There are people dear to me who, right now, are enduring some extreme conditions. As the storms in South Texas bandy about water and wind and residents either flee or hunker down to ride out the storm we send thoughts of love and strength to nature’s victims. As poverty reigns with a heavy hand in northwestern Guatemala (and the world over) we mindfully seek resources and interventions that might lift it’s crushing weight. As citizens throughout our dear America drive wedges between each other and the founding principles designed to bring us greater integrity we necessarily seek connection, compassion and perspective. As we prayed last night, I realized the words we uttered had universal application to all of that suffering: Please let the people who currently have the willingness and capacity to help be connected with those who need it most. No one of us can fix all of it but the humble, steady and consistent efforts of many of us will make a difference. Here’s to doing what we can today to spread calm and relieve suffering.
So it turns out when you accidentally start a business there are quite a few things you have to learn really quickly. Here are a few tidbits I picked up this week:
Important Acronyms to know:
FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number)
LLC (Limited Liability Company)
JSN (Just say no…especially important when people ask you to do something you REALLY don’t know how to do-like remove a tree)
TAGQ (Pronounced tah-gque, “That’s a good question”….turns out there are quite a few of these coming my way)
Live & Learn
Don’t apply for your Federal EIN number before your LLC paperwork confirmation comes back. Because maybe the name you wanted is taken (it turns out checking domain names and the federal EIN site isn’t the same thing as checking in with the State Comptroller. Who doesn’t buy their domain name when they file their business paperwork!?) and then you have to file a bunch more paperwork to make your EIN Number match your LLC name.
Applying for insurance when your previous experience is a volunteer apprenticeship and the person you worked with is now deceased (but lives on in everything you put in the ground) presents an interesting series of hoops to jump through. Additionally, submitting a resume, payroll estimates and gross revenue estimates is challenging when you’ve been in business for 2.5 weeks. But having insurance to bring in jobs and earn that revenue seems like the responsible way to operate. So much for the advice in $100 Startup to just try something out and see if it works, write the business plan later.
Sometimes things work out and fall into place. Sometimes they don’t. Ritchie and I have been trying to figure out a way to create a revenue stream that we could use for humanitarian endeavors. We’ve sorted through and planned a few different things now but kept hitting roadblocks. Then this opportunity just kind of opened up and I feel hopeful and confident that Esteban, our newly-sponsored high school student training to be an Agricultural Technician will give this whole endeavor added meaning, motivation and success. It’s a blessing to use our freedom, gifts, experiences, time and opportunities to empower others. Until next time, happy landscaping!
A week and a half ago, after setting the intention to be more budget-conscious I found myself needing a black ink cartridge. Those things are expensive and I didn’t have enough left in my weekly home management budget to buy one. I could’ve used money from another account or my savings and it would’ve been fine but I tend to do that a lot so I decided to stick to my budget and get creative. I printed everything in blue ink instead of black for a while but as the week wore on this strategy got increasingly frustrating and I found myself with a list of “things to print when I get an ink cartridge.” I needed a black ink cartridge to live efficiently. I decided I could try to earn one. Now I’m a little rusty when it comes to earning money since I’ve been staying home with Jessica (and preparing for Jessica and trying to conceive Jessica) for the past 11 years and I’m particular about the time I commit outside our home. So I decided to post a message on my community Facebook group offering to cut back the myriad brown and crunchy frozen plants in people’s front yards. I listed my qualifications (Master Gardener Training, Landscape Design practice/consulting) as well as my availability (3 spots on Thursday) and price ($20). I hoped 3 people would want to take me up on my offer so I could buy my ink cartridge and get on with my life. In less than 3 minutes I had 3 customers and I was elated. Within 8 minutes I had 5 customers so I said I could do 2 front yards on Friday too (Hey, I thought, I can also buy the essential oil I’ve been needing to replenish). By the end of the night I had about 20 messages and by the next morning I was up to 30. The following week saw an additional 10 people added to my list, each wanting a different service (tree pruning, lawn consultation, landscape design, winter clean-up). As I met with different neighbors I realized that I inadvertently stumbled into a ready market for my landscape love. I’ve worked hard, I’ve made some mistakes, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve gotten dirty, I bought a hedge-trimmer and wielded it with pride (because I spent 60 hand-cramping minutes cutting back ornamental grass with hand pruners and that hedge trimmer gets the job done in less than a minute!). So this past week I filed papers with the Texas State Comptroller to officially establish Beautiful Village Landscaping LLC. Now proudly (and humbly) operating in Bulverde Village.
When beginning a new habit it’s important to start small, be consistent and build some incentive into it. This Family Council Quick Start Agenda covers the basics and allows you to easily begin your first family council meeting this week. Use this agenda until meeting together weekly is an established routine (at least 1 month).
To your spouse you can say “Hey babe, I’d really love your feedback and input on some family stuff and I’d like to have a brief family council meeting. I’ll take care of the agenda.” People rarely say no when you ask for their opinion.
