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

Encouragement, Lifestyle, Parenting

Our External Hard Drives

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Okay, so we may be like half a month into 2018 but never-the-less, it’s always nice to start out with a celebration, right? I think we can all agree that ending out the year is a mashup of emotion, contemplation, hectic schedules, cold weather and anticipation all rolled into our daily lives and obligations. Sounds like enough to make anyone anxious or driven to hide at home in a onesie with hidden snacks (or maybe that’s just what I did). I didn’t want to face the fact that 2017 was coming to a close because it didn’t seem like I had been able to truly enjoy it. It was as if the days were moving faster than I could grasp the concept of time and the seasons changed before I could become acclimated with the last. It was a year of great change in many ways and somehow I looked up and the reality that my newborn had become a tenth month-old crawler and my five year old could fluently read hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried, like ugly cried… a lot. Heck, I’m shedding a few tears just typing this. And according to a long-time sister-friend who is in counseling and allowing me to live vicariously through her sessions, this excessive amount of tear production is healthy and even good for me-so I let them pour out like water from a fireman’s hose.

As I have come (more like “am coming,” cause I’m walking this thing out day-to-day) to grips with the pace and change of life, little things happen to guide me along. I joined the launch group from a new book, “In Bloom” by Kayla Aimee. It felt like she was living my life in her words and it was a relief to know I wasn’t neurotic or alone in my struggles. But then one of the worst moments in technological advancements occurred as I was preparing for church this week…my cell phone, which had been acting funky since the latest update shut itself off. They need press releases to tell us to avoid the updates or make an update to fix the update, something! Any who, after it had reset itself, I was trapped with only one option…factory reset. I don’t remember exactly what the screen said because in my mind all I heard was “NNNNOOOOOOOOO!” And because I still had to finish getting myself ready and our girls to brave the cold and head to church I couldn’t dwell on the impending doom. It was at that moment I realized I hadn’t backed my phone up since I was like 32 years old! Granted, that was like three months ago, but still, you understand the gravity of what happens in that amount of time. I couldn’t focus on the pictures and memories that were being erased or the phone numbers for new acquaintances and references that I needed and barely could remember even existed let alone recall during a time of distress such as this. So I did what I am good at-I cried. Then I talked to myself to keep from going over the edge, by literally talking to myself.

Y’all, it must have sounded intense through the door because my sweet husband came in to check on me. I explained to him what had happened and right before I felt the flash of fire caused my complete frustration rise up, I stopped. I spoke out loud and with boldness rebuking the devil for trying to push me into fury or depression over things that can be replaced (like phone numbers and pictures). I bound every spirit and feeling of anger, depression and resentment because really, my phone doesn’t care how I feel about it and the reality is I am not going to get rid of it. I had to let this go or it would have consumed me quickly and completely. I made the decision to leave the girls warm and tucked into their beds and ventured out to church solo, for the first time in a long time.

That drive was like water to my burning soul. It quenched the blaze of angst in me and gave me the basis for this story/lesson. See, I was upset that my pictures were gone but I had the same beautiful muses of those pictures available to me still, live and in living color. And those contacts, yep, people I could still reach out and touch (or connect with through social media). So in that moment, what felt like a defeating and life-altering occurrence in that factory reset was really a reminder to focus on the tangible. I realized how much time I spent looking into my phone to record memories and may have missed the chance to live in them. That’s not to say we can’t both record and enjoy special times but how often in our technologically-driven society do we stop long enough to take it all in? To see our children play, practice a new skill or just be adorable without needing tangible evidence on our devise that it actually happened? Because then, when it fails us (as machines all do at some point), then what? What do we have to hold on to?

