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

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, 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, 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