Love Challenged?

If you ask me, love should be celebrated everyday. Do something everyday to remind the people you’ve surrounded yourself with, that you love them. This weekend my hubby and I are heading out to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary. We got a cute little tiny-home Airbnb to enjoy for the weekend. If I’m being honest, Valentines isn’t really celebrated in our marriage and that’s okay. I think our annual wedding day celebration is much more rewarding! Each year it causes us to reflect on how far we’ve come in our marriage and how much we’ve grown yet remain united.

What I’ve learned this past year is that I struggle loving myself more than anything. Through multiple counseling sessions and heart-to-heart conversations, it kept surfacing. The guilt and shame that would rise up when I thought of how I could love myself better. If anything, this ‘month of love’ inspired me to do more things that show myself love. It meant not waiting around for the perfect time to draw myself a bubble bath, a much deserved one. It meant filling up my day with more things that brought back life into my existence. It meant spending un-rushed time in the Word. Allowing my body to rest by sleeping at a decent time and showing gratitude for all that it does for me by feeding it food that nourishes and keeps me feeling vibrant and fueled.

An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” -Unknown

For so long, I’ve lived out of survival mode. Giving and giving and giving to everyone and leaving myself the leftovers of my soul. For FOMO (fear of missing out) on something or to please everyone around me. I became addicted to earning love and favor by doing more and giving more and more of myself, leaving me feeling depleted and empty. I was living and serving people with wrong intentions. I thought my value and worth was amounted in what I could do for others but overtime, burnout birthed resentment. I started discovering parts of myself that were ugly and negative. I couldn’t even articulate who I was seeing in the mirror. What was my life reflecting?

I resolved to going back to doing the things that support me being the best version of myself. They say that the way we love others reflects on how we love ourselves. For so long, I believe I was loving others more than I loved myself. I’m learning that it is NOT selfish to take care of your own wellbeing first. This month, I choose to do the things that heal and nourish my soul. I’m choosing to live out of a place of love. Knowing & believing that I deserve love without doing anything first. I no longer need to earn love. Love was mine from the beginning.

“Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.” -Christopher Germer

I created a 7 day challenge to encourage self love. If you resonate with any of this, then I want you to try checking off some of these things. It might be easier to accomplish these simple acts of self-love for some more than others. You can commit to checking off this list in the next 7 days or spread it through out the month. You decide! Happy Valentines Day!


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To My 29 Year Old Self

Happy birthday to me!

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It’s funny, I went through a season of not caring much about celebrating but as I draw closer to a close on another decade in my life, I realize there is just so much to be grateful for. I’ve never done anything like this before, but I’d like to place this list here to remind myself of how thankful I am for being me.


Dora,

  1. Thank you for choosing to seek a more simpler life.

  2. Thank you for never losing Hope.

  3. Thank you for going after the crazy things that you’ve been pushing off.

  4. Thank you for feeding your body with plants that nourish and strengthen you.

  5. Thank you for loving children more than I ever thought you could.

  6. Thank you for always remaining a student at heart. I love how passionate you are about learning new things.

  7. Thank you for finding counsel in this season of your life. You’re seeking complete healing and it definitely starts with dealing with the roots.

  8. Thank you for making time to move your body whether indoors or out in nature.

  9. Thank you for learning to embrace the uncomfortable.

  10. Thank you for pushing yourself out to meet new people and making special connections.

  11. Thank you for loving your own story enough to encourage others to share their stories.

  12. Thank you for loving yourself well first before loving others. You can only love others well if you’re kind to yourself first.

  13. Thank you for being such a strong person. You’ve gone through so much yet you wake up everyday with joy and anticipation.

  14. Thank you for being such a light. Your joy and optimism is priceless.

  15. Thank you for being such a self-reflective person. I love that you’re always striving to be the best version of yourself.

  16. Thank you for loving animals and making decisions to partner up with God in caring for Creation.

  17. Thank you for putting your selfishness aside and becoming such a conscious consumer.

  18. Thank you for putting effort into being a pebble in the ocean creating a ripple with ending modern day slavery.

  19. Thank you for having a heart of advocacy. Being a voice for the voiceless.

  20. Thank you for fighting for your marriage and making it TOP priority even when its difficult.

  21. Thank you for challenging yourself and learning to go against the grain and embracing resistance.

  22. Thank you for practicing compassion with yourself and others.

  23. Thank you for being such an inspiring and creative person. You’re perspective of life is so unique and beautiful.

  24. Thank you for having such a servant heart. You can never say no when it comes to helping people. It’s one of your strengths and weaknesses.

  25. Thank you for not waiting for anyones approval to pursue your dreams.

  26. Thank you for surrounding yourself with people who build you up, challenge you, and empower you.

  27. Thank you for living in the present moment.

  28. Thank you for practicing to be an intentional and mindful person.

  29. Thank you for finding the courage to being more vulnerable and sharing through this blog.

I can’t wait to see what 29 brings you! God has blessed you with so much already, and thats just the beginning. Remember to not carry things that don’t belong to you. Your identity is in the Lord and you are worthy of love. You don’t need to be loved by many but a good few. You may hit a point where you become discouraged but remember just how far you’ve come and all the great things you’ve manifested already. No matter what, keep telling your story. Keep seeking connection and making time for the things that add value to your life. I love everything about you. Your pain, imperfections, flaws, dedication, and your voice. Continue to use your voice for the voiceless. Here’s to another year of awesomeness

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What is Beauty of Barrenness?

Today I've decided to share with you the heart behind my blog.

