Family Matters

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I am the most home sick I think I’ve ever been in my life. I keep seeing posts from a year ago, two years ago, six years ago even, that remind me of time that I spent with my family. My mom making dinner. Long conversations with my dad in our white rocking chairs that find their place in the garage. My brother playing video games and me sneaking in to sit on his bed for a few hours– no other sound but my brother’s random voice breaking the silence to speak into his headphones. My sister and I jamming out to indie music with the windows down as she drove with no destination in sight. Our dogs going crazy any time someone walked passed the window or rang our doorbell.

When I was younger, I wasn’t home as much as I should have been. I didn’t take advantage of the time I was given to spend with my family. Instead, I was always with a different friend, or gone for the weekends because of debate, or playing softball, or staying at the high school for long nights of theater rehearsals. And when I was home, I slept or kept to myself, because I was “peopled out!” My mom would constantly ask me if I was sticking around for awhile, and of course I’d explain to her that I had much more important things to do. I wasted quality time with my family, and I didn’t think twice about it.

I can’t help but want it back, especially now that I think about the fact that I haven’t seen my family since July. I think about how everyone else got to go home for summer vacation, but I made the decision to stay in Oklahoma and take more classes. I think about the fact that my sister is in Kentucky and that my family will soon be scattered all over the United States, because the Brown’s don’t stay in one place very well. Instead, they take the next adventure head on with full intentions of having a great time the whole way through! I love my family for their love of traveling the United States and placing their claim on new places. They open their hearts to everyone they meet and love people and help people and it’s great.

I’m homesick and I’m jealous. Honestly, I might even be a tad bit selfish. The other day I sat at my friend’s house and did laundry. Her mom loved on her and got us dinner and made me feel so welcomed. A few days later, I was with my boyfriend and his family at their home. We sat around a table, ate lunch as a family, and played an intense card game. Afterwards, we sat around the television, watched a football game, and ate pie. These two moments, although extremely nice, made my heart ache for what I don’t have while I’m in Oklahoma– my family.

I guess what I’m getting at here is not to take time with loved ones for granted. When you are younger, it is a lot easier to make time for your mom, dad, brother, or sister. But you are the one in charge of doing so. Cherish the movies you go to with your mom, or the father-daughter dates you go to with your dad. The conversations you get to have on car rides to the store- those are important! The family dinners where your mom makes you turn off the TV so everyone can discuss their day- those are necessary. Going to church on a Sunday morning and holding the hands of your parent while you pray to God, well I’d personally say that’s the best part out of anything.

God blessed you with a family. He blessed you with a home to go to. So don’t question that. As you get older, make time for the people who love you every day no matter how terrible you are to them. They love you at your best. They pick you up at your worst.

With that being said, I get to go home in 9 days and I cannot wait to see the people my heart has been aching for lately.

The Key to Success is Not to Stress

3 years ago I was a senior in high school. Life was easy in retrospect, even though I thought it was hard at the time. I remember being nervous about the next stage of my life. I was constantly questioning what move I should make. My thoughts circled around the same 3 questions: What college should I go to? What should I major in? What do I even want to do with my life? 

It’s funny to me that 3 years later and I’ve only answered two of those questions: Oklahoma Christian University and Creative Writing. It’s even funnier that with those 3 questions, I still find myself asking similar ones now that my college graduation is approaching. When April arrives, I am supposed to have the rest of my life figured out. Everyone keeps asking me what’s next, and I honestly have no idea. And once again, I find myself stuck with the same 3 questions. What Grad School do I want to go to? What do I want to get my Masters in? What am I going to do with the rest of my life? 

I find it humorous that 3 years later and not much has changed. The future is still trying to rule my life. I am still biting off way more than I can chew. Opening up to people is just as hard now as it was then. Feeling inadequate when I find myself struggling with a subject takes a huge toll on me, whether Pre-Calculus or Accounting. Extracurricular activities, although fun and worthwhile, are still extremely demanding and trying at times.

Thinking about how much has changed in the last few years, and then noticing that nothing has really changed at all feels really stagnant. I feel like there’s been a lack of growth. I want to say that I am leaving college this full fledged adult, but I’m not.  I’m still learning how to budget my money. I am still teaching myself not to procrastinate. I am reminding myself that God is important always and that He shouldn’t get pushed to the side. I have to tell myself that contacting my parents is important and making them a priority is necessary. Being a friend and allowing people to be a friend to me in return is crucial for survival.

