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Living a Healthy Family Lifestyle with Jodi Mockabee

She moved from California to South Dakota to fulfill her commitment to finding a simpler, healthier life for she and her family and to invest in their spiritual growth. Jodi Mockabee joins AllMomDoes host Julie Lyles Carr to unpack why she and her husband chose to pack it up and build a different life.

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Julie Lyles Carr [00:00:15] Today on the AllMomDoes podcast, I am Julie Lyle’s Carr, and Jodi Mockabee is with me today. You’ve probably heard of her. She is a blogger, photographer, writer, mom, all around the cool, cool chick who I am just now having the honor of getting to know Jodi. Thanks so much for being with us today.

Jodi Mockabee [00:00:32] It’s so fun to be here, Julie. Thanks for having me.

Julie Lyles Carr [00:00:35] Absolutely. I always like at the top of every episode to give the listener an opportunity to get to know you a little better in your own words. So tell listeners where you live in the world. How many kiddos favorite flavor of coffee or tea? You know the essentials. Just fill us in on all this stuff.

Jodi Mockabee [00:00:52] Well, coffee is definitely an essential.

Julie Lyles Carr [00:00:54] So absolutely.

Jodi Mockabee [00:00:56] I, I live in South Dakota, in the Black Hills of South Dakota with my family of seven. My husband and I have five children and they range from ages 16 down to ten. And we got a set of identical twins at the very end. So that was fun. And yeah, I love coffee. I love a good strong latte with whole milk. So they I think they call that a flat white. It’s a certain type of espresso, too. But I also love black tea. And that has kind of been my morning routine that has replaced coffee recently. Not for any specific reason other than that’s just kind of what I have craved lately. So I’m on a black kick right now, so I’m feeling very proper and English.

Julie Lyles Carr [00:01:44] Very, very absolutely. I love me a flat white. Absolutely. I made the transition to decaf a few years ago and I now, you know, you still say decaf in a coffee shop and people look at you like maybe this is a code, a cry for help. And I’m like, No, I know. I’m really trying to think, but but I love hearing about everybody’s beverage preferences in the morning, so I resonate with that. How did you end up in South Dakota? Because I know it’s a gorgeous area, but it’s not where you’re originally from. So why South Dakota and for how long?

Jodi Mockabee [00:02:20] We’ve been here for two years, actually. We’ll be celebrating our two year anniversary in a couple of days. So we we love California. Our whole family is out there, both sides. We have a beautiful community that we left. It was actually a really difficult decision for us to leave, but we had felt kind of led to do so that the place where the state was at, we couldn’t see a generational plan there for our family. And so we were really just looking towards a future of where is a place where our family can thrive generationally, not just surviving, which is kind of what we felt we were doing in California as we were surviving within our own community. But how do you thrive in a state? And that’s really what we kind of focused on is where could we see our children raising their children and be able to flourish and their beliefs and and their practices? And so that’s kind of why we started looking at other states to see where there’s some wiggle room to do that with. And we had a spreadsheet and everything. And ultimately South Dakota, it’s so funny. It was never I didn’t even really know what the landscape was like here or I didn’t know much about it other than Mount Rushmore was here.

Julie Lyles Carr [00:03:41] Right.

Jodi Mockabee [00:03:43] And we started doing our research and really understanding kind of our family culture and values. And hiking is a big part of that. Water fishing, hunting for some of my children. And so we really needed a place that embraced hunting and fishing and skiing and hiking, along with some of kind of our political ideals for our kids to grow up in as well and for them to raise their kids. And and so, yeah, it was a long process, but that’s ultimately what led us here to South Dakota. And of course, the Lord kind of guided us through all of that. So in the end, he opened and closed the right doors for us to end up here. So we know he has a plan for us here. And that’s kind of ultimately who decided, you know, for us to be here.

