy getting busier by the day, I’ve had little time to allow myself space to feel the weight of emotions I’ve been carrying as this week grew closer. Last weekend was the breakthrough moment. As Micah and I sat around the table and had a late breakfast, I allowed myself the space to breathe – and it was like the little crack in the dam had completely split open. I expressed frustrations, I voiced concerns, I cried out in sadness and once I thought I was done, I thought to myself these five little words, “I feel like my mother.”
I shared with Micah that I could see parallels between my role as a mom and in the way in which it was up to my mom to get creative on how to bridge the financial gap for the rest of our needs/wants plus take care of 3 kids. And let me tell you – she hustled. She ran a small business and she worked every single day except for Christmas and Thanksgiving and that’s only if no one died – she had the only flower shop in town so I do mean that literally. She had to get creative with the hustle to make money for our family and also take care of us and the more I thought about how I feel like my mom with my own hustle, I realized that it’s not just a circumstance of my mom’s life that’s now reflected in my own, that is and has been a burdened carried by moms for generations.
We have to get creative with our hustle.
After I processed what this means for me – this renewed revelation of being just like my mom – I sent an email to make an appointment with my therapist and I went for a walk. Want to know the one thing my mom got wrong in the midst of taking care of business? She didn’t take care of herself. And on this ten year anniversary of saying goodbye to my mom, the best thing I can do to honor her is to learn from her – the good and the bad – and to hustle towards the healthiest me I can be.
I’m not sure where you find yourself right now but I can only imagine that you’ve got a hustle of your own. Take care of yourself, friends. And take care of each other. -C
On September 4th, I made an impulse decision to delete social media for Labor Day Weekend as we started to sink into our weekend of rest at home. Something different happened during this little social media sabbath than has ever happened before – I didn’t want it back. As Tuesday rolled around, I felt the Lord telling me to give in to the urge I felt to continue my break and I have to tell you – it has felt amazing.
Right before I took a break from “the socials”, I received a notification from facebook that it was my 15 year anniversary. 15 years. Almost half of my life has been spent on facebook. I’m a little embarrassed but the truth of the matter is that facebook today looks nothing like it did when I joined. I was a college freshman and at the time, facebook was the new myspace where only college students could have an account. It was a place to connect with friends at different schools and to become friends with the cute boy in my Psychology class.
It was not a place to strike up an argument with your old neighbor over the title of an article you shared that doesn’t fit their political narrative. It was not a place filled with targeted ads. It was not a place with facebook groups from people in your past that you haven’t talked to in years looking to sell you something you don’t need. It was a simpler time for sure but the platform that was meant to build connections has really just filled us with a sense of false connection. Data shows that this generation is most connected yet most isolated of any generation before and it all comes back to the ways we live our lives behind a screen instead of finding true connection with one another face to face.
If you’ve ever been curious about ways to spend less time on social media and screen time limits are just not cutting it, here are some things that have worked for me this past month – and I don’t think I’ll ever come back to use social media in the same way.
Use the desktop version of facebook and instagram to check in.
We live in a world where it is difficult to completely cut yourself off from social media, especially if you’re involved with your church, your school, and even your community. Being able to simply login on the desktop every couple of days to check messages and notifications has been exactly what I need to keep up with groups that are important to me without getting sucked into an endless scroll.
Shared Photo Albums.
When my friend Molly – hi Molly! – had her daughter Lucy, she added me to their shared photo album through iCloud. When we had Henry, I knew I didn’t want to share his photos on social media and that shared albums was the perfect way to stay connected with family and to share photos as an alternative to sharing photos on social media. Our family loves it!
Yall – I love MarcoPolo! Please add me and let’s connect!!! It’s so special to get to send videos of our family and friends without having to schedule a time to facetime.
Be selective with your media
Subscribe to news outlets your trust. I personally subscribe to The New York Times. Others I like are Axios, Politico, and NPR.
Shy away from cable news – FoxNews, CNN, etc. I personally feel like the pressure of filling 24 hour news slots for the last 20 years has been a load too much to bear and it shows in the reporting – although there are reporters I trust within those outlets.
News related podcasts that I listen to: Pantsuit Politics, Church and Politics, The Daily by NYTimes.
For Pop Culture news, I’m a proud patron of The Popcast. They keep me well informed.
Just as you’ve subscribed to TFF (thank you so much!!), there are tons of content creators that you enjoy on social media who send out a regular newsletter which includes much of what they share on social media. The truth of the matter is, social media could be gone in the blink of an eye – y’all remember what happened to Vine! – and many content creators are finding themselves creating content in an email format to better keep in contact with their readers as platforms and social media trends change.
