Taking Thoughts Captive

Good Morning Friends,

I have been struggling lately. I have been struggling to find the time to do the things that I love; blogging and spending time with God. Sometimes I question, it is laziness or mental illness. There have been a few days where I do nothing but cry all day and other days where I do the bare minimum. I know that those are the symptoms of deep depression; the same symptoms that I experience at least once a month, so does that mean that I’m in denial?

When I go a period of time having really awesome days, I forget that I struggle with mental illness. I forget that one day, deep depression will come rushing back like a flood and try to destroy the hope that I have built up over the past few weeks. Even though it happens time and time again, I always feel thrown off and unprepared. Like, “wait, what? Why is this happening? Why am I so sad?” Then I have to claw my way out like a tiger trapped in a pit of sorrow and self-pity.

I’ve come to the realization that I have to push through and force myself to do the things that I love even though I may not “feel” like it. One thing that I have learned is that feelings lie to you. Feelings have the ability to make or break who you are and what you want to become. I will never become a successful writer if I only blogged when I felt like it. And even though I have a condition that makes it more difficult, I will not allow it to become a crutch nor an excuse for failure.

I see people using mental illness as a reason to feel sorry for themselves, for not accomplishing their goals, for being mean and disrespectful, or even falling back into harmful, risky behaviors. Mental illness is just like any other illness. Yes, it can cause limitations. Yes, it has the ability to delay goals and aspirations that you have set for yourself in life, but it is no different from any other illness that others face on a regular basis.

For those of us who struggle with mental illness, it does not define us or make us who we are. It’s just a challenge that we have and EVERYONE has a challenge that they have to face in life. It’s easy to feel sorry for ourselves and boo-who to and from the doctor’s office. It’s easy to allow the feelings of hopelessness to plague our minds and entertain the thoughts of suicide. I see so many of my brothers and sisters “talk” about how mental illness is ruining their life, but I see few talk about what they are doing to overcome it (besides taking medication).

How do we do that? How do we overcome the sad days and push through thoughts of suicide and hopelessness? The answer is right in front of us. BELIEVE IN JESUS AND HIS TRUTH!

I believe in Jesus’ truth because when I am doing well, when I am having good days, I believe that I am loved. I believe that life is worth living. I am able to look at up the clouds during the day and the stars at night and see the beauty of the universe. I am able to see how glorious it is to hear my children laughing and playing and causing all kinds of “kiddy hell” in their rooms. I can see that. But when the dark days come, I become wrapped in my own pity. I can only see how badly I’m hurting and how dark the world is.

Life isn’t about how dark the world is. The world has always been dark since the beginning of time, but there has always been beauty forged from the darkness; art, love, and redemption. You’ve had artist struggling with their own mental illness make history by painting, drawing, or singing about their pain. Lives have been changed for the better because of it.

Jesus is the truth. He is the way to true freedom (John 14:6). He is the light to get through the dark days. Darkness cannot outdo light. It’s virtually impossible. Allow Jesus into your heart and allow his light to shine through when those dark days come. When you don’t feel like doing what you love, press into Jesus who loves you! Take a breath and ask for strength to get through it because you know one day, you’re going to wake up and be able to see the beauty of life once again. That won’t be by chance or accident. It will be because of God’s mercy and love that he has for us.

Thank you for reading my thoughts today. Usually today I would post Funny Friday, but I had to get this off of my chest. Please remember to pray for one another. Love you all and God bless each and every one of you.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” -2 Timothy 1:7

My Identity

Hey Friends,

My post has been far and few between because I am concentrating on developing my relationship with the Lord. I was beginning to feel like this blog was becoming my identity, but then as each day passed by, God was revealing that the plans that he has for my life will “accomplish infinitely more than we (me) might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

I want my blog to be successful. I want to help people with my story of how I am overcoming mental and physical illness so it would inspire you to do it as well. But it says that His “mighty power at work within us” will help us to “infinitely accomplish” more than we could ever imagine for ourselves. Which means that I will accomplish more than developing a blog and helping people. He will use me to do so much more. I just have to keep my eye on the prize – focused on Him and His ways – and not allow the ways of the world to distract me.