Julie Lyles Carr [00:04:32] As you and I were talking before we got on the interview, we both grew up California kids. And then in my family’s life, we moved all over the place because my dad’s career and then my husband and I, we’ve had to have similar conversations because I didn’t ever want to move again. I wanted to pick a spot and stay and stay with extended family. And he had always grown up in the very same place. And so he had a little bit more of this idea of wanting to try some other things. But it’s funny because once your mom and dad, some of the things that would attract you to a certain place, that might be a really great season for you and that location might not always have the fit that you’re looking for for your family. And we had a couple of opportunities. It’s so funny, Jodi, some similar conversations with just trying to decide where is a place we could see some of our kids wanting to live alongside if they want to for a period of time. What does that look like? Does this place fit the profile? Does that one? So that really resonates with me, this idea of trying to find a spot that there’s some room for growth and some room maybe to put down some roots. So all of those factors are very interesting and sometimes are not. The things we talk about when we look at business opportunities or relocations as a family. So I love that you bring that up. You’ve done a lot of work around this idea of building family culture, but I want to put a pin in that. I want to come to that. But I would love to hear your definition of the word family, culture, culture, because I know from a business perspective and with clients I work with in the corporate space, everybody talks about culture. When I was in ministry, we talked about our church culture, and yet it’s one of those words that’s somewhat ephemeral. I mean, everybody sort of has an idea what they think that means, but I don’t know that we really target it well, and that can actually lead to some confusion when we say, Well, we want this as part of our culture. So back us all the way up and tell us how you how you define culture, what that means to you.

Jodi Mockabee [00:06:33] That’s such a good question, and I haven’t been asked that before. And you know, what’s funny is I was an anthropology minor in college, so I should probably know the definition of culture from the top of my head. But I will say just from personal experience, when we when I use the term family culture, when we discuss that, my husband and I, I would say it’s a series of choices and rhythms and practices that consistently happen over time to kind of build a cohesive pattern for the family to kind of rely on. And through that pattern, through that rhythm, you are building kind of this foundation of beliefs. And once you practices over and over again, you really have something to measure your decisions by. And so that’s kind of what happened with us, is we started, you know, implementing certain practices and certain processes in our household. And so that started building a system for us to kind of measure a lot of decisions bias. So when a decision or an opportunity came up, we would kind of measure it against, well, here’s what we built in our family. Does it fit within that? Is there room for that here? Will it will it help or will it hurt our current family culture that we’ve built? So and that’s kind of my definition is probably just a rhythm in a system that has been built consistently over time to kind of mold a specific maybe belief system or a way of doing things. So I don’t know if that. That’s probably a very long explanation.

Julie Lyles Carr [00:08:24] No, I think it’s great. And one of the keywords that I picked up in your definition of it is that place of consistency. I think that’s really interesting because you’re that’s just a prime ingredient for culture that we don’t really think about. Right? Is what are you consistently doing? Because we can say, Oh, we’re going to have a family culture that is loving and accepting and peaceful and joyful. But if what we’re consistently doing is chasing after every single extracurricular activity, and if mom and dad are stressed or there are challenges in the marriage or if there’s conflict or then that’s not, we can have the ideal of a family culture we want to build. But it really is about what we’re doing consistently right.

Jodi Mockabee [00:09:10] Exactly. And when you look at culture and you know, from, say, an anthropological perspective, you’re looking at generations passing down specific practices that they continue to implement in their own culture. And so it’s a consistency, like you said there, that’s passed down through the generation of practices that they do within their culture. So yeah, I think consistency is a large part of it, and I think that’s often missing in families because they’re they’re swept, like you said, left and right by opportunities, whether that’s extracurricular activities or more income opportunities or whatever those opportunities look like. There is not enough intention being made in the decisions that it’s a too quick of a yes. And that can quickly kind of destroy the family culture because you’re not spending enough time together to really figure out who you guys are as a unit. So.

