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A Trip Worth Skipping

Now, who doesn’t love a great trip?! Really. Even if it is spontaneous, there is something exciting about the start of a new adventure. The pull and lure of the journey ahead. Well, I have had wanderlust my whole young adult life but the trip I’m talking about I’ve been taking since I was a child and I’m OVER IT. Can you guess?? We’ve all been there (drum roll please) the ever dreaded Guilt Trip! Yep, it’s just as real and tangible as a family vacation. You can just about plan when it is going to occur, you know who will be involved and sometimes know what it will cost. Experience has shown me that the cost is not a monetary figure, oh no, it’s much more expensive. See, a guilt trip is going to cost precious and invaluable things like time, emotional energy and peace of mind.

I have had plenty of guilt trips from family, pseudo-friends and the darn ASPCA commercial playing Sarah McLachlan’s “Eyes of An Angel.” But in this season of life, the road to guilt has been paved by a most unsuspecting character, my four year old. I was not prepared but her road map has been marked, highlighted and ready for the journey for who knows how long. Since welcoming Baby A into the crew, the big child has, forgive my lack of endearment…acted a complete fool. And she does it so masterfully, at the drop of a dime and usually in front of an audience when I am least emotionally capable to immediately bring myself together quickly. Can you relate? We (oh yes, this trip involves us all, the husband is not exempt) noticed it but didn’t really know what to call it. We thought maybe it was adjustment to all of our life changes. Maybe it was sharing us with the baby. And then I realized we need to call a spade a spade, it’s manipulation at it’s best. Starting from the beginning would have us here all night and me out of space for additional characters before I even got halfway through the saga but I will chart you the course for the last trip I was taken on (see what I did there with the pun…guilt trip, chart course…no? Okay, moving along).

As I ate dinner tonight with the Big Kid, Baby A started her usual hints that mealtime for her was fast approaching. I had agreed to color after dinner and as we finished our meals the table was cleared and I went to grab the baby and her seat. I hear from the kitchen (in an ever smug voice) “Well fine, if you want to be with her and not me, I will color by myself.” Now, as stated before this wasn’t the first time a sign of jealousy (’cause that’s what this really is) reared it’s ugly head. But I had been the calm mother who before reassured her oldest child that there was enough love for everyone in the family and then after bedtime cried through my prayers to be fair. Over-analyzed how I spent my day and how I would micro-manage my time the next day to make it more “even.” I have doubted. Loathed. Scolded. And many a day in the past five weeks since Baby A’s birth been disappointed that I was able to fill my firstborn’s chief complaint, “No one plays with me.” But tonight I was tired. Tired of repeating myself. Tired of the complaining. Whining. Unnecessary and unprompted crying fits. I was even more tired of someone who sleeps 12 hours at a time telling me how tired she was.

So as I heard the words slide from her mouth ever so smoothly, I boldly proclaimed (from the living room into the kitchen) “ENOUGH!” I then began my monologue, which was probably Academy Award worthy, about what I would not tolerate any longer. I got off the train that led to Sleeplessness Because of Self Doubt. I brought to a halt the road trip to the land of I’m Not Doing My Job As A Mother Well Enough, USA. I cashed in my ticket to I Need to Do More to Prove My Love. I’m over it. Done. NEVA GOING BACK! My friends, whether your guilt trip involves one person, a relative, child or whatever, I encourage you to turn in the other direction right now. Don’t stay on the path that leads to a fruitless destination. A place of disappointment in self or people pleasing. Just don’t do it. And don’t let anyone (whether you birthed them or were birthed by them) make you feel like you are a hostage on a journey you never signed up to take. Guilt is a powerful drug that people use to take advantage of you. Kind of like an emotional Roofie. All is well and before you know it your judgement is clouded, your memory is foggy and you wake up not knowing where you are or how you even got there. Even worse, you blame yourself for letting it happen.

