Preferences, Convictions, and Commitment

I knew this would happen.

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I knew I'd drop my kids off at VBS at our old church every morning last week and miss that place.  I missed it bad.  My husband and closest friends could read it all over my face.

Two years ago, we became members at a different church, the church that we still attend.  Our decision was primarily fueled by the desire to stop commuting half an hour each way every week and to become part of a church body in our home community.  This change was challenging because I loved City Pres.  Had we left because we had been hurt or upset, the transition would have been easier, or at least more clear-cut.  

When we first started coming to Providence Road, I was encouraged to hear the gospel preached so emphatically and to be welcomed immediately by kind people who genuinely love Jesus.  But I missed so many other things about our old church that I struggled to worship in our new one, and still do at times.  I miss the hymns, the responsive readings, the paper order of worship that I could hold in my hands, the communion wine and the kneelers off to the side.  I miss the austere reverence that filled the building and the beauty of the building itself with that big red door, the stained glass, and the wooden arches.  I miss the size of the body and the variety of ages found in it.  I miss those sweet people, many who we've known for twelve years, many who walked with us through the most difficult season of our life together and watched as we renewed our vows in that 100-year-old sanctuary.  

What I have had to realize is that most of the things I miss about City Pres are truly preferences and not convictions.  We are convicted that we need to be in a church in Norman where the gospel is proclaimed boldly and shown to be essential in the lives of the church members and leaders.  That's it.  When Christ stands at the head of a church, all of the minor issues can go.  There is value in finding a place and remaining committed to it, even when more comfortable places exist.  If everyone quit things as soon as they became uncomfortable, no one would ever have children, finish school, runs marathons, or remain married.  

This is not to say that I've had any easy time dying to my preferences in honor of my convictions.  But, He does help my heart.  Two years later, I can honestly say that although I still miss City Pres, I love Providence Road!  As I've slowly loosened my hold on what I want, He has shown me how the gospel can break down all sorts of barriers to give what is needed, namely God himself.  I can love and serve at this church because it is His church and my preferences are secondary to His kingdom. 

Fan Club Friday: The Kinney Team

Anyone who has ever bought or sold a home knows that such an important transaction has potential for being a huge headache.  

We've lived in our current home for about 2.5 years, and it could not be more perfect for our little family.  Our previous house was a great "starter home", but my husband and I began to feel claustrophobic in its 1,000 square feet when we unexpectedly found out that I was pregnant.  (First world problems, I know.)  We already had a toddler at the time, so our plans to move into a more spacious home "at some point down the road" quickly escalated.

Kacie Kinney Realtor

I casually mentioned our growing family's needs to my realtor friend, Kacie, who encouraged us to pull the trigger and put our house on the market.  Thanks to her wise suggestion, we finalized our entire buying and selling process in a month.  The Kinney Team sold our house for over our asking pricing in four days, and we were able to find our current home just hours later.  I was sixteen weeks pregnant and horribly sick on our closing/moving day, so Kacie arranged for meals to be catered to our home as soon as we moved in and for a professional cleaning service to make our old home presentable.  I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd repeat our homebuying experience in a heartbeat.  The reason?  We had an amazing realtor.

I went to college at THE University of Oklahoma with Kacie, and I remember her being a go-getter, even at 18.  She knew what she wanted and always worked hard to pursue her dreams.  Unfortunately, these qualities can translate into realtors being pushy, self-centered salespeople.  Kacie is different.  She cares about the people buying and selling homes.  Instead of simply trying to complete a transaction, Kacie envisions the family members who will be sitting around the kitchen table or playing fetch with the dog in the backyard in a given home.  Her desire is to help others, and real estate is the tool that she uses to do that.

Kacie's assertiveness, knowledge, and passion have put The Kinney Team in the top 1% of real estate teams in the OKC metro area.  I enjoyed working with Kacie because I often felt that she better understood what we needed and wanted in a home than we did.  In addition, she was able to represent us politely but firmly with the other real estate agents involved.  A Yukon native, Kacie's knowledge of and love for homes across the metro is superior.  If you're looking to purchase a home for the first time (or the 51st!), you need this girl on your side!    

