Kay Wyma: The Peace Project
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Kay WymaKay Wyma is a mom, blogger, vodcaster, and author of four books in which she has tackled, with candor and humor, some of the troubling societal issues that impact us all. Kay's writings have led her to appearances on TODAY, CNN, Hallmark's Home & Family, and more. Before staying at home with her kids, she held positions at the White House and Bank of America. She lives in Dallas, Texas, with her husband and five kids. Connect with Kay at kaywyma.com.
Life’s slights and indignities provoke bitterness, resentment, frustration, sadness. But in her Peace Project, author Kay Wyma asks—is there a better way?
Kay Wyma: The Peace Project
Kay: “I know thatI’ve got tons of chaos; I feel for the people behind me,”—[Laughter]—because it’s all/you’ve just got so much going on—so there’s going to be chaos. We’re in each other’s chaos—whether it’s in the chaos of our thoughts or the chaos of our actions—because we all have history/we all have it going on.
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
Dave: Let’s talk about our experience with Whole30. [Laughter]
Ann: Where are we going with this?
Dave: I just thought—I’ll tell you where we’re going in a minute—but I knew you’d start laughing.
Ann: Why do you think I’m laughing?
Dave: Just go ahead and tell our listeners why you’re laughing.
Ann: We did this as a group, like, “Let’s all do the Whole30.”
Dave: It was just you and I and one of our sons and his wife.
Ann: Yes, there were several other people in it too.
Dave: I thought it was just Cody and Jenna and us.
Ann: No; so we had a big text thread going, like, “Oh, this is so hard: giving up sugar, and giving up dairy, and giving up flour.” Dave is like, “Guys, I don’t know why you’re whining so much; it’s not that hard.”
Then I’m seeing him at work, and around the house: he’s drinking Diet Coke®. [Laughter] I’m like, “What? You’re not allowed to drink Diet Coke.”
Dave: I did Dave’s version of Whole30.
Ann: Then you had peanuts—
Dave: No, I didn’t.
Ann: Yes, you did. [Laughter]
Dave: I only added Diet Coke, because I’m not giving up Diet Coke.
Ann: One day, you had chips.
Dave: Well, every once in a while, I might have added in a little bit. [Laughter]
We’ve got in the studio today a woman, who wrote a book about a better experiment—[Laughter]—30-day—I mean, when I saw your subtitle—anyway, Kay Wyma’s in the studio with us, back on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back.
Kay: Well, thanks for having me.
Dave: The book’s actually called The Peace Project: A 30-Day Experiment Practicing Thankfulness, Kindness, and Mercy. I think all of us love something that’s 30 days.
This isn’t your first book. I didn’t realize this, but four books?
Dave: We had you on a couple of years ago talking about [Not the Boss of Us].
Ann: —which is a great book.
Dave: I remember that—that was awesome—which was really interesting; I think that might have been our first week as cohosts with Bob Lepine.
Kay: I think it was close to that, yes; but it was great. I do remember that. I was so excited to come back and be with you guys, because you’re a delight to be with. I personally am encouraged with what you do; I’m grateful. Thank you for including me in your lineup.
Ann: You have encouraged us because—as we’ve been reading your book, The Peace Project—it’s going to inspire so many. But Kay, talk about that—let’s talk about peace—because it is a choice. What prompted you to do this?
Kay: Really, a bad attitude—a sorry, rotten attitude—[Laughter]—I’m not joking; isn’t that pathetic?
Ann: What do you mean?
Kay: It all started a morning that I had come home from carpool. I have a Bible study that meets at my house, and has for almost 20 years, on Tuesdays.
Ann: Let’s just tell our listeners, you have five kids,—
Kay: I do; I have five kids.
Ann: —ranging from 14 to—
Ann: And you’ve been married how many years?
Kay: It would have to be 26 or more—[Laughter]—that’s for sure—pretty sure 26.
Ann: Okay, so—
Kay: I’m not very good at math.
Ann: That’s me.
Kay: I’m just terrible with numbers, so I’m not sure; I’ve been married for a while.
Dave: You think you’ve been married 26 years. [Laughter]
Ann: You’ve been married a while.