To your kids you can say “Hey guys, I want to know what’s going on with you, we’re going to have a quick team meeting after dinner on Sunday.” You may get grumbling but you can smile and offer to let them choose the game.
Expect to hear “How long is this going to take?” from all parties. Smile and respond with “Not long, and it’ll be fun.”
Print 1 Family Council Quick Start Agenda copy for each member of the family and provide each person with a colorful pen which makes their random doodling all over your painstakingly-prepared agenda look especially nice. Feel free to review the agenda with notes but if your family sees that many words on a page at your first meeting they may run for cover so tuck it under your copy of the Quick Start Agenda and refer to it as needed. Start with the gratitude and make sure each person receives some because that sets a tone of love and appreciation for the whole meeting. Ending with a game leaves everyone feeling like there was at least something fun that came out of it.
In our house my role is to manage our growth and experiences so I create the family council agenda each week. In the coming weeks I’ll share ideas on how to evolve your agenda as your family acclimates and embraces the meeting. So much of it is in the presentation and like Ritchie said, when the agenda shows up, we have family council.
p.s. I welcome your feedback and I’d love to hear how it goes for you!
Around the age of 14 I learned to slalom ski on Lake Mojave in California. I had been water-skiing for a number of years and I was getting increasingly comfortable and ready to put another sport in my recreational repertoire. Sometimes life offers us the choice of taking on something challenging. Sometimes it doesn’t. This is one of the times I got to choose and here is what I remember about slalom skiing: Until experiencing it, I had little understanding of just how much work it takes to stay steady and rise above the water.
I had watched other people, snugly fit in their life jackets, hop into the cool water, wrestle with an unruly ski, fitting one foot in first and then tucking the other behind it. I’d watched them struggle to keep their heads up as they waited for rope, jostled in the water at the mercy of the current and the boat wake. I’d seen them grab the rope and straighten the ski, positioning their bodies directly behind the boat. And then I’d watched them call “hit it” to the boat driver and endure the pull of the boat, rising almost effortlessly out of the water as the ski would plane out and they’d fly across the lake with exhilarating freedom.
What I learned when it was me in the water is that those few seconds that seem effortless are, to the skier, quite challenging. And that the hardest moments of skiing are the moments of endurance between “hit it” and gliding across a lake of early morning glass. No matter who you are and how strong your body is, those few seconds of extreme pull require commitment, endurance and vision. You have to tell yourself that you won’t let go until you reach your goal. You have to remind yourself that you can do it and you have to see yourself skiing on that lake. Sometimes struggle is like that and when you’re in the thick of something hard, those moments where everything seems more than you can bear, you think you can’t hang on or that you’re the only one who struggles or that you’ll never move through the stretching moments you find yourself in. It’s not. You can. You’re not. You will. Believe & hang on.
Every summer when I go to Lake Powell I like to slalom ski at least once to remind myself what it feels like. I usually have to make a few attempts because I’ve forgotten, as it’s easy to do, how to hang on to the rope when every muscle in my arms and legs screams for me to let go. I ski to practice skiing, to get some water up my nose, shake it off and try again. I ski to remind myself that I am capable of enduring the pull of the boat for as long as it takes to get me up out of the water. I ski to practice steadying myself in positions I know will move me forward as the wake of the boat and the water of the lake rock me back and forth. I ski to remind myself that it’s worth hanging on because there’s nothing quite like watching the sun rise as I slide across the lake with a smile on my face, the wind in my hair and my fingers grazing the top of the water. Like most things in life, the price we pay for experiential knowledge can be steep but it’s worth the effort.
In the middle of a numbness so shocking and deep, I was blessed with a measure of grace for a few days but I soon found that peace alluded me as I muddled on with life and holidays and vacations. It is so hard to seek heaven and hear silence. Left to my own devices, I could glimpse moments of preparation, mostly in the form of my connections with other people. As I continued to grasp at any strands of heaven that came my way, I was offered the opportunity to weave together a new understanding of God and to seek Him where He is instead of where I wanted Him to be. From a broad perspective, this endeavor has turned out to be one of the more enlightening journeys that I have found myself on. But as is so often the case, the enlightenment has been accompanied by soul-searching and a depth of awareness that is sometimes staggering.
Many times throughout His ministry, the Savior offered His listeners the opportunity to find the things they were seeking. I think we live in a time when it is increasingly easy to find ideas, information, opinions, such that one can cultivate community around any ideas he or she wants to. I think one of the pathways to spiritual growth is the belief that one can be a lifelong seeker of God, continually piecing together an understanding of heaven during whatever experiences one finds oneself in until the day that soul and heaven are eventually reacquainted in full and we have the opportunity to see Him as He is. With a bit more life experience, I have a better understanding of how much effort it takes to make this reconciliation sometimes, to seek out and believe in goodness, love and mercy in the face of devastation, to courageously grow and live when there are so many reasons to fear. With the effort has come the realization that each unique journey offers surprising beauty. Here’s to bravely seeking to see.