Closing Day, February 2015

Closing Day, February 2015

Before we bought our home, we prayed for a place where we could raise our family and keep our doors open to people from all walks of life.  We believe that our house is a gift, and we want to be good stewards of it by inviting others into our life in Norman.  In less than three years, we have not only brought a second child home to this address, but we have hosted several AirBnB guests from across the country and rented out a room to a recent high school graduate.  In weeks ahead, we have the privilege of welcoming in children through foster care.  Our prayers have been answered beyond what we ever could have imagined. 

This home isn't just the place where we live; it is where we write our story.  Thanks, Kacie, for your part in storytelling.  

Check out The Kinney Team on their website, Facebook, or Instagram, and let Kacie help you take the first step toward fulfilling your real estate dreams.

If you or a local business you know would like to be featured on a Fan Club Friday, please fill out the form here.

Fan Club Friday: The Eye Gallery

I have been wearing glasses or contact lenses for as long as I can remember.  I can still picture my very first pair of glasses, a set of big red frames with pink paint flecked around the edges.  They screamed 1993, the year that I entered kindergarten.  By fifth grade, those glasses were nerdy old news, and I was ready to try hard contacts.  Disaster.  I distinctly recall more than one occasion during which my mom aimed the brightest flashlight we owned into my eye in a futile effort to retrieve the contact lens that had either pasted itself to my eyeball or rolled behind my eyelid and was swimming around in my head.  In my mind, though, this was a small price to pay for vanity, as opposed to the Coke bottle lenses that my glasses had become.

Needless to say, I've been seeing an optometrist for a looong time, though apparently not as long as I should've been.  My poor mom, bless her heart, had no idea that I couldn't see anything in kindergarten until the health screening people came around and made that determination for both of us.

Though I have visited many an eye doctor in my quarter century of ocular issues, Dr. Cliff Hughes from The Eye Gallery stands out above the rest.

{Okay, yes, I wrote about his wife, Nichole, for my last Fan Club Friday post.  I promise that I'm not obsessively stalking their family.  They just run great businesses!}

I knew Dr. Hughes as a friend from church before I knew him as my optometrist.  His kindness, wisdom, humility, integrity, and generosity are trademarks of his personality that he carries into his work.  Since The Eye Gallery was established over six years ago, it has set itself apart with a commitment to the pursuit of excellence and cultivation of a service-oriented environment.  Along with many other satisfied patients, I would say that my annual eye exam is always thorough, and all staff members demonstrate great attention to detail.

Like myself, Dr. Hughes has spent most of his life wearing corrective lenses.  His experience in the eye doctor's chair as a young boy paved the way for his interest in the profession.  (Interestingly, his two sons seem to be following in his footsteps; Knox and Hudson have been wearing glasses since they were babies!)  After completing his undergraduate program at the University of Central Arkansas and then graduating from Southern College of Optometry, Dr. Hughes chose to do a year-long optional residency training with an emphasis in ocular disease.  Basically, he's an overachiever, which is what you want when you're choosing a doctor.

Since I made the decision to go into dental hygiene last year, I have been shocked to discover the amount of people who know next to nothing about the importance of oral health.  Many men and women believe the lie that if their teeth are white and aren't hurting, they have no need to see a dentist.  A similar phenomenon seems to be true with ocular health.  20/20 vision alone does not constitute healthy eyes!  How our eyes work together as a team, how they focus light, how our brain processes visual information ... all of these components play a role in the visual system.  An optometrist is really a "vision" doctor, and good vision begins with healthy eyes.

Dr. Hughes likes to begin seeing patients at six months of age because he rightly believes that prevention is the best medicine.  One of the best ways to ensure our children's academic success is by having them tested to determine whether or not their visual systems are adequate for the demands that school places on them.  