You come home…
Kay: Yes, so that morning, I came home from carpool; and I was getting coffee ready for the gals that were coming over. I open the refrigerator. I think you all can probably relate to this—there are two cartons of milk in the refrigerator—I pick up the first one; it’s empty. I pick up the second one; it’s empty. I’m like,—
Ann: — “How does this happen?”
Kay: — “Why? Why is it in there?”—
Ann: —said every woman in the world.
Kay: So I was crabby.
Dave: I’m feeling picked on right now.
Kay: I was a little unhappy and frustrated. I go get in the car to go to the grocery store. I start backing down our driveway, because we still have side drives. We’re on a street that dead ends into a park so, often, it’s hard to get through the street. I see a car coming up down the street, who actually pulls aside for me to be able to back out of my driveway. I was like, “This is wonderful; it’s so great.”
I start backing up, and this huge black pickup truck, I guess, thought the guy was getting over for him. He’s like [vroom sound] barreling down the road at me. I had no choice; I’m sitting there, going, For real, this is my street, and I guess I will be now backing down the street so that you can go through.”
As I started doing it, I looked up—I don’t know what prompted me—but I looked up. It was such a beautiful sunrise. I was like, “What am I doing? Why am I crabby?” In that whole moment, this sea of really thankfulness starts washing over me, and I instantly physically feel better. Part of it had to do with breathing; because when you look up, you breathe.
My mood kind of changed and I was like, “Okay; please, you can,”—like—“Take the road; it’s totally fine.” My attitude had shifted from being forced into backing up to willingly backing up, which was kindness without me really realizing what was happening; because I was like, “Yes, please go.”
As the guy passed—there was a young man driving—I genuinely had a moment where I was like: “I have no idea what was going on in his day. He could be racing to the hospital for all I know. He could be late to work.” I prayed for him in that moment, not in some over spiritual way—because really it was a bad attitude that started all of this—and I prayed for myself.
Then I went to the grocery store; I got the milk; and I came home. When the ladies showed up, I was still again feeling physically so good that I told them about it. I was like, “The weirdest thing happened this morning.” I told them all about going to the grocery store, and they listened. It just was so amazing.
The next week, they came back; and one of the ladies said, “Can you tell that story again?” The gal sitting next to her goes, “Oh, I’ve been doing it”; because as I told them, I kind of was sort of like, “I think it was thankfulness—that’s what was happening—I’m pretty sure it was kindness, and it was compassion.” I did not know, at that point, that it really was mercy that was at play. When she said she had been doing it, we were all kind of like: “What if…”—like—“What if you did do that?” “What if you actually practiced those things?”
It was one of those things, Dave, where it was just like, “…what about for 30 days?” Because it was my soul that was impacted. That’s when it was like: “Let’s do a Soul30. You all want to do a Soul30?” My kids are so nice to actually say, “Yes,” to these hair-brained ideas.
Ann: You brought them into it with you.
Kay: I did, because I don’t like doing things by myself. [Laughter] I figured it’s always better with friends. If it really is something, then it’s going to be something for everybody.
It just was an idea—because they said, “Yes,”—it’s kind of like you draw the line in the sand. At that point, we did; we started it. I got little notebooks for each one of the kids, even though a couple of them were adult kids.
Ann: Did you still have your group of women? Were they thinking, “Yes, we want to do this”?
Ann: You had a little chunk of people doing it.
Kay: We did. I include, especially the women in the book; and of course, the kids too. They’re very nice to let me do that—they all have goofy pseudonyms that they hate—but it’s really about the people more than anything else. That’s what I always hope that no one engages with it and thinks: “This must be her,” or “This must be them.” Because it isn’t; it’s for all of us.
I hope the listeners will hear that this experiment was something the Lord gave us, and we didn’t even know that we needed it when He did it. Intimately, I know that He did it for me; because in that period, I probably did a Soul30 three or four times, and it deeply moves you. There’s something about experiencing God through it that’s so powerful.
The reason why I think it is—is because those three things: thankfulness, kindness and mercy—it’s actually the greatest commandment; that’s what I think the secret sauce is. It’s because, when you do those things, they actually are the greatest commandment for a reason—especially mercy; you cannot do that on your own—there’s no element of us, left by ourselves, that has mercy.
Dave: Well, let’s talk about what you did. You’re talking about thankfulness.