Beauty of Barrenness

About 6 years ago, God had placed this passion on my heart. To share my story to others. My story of infertility & barrenness. I attempted to publish a few posts, but still felt so much bitterness towards my situation. Undeniably, I got consumed with trying to take it into my own hands trying to figure out how I was going to conceive. Nothing else mattered to me. Out of my mouth came words that just masked how I really felt internally.

I'd lay in bed at night questioning God.

Why?

Why me?

Why can't I have kids?

You know I LOVE kids.

Why would you let this happen to me?

In that season of my life, I had no one to turn to. Literally no one. Even Roger didn't even know how to comfort me. We were both silent in this what seemed like a never ending storm. We were silently trying to stay strong for each other. We weren't seeking God's will or comfort. We were so lost. A part of me even questioned if he would no longer love me because of my barrenness. I was a complete mess trying to hold my broken self together.

I searched for a place to belong, but found nothing. I desperately needed to be surrounded by other women who were going through the same storms. Someone, anyone, who could see right through me & embrace me during the darkest times in my life. I even had a home church yet I didn't feel like I belonged there. I didn't feel accepted as a barren woman. Every Sunday I would step into the lobby avoiding eye contact & I'd feel the weight of the eyes that were staring at me.

hope

People with good intentions, have approached me & asked me questions that just felt like they were pouring salt over my ever constant fresh wounds of emptiness. I'd always just brush it aside. I even joked about why we didn't have any kids yet. But inside, I was desperately searching for acceptance.

Can I just be accepted instead of being questioned why I don't have any kids? Can I just be accepted and not be judged for being married for so long but not having any children to prove for my marriage? Can I just be accepted & not feel like I'm walking around with a curse?

In the most desperate time of my life, I had only one soul that lifted me up as best as she could. She spoke life & encouragement back into my broken heart. She reminded me of the hope I have in Jesus Christ. She dried my tears when all I needed to do was cry my heart out. She embraced me & accepted me through my brokenness even without an explanation of what I was facing. But most importantly she repeatedly pointed me back to the Cross.

It was then, that I knew I had to find my identity in Jesus. I could've become completely bitter & absorbed by trying to find control. Or I could surrender it to God & let Him speak His love over me through the storm. I did just that. It took me a few years to learn to trust God with my complete situation. It was in the midst of this infertility storm that I experienced His comfort in a way that I've never before.

He filled my emptiness with His abounding love & reminded me daily that He was surely working everything for my good & for His glory. Even though I seemed so lost in that storm, He gave me vision to see that there were so many women out there who were also facing a similar storm as I was but without the Hope- giver: Jesus. I knew that as broken and confused as I was, the little bit-sized faith that I had in God cradled me through the storm. God began to give me a new heart & passion for women who were facing the similar battles.

I began to see it clearly. Year after year, God started placing names of women on my heart. Women who I was aware that were definitely facing a hard season of waiting. Waiting on their promises. Waiting on God. God has taught me so much through this season of waiting. He's shown me that a life in a season of waiting does not have to be dark. It can be filled with light. When I chose to let Him change my perspective, I was renewed in my spirit. God gave me a peace & joy that surpassed all my understanding.

He began to slowly reveal the Beauty of Barrenness to me. Daily, I find beauty in the season of waiting on Him. And everyday, He show's up & reminds me that all I need to do is to have complete reliance on Him & He will carry me through. I don't quite know what that means or how it looks like yet. No, God did not give me a blueprint to my future. But I'm willing to trust in His plans for my life and step forward in faith.

Beauty of Barrenness was created to embrace & encourage those who are in a season of waiting. My desire is to encourage you to hold on to Hope. To allow Jesus to minister into the very areas of your heart that resembles closely to mine. I believe that we all seek for a place to be heard, to be known, & to be accepted. You will here. If any of the above resonates with you then I encourage you to follow or subscribe. If not, I ask that you'd help pray over this vision that God has given to me. Pray that all who need administering to will find exactly what they need. Pray that God will provide the very people that needs to read or hear these words.

Photo by Thomas Smith on Unsplash

PCOS: An invisible illness

It’s been about 8 years now since I’ve been diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.) Now, it didn’t just appear one day out of no where. I most likely have always had it but the symptoms just started surfacing once I got married. It took me years to figure out what this meant for me. Even till this day, I still have a hard time explaining it. Why? Because I’ve lived with it for so long that it just became a part of me. I never really had a chance to allow myself to examine and accept the affects of this disorder.

It’s hard to talk about our flaws isn’t it? Who goes around talking about what makes them broken and imperfect?

in pain

September is PCOS Awareness Month and I’ve decided to share somethings about PCOS that you may not be aware of:

  1. Infertility. PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder women can have and its also the one of the most common cause of female infertility. 1 in 10 women will most likely have PCOS.

  2. Beyond the Ovaries. Even though its named Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, the ovaries aren’t the only thing affected by this condition. It is a condition that affects the health across the board and it affects each person differently.

  3. The Symptoms are Endless. Irregular menstrual cycles, male pattern baldness, weight gain, infertility, depression, anxiety, sleep apnea, acne, struggle with weight loss (insulin resistance) , obesity, a higher potential to have Type 2 diabetes, high blood sugar, and more. You don’t have to have all the symptoms to have PCOS. It is a chronic and invisible illness.

  4. There is No Cure. As of current, it’s quite unclear what causes it and treatment for this disorder can only keep symptoms in check. Studies are still on the rise. A theory is that genetics play a role; however, this is not proven. The effects are not just physical but they take a huge toll on a person’s mental health.

  5. Lifestyle Transformation. Studies have shown that the best way to improve symptoms is a change in lifestyle such as diet and exercise. Which is quite typical for any diagnosis right? What you consume, you become. Your body reflects what you put in/on it.

