Encouragement, Lifestyle, Personal Growth, Salvation

Calling “It” What It Is

As I tried to put my finger on what it was that was happening in my heart and mind to day I went through many words. Was I sad? Hangry (food deprivation is a mood)? Frustrated? Uninspired? I just couldn’t quite put my finger on the pulse to describe what felt like simmering inside. The day was going well, I had only had to raise my voice once which was making me feel like a champion. Nevertheless, there was a palpable internal alarm alerting me to the fact that something was just…off.

As evening drew down and I realized I was saying “no” to the 34,503 request to play Legos with my big girl, I finally recognized that was going on. See, the culmination of what I could now physically feel was the manifestation of some thoughts I had been having for a while. I have seen the way I parent and noticed some areas for growth and improvement but also the reality that change is hard. As I parent the younger version of myself, I am mindful of the type of relationship I used to want with my mother and try to be that. Here’s the reality though…it doesn’t work like that.

And so, as I sat next to my girl and quietly let out a few tears of vulnerability as I held her next to me, the elongated limbs of a child that once fit on my chest, I decided not to say I was just “emotional.” When we undermine and sugarcoat who we are or how we feel, we are doing ourselves a disservice. One cannot overcome unless they first recognize the battle in front of them. We are saved by grace. We are all imperfect. And there is yet hope. When I lean on that hope then I can boldly look myself in the mirror and say, “you are not the mother you wanted to be but doing better than you even know.” I can admit to myself that the desire to control the happenings and people around me, stem out of a adolescence of abuse and secrets that I nurtured to stay afloat. When I feel myself withdrawing, I recognize that sometimes seeing my life in totality is frightening because so many people look to me and I don’t want to disappoint them. It is in these truths and a few more that freedom and release occurred tonight.

Social media, religious activity and human logic will lead us to believe that if we just continue to “do” the right things, “it” will harmoniously come together. NOT! While trying to navigate adulthood, motherhood and marriage the pull for our time and attention can be intense. You know the feeling? A thirty line task list, leaving space for spontaneity but also needing to catch up, all while desiring to pursue that goal or passion. If we aren’t careful the by-product of “it” can be overwhelming. And the labels we create to make “it” sound pretty and manageable will do us in. I am notorious for being “tired,” when really I am depressed. Or being “uninspired,” which really translates into “I want to focus on pursuing a goal/passion but in this moment, I must parent or adult and I don’t want to.” Let me tell you sister, it’s okay to think it and feel it and even say it because you are NOT alone!

Our Father in Heaven, knows the number of hairs on my head and he sees you too my friend. He knows our struggles and weaknesses even when we do our best to ignore, hide or dress them up. He is there…waiting. Waiting for us be weak that He maybe our strength. It is in the acknowledgement and raw truth of where we are in a particular moment that we can take a deep breath. We run from the truth because it hurts. It can be messy. And sometimes our personal perceived “super power” of holding it together (been there) leads us down a lonely road. Truth requires vulnerability and who has time for that along with laundry, meal prep and let’s don’t even talk about these homeschool lesson plans to finish the year strong? But I challenge you to give yourself the space to do just that. Even if it’s just the six minutes you shed those tears and breathe.

Our truths as women, mothers and whatever other roles we fill are not always pleasant or without blemish. Yet they make us who we are and by changing the narrative to make it more appealing or palatable to others, we are denying ourselves to opportunity to fully live in the complex beauty of who we are. My story is one that I have been put in positions to share more sincerely recently and it’s hard because I realize that for almost 22 years it’s been that part of me I rehearsed and recited but without consistent emotional acknowledgement. Just typing those words are a HUGE step in the process of healing I will probably experience for the remainder of my life. Here is what I do know, we can live proudly in the moment of our humanness so that when it’s time to call “it” by it’s true name, we are stronger and more resilient for it.

Much Love,

Q

Encouragement, Faith, Goals, Lifestyle, Parenting

Peace Is Possible

Peace takes on so many different forms once you become a parent that sometimes we forget what it means in its truest essence. In the dictionary, peace is defined as “freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.” And we hold on to that description until we feel as if we are about to emotionally and mentally explode because that is what we have come to believe to be true. It is what the world has told us defines peace and how we determine the level of peacefulness we are currently experiencing. But let. Me. Tell. You! Peace as a parent has nothing to do with the external situations happening around you. Talk about a hard pill I am still trying to swallow!

If we Moms waited for peace as determined by the editors of Webster’s, we would be insane from the moment we brought those precious sweet babies home until Jesus called us up to Heaven. Listen, peace in the biblical sense is described as a gift from God, the Creator of Heaven and earth that surpasses all understanding. See, the peace that God gives us is not dependent upon how we feel, interpret or even deal with the external forces and happenings of our everyday lives. There is complete and utter peace in the chaos of sick children, overworked spouses, sleepless nights, financially strapped pay periods and fatigue. When we surrender to the biblical truths about our roles and our position, not only as parents but as individuals, it is easier to rest in the peace of God.