Kay: I’m diving right in.
Dave: You’re talking about kindness; you’re talking about mercy. Part of me is sitting here, going—of course, I read/I know—but I want our listeners to hear: “What did you do?”
Like when I jumped into P90X—remember that?—
Kay: I do.
Dave: —that was years ago.
Kay: I know.
Dave: It was phenomenal. I’m watching Tony Horton, and I follow what he’s doing as a workout; a lot of us do that now.
What did you do each day?
Shelby: That’s Dave and Ann Wilson with Kay Wyma on FamilyLife Today. We’ll hear Kay’s response in just a minute; but first, God does some of His most amazing work in homes just like yours, whether that’s a small group Bible study, or laughing on the floor with you kids, or sharing a meal with your neighbors. The home can be the launching pad for God’s work in this world.
You can help make an impact for more families and spread that vision by financially partnering with FamilyLife. All this week, as our thanks for your partnership, we want to send you a copy of Kay’s book; it’s called The Peace Project: A 30-Day Experiment Practicing Thankfulness, Kindness, and Mercy. You can get your copy when you give this week at FamilyLifeToday.com or when you call with your donation at 800-358-6329; that’s 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life and then the word, “TODAY.”
Alright; now, back to Dave and Ann’s conversation with Kay Wyma and what her 30-day experiment with gratitude and kindness looked like in her family.
Kay: Well, we really did have a little notebook that we pulled together; it wasn’t anything special. You could do it on your phone; I’ve done it on the notes of my phone, where literally I practiced—I’d do something/practiced gratitude, especially if you’re feeling crummy—like the time when the guy was driving down upon me. I’m unsettled, and things are disoriented, and there is discord. That’s the perfect time to not let that discord mess with you. Actually, find something, in those moments, that you can be thankful for and call it out. I was thankful that I was in a car.
Thankfulness is so over used a little bit—it seems lame—but the reason why there’s so many books on gratitude is because it is so powerful. What it does for you—it actually does, physically, make you feel better—because the dopamine is actually firing in your brain.
Ann: I thought that was fascinating.
Kay: It is fascinating.
Ann: Even in the introduction of your book, you were talking about the brain science behind it.
Kay: It’s fascinating, because you’re actually made for this; we’re created for this. It makes you feel better, because there are things occurring in your brain that don’t happen outside of these things. I thought that was fascinating. I wanted to know why they made me feel better—it was like—“This genuinely is making me physically feel better; why?”
With thankfulness—that’s one of them—it’s scientifically proven for your heart health to deal with anxiety and worry; because what it does, that’s so powerful, is it shifts your perspective. It gets your eyes off whatever the moment is, and what it’s stealing from you, and it puts your eyes into another place.
I think that’s why the Lord said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind [Matthew 22:37]”; because that’s where the thankfulness is going. It’s off/my eyes are no longer on me—they’re on the bigger picture—and the gratitude as I saw that sunrise. It was impossible to not, for a moment, have my thoughts be overwhelmed by the beauty of the sky—that was even on a cloudy day—which speaks volumes into our cloudy days. You know, the sun is always there—it is always shining—it doesn’t matter what clouds are in front of it.
It’s like just take that the extra mile and apply it to your life. We did that; we practiced thankfulness. I asked them to do something different every day—I wouldn’t do that now—like it doesn’t matter. You can be thankful for the same thing every day; it’s irrelevant if you’re genuinely thankful.
Ann: Did you write down in your notebook: “Okay, today is our thankfulness day”?
Kay: No; I did thankfulness, kindness, and mercy every day—so I have a “T”, “K,” “M”—so I’d write down what I was thankful for; then we legitimately looked for opportunities to practice kindness; then we legitimately looked for opportunities to practice mercy, which is, by far and away, the hardest part of the entire process.
Dave: Yes, define mercy; what’s that?
Kay: Mercy is defined as compassion or forgiveness shown to someone that you could harm.
Kay: I added to it—“even ourselves”—because I think we harm ourselves a lot.
Here’s where it gets complicated; because you have these opportunities, like forgiveness:
- We bump into forgiveness, and we want to do it.
- But we don’t want to do it because, if we do it, it seems like we’re saying that whatever happened is okay; and it’s not okay.