Tonight, I put to a halt a trip that I know wasn’t meant for me and put on notice that I am not a wandering traveler to be led by whomever or whatever delights the fancy of those wanting to be indulged. Here’s to freedom and peace of mind! It’s a rough trip to cancel and avoiding it can be just as difficult but the reward is priceless. Where will you go once you end the guilt trip you’re on? Me…I’m headed to a place with delicious food, great friends and memories I know will last a lifetime.

Much Love,

Q

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Broad or Narrow…Which is your way?

With all that is going on in current events and the over-arching theme that the state of human morality is so quickly declining, I have had to ask myself a really hard question…am I taking the narrow path? Many of ya’ll are like where is this path and how do I know if I’m on it? I get it. In Matthew 7:13-14 the Scriptures say:

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

See, when we are embarking on endeavors or just going along in daily life, we must (well we should at least from time to time) stop and look around. Are we surrounded by others doing the same thing we are doing? Are we following the crowd and being swayed by the nudging of others going in the same direction? Or rather, is our lifestyle different. Are we living lives that defy average? Are we peculiar? Are we “those” people spoken about in hushed tones and behind doors in what could be seen as unflattering ways? Let me tell, if you are the one being talked about (oh and honey you know if that’s you, trust me) it doesn’t feel so great if you allow yourself to focus on it. Do people stop talking when you enter? Do two people look at each other in approval as if to solidify their private thoughts about you? Or even more relatable…do you make a social media post that very few “like” or respond to at all? Guess what….it doesn’t matter!

Here’s what I have made up in my heart, I will walk alone if need be. I will look to my left and my right and move forward as part of the smaller remnant blazing down the trail alongside me. Because here is what I was attempting to do before I came to this decision…recruit folks (insert laugh and head shake here). I like being with people and I didn’t want to go it alone. So, in the truest sense of “team spirit” I tried to round up a few folks to convince that they wanted to come with on the journey ahead of me. Suffice it to say it it didn’t work. So I walked a while and to be quite honest, I stopped halfway down said narrow path and took off running back so I could swing open those broad gates with everyone else. Truth is, I’m not like them, and neither are you! Be the one whose moral standard is higher. Who bucks “normal” and laughs in the face of average. The individual who stands up and therefore also stands out. This is our only chance at life and everyday we lose an opportunity to strike out down the narrow path that glorifies the gospel of Christ and leads us to adventures unknown. The other way has lots of people, attractions and distractions but only one leads to peace everlasting…which way is yours?

Much Love,

Q

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A Change In the Atmosphere

Now this isn’t about global warming, although I do now believe we should have all taken Al Gore a little (lot) more seriously all those years ago. This is more of a realization, but not really. Confused? Don’t be, or at leas hopefully if you are you won’t be for long. We all go through “seasons” of life and things change, relationships come and go and we learn to adjust to the world around us. I too am no stranger to such changes and feel a brand new one coming on at a speed faster than I can admit feeling prepared for. I have been a parent now for four (almost five) years and in no way am an expert. And for whatever reason, I find that this part of my life I have overlooked and passed off as “just a hat I wear” or role I play as opposed to what it truly is, a commitment. I have made a commitment to my husband and our children to be a mother that is involved, concerned and pro-active. Sometimes I wish that statement came with a gold star, because the achiever in me loves medals and awards.

But this endeavor has no tangible reward other than the lives of my children. And let me tell ya, if you already have children you know this…sometimes they make you feel more like your award for earned for Parent of The Day (as that’s often how we lives life, one day at a time) is about to get revoked! But in this atmospheric change I see the dynamic shifting in out home and more so in my heart. I never, ever, eeevvveeerrr wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Why? Kids are annoying! And gross! And I crave freedom. Yet here I am doing just that…guess God didn’t get my memo. (insert giggle) But seriously, I am most of what my younger self dreaded being and I love it. Even the days that suck I love because my life is someone else’s answered prayer and I try to be ever mindful of this. But, nothing shields us from the force that is change. Whether we are prepared for it or not, it comes and running only prolongs the process and leads to (usually) unnecessary and unwanted results. So, I am boldly (okay more like a slow-moving confidence) embarking on a journey that I am not familiar with. And the whole point is that this is uncomfortable.