  6. Lack of Self-esteem. It’s not a surprise that women struggle with self-esteem already. But women with PCOS are affected even more so this way. Because of anxiety and depression they feel this intensely. It’s an emotional effect.

    “In a study in women with PCOS, it has been shown that low self-worth and body image perception in women causes increasing of the anxiety level. Physical attractiveness and sexual response changes affect the Self-confidence in these women. Self-confidence is the most important determinants of mental health that play an important role in promoting mental health. In other words, cognitive processes, emotion, motivation, decision making and choice, is the result of Self-confidence. Since low Self-confidence has a negative effect on feeling, thought and relationships between people, it requires further attention. So this study was done for ascertaining Self-confidence in patients suffered from PCOS in comparison to women without PCOS.”

Quite honestly prior to getting diagnosed, I thought that all these things were normal about me. My doctors couldn’t see it. It took me 4-5 years just to get diagnosed and it was finally by an infertility specialist. Believe me when I say this, it took me a LONG time to be able to share my diagnosis with people. Especially those closest to me. I didn’t want the judgement or the pity. I didn’t know how I’d handle it. I don’t quite recall when, but some time after, I was able to start talking more about it. I know that this disorder does not define who I am. But in a season of healing and trust, I’m learning to embrace my body and to love it as my Creator intended me to.

This has taken me a long time to get to. It is a practice. To be intentional with what I’m consuming. To be conscious of what I surround myself with. To treat this body as a beautiful temple for the Holy Spirit. This body does not belong to me and when the time comes, I want to look to the Lord and say that I did my best to care for it. Grant it, there are days where PCOS overtakes me and I’m literally fighting with every ounce in me to not allow it to throw me in the backseat. You see PCOS is an invisible illness. It’s affects are daily. Some days, I feel like a normal human being. Most days, I’m pulling myself out of bed and praying that I have the energy to survive another day. This is my reality. It’s a mental and spiritual battle just to live with PCOS.

If you or someone you know has PCOS or a chronic illness, please don’t hesitate to share your story.

I see you and love you.



Sources:

https://health.usnews.com/wellness/slideshows/8-things-you-didnt-know-about-pcos?slide=10

https://www.babygaga.com/12-serious-facts-about-pcos-women-dont-know-but-should/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4275552/

Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash

Are You in a Season of Waiting?

Good Morning, you may have found yourself in a season of waiting. Whether it be for a new job, new opportunity, a long awaited child, or the return of a loved one. Maybe not by choice nor by plan. But by God's plan. I know how hard that may be. To completely have full trust in Him. It's easier said than done. It seems impossible right? Trust me, there are days where infertility leaves me feeling so lost & confused. Thankfully the Holy Spirit works in us & around us daily. Boy oh boy, do I need His daily reminders. 

Trust in the Lord

If you find yourself in a season of complete stillness & you're having to learn to wait on the Lord, I hope some of these truths encourage you today.

 

Prayer is important.

But most times, we're so desperate for quick answers from the Lord, that our prayers become desperate demands. Often times, it even seems as if our prayers aren't being heard nor answered and this results in feeling like our faith is fading away. We have to be careful not to force God's name under our "genius" thoughts & ideas. A lot of times, we somehow think of things and assume that maybe God himself has never thought of yet. This is where our human nature kicks in. We roll on out with every possibility of a solution for our situations. But have we ever thought that maybe, just maybe, this might just be a Divine Delay? That maybe there is a purpose in our waiting? 

It doesn't take faith to help God, it takes faith to believe in His promises.

We so often think that we somehow have a say in what God is doing in our lives. We can believe in Him as much as we claim we do, but faith comes in the seasons of trials & tribulations. When you've lost all control or hope for what's to come. I mean, faith would not exist if everything went perfectly the way we wanted it to be. It's when we're at our wits end that we see God most glorified. In the midst of confusion & pain, what does it look like to believe that there is hope? We have hope. His name is Jesus. Our faith grows when we remember to cling on to His promises. Remember, its not about our performance that matters, its His promise. And if you don't know what His promises are for you in this season, then I encourage you to pray & ask God to reveal a Bible sibling that you can resonate with to help you better understand what God can also do for you. 

Remember, He is the same Yesterday, Today, & Forever!

 

Divine Plan.

This season of barrenness in any area of your life could just very well be a divine plan for you to find some time of solitude with Him. When your plans don't work out, God wants to use your disappointment as an opportunity to transform you according to His divine plan.

 He wants us to experience complete dependency on Him, away from all the noise & chaos of the world. Therefore at times, we feel like we're in a barren land. All we see is complete wilderness and at times we see it as if it were a curse of some sort. But the thought that maybe God has something beautiful planned out never crosses our mind. It is a true testing of the heart when we're in a barren land. We can never be fully prepared for where God wants to take us until we are at peace with where God has us currently. Embrace where you're at. Rest in the assurance of knowing that your God has more power than anything else you may face in the wilderness. 

"In order for you to pursue the plans that I have for you, I have to break you down to the core element and the understanding that you are nothing without me. Because my grace is sufficient & my power will be perfected in your weakness." - GOD

I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].- Philippians 1:6

What is something you are waiting for? What are you learning in this season of waiting? I'd love to know & pray for you. 

A Surprise Anniversary Adventure

2 weeks ago we were asked to reserve Saturday the 27th of February for a special day. We weren't sure what was in store for us but were excited nonetheless! We love adventures! We kept trying to put all the puzzle pieces together to find out what the plans were but we were refrained from doing so. Therefore, we patiently waited for the day to arrive & then we got ready & set off for our destination! We were instructed to find our way to a beautiful place nearby called Gales Creek. We drove off with nothing but warm clothes and a few camping chairs, anxious to see what we would be arriving to. Scroll down to see pictures from our adventure! I even documented bits and pieces from this beautiful day.