Being the amazing mother that I am, I took my girls to The Eye Gallery for the first time when they were one and three, respectively.  {Better late than never, right?}  Thankfully, Piper's eyes are perfect.  She's adopted, so she didn't inherit my horrible astigmatism or near-sightedness.  Caroline has not been so fortunate.  Dr. Hughes usually examines his patients at six months, one year, three years, five years, and then yearly thereafter, but Sweet Girl is due back to see him next month at age two for a follow-up.  I'm kind of not-so-secretly hoping that she's one of those toddlers with the plastic glasses because, adorbs.

Speaking of glasses, The Eye Gallery has a wealth of fashion-forward brands to peruse!  From Michael Kors to Tom Ford, Ray Ban, and Maui Jim, every patient is bound to find a great pair of frames.  My favorite part of my annual eye exam is trying on some of these frames, even though, as we've discussed, my horrible vision requires Coke bottle lenses.

When I first began coming to Dr. Hughes, my astigmatism was already at the highest step.  Because of this, contact lenses were difficult to find, and the ones that I had worn in the past were uncomfortable.  Dr. Hughes worked with me, as he has with many other patients, to find a set of lenses that fit comfortably and corrected my atrocious vision.  His assistant, Dawn, has always gone above and beyond in helping with glasses fittings and contact orders.  Even my kids are happy to go to The Eye Gallery because the employees are so patient with them, and they have their own place to play while I get my eyes examined.

Located in an under-served area of south Oklahoma City, The Eye Gallery is convenient for patients from Norman and Edmond alike.  And if you're like me and have funky or nonexistent vision insurance, Dr. Hughes and his staff are great about working with you because they all believe in the importance of eye health.

The Eye Gallery is accepting new patients now, so it's not too late to schedule an exam before school starts.  Check them out on their website, Facebook page, or Instagram, and take a step toward healthy vision today! 

If you or a business you know would like to be featured for Fan Club Friday, contact me here.   

Fan Club Friday: Paper Kite Events

Hey guys!

Today is the first Friday of the month, which means that it is Fan Club Friday!  These are some of my favorite posts to write because in them, I get to brag on my talented friends.  It's easy to talk about people who are good at stuff.

This is Emily Wilkins, owner and operator of Paper Kite Events in Norman, Oklahoma.

Emily and I have been friends since college, and sometimes I wonder if there is anything that's hard for her!

Last summer, my husband turned 30, and my two girls turned one and three, all within less than six weeks of each other.  We now refer to Summer 2016 as "The Great Summer of All the Birthday Parties."  I love me a good party, and each event was successful.  However, I remember talking to Emily, whose kids and husband are the same ages as mine, and saying that I did not want to plan another party again for a very, very long time.

I'll never forget her response: "Really?  Oh, I love that stuff!"

And y'all, she's good at it.

Every time I go to an Emily-planned event, I leave feeling slightly incompetent, in the best "why-didn't-I-think-of-that" way possible.  From the invitations she sends to the minute details on the tables, every element is perfectly prepared and executed.  Emily is not just using ideas from Pinterest; she's inventing new ones.  This girl literally thinks of everything.    

So, when Emily told me that she was going to start an event planning business, my first reaction was, "I cannot think of one better person for that job!"

Emily is friendly and patient and offers several different service packages in order to meet whatever planning and promotional needs her clients have.  When I was pregnant with our second, Emily threw me the most precious baby shower at her historic home, but she pulls off far more than showers and parties.  Her portfolio includes legislative breakfasts, teacher banquets, grand opening celebrations, and retreats.  

A native Oklahoman, Emily is knowledgeable about a variety of venues and vendors in the greater Oklahoma City area.  Personally, I love that she loves Norman.  This college town where we live is unique and quirky but also charming, and Emily is proud to call it home.

If events of any size overwhelm you as much as they do me, or you simply cannot fit another item on your already-full plate, Emily is your girl.  Check out Paper Kite Events on their website, Instagram, or Facebook page, and then sit back and relax ... because you just finished the hardest part of your event planning.

If you'd like to have your business featured on a Fan Club Friday, please fill out the form here.