Julie Lyles Carr [00:10:12] Right. Jodi, it feels like to me that for a lot of us, we assumed a family culture would just emerge. As we got married, we started having kids. It’ll just show up. You know, we’re going to church consistently. We have a small group. We have a great set of neighbors. Family culture will emerge. But in the Whole Healthy Family, which is your new book, you’re really unpacking how to be very intentional about the kind of family you’re building. How often do you find that you have readers and followers who are like, Oh, wait a minute, I can actually decide what I want is a family culture. I can actually aim toward that. I mean, do you find sometimes that people are surprised at the amount of, you know, if you will, opportunity and an influence they can have over creating a family culture? Because I think for a lot of us, we sort of just thought we would get it. Once they handed us the baby in the maternity ward and we left.

Jodi Mockabee [00:11:06] So yeah, I actually through writing this book and talking to young moms and especially within the book launch team that, you know, the last three weeks that I’ve been a part of and hearing the feedback from the book from these moms has been a little bit mind blowing because we’ve been just in our own little vacuum of family culture. And so I forget that it’s not common to put so much weight on tiny little decisions. And that has just been a practice that Jason and I have done since before we even had children was every decision was thoroughly, thoroughly discussed. And sometimes that’s exhausting. And Jason will tell you, I’m not a huge fan of always having to dissect things. I think he actually brought that element into our family and before it became, you know, a practice of ours, he’s just very methodical and likes to process slowly and I’m kind of the opposite. And so I’m so grateful for that because he’s really pulled the reins in on me a lot and has helped develop that culture. But back to what you were asking about people being surprised. I have a section about sports, just a small little excerpt about extra curricular curricular activities and organized sports. And we love our family, loves being active, we love sports. So that has been a huge discipline on our end to keep that and minimal for our family, but also be able to still participate in some level of athletic activity. And so I talk about that a little bit in the book. And one of the moms in our launch Zoom meeting, and she said, I never knew I had the freedom to say no to my kids about their interest because it’s our society, which is it’s beautiful that we’re now so aware of our children’s interests and gifts and everything like that. That’s a good thing. But it can be taken a little bit too far with just saying yes to everything in order to feel like we’re trying to give them all of this exposure to all of these wonderful activities and things that they’re good at or interested in, and they have a lifetime to do that. That is not our responsibility to give them everything that they’re interested in, in their childhood. You know, they have in fact, we could potentially be robbing them of pursuing those things on their own in their adulthood. And there’s something really beautiful about being able to kind of do that. I mean, I’m 42 and I just started playing volleyball in a league. It’s so fun. But I didn’t do that through high school or anything like that. And so I love discovering that at the ripe age of 42. So all back to the purpose of we, we’ve got to look at these opportunities as and. Decision making opportunities that need a lot of attention. How will they affect the family? How will they affect our time? How will this activity for this child affect the other five or six or seven children or two children? And every single choice really does affect the family as a whole. So we we really need to be intentional about everything, every opportunity that comes into our home. And we have the ability to do that because we are the parents.

