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

Encouragement, Faith, Lifestyle, Salvation

The Cleansing Rain

Y’all, as you can probably tell by the title, it’s raining. And not just the literal rain of precipitation that has been steady over the past week in my neck of the woods but a (real life) figurative rain. We know that when rain comes it softens and prepares the soil, quenches the thirst of plant and animal life and washes away the debris. Unless of course you just washed your car, and then the rain comes to mock your human effort and leave tiny little spot all over the canvas of that fresh wash. But, I digress.

When the rains of life come they can be sweet showers that give the gentle mist and refreshing that we need and sometimes it comes in the form of a torrential downpour that feels like a flood alert needs to be issued in regard to your emotional state. You know the feeling? The intense and overwhelming feeling that you could, at any moment, be swept up and carried away with the constant barrage of demands. When the words of others cut like daggers. When the rejection we cannot seem to escape feels like it’s splitting us down the middle and the reality that we can’t “do” enough to fix or make things better creates a claustrophobic tightening of the chest, what do we do? I personally have been known to make many different moves (none of which really worked well) but they included; (1) ignoring what I was feeling, (2) wishful thinking to overshadow or dilute the reality at hand, (3) becoming hardened or guarded, and finally, (4) straight up denial. Now, in my thirty plus years of living I have learned that those tactics came easily to me because they are initial responses that my over-achiever nature could cling to and feel productive and empowered.

Maturity has taught me different, and so, if you are also in a season that seems like one thing after another-instead of seeing these moments as one big storm of life that is too hard to fight through, refocus the big picture. Instead, see this as the cleansing rain that will wash away all that is not meant to carry into the next season of your journey and that will help prepare your mind, heart and spirit for what is yet to come. The more I read my Bible and just in the quiet place where I can hear and receive the whispers of the Holy Spirit, the more grateful I am for the rain. It doesn’t make the situations any easier to accept and honestly, sometimes it makes it more unpleasant because there is nothing for me to “do” or attempt to rush through. Having to sit with emotions, thoughts and realities as you sort through them can be powerful and painful. But as The Creator of heaven and earth allows my tears at his feet to pour down like the rain on the windows, there is renewal from each release. We did not make the rain, nor can we control it. Such as it is with life. Only God, Himself, know how each of our lives (and the transitions within it) will play out until the very end. Each day, we have to make the decision to show up and be present to live through it and not just exist.

So, as I continue to call out to my Heavenly Father, I encourage you to do the same. It may not stop the adjustments and changes (well, more than likely it won’t) but there is no peace than that which passes all understanding, and that is only available in Christ. Once you surrender, allow yourself to trust the process and submit to the Comforter Christ sent that lives within you,* the rain will be a celebration. A new adventure. An opportunity to splash in those puddles and enjoy the moment knowing that tomorrow is not promised but the season you’re in is a blessed day none the less and worthy to be enjoyed and appreciated!

Much Love

Q

 

 

 

*If you have not trusted Christ as your Savior (meaning you never accepted Christ or not sure of your Salvation) but you want to, believe in your heart and read this with me:

Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God and that you died for the forgiveness of sin. I believe that you were raised from the dead on the third day. I repent and ask you to forgive my sin and come into my heart as my personal Savior. Thank you for saving me.

Encouragement, Faith, Goals, Lifestyle

F.E.A.R-Redefined

Hey Y’all!

As I have overcome a few roadblocks to my growth personally and as a professional (many self-inflicted), the word “fear” has risen up again and again. This is not a new phenomena in my life and I am sure some of you out there can relate. You get great ideas but the “fear” of failure halts you before you ever take action. The “fear” of rejection stops you from ever speaking up or out, even when everything inside of you is saying to do it. As humans, we have emotions and while fear doesn’t serve a realistic purpose, it can definitely have an effect on the way we choose to live our lives. Today, as I was pondering what comes next and  a big idea that is going to take time, effort, coordination and help from people in and outside of my tribe-I got, nervous. And as I sat in that feeling for a moment, rolling through the potential scenarios and outcomes, I was inundated with negative thoughts. I literally had to stop the inner turmoil in my brain by saying out loud, “Enough already!”

I reflected on a podcast I recently listened to by the urging of a dear friend. The interviewee made some powerful statements, that I honestly feel have helped me shift my focus going forward. The woman, a cancer survivor was telling the story of how she came to be in a position she holds within her church, even though, it was the last thing she ever wanted to do. During the interview, she said “…fear means God is about to do something awesome.” WOW! Let that sink in. Read it one more time, slowly. We aren’t fearful of waking up and going through our morning hygiene routine. We don’t get afraid to start out cars or head out to work/school. We become afraid when things are shifting and changing in ways we aren’t sure how to cope with or prepare for because they usually feel out of our control. That statement was not only a HUGE shakedown to take my eyes off of my own efforts and to-do lists but to also purposefully prepare myself when that stinging feeling of fear tries to close a grip around the change occurring in life.

As if I hadn’t heard enough empowering and encouraging things in that one podcast, the interviewee, then went on to explain that the moves we make in life that require us to use our gifts in obedience are more than just for us. That fear creeps in when we focus on ourselves, our capabilities and how we will be received. You ready? She topped all that off by saying, (and I paraphrase), that when we use our God given gifts, people see God-not us! WHAT!?!?! I never thought of it that way and what a sigh of relief! I (we) don’t have to measure up to society’s standards. Shoot, we don’t even have to do things the way others have to gain approval or success. Because when we work with and in the talents that God gave us, people see His glory. That my friends, is the sincerest power of influence there is in this world! It’s not about us or those feelings of fear. So I challenge you, when you start to feel doubt and fear creep in-whatever the situation at hand may be, stop and remember that means some great things are on the way if you push through.

To give myself a quick reference of what I want to do when fear tries to rise up in me, I remixed this acronym:

F.E.A.R-Faith Encourages Actionable Results!

Let those intense moments that may have led to quitting in the past push you to faith of what is on the other side of being diligent. What has fear kept you from pursuing or pushing through right now? We all have something but we don’t have to let fear continue or overcome us when it is signifies the awesome opportunities just up ahead!

Much Love,

Q