The mercy aspect is never a victim role—it is not: “Let someone walk all over you,”—because that is absolutely not what the Lord has for us: we are His treasured possession; He calls us “sought after”; He has engraved us in the palm of His hands. He has no interest in people walking over you, but there is a lot of interest in going into this compassion aspect.
I looked for definitions. One of my favorites was from a Jesuit priest; he said that it was the willingness to enter into someone else’s chaos. I love that definition; because I was sitting there, going, “I know thatI’ve got tons of chaos; I feel for the people behind me,”—[Laughter]—because it’s all/you’ve just got so much going on—there’s going to be chaos. We’re in each other’s chaos—whether it’s in the chaos of our thoughts or the chaos of our actions—because we all have history/we all have it going on.
The willingness part of what he was talking about is critical, because the willingness/it could come from a place of wholeness. I think that’s what I loved the most about it—is that, when you genuinely practice mercy, from a place of wholeness—I am required to be able to believe, just for a second long enough, to put action on the idea that my significance has been settled.
Ann: What do you mean by that: “My significance has been settled”?
Kay: I don’t have to do anything to be okay; it’s done. It’s not a plan “B”; I’m the plan “A.” I’m coming at it, from the daughter of the King; because I am a daughter of the King. Sometimes, I forget about that. I’m not sure I’ve ever sat and lingered in that, like I think we should: “You are a son of the King—like of the King—every single thing, seen or unseen, bows to our Father—everything.”
To be able to come into a situation—to have compassion on someone, because I’m coming from a place of wholeness/I’m coming from a place of shalom—which is why this landed at The Peace Project; because shalom is peace: it’s wholeness; it’s completeness; it’s the coming together of opposites, it’s where light meets the dark.
Then, to get to live that, because you’re acting on it: it’s insane; it’s so incredible. I can’t tell you what it does for you; because you’re putting meat on the bones of actually trusting the Lord—not in some idea—because you’re going, beyond the thought process, to acting on it. There’s something that happens when we do that.
Dave: Yes; develop that identity piece—because I picked it up, throughout your book, as you were talking about choosing thankfulness, and kindness, and mercy—you just said it. There’s this foundational identity in Christ; I think of Ephesians 2:10: “We are God’s workmanship.” Talk about that because it feels like, if I don’t have that, it’s so much harder; but if I do, I can live it out.
Kay: It's going to be great for you, whether you know it or not—if you practice these things, it’s good for you; period—it’s good for any person/any human, because it’s like re-humanizing everybody. Instead of seeing someone as a product, or an object, or anything, you’re seeing people as a human; because people are amazing. Sometimes, in this culture, we’ve forgotten how incredible people are. In these actions, we’re actually not cancelling anybody—we’re not discounting anybody; we’re not discarding anybody—we’re re-humanizing the entire effort, even for ourselves.
That identity piece, if we can get there, what I’ve found through this is it actually helped me believe that the things the Lord speaks of me might be true. It’s so hard to receive that you’re a masterpiece because that verse: “We are His workmanship,”—poema is the other word that is used; that’s the Greek word that is right there—and workmanship. Then the masterpiece is another—
Dave: —yes, interpretation of poema—
Kay: —interpretation, yes. To actually believe and lean into the fact that you are a masterpiece. A masterpiece is unique; there’s not another one like it. Like the Hope Diamond—have you been to the Smithsonian and seen—do you all like rocks?—that part of the Smithsonian is so unbelievable.
Ann: I haven’t seen it; no.
Kay: It’s in a room, with gems around the room; but the Hope Diamond is in the center of the room. It has lights all over it; it has guards next to it; it has a dome of protection over it, because no one can get to it. It’s like a small rock, for all intents and purposes.
That’s nothing compared to you: the Lord’s angels go before you in the same way that the Secret Service is going before our president. Whatever is on this earth is exponentially true of: what He feels for you, how He protects you, how He goes before you, how He is a provider, every single day, in abundance. It’s those things you get to experience.
It sounds so ridiculous—that you’re doing it when having things like compassion on somebody else, which seems like such a weak place to come from—but it’s actually the strongest place to come from, if you’re doing it out of wholeness.