The reality is that the supernatural type of peace God has promised us is always under attack. Whether we recognize it or not, there are so many things that can hinder and halt that blissful sensation that can sometimes feel like our own personal miracles. I’ve been there and low-key have days (and hours) that feel like I’m revisiting that upheaval and unrest. Having a serenity within that fuels our spirit, mind and body and allow us to smile genuinely and sleep soundly regardless of what has happened during the course of our days is a gift like no other. We all have experienced the heaviness and burden of adulthood obligations. Between marital struggles, parenting, balancing familial relationships, financial woes and then just being yourself …I don’t know about you but I have to be very intentional about maintaining inner peace so that I can pour out for my family. As children of the Living God, His peace is available to us all, we just have to choose to accept it. That doesn’t mean merely saying we have “unspeakable joy” but to give our burdens over that we can be open to recognize the literal joy of the Lord so strong in our hearts that the demands of today and disappointments of yesterday don’t command a second thought. When that happens, we can trust that He has filled all gaps, exceeded every need and rendered us victorious!

Our children need to see that this is how we live our lives to learn what contentment, joy and peace are in their own childlike way. If we are always huffing and puffing and constantly on the run attempting to create an atmosphere or lifestyle that seems peaceful, (notice I said “seems”) but that lacks true peace, that same insanity we bestow upon ourselves we transfer to our Littles. They don’t know how to describe it or what is happening but they see that the people we are and the things we do sometimes don’t make sense. And thus begins the building blocks for unrest in their small spirits. I am guilty of over-exerting myself. I have been the serial “yes, I can do that” person even though that was one more commitment stretching thin the very fabric of my being in that moment. As I look back, I see how those behaviors not only slowly deconstructed my peace but upset our household until there were short tempers and disconnection for us as a familial unit.

We all need the opportunity to exhale the doubt, worry and stress that we absorb through the day. I have found there is no better place to find rest than in the arms and laps of our Father. Just as our children run to us when they are scared, hurt or tired burying their heads into our chests and laps to find safety, so should we to the one Jesus cried out to as Abba Father, Daddy God. He is waiting to lift us up, take us in and allow us the opportunity to bask in the security of His embrace; not just for that moment but for as long as we keep our eyes and hearts on Him. If your peace is fading or non-existent… or if you can’t remember a time you ever had any true indescribable joy-it may be time to seek out the only one who can give and restore it…God. He is the best parent to ever do the job and knows us intimately so He already has just the thing we need, if we ask. Take a moment to share your heart with Him, even if you only have a few minutes in the shower or while hiding in your closet devouring a snack before small feet follow the sounds of rustling wrappers (don’t judge me…or do, but it works). It may be the moment of renewal and intention you needed!

Much Love,

Q

Correction, Encouragement, Parenting

E is for Entitlement

No one can do everything, but social media and the internet will portray parents flawlessly doing all the things. Don’t believe the hype! We can only do what is in our ability, what is necessary, and relax. Our inabilities to fall into the hands of God who can do it all is what is wearing us slap out. Our kids will want snacks, playdates and their favorite show on repeat 24/7 and if we aren’t careful, we will become the provider’s of their every desire. That is how we begin to nurture the spirit of entitlement that so many of us loathe. It is not only okay to say no, it is necessary. Our sanity depends on it but so do our children’s characters. But for certain, the boundary needs to be in place to protect our sanity and potentially financial security.

When we had to earn that which we most desired, it brought with it a better appreciation for what we gained. Our children need us to help them put their minds and bodies into the effort of earning. By neglecting to do so, we set them on a path of entitlement that leads to a painful reality in the future. How old were y’all when you learned that nothing in the world revolves around you and the level of importance your the parents placed on your personal value was not shared by the rest of humanity? Cause let me tell ya, I was 25 and pregnant with my first child. I had hints of it between the ages of 18-23 but I was mostly well liked and hadn’t been confronted head on with that truth. IT. WAS. ROUGH.

And as an expectant mother, having that very real emotional epiphany while also recognizing something needed to change so my child didn’t have the same earth shattering revelation (a bit dramatic but that’s how it felt back then, some 10 years ago).

Brene Brown

Life is expensive, and so is my taste in just about all things from food, to clothes to vacation locales. But I want our children to know that their blessings are not to be expected. I’ve said it before and it’s the truth, if our girls are waiting on us to die to live off our hard-earned dollas (inheritance)…well then they gonna have to wait until they get their rewards in Heaven, cause it ain’t gonna happen! They will need to know what it means for their effort and work ethic to match their desired outcome. I know I’m not alone in wanting to raise up children who know their value, desire their worth and will put up the effort to match them both. One day at a time, we can do this friends and in the end the “no’s” and “not nows” will all be worth it. Providing opportunities to share and feel uplifted by giving to those who could never repay them will also help hinder the spirit of entitlement as they grow up. We will get through this one day at a time y’all cause parenting + adulting = hard, but His grace is sufficient!