Julie Lyles Carr [00:14:40] Right? I that just really resonates with me. We spend a lot of time as a family with several of my kids involved in a very high level of dance, which we all really enjoyed. But you’re so right. There were definitely times that being engaged at that level and we have a family ethos, a family culture that loves the arts, loves to see the art celebrated and athleticism. That’s a big deal for all of us, but it does impact the whole family. It impacted vacation cycles, it impacted the budget, it impacted the kind of time for the kids who weren’t involved in dance, the kind of activities they could be in. And Jodi, you know, it’s so funny. At the end of the day, I don’t think any of my kids who dance competitively regret that we did that. But I’m now definitely hearing feedback from some of my adult kids going, Yeah, I wouldn’t I wouldn’t go back and do that again. I think, Oh great. All the hours and all the time and all the finance spent on that, which is why I’ve written about this before and talked about it before. You got to know what the thing is you’re really after in whatever the thing is, you’re allowing to become part of your family culture, whether that’s athletics or that’s a different kind of hobby or chess club or whatever. What is the value, What is the precept that you’re after? And so now I can look back and say, okay, so it wasn’t the costumes, it wasn’t the stage time. Thank goodness we had clarified as a family culture that it was about the discipline, it was about receiving feedback, it was about artistry. Those are the things that the kids can carry forward. But to your point, to give moms and dads the permission to say, Hey, you can opt out, you can decide that this is not something you’re going to pursue as a family. I just love that wisdom. Jodi, talk to me about a phenomenon that I often see, which is that people don’t think about family culture until they have kids. And yet I feel like in you talking about your trajectory with your husband, it sounds like you guys may have already had a sense of we as a couple need to decide what our culture is going to be for our family, even previous to having children. So let’s say that I’m someone who’s listening, that I’m expecting my first baby and what can I be doing to be thoughtful about culture for my family, but also speak to that listener who’s like, We are four or five kids in and I haven’t thought a thing about other than here are the rules for how we’re going to behave and here’s when bedtime is going to be. I haven’t really thought about this culture thing, so how do we begin the process of building culture? Hopefully sooner than later, hopefully before kids even arrive. But if they’re already here, what are some of those early conversations about beginning to develop that?

Jodi Mockabee [00:17:26] I think it starts with observation before you just jump in and try to pick something like, Oh, we’re going to be a dance family, you know, without even really knowing whether that’s a part of who you are or a part of who your children could be. And it would be through observation, at least from I can only talk from our personal experience. And I remember several conversations we had prior to kids or, you know, one or a child, one or two children in where we would observe these other families and decide, I love what they’re doing there. And we would pick kind of one thing from their family culture, and we would kind of adopt that and say, okay, I’d like to be a hiking family. I like how they hike with their kids. And we would ask them questions and just drill them with questions. There was no pride involved. It was like, Give us all of your knowledge and wisdom and we want to hear it. So we would take that part of their culture and kind of adopt it as our own. And then we saw another family that loved cooking together and loved food and just really celebrated food culturally. And so you watch them and you watch how their children know how to need bread and they know the difference between different types of espressos. And so you see that and you think, I want my kids to really appreciate food. I want them to know where it comes from. I want them to grow it. I want them to experience the beauty of what God has created, the diversity in food and how we can make it. So you start just observing different families. You don’t have to copy their culture entirely. You just pick and choose different things that you feel like would fit. Within your own family, between you and your husband’s personalities and capacities, and you kind of just start adopting those and figure out ways to practice those in your own household. And I think through consistency that will start building your own family culture. And I think kind of you nailed it when you said you’re a family that appreciates the arts. Well, at some point you adopted consistently that appreciation, whether it was through visiting plays or reading Shakespeare or and taking art classes, whatever it is that you guys did. It was the consistency of appreciating the arts that kind of made that a part of your family culture. And so that’s kind of what I think that we have to kind of remind ourselves of is that we have the ability to shape it. It means kind of a targeted approach, and it starts with observation.