It’s so easy to fall into that trap though, right? I mean, the world is constantly telling us what we have to look like, what we have to sound like, what college degrees we have to have, what friends we have to have in our circle, how many likes and comments we should have on our social media….it’s becoming more and more brutal by the day. Anxiety and depression are on the rise because, in my opinion, we are constantly comparing ourselves with “perfect” people online who seem to have everything. When in actuality they are as miserable as the person on the other side of the phone or tablet.

How are we suppose to know what our purpose is if we are constantly “following” other people? Sometimes I think we just poke around until we find something we like and do it. How are we supposed to gain any kind of individuality of we are always seeking approval from the world? We are losing sight of what is truly important, even if you have the right intentions of helping people. One of my favorite quotes is “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. I truly believe this quote because people are focused on what they are doing and not who they are doing it for; Jesus.

While finding my freedom from the world through Jesus Christ, I am finding things out about myself that I have been in complete denial about. I truly thought I was more self-aware than most people on earth. WRONG! I even prided myself in it.

If I could be completely honest, it is hard to peel back the onion of your life only to see that you have been a mindless zombie like the same people you said you would never become. There have been a lot of tears through this process but it is so worth it! Why? Because God will do exceedingly abundantly more in my life than I could have ever imagined and I’ve imagined some pretty cool stuff. But first, He has to strip away what I thought was right so He can renew my mind to what is actually right.

Have you ever tried to put tape on a dirty surface? You can’t. It’ll peel right off. You have to clean the surface first, then place the tape on there. That way, it’ll hold forever. Jesus has to do a deep clean in our lives before He can do His good work in us. That way, the good work He does will “stick” forever. Praise God!

My identity is not this blog or helping people. It’s not even in my husband or kids. It is in Christ because all of the above are wonderful gifts that he has blessed me with. And one day, the kids will have their own families, my husband has his own walk with God and this blog and/or helping people may not be what He is calling me to do 40 years from now. Our lives I meant to be lived like seasons; winter, spring, summer, and fall. But you know what will never change? The fact that I will always be His! I will always be a child of God. God will always love me and nothing will tear me from His love. I will always be a follower of Christ Jesus and that is where my identity lies.

Thank you for reading my thoughts and for sticking with me during this journey. If you are just now following my blog, thank you! If you have been around since the beginning, thank you! I am truly grateful for all of you, I love you, and please remember to pray for one another.

I…beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” -Ephesians 4:1-3

 

 

**Featured image borrowed from google**

Sometimes We’re Not Who We Think We Are

Hey Friends,

A couple of weeks ago, I became aware that I am going through a manic episode. If you are new to my blog, please click here to read my journey of being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I.

On one hand, I’m really proud of myself for not going into complete denial mode but on the other hand, I’m frustrated that I cannot fulfill the wild urges that I’m having. I feel like a caged animal. But, I am aware that if I unleash the bipolar beast, all hell will break loose. Not just for me, but for my family. I’ve come a long way keeping this beast tamed, but every day I wake up, the more I want to release it.

Sometimes it’s hard not to focus on the things that are right in front of you. There are many times I feel as though I put too much emphasis on my illness, but then there are other times I feel as though I don’t put enough thought into it. When I don’t think about my illness, it is easy to be in denial. I begin having thoughts like, “Maybe this is all in my head. Maybe there is no such thing as mental illness. Maybe, just maybe, everyone else is crazy and I’m just living the life that I’m supposed to. Maybe, God made me this way for a reason and society is just trying to tame me to make themselves feel more comfortable.”

Recognizing manic episodes is important to me because I want to do something about it. I don’t want to sit in it. If I could speak bluntly, a lot of people who talk mental illness claim it like it’s apart of their identity. They say things like, “MY mental illness.” I used to do the same, but when you claim something long enough, then it does become apart of you. It’ll attach itself to you like a leach. You’ll become less of you and more of it.

Mental illness is a condition, it is not me. A part of controlling this condition is recognizing when it may be out of my control and understanding that it has the potential to be out of my control. The crazy thoughts above is an example of how my mind can take me down a rabbit hole of more self-doubt and less God.