I miss the days when I had all of my friends phone numbers memorized and tucked away in the part of my brain that easily recalled them when some newsworthy situation happened or it was time to hang out. While phones and gadgets get smarter, we humans seem become more dependent and need I say…dumb lazy. I don’t want a life proven only by the full SD card in my phone or a cloud full of digital prints and videos. I want my mind’s eye to be the bank for which my greatest and most precious moments are stored. The more we harken to the pull of trusting our devices to hold what we consider precious, the more we outsource that part of our brain meant to keep those things we treasure safe. We’ve allowed technology to be the external hard drives in our lives and while we may not notice it, we create a vulnerability. While memories can fade, we were made to be active participants in our lives and not just so that we can tell others to swipe left or to post the best filtered optic from the eight or nine attempts to get it just right.

I encourage you, as I am walking through the process myself to be more aware of living in the moments instead of just trying to document them. An instant well lived is better than any full photo gallery or timeline scrolls!

Much Love,

Q

Encouragement, Faith, Goals

It’s Never Too Late to Dream

Hey Y’all! So it’s the day after my 33rd birthday and I still feel just as excited about life as I did yesterday. So often, we get down about the concept of aging  but the reality is the alternative to getting older is to die (sounds harsh-but it’s truth). I’d rather experience all that my 30s, 40s and all other decades that pass until Jesus returns instead of giving up the ghost and going to Glory early. That said though, I have realized that the quality of a few things changes over time. I mean sure, gravity and childbirth have changed some of the features of my body and the specks of gray hairs that peak through my blonde wash-and-go styles are peaking through but there’s no more tragic loss I see becoming more prevalent. Y’all, we are getting older and losing our…IMAGINATION! Duh, duh, duh

giphy

 

Who’d have thunk that we would so easily let slip away that which navigated just about our every move during our early stages of life. Reality has a way of sucking the fun and mystique out of life that usually opens up the doorway to a vivid imagination. I don’t know about you, but I want to dream BIG dreams and set goals so large they seem unattainable to the average person (which might be because they are one of many who are imaginationless, we are making that a word today). Being down trodden by student loan debt, fulfilling careers, toxic or unfruitful relationships, false friendships formed and based solely on social media without true interaction and a plethora of other issues that plague daily life and the time and space to let our minds wander is like a vapor blown in the wind.

I encourage us to look at our children or the happy children around us for inspiration. Sadly, there are many little people just as heavy in life as us adults unable to see beyond what is tangible because of circumstance. When we allow ourselves the freedom to imagine it is a renewal. Like being whisked away into a great book, feeling yourself set within the pages as a character or a favorite movie that we are able to place ourselves in the favored scenes-dreaming gives us a temporary escape. The more we exercise the ability to think beyond what is ordinarily possible in the moment, the better we are able to challenge ourselves to greater heights. I was once told by a mentor that he and his wife don’t set any goals, personally, financially or otherwise that aren’t big enough to make them nervous when they write them down. That if it didn’t make them uncomfortable to think them up, then they didn’t have to get uncomfortable to attain them and that is essential to moving forward.

For real, something made us believe we could be astronaut-ballerina-superstar singers, pilot that paints before he arrives to court to put bad guys away, professional athletes or carpenters who could build the “most biggest” building ever. It takes practice to enter the realm of visualization reserved for the bravest imagineers. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself better to tap into that magical part of the brain reserved for the purest thoughts:

  • If you were given $100,000 to spend in one week or return, what would you do with it?
  • If you became a millionaire and had to leave your legacy to charity, how would you divide it?
  • What five places in the world do you want to visit before you die?
  • What is the most expensive trip or purchase you have ever made and how would that change if your income tripled over the next year?
  • What is one thing you have seen on tv, social media or in a movie that you want to try or experience?
  • If you were offered 24 hours on a private jet, where would you go?

Not everything will be based on having more money but when resources become unlimited, so are the options. What you will find is that the more you allow yourself the freedom to dream, your personal goals will begin to grow and if you desire to have that which you have now opened yourself up to-you can take the steps to be creative in how to achieve them. I’d love to hear what your imagination conjured up or what goals you make be pursuing that may seem unrealistic to the masses. I don’t want to be the only person who goes from car notes to private jets (cause the day is coming) so let’s get to making these dream boards and putting in the work!

