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, 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, 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.

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