This condition was birthed out of the womb of this broken world, but we were birthed from the love of God. When God came down from His kingdom, I imagine He got on His hands and knees, grabbed a large clump of wet dirt and began molding us into his perfect image (Ephesians 2:10, Genesis 1:26). Can you imagine God getting dirty just for us? Think about it. He created everything just by speaking it into existence, EXCEPT for us. For us, He got on His hands and knees to mold us, to make us exactly how He wanted us to be and took his wonderful breath and breathed it into us. Praise God. Sidenote: I imagine Gods breath smelled like cinnamon and mint. 🙂

But then Adam and Eve doubted Him and fell into Satans trap. Along with that trap came anger, fear, shame, guilt, and of course mental illness.

Mental illness is not who God made you to be, it is just a result of our broken world. So, decide right now to accept your flaws, but to also accept that God makes no mistakes and He is perfect (Psalm 18:30). Decide to not claim what this fallen world has thrown at you, but instead rejoice in knowing that a perfect God made you to be YOU! Take your addictions, your fears, you flaws, your guilt, your shame, your anger, and your despair to Him. He will comfort you, He will love on you, and He will bless you.

Thank you for reading my thoughts. This post was a long one, but the Holy Spirit needed someone to read this. Love you all and please remember to pray for one another.

He gives power to the weak and strength to the power. -Isaiah 40:29

Seeking God Part 5: Shame

Hey Friends,

Remember when I said I Suck At Maintaining Friendships, well I also meant online relationships as well. I apologize if many of you feel as though I don’t reciprocate the same love on your blogs as you do mine. I blog to release my feelings and share God’s words. So I apologize and will try to work on it. I truly love you all and are very proud of each and every one of you for doing what you love to do day in and day out.

Now that is out of the way, I want to share what happened to me tonight. Right now, I am currently reading a book by Christine Caine titled Unashamed. This is such a great read, especially if you are like me who has been carrying around the burden of shame since adolescent years.

While reading, it kind of ties into what happened tonight. So, as I was getting ready to head out to one of my classes at church, I looked for what seemed like an eternity for a shirt that didn’t show how skinny I am (current shame); anything too baggy or too tight would reveal an alarming skeleton frame. But, Eureka! I found a white shirt that I felt fit perfectly.

I get to my class, sit down next to my classmates, pull out my bible and notebook, look down only to see two large orange stains on the front of my shirt. Those stains led my eyes to a large brown stain on the left side of my shirt. My first thought was, “what the hell! This shirt was clean when I left the house 15 minutes ago.” After further inspection, it seems as though the stains were “sat-in” stains…meaning, even though I had washed it, those stains weren’t going anywhere.

Needless to say, I was embarrassed. I began to think about what other people would say to themselves when they noticed the stains. Would they think…“Oh, she’s dirty? She’s nasty? Why would she leave her house with a dirty shirt on?”

I would have never left the house in a shirt with stains all over it, for this exact reason…shame. Then I realized the lighting in my room and the lighting in my class are completely different. The lighting in my room made the shirt look nice, white, and clean. But the lighting in our classroom made my shirt look dingy with stains.

This made me think about my relationship with God. Before I began my journey, I felt like my life was nice, white, and clean. But then the more I sought God and the closer I became, the more He began to reveal that my life was just the opposite; gross, dingy, and stained. But he did this out of love to show me that the only way to “change my shirt” was through him.

Sitting in class, as embarrassed as I was, I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to hear what God had to say to me. Since this week has been emotionally tough, I needed to hear hope. But God didn’t speak to me during this class…or at least I didn’t listen to what he had to say. The chatter in my head about the stain on my shirt (and other nonsense I have no control over) was too loud for me to hear anything God had to say to me. So he chose to speak to me through Christine Caine.

The more we draw closer to God, the more God shines a light on our shortcomings… it may make us feel ashamed, embarrassed, just as Adam and Eve did when they ate the fruit from the forbidden tree. “At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.” Genesis 3:7). 