Shoot, I am just getting started and already see where I will have to stand alone and even harder, the people pleaser in me will have to die because explanations will be out of the window. And to be honest, typing it gives me a little more courage but daily practice will be where my heart and effort align to walk out obedience. Have you ever been here? In this unfamiliar yet strikingly exciting place where you know your “normal” is about to get a shake down? We all have challenges and it’s easier to go with the flow and allow life to shift based on the current events but I believe that we must be purposeful with our time and intentional with our efforts. Whatever it is we choose to pursue, we must do that thing with diligence and with the constant reminder to work as unto God and not man. It’s rough out here in these streets (well not literally on our street but you get the point) and being unprepared or unfocused will keep upon decision away from ruin. Man, thank ya’ll for letting me get that out! Your ability to hang with me till the end of this post is like a bff that listens to the same story for the third time while you cry, priceless! I’m sure it will be obvious very soon the direction things are taking for me (mostly because I will come out and say it but also because my writings will be markedly different here and there) but I am ready. To live out, serve and share what’s been in our hearts to benefit others is truly a life well lived. Whether we are giving to our family, friends or complete strangers it’s in service without hope for gain that we honor God most. And so, here he go…next stop stratosphere (see what I tried to do there? No, maybe, just nod and smile!

Much Love,

Q

Faith, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

I’ve Become My Parents

All of us (before we have children) make some reference to never begin like out parents when our chance comes to parent. I am no exception. My list of “won’t do’s” was every discipline tactic or tough love lesson my mother made me go through. And like most, I came out on the other side of those (in my teenage mind) horrible years and circumstances. Now, as a 32 year old mother of two, I can’t help but giggle sometimes. Truth is, we all tend to do what we know, be it right or wrong. And thankfully I had a mother who parented in a way that helped me gain endurance and personal accountability.  Where do the giggles come in you ask? Great question, hopefully you can relate.

When I think back (and I don’t have to go any further than yesterday or any given thirty minute period when the kid is awake) to the time that a completely prepared meal was on the table only to hear, “I don’t want that, may the plan should be I ear french fries and mustard for dinner,” I giggle. I definitely don’t giggle in the midst of the moment (well sometimes I do, internally at least) but after I hear the words come out of my mouth that sound strikingly similar to something my mother would have said, I can’t help it. I often tell my husband, we are turning into our parents. It’s most entertaining when we catch ourselves do it and look at each other. It’s surreal how the ideas we had as children about what we would be when we “grew up” is where we are in life right now. We are living our grown up lives and once you add parenting into that mix, it becomes a whole different creature.

I always imagines myself as the progressive parent who wouldn’t yell because I hated the noise of being yelled myself.News flash…I’m a yeller. I’m also a go-to-your-roomer. A what did you just say repeater? But the truth is, parenting is about repetition. We all learn by things we are exposed to and influenced by those things we see and hear most often. And when I look at the big picture, parenting as my parent did isn’t as bad as my younger self made it seem. I mean shoot, I have grown up to be a moderately well adjusted adult and law abiding citizen. So I giggle. And those giggles will move from utter laughter to speechless frustration but I wouldn’t trade any of it.We gotta enjoy the process because time is moving so fast that the little feet we love to kiss will soon be walking into their independence and promising themselves they won’t be like us as parents…funny right!

