My List: Podcast Faves

Whether if it's discovering self-growth, living a life of simplicity, marriage tips, writing, emotional health, learning more about the Enneagram, or understanding the Bible more. I've never been so grateful for a resource & this modern-day learning tool. I personally feel like I've expanded and grown as a person due to the knowledge, wisdom, & messages that many of these people have shared.

I’m so thankful for the overwhelming amount of information we can access today through Podcasts. Today is International Podcast Day & I honestly wouldn’t be who I am today without the mentorship, wisdom, & knowledge I’ve gain from so many leaders, teachers, & individuals around the world.

From self awareness & self love with Fun Therapy to hearing about the good things that are happening around the world that needs to be highlighted more than what’s on the news with Sounds Good podcast. From marriage advice & wisdom with Marriage After God to exploring more about simplifying your life and being more minimal with The Minimalists. There’s something for everyone.

Here are just some of my top favorites that I constantly anticipate to hearing more of in no particular order. Feel free to click on them to explore what each podcast can bring you!


I want to know what your favorite podcasts are! Share them with me.



A Dream or Reality?

In a nutshell, I am the worlds most indecisive person ever. 

Senior year of high school, I remember one occurring  question. 

"What are your plans after graduation?"

Honestly, I didn't know and I most certainly did not want to just apply for a community college with no passion & then drop out at some point where I've lost my will power to drag myself into the unknown. I've seen it happen plenty of times. So I thought I'd take a year to just work & figure out who or what I wanted to be. 

A year came by so quickly. Then 4 years, then 5, and now I've been out of school for over 10 years. How did that happen?!

Its strange. For a season there, I was inspired to go into beauty school & become a cosmetologist. I enjoyed the thought of pampering others. After that I fell in love with children. I committed to working in a day care center, as a nanny, family assistant, and a local non profit shelter for women & children over the course of 7 years. I absolutely loved it! Don't get me wrong. Through my infertility God had gave me fresh eyes to see that He was using me to love & care for children in this season.

I even considered pursuing education in Early Childhood Development. But I still felt unsure. For some reason, just in the depth of my soul, I could just feel something else budding. Through out these past 12 years, a small but constant passion was rising & I just wasn't sure where it would lead me. Was it just a hobby? An obligation? Or a dream? A vision? I found myself creating, planning, & decorating events, weddings, and parties. Opportunities that brought out the R E A L me. Styling hair and makeup for friends, curating arrangements for photography, and just about anything that inspired me to inject my creativity into it. 

It wasn't just the fact that I loved being able to share my gift of creativity but it was also being able to bless others with it. To pour my heart & soul into special projects & to see people just receive it with so much joy & to essentially be blessed, that's it. And after every event and opportunity, I had a sense of purpose & passion. I found joy & contentment even in the midst of the chaos that comes with planning anything that had to do with community, good conversations, & service. I love infusing beauty and intricacy into everything that God allows to fall in my path, taking great care of it, knowing that it’ll only last for a moment.

dreams becoming reality

I can honestly say that I don't regret the years in between. The short but long years of the nitty-gritty. I believe that in order for us to come to a place where we can embrace ourselves and whom God has created us to be, we have to go through trials & testings. I know my prayers haven't been completely answered yet. But why do I have to be unfaithful on my part, even if I'm still in a season of waiting? I also believe that our dreams and desires can align with God's purpose for us. I'm so glad that I didn't give in to peer pressure & just pursued a degree of some sort right after high school. Where I stand, I see a BIG God. And I believe that my dreams are not impossible. They may seem far fetched. But my God is Greater. 

I may not have a business in event/wedding planning or own my own craft studio. I may not be a certified teacher or a professional make-up artist. But I know in due time, God will open doors that no man can shut. He will continue bringing opportunities in every season that I remain dreaming & trusting. I believe it. My God promises me that He can make my dreams a reality. I trust in Him and I believe that if I'm faithful on my part, He will be faithful on His. I'm willing to just give my all & let Him do the rest. 

I believe that this year, He is moving me in a much more bold & courageous direction. That means doing something I don't feel too comfortable about. Jotting down an action plan. Setting doable goals for myself & letting Him take care of the undo-able. Saying yes to the best opportunities. Connecting & surrounding myself in a community that will encourage me to spread my wings & grow. But most importantly, to be moving in expectation. We can move closer to Gods will that way. 

I received encouragement from a new friend I met & she said something that really convicted me to dive-in all or nothing.

So here goes nothing. I'd rather live trying than not at all. Are you still dreaming? What are your dreams? Will you dare to dream BIG with me? Will you work towards those dreams & make them a reality?

Lets do this together. 

“God expects you to have enough faith and determination and enough trust in Him to keep moving, keep living, keep rejoicing. In fact, He expects you not simply to face the future; He expects you to embrace and shape the future--to love it and rejoice in it and delight in your opportunities. God is anxiously waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But He can't if you don't pray, and He can't if you don't dream. In short, He can't if you don't believe.” - Jeffrey R. Holland

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!