Huge thanks to a couple that we look up to & are so blessed to have in our lives. They truly model a Godly marriage & encourage us to constantly keep Christ at the center of ours as well. They challenge us & build us up in more ways than one. We're forever grateful for your love, sacrifice, hard work, & dedication to being intentional Christ followers. And being such great role models to us. We know it was not easy to pull off something like this, but we are thankful for this day that you both worked so hard to coordinate & plan just for the two of us. Thanks for investing in us! God Bless you both for all that you do for us & all the couples that God has entrusted in your care. We know that God is doing something great through you both! We're just so blessed we get to be a part of it as well! We love you guys!

11 Years Today

Courtesy of

Pinterest

Today marks our wedding anniversary of 11 years! I don't know why, but I feel as if every year passes on by faster & faster. 

Wow, 11 years. 

No one says how marriage is going to be after year 10. Personally, I have to say that year 10 was the year of transformation. And now we're moving into a new year together, I'm so excited to see what else the Lord will invite us to. I don't want you to read my blog & assume I have a perfect husband or marriage. Because I don't. We've had numerous arguments & fights. We've walked away from each other countless times and we've let out some of the cruelest words from our lips. But God redeemed our marriage when Roger & I stopped trying to control our marriage & one another. 

At the end of 2015, Roger & I felt the Lord lead us into a 40 day fast. I cannot say, how faithful God is when you sacrifice yourself daily to find His face. In those 40 days we relied on fruits & vegetables and most importantly, we relied on the Lord to sustain us. Every day, each of us sought Him out and every day we would share what God had revealed to us. Not only was this a way for us to grow closer to the Lord, but little did we know, we started to grow closer together as well. It's been over a month since we've ended our fast. But we still have our daily conversations of what the Lord is doing in our lives daily. Whether big or small, He speaks to us and its important to digest the Lord's work with the very person you do life with. It not only builds you up, but it builds up your spouse as well.

A few years ago, I learned something that changed my marriage for the good. After year 5, I certainly thought 'Is this really it? Does marriage not ever improve?' Later that year, we were involved in assisting with our church's first marriage conference & we invited a gifted couple to come and share their insights on marriage. The wife stood before a room of women as the men were in their own workshop, and taught us about this beautiful diagram. 

Courtesy of

Pinterest

In that year, I gave up trying to pull Roger alongside with me. I learned that I could not build up his faith with my bare hands. The Lord had taught me to entrust my marriage to Him & just focus on my personal relationship with Jesus. And it took up to a few months to a year to really see how this diagram became truly evident in our marriage. As I was seeking Jesus and moving towards Him, the Lord was tugging on Roger's heart as well. And this happened without me trying to do anything but respectively loving & submitting to him as I am called to. 

The more I learned to love Jesus, the more I learned to love Roger. And the more the Lord tugged on his heart, the more he learned to love me through his relationship with Jesus as well. There's no doubt that this is the heart of God for marriage. To truly have a Christ centered marriage is to walk hand-in-hand with each other towards The Cross. In Roger, God has given me a husband, lover, and best friend. Everything I could ever hope for in my companion. 

As we journey on into a new year of marriage, I know that there will only be more situations that test's our marriage. But through those trials, I believe that God will only continue to use them to strengthen us. To pull us individually closer to Him yet even closer to each other as well. you see, we're learning that marriage isn't just another 'thing' that God created. But that marriage is actually a lot more personal to Him. Why? Because through marriage, we get to experience eternity. He's refining us as individuals within our marriage to learn to love one another unconditionally. A love that only He knows how to give. In marriage, we get to receive the opportunity to reflect the image of God. We also get to tap into that same love that Jesus has for us, the Church. 

"22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body."
Ephesians 5:22-30

     

I know that in every marriage, its different for everyone. My prayer is that you'll never give up on one another. That you may know that when you surrender your marriage to Jesus, He will carry you towards your spouse. All you need to do is fall in love with Him. Go back to your first love who is Jesus Christ himself. I guarantee that His love will overflow through you without you having to 'try' to do anything. God's love for you

will

spill over into every other area in your life. Blessings to you as you continue to remain faithful and obedient in your marriage. 

How many years have you been married for? 

What year are you celebrating this year? 

What are some things that you've learned in your own marriage?

Love

I know that Valentines Day is right around the corner. But I don't think that Valentines Day is the only day that we should show love & appreciation to those that we care about. This weekend I tuned in to an International Local Livestream Conference called

IF:Gathering

. A gathering for women of all ages to unite & learn more about Jesus. Not just learn but to be equipped & unleashed into our very own circles of community. To prompt us to live a life around these questions: "If God is real then what?"& "What if we lived like Jesus?"

All weekend long we listened to beautiful women who've braved some hard times. We were led into prayers of confessions of things that we've held back in the dark spaces of our hearts. We dug deep and had some open conversations about who Jesus is to us. There were many tears of pain & suffering but also tears of joy & freedom. But the one thing that rang loudest through out the entire weekend was

LOVE

God is love and love comes from God. The testimonies & hope-filled stories shared this weekend were evidence of how much more real His love really is. "

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." 

The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 

There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) These are most important yet simplest commandments that the Lord has given us. Yet, we struggle with the most. To love. 

Love isn't just a feeling a boy & a girl have together. Love is forgiveness,humility, compassion, caring for another persons soul, and so much more. Christ came to walk the Earth and He loved deeply. He came to be the perfect example of love. He loved the unlovely, ashamed, cast-off, & abandoned. Love isn't just for those who are good looking, fit, wealthy, or friendly. Love is for all God's people. 