Find other ways to occupy your time.
Apparently enneagram 8’s have a hard time NOT multitasking. I couldn’t understand why my screen time wasn’t changing without social media and it’s because I was just finding other things on my phone to do during the time I would normally spend scrolling – especially at night when I’m winding down. Call me grandma but now we’re working crossword and sudoku puzzles the old fashioned way – pencil on paper – before bed and we love it.
Here’s the thing – I’ve missed out on some things since being off social media and I’ll likely continue to be the last to know but I’m ok with that. What I’ve learned is that my desire to be in the know was so much more about me having the information than being able to celebrate my friends as they share their news. Pretty backwards huh? (But please text me if something big happens in your life!)
I’m not saying that you should cut out social media – I certainly didn’t intend to when I took a break last month – but I would encourage you to think about the amount of time you’re spending, the root of why you’re spending so much time there, how you might could form deeper connections with people outside of social media, and what you might gain back with the time you’re currently spending behind your screen. Take a little social media hiatus yourself and implement some of these practices. You might be surprised by how much of a difference it makes on your mind, body and spirit. AND You might actually enjoy it!
Now that Henry is eating table food, we’ve been toying around with some breakfast recipes that I can make before hand and heat up in the morning. These egg cups have been my favorite and I’ve had so much fun mixing different ingredients each time! My most recent ones used goat cheese crumbles with a strawberry balsamic glaze. Enjoy!
In a bowl, beat 8 eggs
Add some half and half or milk. Don’t ask me how much, just give it a splash or so.
Mix in whatever fixings sound good to you. I’ve used mushrooms, bacon, spinach, feta, mozzarella, goat cheese, cooked crumbled sausage. Use any combination that sounds good to you.
Grease your muffin tin.
If using sliced bacon, line your muffin cups with bacon strips. I cut my strips in half and stretch it to cover the tin.
Pour in your egg mixture. I use about 1/4-1/3 cup of the egg mixture for each of the 12 tins. The formal recipes will tell you to fill the tin 3/4 of the way but I say pish posh. Use up all of that mixture!
Bake on 375 for 20-25 min.
They are best when fresh out of the oven but you can store them for a few days in an airtight container. I like to heat them covered in a damp paper towel for 30-45 seconds when enjoying the leftovers.
Lord, be with our medical professionals who are working diligently every day to care for the needs of their patients whether in our hospitals, in the exam rooms in clinics, in the pharmacy filling prescriptions, and in the labs testing again and again with the hopes of a vaccine.
Lord, be with the teachers who are doing their very best to teach – some through masks, some through screens and all from a heart to promote a loving, safe environment for every child.
Lord, be with the parents who are doing their very best to balance being a mom/dad/stepparent/foster parent/legal guardian, a home school teacher, a counselor, a chef, a personal assistant, janitor, nurse and for many, also managing their own respective careers outside of the home.
Lord, be with our church leaders who are doing their very best to discern your voice in the best way to lead their people in times of uncertainty.
Lord, be with the business owners who have poured out their blood, sweat and tears to build something meaningful for their family and their community.
Lord, be with our law enforcement officers around our country. May they be reminded of their call to serve and protect and be united in that spirit as they go out into their communities. May their eyes be opened to the cries of their people and may they use the authority they’ve been given to provide peace and security to their neighbors.
Lord, be with our local government leaders who feel an overwhelming pressure to make decisions based on the needs of their constituents.
Lord, be with the members of the House and the Senate. Convict them to put the needs of their constituents above partisan politics – even in an election year.
Lord, be with the Trump Administration. May they rise to the challenge that’s before us to lead with heart to unify our divided nation around the ideals in which our country was built.
Lord, be with American citizens trying to navigate 2020. May we value the good of our neighbors over our own personal freedom. In a time where everyone is convinced that they must pick a side/align with a party, Lord, I pray that you convict us to remain loyal to you and your word and to the Kingdom building work you’ve called us. May we listen to one another with a heart of empathy rather than treating one another as adversaries.
Lord, be present in the hearts of all people around the world – stirring us to pursue you and your peace in our lives and in our community. Bring revival, starting with us, and spilling out onto all who walk the earth. May your Kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
May those who know you value your word and your call to kindness and love above all else.
Lord, give us your grace this September to see the good in you and in the ways you’re working. And give us peace in trusting you when things feel crazy.