Much Love,

Q

*Gif courtesy of imgflip.com/found on giphy.com
Correction, Encouragement, Faith, Goals, Lifestyle, Salvation

And Just Like That…

Have you ever felt like you just needed that one little push to help you get started, keep moving or finish well? We’ve all been there and if I’m being totally honest, some days it seems like I am in a constant state of “needing” that external motivation. So let me share with you a short true story from last week that had me going from “AHHH” to “AWE MAN to “OUCH” all in a span of about 15 minutes. Ready?

We all have people that we look up to as role models and such, even as adults, there are people we see in business or life that we gravitate towards. One of those people for me is a woman name Priscilla Shirer. She is a wife, mother and a woman whose heart is to please Christ. I’ve listened to her speak in person and was in awe of her power and knowledge of the word of God. So, last week as I dabbled with the idea of getting active on Instagram, she popped up as a suggested person to follow. Not really paying attention, I clicked follow and within two minutes received a DM (direct message) from her. Cue the “AHHH” moment. I immediately screenshot the message and sent it to one of my sisters in life and literally squealed with excitement. Then I had decided that this was clearly a sign from God (y’all, us Christians do that a lot but that a whole other story for another day) that I should link my blog to IG ad get busy finding stock photos and making catchy quotations so garner followers and what not. I mean, I had a whole social media strategy in like 3.78 minutes after one whole message from what in real life is a stranger even though we are practically like Auntie/niece in my mind.

So after preparing a proper reply, I decided to go the interested route and scope out her IG page for inspiration on what to say back. That’s when reality slapped me down like a game of slap-boxing gone wrong. See, the profile pictures were identical but the names were different, insert “AWE MAN.” I had followed an imposter page and received a message from goodness knows who, wanting God knows what. So I replied with a dry (I mean Mohave desert dry) “Hello.” I was then almost immediately sent another message from “Priscilla” and a tinge of anger started to rise up. How dare you person pretending to be the person I thought I was following. Why waste my time? So, I did what any normal person would do, I screenshot the info and sent a direct message to the authentic page resolved to just be like Elsa and let it go. But, here’s how my excitement was brought to conviction. Just. Like. That.

See, I have a great relationship with my blog (and y’all) as long as I don’t let life overwhelm my diligence. So that initial kick in the pants, “oh, this is a sign from Daddy God Himself” feeling was almost knocked out of me when I realized I was being Catfished (I think that’s what they call the trickery of online imposters). And just as I was ready to feel like I was wrong about the “sign from God,” the Holy Spirit reminded me that God is not a respecter of persons but I clearly was. I became so enthralled with the idea that this person of “celebrity” status would have the time to enquire about little ole me that it became an idol. The idea that The Creator of Heaven and Earth blessing me with the gift of words and messages to share was somehow not enough because it wasn’t backed the confirmation of followers or applauded by men. Can you feel the ouch now? Talk about a gut punch that brought me to my knees. I could do nothing but repent. I had done the exact opposite of scripture (these are the first two that hit me):

Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Colossians 3:23-34 Whatever you do, work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you [actually] serve.”

It is the contradictory acts like this, that can hinder growth and create hypocritical testimonies. I don’t want it to be said that I do anything simply for the applause of people. Now, ya girl enjoys the benefits that monetary earning can provided and always appreciates a well-formed alliance but anything done for the mere gain of such things is pointless. It became clear that my platform here had moved from being about encouraging others and sharing Christ to making me sought after or seen. It’s hard to even type those words but you know what comes after pain? Healing. See, after seeing that side of myself in the mirror of my heart, I could be thankful for the correction and begin to lean on the understanding from The Word on how to correct it. Sure, I could have kept this story to myself. No one would’ve known and life will have moved on but let’s be honest, I am not alone.

We’ve all had those moments, in the secret places of our heart where what we profess and what we do are not congruent. As Believers, we are called to repent in those moments and move forward in obedience. That is not only the power of grace but the blessing of being children of God. It is through correction that we learn and mature. My hope is that whatever you may be wrestling with internally can be released so that you can move forward boldly. Now hear me, I am NOT, by any means saying confess your bad habits, personal business or failures to the world in an attempt to find solace or relief. You will probably find the opposite and whatever position you were in will most likely be made 1,000 times worse once it is debuted in the court of public opinion. I AM advocating self-reflection and submission.