Every human being that has a heart beat, God loves. And as children of God, He has called us to love our neighbors. This mean's our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, & many more. Whomever is in your life circle, God is calling you to love on them. Even to love the unlovable. Love the ones who can't love you back. This is not impossible. For God so loved the world that He sent His one & only Son. To die for our sins. God not only loves you individually, but He loves the entire world. 

Therefore, if we are made in the image of God, He created us to love well too. We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)  Even criminals know how to love. Love exists in all of us but what good is it if we just keep it to ourselves? Lets share His love to everyone around us. Lets spread it to the ends of the Earth like confetti. For the best reason to celebrate is because of His great love. 

Love doesn't just flow from the words that we speak towards one another. Although that is the love language for many. We often hear,"You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?" We can speak of our love for other's, but what we do in our lives will reflect how true we are to our words. Love is evident in the way we move & touch other peoples lives. When we look at the life of Christ, "He didn't just come to talk, teach, or preach. He came to love through His touch, proximity, presence, & dignity."- Jen Hatmaker. 

Lets love intentionally. Lets love our neighbors well. Lets be the hands and feet of Jesus. Loving, even if they can't love us back. Lets love the unlovable. I'm sure we all feel unlovable at times. But God will never stop loving us for a second! He is madly, deeply, head-over-heels, jealously, crazy in love with me & YOU! What are some things we can do to show people that we love them? 

You have any ideas? I'd love to hear them!

How do you love your family & friends well? 

How can you reach your community & share God's love with them? 

Let's Be Brave Together!

Happy Saturday!

Here it is! My very first collaboration and its with Grace from

Hello Grace

Grace is the lovely business owner & designer of some of the cutest faith based apparel designs. She extended the collaboration opportunity  to me as a new blogger & I'm so excited to share with you all, the product I chose for myself. This weekend she will be launching her new Spring Line of t-shirts & you are absolutely going to love them. "Hello, Grace was inspired by the goodness of God and her desire to convey a positive message about who He is through her designs."-

shophellograce.com

I absolutely love her heart. Hello, Grace also partners with Loved Bought International. It is an organization that is dedicated to love God, love others, & change the world! They are currently raising money to build an orphanage in Bogata, Columbia. Therefore, with every purchase, 10% will go towards this effort! What an amazing opportunity & cause to partner up with.

I chose the "Let's Be Brave Together" T-shirt because I absolutely felt like it suits this new chapter I'm in! Starting this blog a month ago, took so much courage. I literally prayed throughout all of last year for the women that God had placed on my heart & for an open door. January rolled around, and this was it. Telling my story. If you've ever faced something so hard & impossible, then you know how hard it is to be transparent with your own group of people, let alone, your family. 

What I was unaware of, was the amount of courage God had given me along the way to prepare me for where He is leading me next. I also believe that He wants to do the same with you! Are you wondering today what your purpose in life is? Are there some passions that are impressed on your heart that needs some attention right now? Are the lies of the enemy causing you to doubt the great things God can do through you with the gifts He's given you? 

Move into the fullness of God. He will provide for you everything you need. He will lead you through your life with clear purpose & vision. He will use you to reach out to the ends of the Earth. But, He needs your complete trust in Him. 

Google defines brave as "ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage."

So "Let's Be Brave Together!" Let us face the world together & rely on God for His strength, courage, & endurance to persevere through anything and everything that comes against us & what The Lord has in store for us. Our bravery can only be found in Christ! Let us rise as Children of God, standing firm in the authority we are given by Jesus Christ, embracing the royalty that we are! Let us "press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."-Philippians 3:14

Check out Grace's shop at 

www.ShopHelloGrace.com

Photography taken by : Alyssa Vang

Joy-full Weekend

This weekend was so eventful. Packed with so many great things. I went out with my sister for a Zumba charity fundraiser for a local children's organization. Got to see my nephews & hang out with my sisters. I had a long over due lunch date with a good friend. Dropped off starter kits at church  for the arrival of Refugees that will be arriving in our area. I had great conversations filled with laughter & tears over a delightful dinner with beautiful women. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to be more intentional at church- catching up with fellow brothers & sisters in Christ.  

There are no words to describe how full my heart is in this current moment. If only I could just make time stand still. I feel as if I'm at the best time in my life right now. Everything feels perfect. It's impossible for perfection though. I know, I know. My weekend was packed to the brim but I don't regret any of it. As I'm typing this, I'm literally struggling to speak. I've somehow lost my voice from this awesome praise worthy weekend. Besides the soreness of my throat, I feel so optimistic & joy-full. 

I do not regret a single thing that I scheduled myself for this weekend. Why? Because every bit of it were the best decisions I could've ever made. To be in commune with people. To fellowship & hear what God is doing in the lives of others. In every moment of my weekend, I was just constantly reminded of God's unfailing love. 

Two big things also occurred this weekend though. Saturday morning I woke up to find out a relative had passed from her battle with Breast Cancer. Then, Sunday after church, Roger & I payed visit to our dear friends who are now new parents! Their baby girl had decided it was her time to make her big appearance into the world. 

From beginning to the end of this weekend, I've just seen God's gracious hands over all the overwhelming events that has happened. God calls us to mourn with those who mourn. But to also celebrate with those who celebrate.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief]." -Romans 12:15 

What a blessing it is to be included in the beautiful picture God is painting with our very own lives. In a moment of grief & sorrow, God also gives us reasons to be joyful & celebrate! There is hope in Him alone. To love as He first loved us is hard. But we can begin following in His compassionate footsteps by asking God to give us His heart. To break our hearts for what breaks His. To love through His eyes. 