When God shines his light on our shortcomings, it’s not to shame us, it’s to draw us closer to him. We were created to feel no shame. We were created in his image, his likeness (Genesis 1:27-28). Is God ashamed of us? No, quite the opposite. He made us “reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” (Genesis 1:28). 

As yourself, you would give that kind of authority to someone you were ashamed of? Would you kill your only Son for people you were ashamed of?

That is what’s so amazing about his love. God forgave Adam and Eve, even though they didn’t listen to the one and only rule he had given them; But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Genesis 2:16-17.

God still gave up the most precious gift he had, Jesus, so we didn’t have to feel shame, or guilt, or regret, or hate, or anxiety. He gave us his word as a guide and his promises that through him, we will see better days. Remember folks, the enemy has already been defeated on the cross…that battle has been won, through Jesus name. But I was told that even if you’ve cut the head off of a rattlesnake, his venom can still harm, or even kill you. Meaning, even though Satan was defeated on the cross, his “minions” are still working hard to turn you away from Jesus and shame has become one of best tactics.

When you walk into the brighter light and see of all of the stains in your life, don’t turn away from it. Don’t turn off of the light, but embrace it. God will tackle all of those stains one by one. Turn to Jesus when Satan throws another stain on your shirt because he is the only one that can get the stain out.

Love you all. Have a wonderful day. Please pray for Guatemala, each other, and anyone else you know who is suffering. The enemy is busy, but God is almighty. Blessed be, family.

“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you…” Isaiah 54:4

 

Why You Should Believe You’ll Be Just Fine

In January 2010, I joined the United States Army. At the time, I was married to my first husband. Hannah and Rj were only 3 and 1 at the time. It was such a hard decision for me, but because of the Army’s benefits, I felt as though it was the best decision for my family. So, I signed up to fight for my country.

During MOS (military occupational specialty) training, while on an FTX (field training exercise), I fractured both sides of my hips and basically wore down the cartilage in my knees. So because I had served less than a year, the US Amry said, “thanks for your service, but you’re no longer needed” and sent my butt home. I was Rick James, for real.

My pride and self-worth were hurt because I felt like the biggest failure. On top of the fact that I can longer justify why I left my kids.

When I returned home and healed a bit, I had to meet with my commanding officers to discuss the honorable discharge that I had received. That is when my sergeant had notified me that as soon as I would have graduated from MOS training, my unit was being deployed to Afghanistan for 12 months.

Talk about relief! My self-pity immediately turned into gratitude. Although I wasn’t able to be a US Army soldier like I originally planned, I wasn’t about to be deployed neither. I later found out that a few of my battle buddies didn’t return home. Y’all, that could have been me!

What’s my point, you ask? Ok, let me get to it before this turns into a novel.

Sometimes in life, we put ourselves down when we are unable to accomplish the goals that we set for ourselves. We become discouraged and even feel worthless. But unbeknownst to us, God is really saving us from disaster. Whether it’s a relationship, marriage, friendship, job opportunity, etc. You never know that the Lord is doing behind the scenes in our lives. This is why we have to trust Him and know that His plan for us is more extravagant than any plan we can possibly have for ourselves.

The Good Book says,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” -Proverbs 3:5-6

This verse has been my anchor, especially during this season of my life. I do not understand why things are happening the way that they are happening, but I trust the Lord with all of my heart to not only get me through this season but allow me to become healed.

Things may not make sense to you right now, but trust that God will not only pull you through, but you will come out of the other end stronger. I am living proof!

Stay blessed friends!

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11 

 

 

💙❤️💛💚Dancing To Your Own Beat: Autism Awareness💙❤️💛💚

Autism Awareness Month

The word Autism has been coming up more and more in our society for about 30 years now, but what is it exactly?

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It wasn’t until 2011 that I began to learn what Autism was and how it was about to change my life dramatically. My baby boy, RJ, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2013 when he turned five years old. When he was diagnosed, I had already prepared myself, at least I thought. Honestly, there wasn’t anything that could have prepared me for such an emotional journey. By the time RJ turned one years old, we noticed Rj’s speech and motor skills weren’t developing like they should have been. He wasn’t able to speak until he was almost two years old, which delayed not only his speech but language.

