Oh, middle school. That dreaded time of adolescence when awkward is the side dish served with every entree. **RECORD SCRATCH** Hold up. What if we looked it again? Reconsidered the potential these precious years hold, rather than just grin (or grimace) and bear it? Yes, these years can be hard, but there’s so much more that’s worth exploring.

In this episode, I talk with my friend Michelle Icard, author of several books on middle school parenting, including her most recent, “14 Talks by Age 14.” (Check out Michelle’s work here.)

Listen, Michelle doesn’t call herself the “Middle School Maven,” but I think it’s a perfect fit. She’s SO in tune with this stage of development, the importance of letting kids “earn their own wisdom,” and why as parents we should be tuning in (strategically) …

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“So often our body image issues stop us from being present.”

What is your body image keeping you from? Swimming freely?  Smiling at strangers? (Once these masks are off.) Wearing a tank top when it’s flipping hot out? Being present in the moment with your friends and family and not obsessing about the cellulite dimples on your thigh?

I loved this conversation with Shanel. It was encouraging and convicting. I now weight what I did at my heaviest while pregnant. And it’s…weird? I’m just wrestling with it. I harbor negative thoughts about my own body, which ultimately spills onto how I think about and treat others. 

Body positivity is perhaps a trendy term thrown around but it’s more than skin deep. It’s soul deep. How to embrace and celebrate the body you’re in SO you can be your …

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Imagine. Imagine living in your car. In a Walgreen’s parking lot. Then getting washed up in a McDonald’s bathroom. For months on end. Imagine.

Now imagine this happening to you as a child. Imagine having to hide your homelessness from your teachers, for fear you’ll be taken away from your mother. Imagine.

Joseph Shepard doesn’t have to imagine it. He lived it.

But his story and his struggle has helped him reimagine what life might look like for him. What life might look like for others like him, if he used his voice and his testimony to help and heal.

This conversation with Joseph was enlightening and inspiring. He’s got some stuff to say. And everyone should listen.

To choose love in the face of hatred, fear, oppression, obstacles and hard times isn’t required of us. It isn’t. We have …

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Whether it’s because of the stress and strain of the pandemic, the particular season of your life, or all of the above, we can find ourselves called to carry out tasks that we may not want to do or may not feel fulfilled by. (Hello piles of laundry and grocery shopping and substitute homeschool teaching.) How can we get through this? Not just this moment, but this life? When we have to slog through the humdrum, the boring, the mundane, the behind-the-scenes work that gets no glory. What if…what if we simply embraced the fact that we’re playing a role? 

“I want to be a good role player. Whatever role I’m called to do, I want to do it well.”

Dang. My friend Lyric said this at Bible study recently, and it floored me. She didn’t say …

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Being a working mother=hard.

(Heck, being a mother, period, means you’re working. And it’s all hard.)

Being a working mother with kids at home=hard. 

Being a working mother with kids and traveling while working and taking care of children while navigating being a business owner during a pandemic=superhero level hard. 

Meet Laura Haffner (aka Wonder Woman). She and her husband Ryan own High Plains Harvesting, based in Park, Kansas. I was fortunate enough to meet her through the Virtual Farm Food Tour, sponsored by Kansas Soybean Commission, Kansas Farm Bureau, and Kansas Pork Association. After participating in the Farm Food Tour several years ago, I’ve been honored to continue partnering with these organizations to help tell the stories of our Kansas farmers. 

Meet Laura!

Laura and I sat down for a Zoom chat, …

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You’ve seen the puzzle pieces, the lighting it up blue, the walks…but autism is so much more than these well-intentioned, but sometimes harmful awareness campaigns. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful autism is in the common lexicon now, but I am very passionate about telling the rest of the story. Or rather, letting autistic people tell the rest of their story. In this episode, I interview Heidi and Victoria, two Australian women who are also autistic. Their new podcast, Aspies Etc., caught my attention, and I wanted to pick their neurodiverse minds on everything from how to better raise my autistic daughter and what it’s like to launch into the podcast world. I’ve been writing about my daughter and autism for years. I haven’t always done it right. But I’ve done it. And I have …

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