Most importantly, I am learning that words that helped me manage my senior year of high school can help me manage my senior year of college as well. I posted on my Facebook about an assignment I have due in a few weeks and asked people to share quotes that helped shaped their lives, specifically their faith. My old debate partner and sweet friend who is just now beginning her first year of college reminded me of a quote that helped her through these last couple years. Funny enough, it was my quote.

“The key to success is not to stress.” It was words we lived by in our little debate world. We could only prepare as much as we had time for. We could only perform to the best of our ability. Everything else wasn’t in our hands, something that was hard to accept at times, but the absolute truth nonetheless. Words I told Marissa to focus on I had so easily forgotten in the last few years. I am pretty grateful for the reminder, now, as she told me that through this silly little mantra I developed to make us feel better during hard times, she was able to focus on God’s plan. She focused on God’s understanding, and not her own, something I have been struggling to do lately.

You see, my final year of undergrad is here. I am taking my final classes. I am working. I am participating in extracurriculars. I am living the best years of my life. So why am I wishing this year away by focusing on next year? Why am I throwing away these moments for knowledge of my future? Why am I fearful of messing up? Not being good enough? Not doing enough?

I have prepared myself all that I can. I have worked as hard as I can. I have no control of the future. I only have control of my present.

So today, I am thankful for Marissa, for reminding me of my own words. I was wise for living by that silly little motto of mine, and I think I’m going to bring it back into my life. After all, the key to success really is not to stress, because I know God’s got this.

Let’s Get Flexible


snap“You need to be more flexible.” My sweet friend told me as we sat across from one another in my living area. “I don’t know how to say that without it sounding negative. But because you’re not being flexible, you’re causing yourself unnecessary stress.”

At first, her words slapped me across the face. What did she mean, I needed to be more flexible? Did she not see how flexible I was being? I was hanging out with people without scheduling it. I was letting my RAs postpone things, even though I thought they needed to be done! I was doing things for people that I didn’t have time to do. I was the most flexible person there ever was. 

Except, I really wasn’t. Not even in the least bit. When something hasn’t been planned out, I feel like my whole life is out of whack. When I have free time, I feel like I make terrible decisions on how to fill that time. When I do have a schedule and someone throws something else at me, I feel like my brain is going to explode due to the massive stress headache that forms in the front of my head.

And you know what’s really crazy? I keep trying to tackle on more! My mom’s friend needs something done for her son, and I do it. My dad needs help answering questions, and I help. My friend needs me to help her move her stuff. Why not help? My Pi sister is having car troubles? I’ll take her to get it fixed! My day to day is so planned out and I try to do these helpful things that seem so small, but then feel so overwhelmed by how much they put on my plate. Add on to that, random job opportunities like babysitting on Sundays for an hour and a half. (Note, Sundays are my only free day. They are the days where I sit on my couch after church and do literally nothing, because why not?) I got offered a possible promotion in December at the church I work at. Classes haven’t even started yet, nor has club stuff, or Soundings, or Yearbook, and I feel like I can barely keep my head above water. So why am I feeling the need to take on more and more? 693131ee0b094af34a30b6ebfc8142b7

I have this need to do absolutely everything. I want to be everything to everyone that they need. I want their lives to be easier, and I don’t care how hard that makes my own life. It is the people pleaser in me. Which is where the problem really stems. I should not be looking for more to add onto my plate. I should be prioritizing what I already have to do, and learn how to say NO, something several wonderful people keep reminding me. But also something that I have not been doing very well.

It’s perfectly a-okay if I can’t do everything. For my own sake, I think it’s important to write that out one more time. It is okay if I cannot do everything! With that same thought process, my friend was so true. I do need to be more flexible. Days come and go. Life is not something I can plan out and I know that. It’s time to start acting like I know that, however. Something that I do not often do.

This year is going to be busy. There are going to be times where I feel overwhelming amounts of stress. There will be issues with people that I will have to deal with. There will be homework assignments and exams to study for. There will be friends who are in crisis mode. You cannot plan life. You must have enough wiggle room to be helpful, but you also need to be helpful towards yourself by saying no when you absolutely cannot do something. And that’s okay.