When RJ began preschool, we immediately connected with the special school district in our neighborhood so he could receive additional learning services, such as an IEP (Individualized Education Program) for social/emotional development, speech and language, and fine motor development. Since then, RJ has thrived and excelled in every area of reading, language, math, etc. You could understand 50% of his verbiage by the time he was five years old and now you can’t get him to be quiet. He struggled for a while, but my baby boy is so smart. He has and continues to overcome every obstacle in his way.

Ok, I’m going to brag a little bit. My RJ is a master builder at legos. I have seen this kid build a 250 piece complex Dinosaur lego set in less than 2 hours. It takes me that long to read the instructions. 😉 He loves history. He can tell you most of the important facts about the Titanic; specs of the ship, size, number of survivors, date it sank, date it was built, etc. It’s truly impressive to hear him speak about all of the interesting details of historical moments way before his time. He is a wonderful, patient big and little brother. He has more patience than anyone I know. It takes him a lot to get frustrated or to even cry. He is an amazing helper and loves, loves, loves Godzilla. He is truly an amazing kid. ❤️

That being said I would like to dedicate the month of April to my Rj. Although he “dances to a different beat”, he is one of the best dancers I know (I have hours of video to prove it). And I cannot wait to see what God has in store for our little wonder.

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So for the next few posts, I want to talk about how to understand Autism and how we can help our loved ones who see the world in a brighter way. Since I like to go on and on (blah, blah, blah), I thought maybe breaking it up into multiple posts would give you guys shorter post to read (🚨blogging advice alert🚨).

Anyway, thanks for reading my thoughts and allowing me to introduce you to one of the loves of my life. I hope we are all able to learn new information from each other throughout this journey.

Please feel free to drop a comment below to share an experience or relationship you have with someone who is Autistic. Or maybe you have a question about Autism that you would like for me to answer in my future post.

Please read Rj’s First Fist Fight…And Im A Little Proud! to learn more about RJ and our response to his first fight. It’ll surprise you!

Love you all and stay blessed!

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“Everyone has a mountain to climb and autism has not been my mountain, it has been my opportunity for victory.” –Rachel Barcellona

Autism images borrowed from google pics

Turning Tragedy Into Triumph: How To Live Your Best Life Amid Turmoil

It’s 1pm and my house is completely quiet right now, which is unusual since the kids are on Christmas break. They are sound asleep because we allowed them to stay up until 5 o’clock this morning  (a luxury only given during prolonged school breaks). Even our pet Guinea pig, Sasha, is quietly nestled under her pink, plastic hut. Meanwhile, I’m comfortably sitting on my sofa enjoying the sweet smell of pomegranate oil and the soothing, soft glow from my candles. 

The reason for this rare, joyous occasion is our internet is down due to the extreme cold in my area. I am literally forced to become disconnected from the world. I am left to come up with other ways to entertain myself or keep myself busy. I now realize how dependent I’ve become on the internet. It makes me feel happy and sad at the same time. Happy because I’ve been able to get back to doing things I used to love, like handwriting this blog post or reading a paperback book. It forgot the wonderful scent of stale paper from a paperback book, especially a classic. Sad feeling because I am a little ashamed of how I’ve allowed the world to influence so much of my life. It would explain a lot actually.

This time of reflection has gifted me with the ability to share with you guys ways we can turn our tragedies into triumphs. I’ve discussed before ways that you can look at the bright side of any situation, but this is more specific. I used to ask myself, when will this all end? When will the suffering stop? I’ve come to the conclusion that it will never stop. There will always be pain. There will always be suffering. The only action that you can control is how you react to unfortunate circumstances that may occur in your life.

I figure the best way to live your best life during tragedies is to turn them into triumphs. Imagine dancing in the rain during the worst storm of your life. This is turning tragedy into triumph and here is how you can.