When people die, there is so much pain that no one but the Father can comfort. When we face what seems like the darkest season's of our lives, Jesus lights the way for us onto the Hope we can have in Him. When new doors open for us to walk through, fear & anxiety rushes in but God tugs at our hearts & says," Follow Me, & I will lead the way." 

In the midst of all that we face, I pray it may be a reminder to you that from beginning to end, God has everything in the palm of His hands. He is still in full control no matter what you face. He will raise you up & honor you. He will protect you from harm. He will heal the brokenhearted and He will be with you, holding you with a gentle & loving firm hand. 

Such beautiful promises. What ever season you are in right now, I pray that God will surround you with people who will love, embrace, listen, encourage, cry, laugh, celebrate, mourn, & pray with you. When you completely submit to Him, He will provide for you, everything you need. 

Including the very people or community you need to do life with you. 

How was your weekend? What season do you find yourself in right now? 


Who's Your Best Friend?

Roger & I have been married for 10 years now and one thing we've definitely learned is that we need friendship. 2015 was a hard year, I mean, when is life nor marriage not hard? You'll always face new challenges. I wish someone would've told us on our wedding day how important it is to stay friends in your marriage. 

I honestly don't know when we lost that important factor of our marriage, but I guess once marriage happened, it was all about figuring out how to make it through life.We stopped asking questions. Stopped getting to know each other & we began to just conform to this normality of what we thought marriage was supposed to be. A Relational Retirement. 

Last year, Roger & I literally felt like we came to a point where our marriage was going to end. Not because someone cheated or because we didn't get along. Most people I know would probably conclude & compromise at the fact that they "fell out of love" with each other. For us, it was because we didn't feel connected. Here we were, married at this point for 10 years & yet felt more distant than ever. Don't misunderstand, we love each other passionately. But at some point we stopped having conversations & fell into this autopilot setting of just going through the motions of life with no intentionality. 

It really affected us. With lots of prayers & encouragement from a close couple who knew of our struggles, we started pursing our marriage through God's eyes. We started praying for one another & for our marriage. It took time, patience, trust, & courage. Each day we stepped a little closer towards each other in our friendship. Slowly but surely, we started having more in depth conversations. It was like getting to know him all over again. Don't assume that when you get married, your spouse will remain the same person they were from the day you said "I do." 

As we grow in the years of marriage, we also mature over time. God is constantly working through us, changing & challenging us to become the best versions of ourselves to glorify Him. And so, therefore, we have to learn to embrace each others changes as well. I started to learn so many new things about him that I had never known before. And like any relationship, trust had to be nurtured into our marriage. Even though you're married to each other, the enemy knows how to pull you away from one another, influencing you to be secretive & to keep things to yourself. 

I believe that when we unite in a holy matrimony, (a marriage that is set apart from others), we ought to both know each other inside out. To see each other in a way that no other person could. To be so transparent about your life, emotions, struggles, & celebrations. The only other being that should know you so deeply would be God himself. There is something beautiful about becoming "One." In marriage, we get to experience the intertwining of 2 souls & 1 spirit. God himself blesses couples with His Holy Spirit.  Don't ever assume that marriage is only a physical life accomplishment. It's so much more than that. 

Roger & I have learned so much about what God can do through marriage. We asked God to teach us to communicate well, to be open & transparent towards each other & to know how to extend grace & to be able to love one another. He definitely answered us. Little by little, He began to reveal to us, the victory we have in our marriage. God was reigniting our love & friendship towards one another in such a new & fresh way we had never experienced before. 

"The best relationship is when you can act like lovers & bestfriends at the same time."

Don't get me wrong. Girlfriends are a must-have in every woman's life. But to have a best friend in your spouse, it has to be the most amazing & special thing God has every created! So believe me when I say that I know God has bigger plans for your marriage. He knows you desire a relationship with your spouse. If you do, then run to Him. Plead for your marriage. Cry out for your spouse. Go to God on behalf of your marriage & pour out your heart on Him. He WILL answer you. In His will & perfect timing, He will honor you for your faithfulness,not just to your husband, but your faithfulness to Him. 

Are you best friends with your spouse? 

Have you ever thought about praying for your marriage?

Know that in order for our marriages to thrive, we must make sacrifices & invest in them as best possible. 

How can I pray for you and your friendship with your spouse? 

Let me know in the comments. I'd love to pray over you. 

Have a blessed weekend!

DIY: Vintage Pearl Bib Necklace

I was cleaning up the kitchen yesterday & for some odd reason I felt inspired to start creating. I instantly remembered that a dear friend of mine had sent me inspiration pictures for a cute vintage button necklace. This was 2 years ago that she had reached out to me. It was during a time where I was very enthusiastic about the thought of opening up my very own Etsy shop selling handmade items. In between the past 2 years, I just didn't quite feel like it was the right timing yet. Nor did I feel like it was something that God was calling me towards. 

I still enjoy creating things & getting my hands into DIY projects. I just didn't quite feel like selling lil handmade accessories was all that God had planned out for me. This doesn't mean that I don't absolutely love the process behind making & creating beautiful & productive things. Below is the inspiration picture that my friend sent me & you'll see that what I made is not a replica of the original. But that's why I love DIY's. Because you still have the flexibility & space to add your own personality & touch to it. Whats even better is that its rare, unique, & you'll never find anything else like it!

I honestly purchased everything I needed in between that time, but just never got around to making it. Do you ever feel like you have to constantly get new materials and supplies EVERY time you DIY? For some odd reason, I'm guilty of that. So since 2 years have gone & passed, I figured why not? I may as well play around with it & see what I come out with. If I don't all these supplies will  just continue on collecting dust in my craft bin.