Much Love,

Q

Encouragement, Faith, Lifestyle, Salvation

Degrees, Domestication & Discipleship, Oh My!

Hey Y’all!

Not that it matters in the grand scheme of life (and truthfully living in my accomplishments is difficult, another story for another day) but my “day job” is as an adjunct professor. I spend hours each week instructing, interacting and hopefully sharing information with my students that they can apply to life and their collegiate journey. What I have recently found interesting is how much more capable I feel plugging away teaching virtual students than I do taking care of our home and sharing salvation. I pondered on what was behind the false idea that I was not fulfilling my duties in our home or practicing discipleship and a lightbulb moment occurred. The reason I struggle with knowing I am doing well is because there is less praise given for the latter two. Very seldom does anyone other than my family (or sisters-in-life) compliment the impeccable manner in which I organize and sanitize our home. Although, I do appreciate it when it comes, I ain’t that great or consistent at it to have a steady flow of praise, just sayin’.

Now listen, other people-pleasers (“You down with O.P.P? Yea, you know me!” Random Naughty By Nature reference, I digress) of the world, y’all know we thrive on the accolades and encouragement that we are the best and most excellent-est of them all at whatever the task at hand is. But when the praise isn’t present and the glory isn’t ours for the taking, it can create almost an insecurity of sorts. Sound familiar? How can you tell if you are making progress, creating change or even being productive if there isn’t a constant end result or external affirmation? Maybe I am alone here, but in case I’m not, let me tell you the secret whispered to the deepest part of my heart on this topic. Ready? Here is goes:

“You aren’t special because of what you have accomplished that “they” notice but rather for you you were       created to be and the way you use those gifts to encourage others in theirs.” – The Holy Spirit 

Now, your level of faith or belief system may differ from mine, but my Heavenly Father speaks to me. And not only does He speak to me, but he speaks to me in the same sort of tone and conversation that I use with other people. And honestly I appreciate that because if he didn’t I would probably write off a lot of what He is trying to say to me as random thoughts or background chatter. But that little tid bit stung like a mosquito bite in July after a week of rain because being acknowledged mattered so much to me at one point that it was literally my motivation. And as I have matured and grown beyond that part of life, there are always a few remnants that hang around like loose threads on sweater waiting on the right thing to snag them so they whole thing can unravel.

Yes, my collegiate accomplishments allow me to teach at a level that a small percentage of the population achieve or even aspire to, but so what? I can finally, comfortably say that having a great title and multiple degrees (with a nice note from Navient by the way) doesn’t fulfill me like days of completely finished laundry, read aloud with our girls and sharing the gospel with someone. There will be many who say you must hustle, achieve, earn and sacrifice whatever it takes to have initials behind your name and credentials that show the world who you are. And there is nothing wrong with those goals, but also recognizing that those things are not the end all be all can be harsh yet humbling.

I have to make decisions all day long that keep two small humans alive, a husband supported to face a world that inherently is against him and a culture that says to be better equates to doing all the things on a Pinterest worth level. Nah, B, ya girl is tired of all the things (insert clapping hand emojis). So, if all I do is wash, fold and put away the laundry in one day-which we all know is like the domesticated version of a triathlon event and complete a page in the devotion we started as a family, then so what!?

I don’t need attention or glory to be fulfilled because the more I am intentional with the choices that honor God through my many roles, the more peace there is in my home and the better I feel. When the end of my day comes, my girls don’t care what class I am teaching or if assignments were plagiarized. We are called to be a living witness of the God who created the heavens and the earth. And even on the days I fail miserably (which have been at an all-time high the past few months) it gives me a chance to walk them through correction that makes me stronger. To bring it back full circle, when we stop focusing so much on achievements of a personally gratifying nature and instead forge a path that allows us to light the way for those behind us and encourage those in front not to quit, then our lives can create a butterfly effect more powerful than any title or job description. You can do it all, or you can do what’s best, what do you choose?

Much Love,

Q

Encouragement, Faith, Goals, Lifestyle, Parenting

Not A Mini-Me, Rather, A Little Her

Happy New Year Y’all!