  • Embrace Your Journey: Sometimes, the things we want to hurt the most. When going through a traumatic moment in life, we tend to feel sorry for ourselves. It’s normal. Our brains are just trying to make sense of it all, but you have to know that your journey is NOT your destination. Example: Let’s say you have a goal of climbing Mount Everest. There is so much training and preparation that one would have to achieve in order to make it to the top; condition training, physical and mental training, planning the route, knowing the terrain and weather condition, etc. It is a lot of hard work. A mountain climber wouldn’t complain about the journey he/she has to take to make it. They just do it. They know that once they make it to the top and look down at the world, the journey was well worth it.
  • Acknowledge that what you are going through will not last forever: Everyday that we wake up, we have a choice to fight depression, anxiety, heartache, loss, illness, etc. Making that choice will lead you to your desired destination. I’m sure we’ve all heard that saying, “The best part about hitting rock bottom is the only destination from there is up.”
  • Look forward to the future: Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING last forever (well maybe McDonald’s french fries and roaches). What you are going through will not last forever. Imagine how it’s going to feel when you finally reach the top of your mountain. I’ve learned to always look up at my destination and NEVER look down at my past. Looking up only gives you the motivation to continue the climb to the top.
  • It is ok to NOT understand: There are things you may not understand about your journey until you have endured it, suffered through it, cried through it, made mistakes in it, had setbacks in it, almost collapse in it, almost ran from it, etc. Experience has a way of making us stronger and more resilient. So, if ever you were to experience tragedy again, you are better equipped to deal with it. If you are reading this, you are stronger than you were yesterday. You chose to get up and do something. I’m proud of you!
  • Tribulation will teach you patience: The worse part of my journey is being patient. I know great things are ahead. I know that my circumstances will get better, but I am the kind of person that has always lacked patience. This journey is teaching me that all great things come to those who are patient enough to push through. I like to read inspirational stories about people who never gave up because if they can be strong, then I know I can as well.
  • Embrace your experiences: Experiences are important because the experience will give you hope and if you have hope, you have access to the universe. There will be times when you feel like you will never move past your circumstances, but if you continue on your journey and don’t give up, it will get better. Your circumstances will change. When you have experience, you will no longer endure being drug into moments of hopelessness and despair. You’ll know through experience that God has your back and will bring you out of it, as He has done so many times before.
  • Acknowledge the darkness only to conquer it: There is a darkness lingering around humanity. Negative energy is so powerful because it is easy to give into our dark desires; drugs, alcohol, hate, fear, anxiety. If we acknowledge the presence of negative energy, then we are able to fight it, not sit in it. Example: If you are aware that you have diabetes and still choose to eat sweets, then you are giving in to the desire of the disease, hence becoming sick. If you are aware that you have diabetes and you choose to eat right and take the proper medications, then you will feel better.
  • Stand strong in the fire: The fighting process gives you the drive and commitment to stand the pressure. The most dangerous thing is achieving a goal that you didn’t deserve because the process prepares us for the power that you need to stand your ground and never let it go. When you fight for what you want, you won’t let anyone take it from you.
  • Believe in Gods promise for you: Your enemies want you to be stuck in a situation that is beneath the promise God has in store for you. Your enemies do not want you to succeed, but God’s greatest presence is when all hell is breaking loose. I am living breathing walking proof of this fact. Click the link to read how God appeared to me while I was having thoughts of suicide and self-loathing here, Letting Go, Letting God. God promises that He will never leave us or forsake us. He also promises that we will live eternally through Jesus’ name. That all of our worries will be accounted for and dismissed. Believe that your life is not meant to stay in turmoil, but yet it’s meant for all things great and wonderful. “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” -Psalm 62:8

Tragedies are hard to get through, especially when the “light at the end of the tunnel” seems so far away. No matter what anyone says, you can turn your tragedies into spectacular wonders and blunders to tell future generations. Allow your journey to be a life lesson for yourself and for other people. Remember, great warriors always have the best stories to tell.

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”-Albert Camus

 

Letting Go, Letting God

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To my readers,

I didn’t plan on blogging today. I was actually having anxiety about what I should post next, but I had an experience this morning that I had to share with you all.

