• The Poplar Family

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

My husband and I have a weekly date night. It's our time to connect with each other and catch up on so many of the things we miss out on while adulting. After 26 years of being together, we try to find first time experiences.

A great thing about going to the movies is that although we might be doing something we've done before, it still qualifies as a first because we haven't seen that particular movie. This week we went to see the film Queen & Slim. It was a first that fostered great dialogue. And even though we haven't had the chance to fully unpack our thoughts, I know that we've both been pondering it.

Even if this blog doesn't post for weeks, I want to capture my thoughts about this movie before reading any commentary or hearing anyone else's feedback. There were so many moments in this film in which I wished I could have pressed pause and wrote my heart out. There were one liners that would circle through my thoughts and almost keep me from catching the next quote.

I will share my thoughts below and try my best not to spoil anything for anyone. If you have already seen it, my goal is to make you want to rewatch. And if you haven't seen it I hope this will compel you to put it on your calendar and make it a priority.

Let's start with Slim, Daniel Kaluuya portrayed this character so well. From the opening scene, you get a good glimpse of who he is and how he relates to the world around him. He was completely comfortable with who he was, it was both refreshing and irritating to watch. Refreshing because I enjoy seeing Black men who are content in their own skin. But irritating because as a mama of four black men, I felt nervous for him and wanted to correct some of his character's quirks.

And now Queen, Jody Turner-Smith, I could tell this girl was what I call an A.B.C. "A Bad Chic" from the beginning. Beautiful, brilliant, bold, and bothered. The initial dissonance between her and Slim felt like she was verbally translating the thoughts Black women think in their minds, say under their breath, and based on the geographic location of where they were born, are hesitant to say out loud.

All the makings of a good romantic drama. It's nice to fall in love with characters so quickly. The writers did a great job of highlighting the flawsomeness (flaws + awesomeness) of every person depicted.

Bokeem Woodbine (Queen's Uncle Earl) may have been my favorite cast member. He reminded me of the guys I use to date. Guys that tried to do what's right, but in return got done so wrong that they manufacture an environment for themselves in which they "feel" like they are the leader they know they were meant to be.

In an effort to not spoil the film I'm going to make short observations about the other cast members.

  • The antagonist totally caught me off guard, kudos to the writers for shattering my heart through capturing the harsh realities of the world we live in.

  • I think wives should listen very closely to the prostitute's words.

  • The mechanic's son, reflected misguided passion and the devastating consequences.

  • I appreciate Slim's dad. I applaud him for his action.

  • My favorite question was, "Why do black people feel the need to be excellent?" It left me both convicted and comforted.

  • The first officer broke my heart. The second sheriff hugged my heart. The officer at the riot occupies a special place in my heart. The officer who assisted the two endangered deer brought hope to my psyche and my soul.

One element I appreciated is that Queen & Slim were unaware of how much their mere survival brought hope to the masses. I think that was one of my greatest takeaways. The thought that you can be struggling, wondering where your next meal will come from, or how you will put gas in your car, and just the fact that you are together you make the world better.

A good story is one you can see yourself in. I think there is something in this script for everyone. There were pivotal moments in which the directors depicted transformation through non-verbal cues. Subtle shifts spoke loudly. At times difficult to watch, on one occasion I covered my eyes, but peeked through my fingers to be sure I could see. If felt like life. (Sometimes you want to look away, but something inside of you has to see.)

There were tender moments, comic relief, and enough suspense to prevent you from going to the bathroom. Queen & Slim made me appreciate my marriage and reflect on how far we've come since we were juniors and seniors in high school. One of the things that connected my husband and myself was that although we grew up in different worlds we had the same massive poster of Malcolm X on our bedroom wall.

This movie showed how two people can come from two different backgrounds and see the world through two different lenses. Both shaped by life's experiences that were valid and real, but over time can discover that they have much to gain from embracing the other partner's paradigm.

I think the big picture that I wish to apply Queen & Slim is that staying together is more important than what tries to tear us apart. We can be so busy striving so hard to leave a legacy or be excellent that we miss the fact that we already are.