Ann: I love that Kay, because you’re right—when our identity is fixed on that/on King Jesus of the creation—that we are/that God created—it takes our eyes off of ourselves/maybe, out of the thinking—because we can think highly of ourselves and, often, we think very little of ourselves.
Kay: —so often.
Ann: Ether way, our eyes are on ourselves; and our thoughts are on ourselves. But there’s something about, when we have our eyes on the King, we start to see the people around us as His children,—
Kay: —which is so beautiful.
Ann: —whether they know Him or not.
I was in line at the grocery store—it’s so hard not to keep our eyes on ourselves, because we’re all worried; we’re all stressed; we’re losing people—anxiety and worry is at the forefront of everyone—but I was in the self-checkout line. I had this overwhelming thought that I needed to pay the groceries for this woman ahead of me.
Dave: By the way, this doesn’t happen just once in a while; this happens quite a bit. [Laughter]
Ann: I never even looked at the person ahead of me. I just felt this sense that I should pay for this person’s groceries. I’m kind of like, “Oh, I don’t know; this is going to be weird and awkward”; but I have this sense that God loves this person so much that He wants to care for them through me.
All of a sudden, the person who’s helping everyone, says, “Oh, your credit card isn’t going through.”
Kay: You’ve got to be kidding.
Ann: Then I’m like, “See, that was Jesus”; because you’re [Dave] always going: “Is that God?” “Is that me?”
I go up—and she’s talking to the attendant—and I go up, and I just put my credit card in; I just do it really quick. She was about to come back, and she was taking things away; I said, “Oh, it’s all taken care of.”
When I looked at her, I thought people were judging her. She didn’t smell great; she looked like she had been through a mess. She looked like she hadn’t slept in days or showered in days. But I just felt, in that moment, “God, You’re crazy about her.” I just hugged her and I said, “God sees you, and knows you, and loves you.”
Kay: I love that.
Ann: It was just a great opportunity; and so often, I miss those opportunities; because I’m in my own head.
Kay: Yes; it’s true. And the thing about kindness—that you did right there—I know that it made you feel as good as it made her feel.
Kay: It seems like, again, that you’re giving something away or that you are doing—and what you receive through it—
Ann: —was way better.
Kay: —phenomenal. It always works that way—
Kay: —with kindness.
I do know, with mercy—on the compassion part and stuff like that—sometimes, that doesn’t come back. You don’t feel—someone isn’t feeling great on the other side—but I can tell you what it does to you, individually, is so significant; it really is. It can be something small; I love that opportunities do present themselves in the grocery store—[Laughter]
Ann: —all the time.
I have a friend, Courtney, who they will, often, to just be able to let the checker know that she is a person—because people can be so rude, especially now; you’re right; everyone’s on edge—and they will purposefully read the name of the checker and say, “Hello,” and get candy or whatever it is on the way out. And they’ll ask her, “What kind of candy do you like?” She’ll [checker] say what [it] is; and her girls are picking out that candy so that they can give it to her so—she knows she’s seen/she’s known—that you [Courtney] heard her and listened. Just little baby things like that are so amazing.
This morning again—it’s all day/every day, I get multiple examples, even from this morning—I’m going through the TSA; and of course, I got stopped; I don’t know why. The lady is checking my arm or whatever; and then she goes, “Honey, I think your jacket is on inside out.” I was like, “It is.” [Laughter] I was like, “Thank you so much! I would have gone the whole day with it inside out.” I was just laughing; because I could have been crabby, because it was inconvenient or whatever. But I just love things like that—because people are just people, and people are pretty amazing—and it’s worth celebrating.
Shelby: You’ve been listening to Dave and Ann with Kay Wyma on FamilyLife Today.
If you’ve got a preteen, you know they won’t stay pre- for that long; the teen years are coming and life’s issues will change and get more complex. And conversation can get trickier with things like dating, body changes, and peer pressure—issues that, though totally awkward—make or break teenagers and teens-to-be. We want to help you be there for your pre-teen. You can start talking with a resource from FamilyLife called Passport2Purity®. You can take 25 percent off with the code, “PASSPORT,” through Friday at FamilyLifeToday.com
Tomorrow, Dave and Ann Wilson are going to be talking, again, with Kay Wyma about changing your neuropathways to be more positive and gracious. That’s tomorrow.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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