Julie Lyles Carr [00:20:05] Absolutely. And Judy, I think there’s a secret here that, you know, as a listener, you need to know listener. You already have a family culture whether you think you do or not. That’s one of the things that has always struck me is when I hear my kids, particularly my adult kids now reflecting back at a time where I would have said in our trajectory, I wasn’t thinking, Oh, we’re developing a culture here. I was more along the lines of we’re trying to survive, and I see these other people doing it this way. So I’m going to try that for a little bit and see if that works. And again, at first I was probably more behavior driven. And how clean is the house? I would have said that those were the things that I thought were paramount as we began our parenting journey. But now when I hear my older kids reflect back, I realize that even when we didn’t know we were doing it, we were building a culture because the things we were doing consistently for good or for ill, we’re definitely building that experience. A listener You already have a culture rolling. You might as well take a pause, back up, take a look at it and decide what it’s looking like in your own life. Now. Jodi One of the things that you write about in your book that I am so thrilled that you’re tackling this is you write about being very intentional within your family culture to talk about sex, to talk about our bodies, to talk about these things. Because I have to tell you, particularly in my tenure as a women’s pastor, and I would be talking with women who were ten, 15, 20 years younger than I was. And I would have thought by that point the generation that those women had been raised in these would be conversations that would just fully be part of the family experience in the family culture, particularly within families of faith. And yet what I discovered once again, is that generations of parents were still missing the opportunity to make the home the first place that these things were discussed, which means you got to do it really young, really early, because we do live in a world in which these conversations are happening earlier and earlier. But to also be aware that in times past, if you were living on the farm or you were living in a one room log cabin, you were probably more aware of all of these concepts far earlier than what we’ve now decided is sort of this now it feels awkward before there’s a certain age or whatever. So how did you make that part of your family culture and what’s the onramp for how you do that with your children so that you do have this consistency of conversation of approach, that this is a topic we’re going to talk about? How did you guys make that decision and how are you doing it?

Jodi Mockabee [00:22:41] I love how you mentioned, you know, with the single room log cabin or living on a farm that families in the past were exposed to sex, you know, all the time. And it probably was a natural conversation for them because if we look back as far as we can in history, back to the biblical times, even Jewish weddings were family affairs. You know, you brought your entire family to these Jewish weddings and they would have the marriage tent and they would throw the sheet over the fence to prove that the new wife was a virgin. And so I just think back like, can you imagine your small children in San.

Julie Lyles Carr [00:23:23] Diego and their issues? Yeah.

Jodi Mockabee [00:23:26] So talk about Camden, you know. Yeah, it was all going back in time. Historically, sex was an open topic and so I don’t know when it became so closed and taboo. And it’s really sad that it has become that way because shame just breeds when things are closed in taboo like that for us. I grew up in a very open household, so I remember, you know, dating Jason and we were at the table and this is so sad, this is embarrassing that we are at the table. And it was a big family meal and I was dating him. I wasn’t even married to him. And I made some joke about sex and it was like dead silent. And I just thought you didn’t hear me. And so I said it again, and it still didn’t sound. It was like, Oh, tough crowd. So yeah, I learned right then and there. Oh, not everybody grew up in a household where, you know, sex was easily discussed and talked about. And so when we became engaged and started talking about our future family and everything like that, I just said, Hey, you’re marrying into a very open family. I plan on talking openly with my kids about it. And through my high school years there was a horrible kind of sexual abuse case that happened in our school and it was covered up. And I saw the damage done by kids whose parents did not teach them about sex and body parts and abuse and all of that. And I remember watching it from the age of 12, understanding the damage that was being done as a result of these kids not being educated. And so that I think yeah, I think it really kind of affected me for the long term, understanding that the more these kids know about their bodies, the more comfortable they are to say no and to understand what’s right and what’s wrong, and to understand that sex is God’s design, abuse is not, you know, they have the ability to protect themselves. And so it started probably from that young age of just knowing and understanding that I want my family to be open and communicative about that. And but it really took a family situation when we were newly married. I believe we had maybe one or two children at the time, but they were young and and one of Jason’s family members got all of us young families together and started sharing his story of exposure to pornography and sexual abuse at a very young age. And the reason he wanted to share that with us is because ultimately that situation led him down a really destructive path of anger and depression. And at one point, he tried to take his own life. And it wasn’t until he got to that, you know, lowest of lows, which was so heartbreaking that he realized the source of it was this hidden exposure to pornography and abuse that he had kind of covered up because he didn’t know what to do with it. And so when he shared that with us, we were just, of course, heartbroken but also just encouraged and had this kind of like righteous anger of a charge in innocence that our kids will be equipped when they see porn. And I always tell young moms, it is not if your child will be exposed to more.

Julie Lyles Carr [00:27:04] And yeah.