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  • The Poplar Family

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

Big families need big tables. Farmhouse tables are a perfect fit. But finding one for a decent price can be difficult.

Breana Isbell Photography

In 2017, I started searching for the perfect sized table for our family. When I saw that the price for a quality farmhouse table ranged anywhere between $1,000-$15,000. I closed my laptop, grabbed a magazine, and a pair of scissors, then cut out a picture of a farmhouse table to post on my vision board.

Let's Table the Table

I would occasionally mention how a farmhouse table would be a perfect fit for our family. And my husband wouldn't respond.

Because he wanted to build me a table.

How the Tables Turned

Each year, I do a vision board in the month of January. I then hang it on a wall and treat it like a poster in a teenager's room. As my friends ooh and ah at my dreams and aspirations. I pretty much ignore it's existence. Unless something amazing happens and I think to myself, "I wonder if this was on my vision board?" Each year, I am blown away by how many things on my vision board actually come to pass. By the time the last quarter of the year arrives, I am overwhelmed by God's goodness, grateful for His generosity, and truly excited to forecast my new vision for the upcoming year.

2017, was a great year and as far as I was concerned, I was good. By the time December rolled around, I didn't want for anything. My family was in perfect health, my husband and I had just returned from a tropical getaway, and I couldn't think of anything in particular that I desired for my birthday (Dec 29th). One day my husband casually said, "I'm going to build you a farmhouse table." I was completely caught off guard, and my initial thoughts were, "Oh no! Our house is about to be covered in sawdust, and we are hosting a breakfast on January 1st." I had long sense forgotten about my aspirations of owning a big table for our little big family.

Rustic Romance

He built it. I painted it. And we made precious memories throughout the process.

On December 31st, 2017, as we were cleaning debris and decorating our new table, I thanked my husband for being so thoughtful, and for making me such a beautiful table. He said, "Babe, this table was on your vision board." I responded, "Whatever boy, quit playing!" He said, "Yeah, go look." I smiled and kept sweeping. A few minutes later, he walked in the room with my vision board and pointed to a little magazine clipping of a farmhouse table. The next day we hosted our annual Big Family Breakfast and informed our guests of our goal to break bread with as many people as that table could hold. Each year the amount has doubled.

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  • The Poplar Family

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

Our home life is as colorful as the socks on our feet.

Breana Isbell Photography

People often ask, "How do you manage to "fill in the blank" with six kids?"

“My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness . . .”
2 Corinthians 12:9 (AMP)

I am not afraid of weakness.

I believe God can use our weakness far greater than our strength. For example, if I told you how I rise daily at 5:00 am, see my kids off to school by 6:15 am, work out, do my devotional, wash a load of laundry, get showered, dressed, and ready to write by 7:15 am; write until I have to leave for my office by 8:15 am, contend with downtown parking, see my first client by 9:00 am, last client by 2:00 pm, head home to beat the bus, prepare snack, do homework, cook dinner, do chores, and prepare for the next day, that doesn't necessarily inspire you. If anything, it may leave you tired.

Now if I share how it takes the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and a Mel Robbins countdown to get out of bed. How trying to get my boys to take care of their personal hygiene and tidy their room makes me feel like both a farmer and a broken record: The smells, sights and sounds assault my senses daily, often times leaving me talking through clenched teeth, holding my breath, and squinting my eyes. My writing time is often highjacked by someone forgetting a lunch, having to return emails, or it's squandered on social media. Maybe that doesn't necessarily inspire you, but perhaps it will cause you to feel a little more comfortable about your chaos; and hopefully, a lot less alone in your struggles.

Allow me to share some of the colorful ways we balance the beauty of our little big family. From groceries to laundry, teamwork makes our dream work. Here are our top 10 ways to save time, energy, and money. They help our household and will possibly encourage yours to run more smoothly based on the unique make up of your family.

  1. Menus: We have weekly menus that my boys help to create. I got tired of them not eating the super nutritious and delicious foods, so we began including them in the planning and food preparation process. I will allow them to share their favorite menus with you guys on the blog someday.