Items Used:

Assorted Pearl beads, Assorted Vintage buttons, Metal Chain, & Necklace Bib. (Items not included in image: hot glue gun, hot clue sticks, & jewelry pliers.) Everything was purchased from

Michael's Craft Store

&

Joann Fabrics. 

I had everything in my craft bins already so I didn't spend anything. It was just a matter of using what I had on hand to create something! I admit, at first I didn't really think it was going to turn out. But I love the end result! Follow my

 Instagram

 to see me style it! 

What do you think? Would you wear this necklace? 

Is there a project that you left off at, that could use some tending to? 

Pull out those creative juices of yours & create something today! 

Fashion Rev: How to Dispose Your Clothes Responsibly

Good Morning! This week we got curious & found out that there was a bigger story behind how our clothes are made. I shared tips on how to create awareness & also how to shop intentionally. Today, I'm going to share some ideas on how you can dispose of your clothes responsibly.

Sell

Image by golocalprov.com

If your clothes are stylish and still in good condition, sell them at your neighborhood vintage shop or Buffalo Exchange

. You can also resell on ebay

. Or you can even download shop apps on your phone & it'll let you create your very own online shop. It'll show you step-by-step how to get your images up & figure out prices for each item. Some examples are: PoshmarkTwice, ThredUp, & Tradesy. They're all legitimate & you can even read reviews on sellers just to make sure! See? You can even earn a couple bucks by thoughtfully disposing your clothes through selling decent pieces. 

Hand-down

I'm sure we've all received a "hand-me-down" at some point in our lives. Before we all had our own jobs & were able to buy ourselves anything or even before fashion was such a priority in our lives. Personally, hand-downs were the best clothes that I had ever received from anyone. Now, some people may not be so willing to accept, but maybe you can find out if a family is in need of some lightly used clothes that still has some years left & could be worn. You could gently offer your clothes to them, or you could even ask if your community is interested or in need of some gently used clothing. Not everyone has the money or the means to always be on top of the latest trends. Nor do they have the ability to shop all the time. Hand-downs are a great way to share your clothes with those who are actually in need of clothing & may put better use out of them, than you ever could. I know I never took the clothes I received for granted. I loved restyling them & was always appreciative of older girls handing down their clothes because even though they were used, they were stylish, & with having 4 sisters, my parent's weren't really able to provide us fashionable wardrobes all the time.  

Image by dailymail.co.uk

Donate

You probably donate your clothes to Goodwill or the Salvation Army when your clothes are of no more use to you or are no longer in style right? This is a good start. This is what I do too. But I recently found out that a lot of our unwanted second hand clothing is becoming a problem in third world countries. More than 70% of the clothes donated globally end up in Africa, which has destroyed their economy as well. Not that you shouldn't give your clothes to local charity shops, you should! But do your research. Consider very carefully where you choose to donate. For example, you might donate your clothes to help people get back to work with organizations like Dress for Success or Career Wardrobe . Or you might look out for clothing drives to help the homeless, refugees, or people in crisis. 

Now you may think that it takes more work to responsibly dispose of your clothes than shopping for them. But let me tell you this, as American's, on average, we throw away an average of 68 lbs. worth of clothes, per person annually. This causes us to waste energy, water, & landfill space. Whatever you do, make sure you are intentional. It may take longer when you choose to dispose responsibly, but its better for you, me, and the hard working people behind the scenes. 

Instant fashion leads to obese wardrobes. Instant disposal leads to landfills. We've become people who want things instantly, but others are paying the price. I'd like to know how you responsibly dispose of your clothes. Please share below if you have any other ideas that can be added to this list. 

"Instant fashion leads to obese wardrobes. Instant disposal leads to landfills. We've become people who want things instantly, but others are paying the price."

My hope & prayer is that we continue on living intentionally & with awareness of what is going on. I thank those of you who have taken your time to read through this weeks series: How to Start a Fashion Revolution. 

"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."- Galatians 5:1

Jesus came to set us free once & for all. This means that all people have been given freedom. But because of the obsessed infatuation to wanting more & more, we've created opportunities that have sucked mankind back into slavery again. Be the change. Be a difference maker. Be the voice for those who need you most.  Souls are more important than new clothes. Don't ever forget that. 

Resources from

www.fashionrevolution.org

 

Fashion Rev: How to Shop Like a Fashion Revolutionist

Alright! We've looked at many way to start a Fashion Revolution. Now, there is really no need to wait until you have a bigger following in social media or be of great influence. If one thing you do is share to just one other person about this movement, you have already brought awareness to your own corner of the world. You see? It doesn't take much right? And I'm not asking for much either. You can either read my posts & ignore them afterwards, but you'll no longer be the same. Why? Because you now have knowledge of what is really going on in the world. 

Today, lets look into how we can tweak our ways of purchasing & using clothes. Some ways of shopping ethically is to always be curious. Always wonder how your clothes are made, where they're made, & what exactly are you supporting? When you shop with awareness, you are shopping intentionally. Slowly but surely, lives will be freed when the need for more production & distribution slows down. 