Jodi Mockabee [00:27:05] It’s when you want to be the first person to explain to them what that is. And there’s this, you know, it’s a theological term, the principle of first mention, and it kind of goes along the lines of whatever your first access is to on any kind of concept. That’s what kind of is ingrained in your brain. And that’s that’s kind of the measuring stick that you use against whatever else you’re exposed to in the future. And it goes with any subject. But if we apply it to sex, imagine if your child, you know, their first exposure to sex was through a perverted, pornographic video that is written in their brain, that’s their understanding of what sex is. So they equate sex to perversion. And that’s just such a unhealthy foundation to build sex upon. You know, So we want to be the principle of first mention. We want to be the ones that lay out for them what sex is, what God’s design is. And that starts from a very young age of just them understanding their body parts as, you know, body parts, scientific body parts, not these weird names that people come up with because they’re afraid to use the terms. And it starts at a very young age and just empowering them to know that certain parts are private and only mom or dad have access to see them or a doctor and, you know, just empowering them to understand their body. But what’s so beautiful is when you take on this just open, very basic logical strategy towards, you know, building a healthy sexual culture within the home sex becomes just a normal topic. And we can laugh about certain things. We can joke. And all of my kids are very well educated with sex and and all of that. And it’s there is no topic that’s off limits. So you feel comfortable to bring anything up. And they are very well equipped to handle situations. If they’d have to go hunting with someone that they don’t know to handle a weird situation if that comes up. They have been taught over and over through that consistency on what to do, how to protect your body, how to be confident and all of those. Statistically protect children from abusers as well.

Julie Lyles Carr [00:29:35] So I think the tone you set within the culture of that is so critical as well, because within this family culture concept, the way we talk about things, I’ve known of homes where they talk about sexuality, they talk about spirituality, they talk about nutrition, they talk about these different things. But the tone can sometimes come off as highly judgmental or very fearful or, you know, pick pick your emotion there. But there is such a beauty in being willing to create a culture in which these things can maintain a lightheartedness. Yes, they’re serious topics. We’re not saying they’re not. But when we make something very, very heavy, it makes it feel awkward. And now you’re building a culture that, yeah, you may be talking about the thing, but it feels really awkward when we talk about the thing. And so to extend to our kids, even if we have to grit it out at first to get accustomed to it, that this is a great line of conversation. It’s a normal line of conversation. You can ask me anything. I’m not going to freak out. We have to model that over and over for our kids to truly believe that is the culture. Because as we started at the top of this conversation, it’s not just about what you’re doing. It’s how you’re consistently doing it. And it’s also the tone in which you’re doing it. Well, Jodi, we could just talk and talk. We got to have you back on the show for sure. I’m so thrilled for you about the book, The whole and healthy family helping your kids thrive in mind, body and spirit. We touched on just a few items today. I’d love to have you back on and talk about all the other chapters and many other things that you have in terms of wisdom with raising your kids and developing this beautiful family that you have. Where can readers interact with you? Find resources on this? All the good stuff.

Jodi Mockabee [00:31:27] Well, you can find me on Jodi Mockabee on Instagram. It’s just my first name and last name. Also, I have a website where I sell some homeschool curriculum and resources there to kind of help if if you’re interested in homeschooling. And of course, the book is available everywhere now, so you can go and snatch up a copy wherever you prefer to purchase books.

Julie Lyles Carr [00:31:50] Awesome. Well, Jodi, thank you so much for being with me today. And Rebecca, she is our content coordinator and producer extraordinaire. She will get all of those links for us in the show notes, so be sure and check those out. And hey, I know that this episode has probably given you a lot to think about all kinds of great wisdom and resources. Would you do me this favor? Would you go and share the episode with somebody in your world who you think would enjoy listening and would be inspired and empowered by this conversation with Jodi Mockabee? And I’ll see you next time on the AllMomDoes podcast.

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