Today I started potty training my 2.5 year old. It went really well considering he had zero interest going into it and I only had to scrub poop off of my carpet once. As I did said scrubbing, I found myself thinking about the uncelebrated task of teaching a child to use a toilet. On any given day I might have a real chip on my shoulder about having to be the one to mess with the mess that was before me. I have been known from time to time to wonder why tasks like this fall upon my shoulders and not, say, my husband’s. If I allowed myself, I could get really worked up about spending the day inside directing bowel movements while my husband (really just in my mind) receives accolades all day for his hard work in medical school and his PhD.
My work may feel so trivial at times, but the truth is, as long as Steven and I are each being our best at doing our best, our work is equally important. There is a quote that David O. McKay, a previous leader of my church loved that says, “What E’re Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part.” I love this quote too. I don’t believe the Lord cares so much about WHAT we are doing so much as HOW we are doing it. I also know that this is not just a personal mantra to pacify myself as a stay at home mom, but pure and simple truth, because it’s also been my experience that we’ll find much greater happiness in this life (surprise!) by focusing more on the how than the what. We can find this promise also in the parable of the talents. In Matthew the lord gives 1, 2, and 5 talents to his servants. The servants who were stewards over the 2 and 5 doubled what they had and received equal praise. The servant with only 1 said he was “afraid” so he simply hid his talent and was rebuked. The naughty servant wasn’t rebuked because he had only been given 1 talent from the start and everyone made fun of him, he was rebuked because he didn’t do his best with even the little he had. I find myself at times not being the best steward over my seemingly small-in-the-eyes-of-the-world tasks because I fear the world outside of my home more than I should. I spend too much time concerned with WHAT I am doing and whether or not it’s important enough than HOW I’m doing whatever it is I’m doing. It’s part of digging into this life that I’m working on. So, the next time you come to my house, I’ll still just be scrubbin’ poop, but it’ll be the best scrubbed carpet I can muster and I’ll be darned if there’s not a smile on my face. 🙂
Many times I find myself struggling with being a stay at home mom. Not uncommon. But sometimes I wonder if the depth of my struggle is normal. Just ask Steven, my husband. Probably at least once a month I have a mini life crisis wherein I question my validity as a human being, wonder why it feels so hard to be doing something that’s supposed to be so right, searching for something that will bring a different kind of fulfillment in my life. I let the important things slide as I search for the answer; as I make my plans to become a dietitian, no, personal trainer, no, cosmetologist, no, lawyer… I’m like the mouse on the wheel, continuously wearing myself out running for the morsel that I think I’m chasing but that is actually right beside me. If I would just step off of the wheel, give it up, the morsel could be mine. That small morsel that turns out to be so much more than it is at first glance–of peace, sense of purpose, clarity, light. Instead of stepping off of the wheel and taking it, I find myself avoiding the reality of the opportunity of this moment in my life, relying on my own limited wisdom. “Hey God, I know you’re trying to tell me your way would be so much easier, but no, that’s ok, I got this one.”
I had an experience lately that reminded me of the reasons I stay at home with my children. The reasons that I don’t always pay attention to. These are opportunities that use the skills I have that I don’t always work on improving. I have a friend in my church congregation whose husband recently was diagnosed with (another) brain tumor. He had had one several years before that had been removed and the prognosis was that there would likely be a re-occurrence in 10-15 years. And yet, here is my friend, pregnant with her 5thchild, and only 2 years after the first surgery preparing for yet another brain surgery that will take place only 2 weeks before her due date. If Christ can do anything with my life, please let Him show me how best to love this friend of mine and those like her. Let Him show me how to love like He does. How to serve without question and without bidding. Help me to find my life losing it in others’. I find myself now asking, Lord, just tell me how, just tell me what, and I’ll do it. Qualities that I already possess have lain dormant because I’m searching for ones the Lord hasn’t given me, at least not yet. But Charity, I can do that. And with Him, I can work on it even more. At this time in my life I have the opportunity to help whoever I want, whenever I want, however I want. I have a love and curiosity and comfort with all people. My Savior, be my teacher, help me to know.
There is a beautiful quote by Sister Marjorie Hinckley, a wise church leader who has passed on, that I have always loved. It is this:
“I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.
I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor’s children.
I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden.
I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”
― Marjorie Pay Hinckley
This is digging in. This is what I can do because I stay at home with my children.
I need Christ to show me how to stop avoiding this beautiful season and opportunity He has given me and Just. Dig. In. If I can turn myself over to Him, He can fill the whole depth of my struggle, and then make it overflow with what is true and good and beautiful and worth while. If I can just reach for Him, He can make this life so much more than I ever could on my own.