To know better is to do better and just like that, I am back on the narrow path because I saw real quick how that wide path leads to destruction and this girl wants no parts of that! I appreciate the lovely example Priscilla Shirer gives through her teaching and lifestyle. And so that this note ends on a better note remember that DM I told you I sen her, what do ya know, she replied and thanked me for bringing the information to her awareness.

Much Love,

Q

If you don’t know Christ as Savior and the power of prayer to God in the name of Jesus,  or if you don’t know without a doubt if you will go to Heaven (meaning you never accepted Christ or not sure of your Salvation) believe in your heart and repeat after me:

Jesus, I believe that you are the son of God. I believe that you died for the forgiveness of sin and that you were raised from the dead on the third day. I ask, right now Jesus, that you forgive my sins and come into my heart as my Savior. Thank you for saving me. Amen

Encouragement, Goals, Lifestyle

More Doing & Less Thinking

Y’all, for real, I have been gone waaaaay too long. Between having a baby, moving, summer and prepping RyPie for kindergarten (which is a whole post on it’s own) somehow the June-August months seem to have dissipated into thin air. And in true Q fashion, I have spent so much time thinking about how to start, where to go, what to do that I literally though myself into stagnation. You ever been there? I mean the constant over and over of trying create the best “plan” when really action is the only real necessity. I have been on a personal journey that has shown me myself in some ways that I honestly didn’t expect and really didn’t want to accept. See, I am most comfortable as a perpetual thinker and professional doer of stuff. But when I have to buckle down and finish or gracious forbid if whatever the task is means a lot to me, I move at the pace of my five year old before bedtime…basically frozen. Still. Stuck.

None of us want to feel like we are doing anything “wrong” but the reality is this, the only wrong way to do a thing is to do nothing at all! There, I said it. I may seem like I am preaching to the choir but I am really ministered to myself with every letter that I type. We as humans innately desire to win and be great. We are all born with talents and gifts but fear will strangle them and desire to please the masses will murder a dream before it ever gets the chance to fully develop. So, how do we protect the small stirrings in the deepest parts of our soul that seem like intangible goals? WE ACT. Now, that doesn’t mean we talk to the whole neighborhood and the cousins down the street about it and then wait for someone else to push us into doing whatever our thing is. No sir (or ma’am)! There must be a drive in us that even on our worst days pushes us to do something.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying that we must fight Goliath on a daily basis but even David had daily activities and routines that prepared him for that faithful day. There were slow days of walking with the sheep, days of work having to care for them and tend to their needs and then there were days when we wore himself out slaying a bear and wolves and whatever else came against the precious flock that was entrusted to his care. We are no different. Some days there will be monumental wins and victories and others will be calm. There will be times of what feels like total calamity but in the end they all work together in preparation for the delivery of that thing that has been growing inside of you. Today for me is like the beginning of labor pains. The preparation to endure the delivery of the dream that I tucked away in the inner parts of my mind and have tried to hide from my heart.

Whatever it is from cleaning your house, finishing a project or stepping out to pursue a new adventure, Nike said it best, JUST DO IT. I know, I know easier said than done. But that my friends is why I am practicing in little ways. I am painting the books cases I have been talking about amongst friends since February. I bought the curtains and pillows to redecorate the living room. I asked my greatly organized friend tips on how to maximize storage AND implemented everything she suggested. Time is moving faster than the change of gas prices so hesitation and waiting are not options available to those of us who dare to dream and do. YOU CAN DO IT! Not for people, not for the praise but for you. I realize that the dreams deferred, if kept in that continued state mean that the legacy I wish to leave our girls will never materialize. That, y’all just won’t do. So, enough typing for now…ya girl has got some things to do!

Much Love,

Q