Much Love,

Q

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You Can Run…But You Can’t Hide

It’s been a whirlwind four months since my last post but the desire to share has not ceased and the ideas for new posts keep flowing, I’ve just sort of ignored them. Using every excuse from being tired or unprepared to just not feeling like typing. Every missed post I know was an act of complete disobedience and it has taken me until now to truly see that. Sometimes the things we do are not for our own benefit or personal gain but to add to others and boy was that a hard pill to swallow. Seriously, as much as I enjoy sharing my thoughts and perspectives here, what if every missed posting was the push someone needed or encouragement desperately sought by another? So, while it may not be what I feel like I have time to do, I am committing to make the time. Choosing instead to be present and pushing past mere feelings because I know that this blog is beyond just a place for me to ramble and type.

Now don’t get me wrong, this post isn’t all about this blog or being better and consistent. It’s also inspired by the notion that while we make sacrifices to fulfill our desires, which in and of themselves may not be bad things, when we do so only to prevent having to face facts…we will be found! Hide and seek always ends with everyone being found. Remember when we were kids and were let loose to play this game outside? Some hid better than others and were able to escape being found a little longer but by the end, everyone’s hiding places were discovered. Where do you hide? Is it behind your computer screen? Social media? Television? Alcohol? I mean, there are many ways we can hide who we are, how we feel and what is happening (or not happening) in our lives. But the power of people is that when we are searching for others and truly interested in them, regardless of where they hide, we can find them.

The truth is, not everyone wants to be found. Some would prefer to be lost (or at least be semi-invisible) and I have been in both of those positions yet I also know the power of being found by someone truly seeking my attention. Not only did God seek after my heart that I may receive salvation but He continues to do so, even when I try to ignore the urges to read my Bible or slow down enough to have quiet time. And when necessary, He allows people to seek and find me. Whether they offer confirmation on a prayer, encouragement or merely acknowledge that they see me, it’s a powerful feeling. We should all be encouraged to “find” someone. Call that friend you haven’t spoken to in too long. Speak to that person that looks down and out instead of just throwing coins in their cup or walking past them quickly. Apologize. Forgive. Let’s make it a point to stand up to what we fear, stand strong against attack and proceed in the face of adversity because in the end, running away never solves the problem. Instead of being found, lets reveal ourselves and move forward in power and grace!

Much Love,

Q

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Faith & Doubt Cannot Abide Together

Hey Ya’ll! Between homeschool, birthday and life…I have been MIA. Please forgive me. Today’s thought came by inspiration of experience and the heart check I received from a friend. Where to begin? I’ll get to the point. When it comes to family vacations and trips, I tend to the be the person who prepares everything and while I enjoy knowing we are going, inevitably, I get stressed at some point in the process as the cost begins to add up. Even though we budget for said expenses, knowing that they are accumulating gives me slight heart palpitations.

Well, today as I started to feel that familiar feeling, I got a call from a friend who recently returned from taking her husband on a surprise trip out of state for his birthday. Why? Simply because he mentioned it. She prepared accommodations for their six children, their trip and activities all while maintaining her sanity and familial budget. Her words are still ringing in my ears, “the money will get spent but sometimes you have to seize moments God gave you and move from a poverty mindset to having faith.” It almost took the wind out of me because I knew she was absolutely correct. Whether it’s a trip, job interview or making a purchase, having faith that God will provide is a must. Now, let’s frame things properly.

That’s not to say we should make foolish decisions or put ourselves in financial constraints and simply depend on our prayers to pull us through. God honors the prayers we pray that are in His will for our lives. He doesn’t intend for any of us to live in lack, poverty or burdened with debt. I have personally experienced and witnessed situations where poor decision making took place and what was meant as prayer was really a begging for God to fix what human logic created. While I totally belief He can (and sometimes does) come through in the clutch, most lessons are learned best when they are bought. Either we pay with time, money or energy…either way, there is a cost.

What is the point? When we are given the opportunity to take steps of faith, pray and seize it! Because doubt and faith cancel each other out. Trusting can be hard to do but today I was reminded that sometimes looking at the big picture hinders appreciation for the small  moments in the process.  mean really, how does a person eat a meal? One bite at a time.

Much Love,

Q