Thrift/ Vintage Shopping

clothingexchange.co.nz

Now, you might be wondering how thrift/vintage shopping could even help this revolution. First of all, most thrift shops donate either a portion, if not all, of their sales to charity. Second, I've really grown to love thrift shopping. And if you follow or subscribe to any fashion trendsetter, you know that thrift shopping is making a comeback. And most importantly, at the speed at which we consume right now, last season's collections are in the thrift shops in a matter of months. That means you can recreate you favorite looks, personalize them, and do your bit to stop perfectly good garments from going to landfill & becoming waste. Thrift & vintage pieces are ways of recycling & bringing life back into something that was never really used at all. Why waste the time & effort that another person worked so hard for? I say, if it suits your personality & its washable, you could work it into your wardrobe without adding more harm to enslaved shop workers. Look into local thrift/vintage shops make it a goal to visit one the next time you feel the urge to get a new dress for an event. It's a chic & sustainable way to buy yet it also extends the life of beautiful clothing 

Swap 'Till You Drop

http://paperdressvintage.co.uk/

If you ever get tired of your wardrobe and are in need of a fashion fix, then you could host or arrange a clothes swapping party. Invite all your friends to bring some clothes that they've been wanting to let go of, & you might just find something new to freshen up your look without breaking the bank or becoming a victim of consumerism. You can even create a swishing party online and pick clothes virtually! It may sound cliche but there's the saying," One persons trash can very well be another person treasure."

glamradar.com/diy-t-shirt-art-ideas/

Mend, Make, & Customize

Now here is the most creative way yet to be sustainably chic. Have a plain t-shirt that needs a major 

uplift? Or what about the extra skirts that needs a makeover? From head to toe, you can basically find any tutorial or DIY how to on Youtube & Pinterest. Turn that t-shirt into a handbag. Or that skirt into pants! You'll be amazed at how much you can do to transform & revitalize your clothes. Change it up & turn it into something completely new! The upside is that no one will ever have the same exact pieces as you when you choose to recycle & refashion things to your personality. If you don't know how to sew, don't worry my friends. There are even tutorials on how to sew. Whats even better is that there are even tutorials out there that don't even require sewing. Now you can recycle, repurpose, or refashion & personalize your clothing. But if you're creative with a sewing machine, you could even make your very own clothes. Think of all the possibilities! 

I hope you are feeling empowered to be more creative in shopping & staying fashionable, but in a more ethical way. Have you done any of these things? If you have, thank you. You are making a difference whether you know it or not. If you haven't I encourage you to do so. Get together with some friends & start a revolution together. 

Tomorrow, I'll share some ways we can donate our clothes responsibly.  Thanks for reading!

 

Fashion Rev: What Can I Do?

If you've been following the last few posts that I've published, you will know that I am going through a series of posts that hopefully walks you step-by-step through what you can do to become a Fashion Revolutionist. It can be as simple as tweaking the way you shop, use, and dispose of your clothing. Today, we're going to find out how we can change some of the ways we consume clothes in a more ethical & Eco-friendly way.

Buy Less

Ask yourself what is it that you really need. Is it really necessary to hoard the most current trends while your walk-in closets overflow? Believe me, I was completely guilty of doing this. I was a bargain shopper. It was all about quantity over quality. I'd shop clearance racks & walk out of stores with a few items for the price of one! Although it seemed as if I was walking away with a deal, I was just collecting & consuming more than I needed. After years of excessive bargain shopping, I could no longer find anything to wear (shocking right?) nor was I able to step in my "walk-in" closet. It became embarrassingly unmanageable. After some time & research I learned about creating a "capsule wardrobe" (coming up in another post), I realized that "

Less is truly more."

Buy Better

"Buy one good one instead of three cheap ones."- Joan Crawford

In this case, I've learned that quality is a better option to go with, rather than quantity. It's all about shopping with care & loving it for a longer amount of time. No more mounting to fads & trends. But discover your own personal style. Incorporate invested pieces that will 1) last longer 2)have better use for you and 3)isn't produced in the making of slaves. Now I know it can get difficult shopping ethically. I'd say its natural to cringe a bit when you take a look at handmade products. You may even be tempted to rationalize and go for the "cheaper stuff." But remember this, look at the bigger picture. From start to end. Would you rather pay a company to continue abusing & discriminating humans for cheaper products? Or would you rather invest in ethically made products that provide jobs for artisans & parents all over the world. Giving not only them, but their family as well, a better future.

Buy Intentionally

Now, I hope that this topic is raising up awareness within you. I'm not where I need to be yet due to a great amount of overhaul from all the years of hoarding. But one thing I can attest to, is the fact that I'm learning to let go of the things I do NOT need.

 And only keeping or buying the things I honestly do need. From groceries, toiletries, to office supplies and etc. Not just that, but even when I do come into a moment of wandering through the mall or a cute boutique shop, a few questions that I automatically ask myself are:

1.) Do you need it?

2.) Do you already have something like it?

3.) Where & how was it made? Do you know?

4.) By purchasing this, will I be supporting modern-day slavery or will I be a world changer?

It's not always, that I can ask myself these questions AND answer them honestly to myself. But the more I do stay true to myself, the stronger I become in self discipline. When you know exactly who made your clothes and the items you have in your house & where it comes from. You'll be able to live a beautiful life that is filled with contentment & joy. Why? Because you know that you're supporting a beautiful cause. You're living with a clear conscience & you know for a fact that your lifestyle is not created at the expense of others but by empowering them instead.

I pray that as the new year continues to unravel, you may shop with purpose, on purpose. Be wise in your decision of obtaining the latest trends. It's easy to be consumed by fads & trends that are constantly taking over many people. I pray that as we learn & realize these true facts of Modern Day Slavery, that we'd be compelled to do something about it. I pray that today you will decide to be a voice for someone. That you will no longer let this issue slide into the darkness,but shed light on the very lives that even God Himself created beautifully in His image, just as He did with you & I.

What are some changes you plan to make? What are you doing to walk in line with this Fashion Revolution?

Tomorrow, I'll share creative ways we can handle our clothes. Whether it be to revamp or recycle them.

Resources from

www.fashionrevolution.org