  2. Groceries: We shop at Aldi to save money, and use Instacart to save time. (Instacart is a shopping app that allows you to purchase groceries online/or on your phone and have them delivered to your home for a small fee.) What I've found is that we save both time and money by using Instacart. Time from traveling to and fro. And money because I can do a thorough inventory of what we have and not repurchase unnecessary items. I will do a blog someday exclusively about Instacart. If you're curious about it and would like to try it out here's my link. Save $10.00 on your first order here.

  3. Chores: "Many hands make light work." Our younger three children rotate dish nights. Our older three children hold them accountable. We have spent lots of time training our older three on how to do chores properly, so it's nice to witness the fruit of our labor as they help teach their younger siblings.

  4. Laundry: "Keep it going, or it keeps growing." Laundry is a team effort. It feels like all day every day that we do laundry. So my time saving tip is to sort the clothes together and not worry about matching socks. We dump all the socks into a giant sock hamper and everyone fishes for socks daily, or matches their own individually. It would be easier to fasten socks together with a safety pin before they enter the washer so they're already matched, but I've never actually done it.

  5. Schedule: We have a shared Google calendar to stay on top of all of our dates. We use to limit sports commitments to one child doing something in one season so the rest of the family can support. But it's challenging to do that now because our younger children are so close in age. Often they will each play a sport at the same time for the same organizations, which cuts down on our traveling and promotes a family fun season.

  6. Holidays & Birthdays: When the world around us speeds up for holidays we intentionally slow down. We don't do traditional things like Black Friday, Christmas shopping, and we've never done a gift exchange. When our big kids were little they thought we were mean. But the older they've gotten they appreciate not having the pressure to spend or stress of shopping. We invest our time and money in making meaningful memories with our children. Birthdays are "relatively" simple. Our family is large enough to have "family only" gatherings that consist of our kids' favorite foods, and one thing they desire.

  7. Date Nights: We have a consistent date night every Tuesday. We started years ago because movie tickets were cheaper on "stimulus Tuesday" and it stuck. Our big kids are supportive of our date nights and they trade off childcare responsibility with one another so that we don't have to pay a sitter. It's also a consistent time for our younger kids to connect with our older children.

  8. Leisure: Each year we purchase a yearly membership at the Huntsville Botanical Garden or a local museum so that we can take advantage of their residual passport program that allows you to utilize the membership in any city you travel to, and as often as you like to locally.

  9. Fitness: We are members at our local YMCA and enjoy going to swim or play as a family often. In the Summer, it's nice to enjoy the pool and in the Winter, it's great to get out of the cold. The child watch program allow us to check our boys in to play (for two hours) while we workout or enjoy some time together sitting in the jacuzzi.

  10. Faith & Discipline: When our kids misbehave we select topical scriptures that address their behavior. We lovingly explain what the scripture means, then we have them write the verse a certain number of times (based on how hold they are) after they've completed the assignment they recite the scripture by heart and explain to us what it means. If they memorize the scripture right away, they no longer have to complete the assignment. Our nine year old writes his scripture nine times, our ten year old writes his ten times, and our eleven year old writes his eleven times or until they know it by heart. Whichever comes first. It makes for great impromptu family meetings and it helps them to see how everything that pertains to life and godliness is in God's Word. We follow the same pattern for the calm down corner. The amount of time spent in the calm down corner is based on our kid's age. (9,10, or 11 minutes)

I couldn't do all that I do without the consistent help from my family. If I did what I do on my own, I would resent my family. Prior to marriage and mommyhood, I couldn't cook, hated laundry, and had a very unrealistic perfectionistic standard of homemaking. Through managing the affairs of our household, God has strengthened me in the areas that I am naturally weak, and granted grace in areas that I was once super rigid. If you have fear or anxiety concerning how you are going to make everything work. Or, if you are exhausted from trying to do everything on your own strength, stop. Sit still, note the areas in which you are weak, and invite your family to get in the game. I often tell my kids that family is the most important team you will ever play on. Teamwork within a family divides the labor and multiplies the success. If you want to see the power of Christ at work within your world, pinpoint your weakness so He can perfect His strength.

". . .Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me."

Feel free to share your top ways to save time, energy, and money in the comments below.

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