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I guess what I am getting at is that the stress I’m feeling is my fault. I’m putting it there. No on else. That extra job babysitting on Sundays? I don’t need to take it. Little things here and there that I don’t have time for, I don’t have to do those either. My friends and family will understand, but only if I tell them.

I’m thankful for a friend who would challenge me to do more, to be more. Because of her, I’ve been able to reflect on something that has clearly been weighing me down. Now, I feel light. I’m ready, or at least as ready as I’ll ever be.

You Can’t Pencil God In

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I have gotten used to my planner, my Google Calendar, and even my schedule being written down on my fridge. I know what I am doing each and every day. My life is pinpointed to the very second and I get alerts constantly reminding me where I need to be and when I need to be there. The organization is like my security blanket, or my safety net. It allows me to feel secure in my life. With my schedules showing me every second of my day, I can note the time I get to spend with friends, the workouts I’m doing with Kelly, the work things I have to get accomplished, and any time in between to spend doing insert random task here. My life has literally become a series of to do lists, which is slightly ridiculous. I’ve scheduled my life so much that I cannot handle a single second out of place.

So what happens when your boss completely rips apart that schedule by adding two extra days of training and completely disrupts the plans you’ve put so much effort into making? Well, you definitely cry on the phone to your dad like the non-adult you are, because your life just fell to pieces. Maybe I was being a little dramatic. And maybe my dad is the real MVP in this story, because what father likes listening to his baby girl heart broken and a billion miles away? Not him, let me tell you.

But he listened anyway. He told me to suck it up in real dad fashion, while also telling me I needed to stop crying, because he felt terrible that he wasn’t here to fix all my problems. Guys, my dad is actually the best man on this planet in case you were wondering. Of course, I told him he wasn’t being helpful and asked for mom. I was wrong in doing so, because my dad was just what I needed at that point in time.

He hung up the phone. I stood in the bathroom at work, looked at my tear stricken face, and took a deep breath. It wasn’t the end of the world. I could adapt. I was a strategic person. I splashed some water on my face and went to work watching children with a better perspective on the not so welcome changes that had come earlier that day.

You might be wondering why I decided to share this over dramatic story, so here it goes. Being an adult is hard sometimes. Working a real job comes with a bunch of new territory you may have never experienced before. Your boss is going to expect some flexibility. You might not have time for your friends. You might have to move some things around. But that’s a-okay. After all, if we sit with our whole entire lives planned out, we never allow ourselves the opportunity to experience the extra moments in life, like buying a cup of coffee and sitting in your car for an extra few minutes because your favorite song came on the radio.

One more thing. I was planning life so much, that I tried to pencil God in. Silly, I know. I was so focused on every little task that I had going on. I wanted to be as focused on God as I was a few weeks ago when I was doing His work in Swaziland. At that time I had been praying so much. I had been learning about the Old Testament. I was researching God’s word and reading it as much as I possibly could. For two weeks, God was every part of my day and I wanted it back so badly. But I was going about it the wrong way.

You see, I told myself 60 minutes of God time a day, whether that was writing in my prayer journal or going to church or reading my Bible. And when I tried to schedule God in my life, I found that I did not have time for Him. He was not a necessity. Actually, He was one of the first things to go when I found myself crunched for time, because He would always be there. How messed up is that?

I talked to Kelly about it. She’s pretty great at dealing with my mental breakdowns. She told me I was going about it wrong. She asked about how I managed to make God such a big part of my day when I was in Swaziland, or prompted it out of me in the way only she can do. When I thought about it, the answer was simple. I filled all of my free moments with God. An extra five minutes between class? I’d write a prayer for someone. 30 minutes until lunch? I’d read my Bible. A random hour after dinner? I’d sit down with a friend and have a discussion.

You can’t pencil God in, because He should be found in all the moments of our lives. Not only should we be doing all of our work for Him, but we should be filling every extra minute with Him too. He should not be an option, but more a way of life. He should be found in every second of our day, and if we try to schedule every moment, we lose a part of that. That’s pretty sad if you think about it, because doesn’t God deserve every second that we get to live?

So, I want to leave you with this verse.

Proverbs 3: 5-6 Being an adult might be hard at times, but I trust that God is guiding my steps and leading the way. When my boss changes things up on me, it’s a reminder to be flexible and adaptable. Being Type A won’t always be doable, and that’s okay. I’m going to have good days and bad days. All of my days are God’s days, which is something to remember the next time I try to pencil Him in. 

Blessings,

PB