Like most people, the holidays and end of the year bring about a season of self-reflection. My season lasted most of the fall and winter of 2018 and at times was absolutely brutal. I mean, if you ever ask God to show you the true you. The weaknesses, shortcomings, and truths of what makes you who you are…be ready to see a not-so-perfect picture. As I tip-toes into the traumas and truths of my childhood and young adulthood, I was swamped with thoughts about how to pick up the pieces and start fresh even though I have a husband and daughters who need me (so checking out or running away aren’t viable options). And while I am still sorting through a lot of that (story for another day), I did have a lightbulb moment in relation to how I parent.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, children inherent their looks and some personality traits through genetics but what I am talking about is the nurturing of our children. Not those things which are out of our control, but rather, the things that are tangible. One of these areas was the idea that our oldest, my Sug, was a “Mini-Me.” I had heard family, friends and acquaintance say it so much that I started to believe it myself. Here is the problem that ensued, I began to respond and reactive to our six year old as if she were just that, a miniature version of myself. At her age, life was different for me than it is for her and the experiences that I traversed in childhood shaped the person I am today. But she has not known the loss, lessons or hardships. She has not witnessed some of the things that I have, both positive and negative. And her perspective of the world around her is different if for no other reason than she is growing up in a time, region and space where things are different. So to treat her as a “Mini-Me” has been a detriment to my parenting.

I was holding her to standards she couldn’t meet and expectations based on what I felt was appropriate because of what I was able to do at her age/stage and the reality was I have been missing out on learning who she is because all I saw was my “Mini-Me.” Friends, parenting at easy nor is it for the faint of heart. I quit in my head a few times a day and when the truth of this revelation hit me it felt like a ton of bricks. I felt like I had failed her, like I had failed as a mother and like I had failed to glorify the God who blessed us with this healthy child. You see, He has trusted us to care and raise this amazing Little Person to become a warrior to do His will but I got caught up in creating an attitude in her that served my will instead.

So while dressing alike and cute social media posts brag about mothers and their “Mini-Me’s,” I have had to take a step back. I am thoroughly flawed and in a perpetual state of self-awareness and personal growth. I want to raise daughters who aren’t seen as small versions of myself (be it in their clothing, attitude or personality) but instead are recognized as individuals in their own right. Not trying to measure themselves to meet the standard set before them by anyone (self-included) but striking out in their God-given talents with boldness to be comfortable and free in being themselves. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is acceptance and unconditional love for who  they are and were created to be by their Heavenly Father.

Much Love,

Q

Encouragement, Goals, Lifestyle

Who Would Have Thunk It?

Hey Y’all!

I know all of us over the age of 30 can relate to living through our 20s feeling smarter and wiser, while still young and hip and looking forward to who we will be when we “grow up.” It’s like being a kid in Toys R Us (R.I.P) and seeing all of the amazing boxes and endlessly play possibilities. Blinded by the lights and magnificent displays that capture our attention, we daydream about all that we would do with just one new toy let alone the potential multiple picks create. And then, almost immediately, one day you grow up and realize it takes money to buy said desired bobbles and that money comes by way or work (which usually is the least interesting thing we want to involve ourselves in) and slowly the daydreams are swept away and reality feels stale compared to what it once was. Now, that may have been an over exaggeration but that is kind of what it felt like when I realized I am about to hit my “mid-thirties.” [Insert gasp here]

The initial shock felt like I was pushed off a cliff and when I came to my senses it was more like I had trip off the last stair. Wile scary and jolting, not nearly as life-altering as it seemed in the moment. And if we are honest with ourselves, we all dreamed a manifest destiny of sorts that isn’t exactly playing out the way we pictured. After a few years in the role of adult and parent, I have come to confidently accept that that my friends is perfectly okay. Seriously, when I talk to my longtime friends (and I mean like 19 and 22 year friendships) one of the common questions when something new happens is, who would have thunk it? Who knew that this would be the life I lived at this point in adulthood.

Now, I don’t know about you but for a while, that was a hard pill to swallow. I was “just” a few roles I had assumed and the life of over-achievement I had been groomed for wasn’t exactly reality. I wasn’t a world-renowned writer, a famous therapist, a millionaire entrepreneur…Chile, I was a barely a thousand-aire and still using Google in place of sound advice. Admit it, you can relate! But over the past two to three years (’cause my evolution of personal growth is constant and I am no where near “arriving”) I have made up in my mind that the roles I fulfill, the legacy I work to establish for my family and my faith is enough. I. AM. ENOUGH. And guess what, so are you!

It doesn’t matter where we thought we would be or where we are on that path to getting there. Sometimes, we have to change direction altogether or scrap the initial plan and try again. No, that doesn’t feel productive or comfortable but life happens. I have yet to meet anyone in my age cohort (1980-84 put your hands up) say they are exactly where they thought they would be by this point in life. The beauty is learning to love the process and appreciate every new day we get to move closer to who we want (and were created to be). So, whether you thunk it or not, doesn’t matter…half the adventure is thinking up what’s next anyway!

Much Love,

Q