This morning started out like any other morning. Now that I look back, I see that I was very anxious. I remember saying to my husband how today “just didn’t feel right”. I had a million thoughts going through my mind; things I had to get done, the people that I need to call, the 4-year old that needs me constantly. I started one of my many chores to help push through the anxiety. Ultimately, it became too overwhelming, so I shut it down.

I left my 4-year-old on the sofa with his iPad. I headed to my bathroom to brush my teeth and to get a little peace from my son’s increasingly curious questions. I started listening to a video by Joyce Meyer on How to Beat Depression. She began speaking about how God uses us to press through other people’s lives. I immediately felt so much pain and hurt lift off of me like a heavy blanket.  All of the pain that I was carrying from other people hurting me was instantly gone. It was like forgiveness, hope, and perseverance wrapped in a tortilla made of beauty. It was amazing. I truly wept. I never felt God’s presence so much in my life. It was like He was standing right next to me. I saw Him as clearly as I saw myself. I cried like a baby. I can’t remember a time where I felt so…child-like.

It was the most beautiful moment I’ve ever felt and I needed the world to know. Even if it reaches one reader.  If you have faith, if you seek God, He will answer! He will show up when you least expect it. He showed up while I was brushing my teeth. I had toothpaste everywhere, weeping like an infant. But I loved it. I loved every minute of it. I haven’t felt that much joy in…honestly, I don’t remember. Like I said, I’ve never felt anything like it. It made me realize that when you have the Holy Spirit guiding you, it becomes easier to hear God’s instructions.

Seek God and He will show up. Thank you for reading. I hope this inspires you to push through and know that all of your hard work is going to pay off. Your prayers will not go unanswered.

“Forgive anyone who has caused you pain or harm. Keep in mind that forgiving is not for others. It is for you. Forgiving is not forgetting. It is remembering without anger. It frees up your power, heals your body, mind, and spirit. Forgiveness opens with a pathway to a new place of peace where you can persist despite what has happened to you.” -Les Brown

Unapologetically Living Life

What does living your best life look like? Sometimes we have the tendency to live our lives for other people and feel like we have to apologize or be sorry for when we finally decide to live for ourselves and do what is best for us.

We shouldn’t have to apologize for living our best lives. We shouldn’t have to apologize for doing what needs to be done to make sure we, ourselves are happy.

Below is a list of actions that you should NEVER apologize for:

BEING YOURSELF!

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It takes courage to follow your dreams and not someone else’s. You may be in a situation where someone is making you feel like you have to live the life that they want you to live.

For example, I would love for my son to become an architect. He is so talented and smart. Instead, he wants to become a comic book illustrator. I want my son to live his best life, so I have to support what he wants to do with it. I want him to be himself and never apologize for it. 

Since tomorrow is not promised, be your best self today. You were born for a reason. You were born to shine. Shine bright baby, shine brighter than anyone ever expected you to shine. Blind the haters with your rays of awesomeness.

FOLLOWING YOUR GOALS

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Everyone has goals and aspirations. Follow yours! Do not mind the nay-sayers and haters. You will succeed because it is something that you want for yourself.

Remember, anything worth having is worth fighting for and your dreams are worth fighting for. So, suit up and get prepared. It may be bumpy, it may be challenging, but you can do it. You only get one life. If you woke up this morning, you’ve already accomplished more than so many other people. You are here, you are worthy, you are destined to be great. 

FINDING YOUR INNER PEACE

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I used to let people disturb my peace, but not anymore. Do you know anyone who has the ability to disturb your peace? I’ve decided that everyone that is known for gossiping or drama has been blocked from my phone. Why? I need my PEACE! I need to be able to go through the day without hearing the tragic news that one of these toxic people has caused for themselves.

At first, I felt bad for ignoring them. Then I had to realize that-that heavy, negative feeling that I would have when I hung up the phone was not worth it anymore.

You can’t expect people to change, you can only change how you allow people to make you feel. If you have to chuck up the deuces to get some peace, by all means, do it without apology. This is beneficial to you and you only.

TRUSTING YOUR GUT

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My gut has saved my life 8/10 times. I trust my instincts for almost everything because I feel like it’s the Holy Spirit guiding me.

If you feel like something is right, then go for it. Your feelings are your feelings and they are important. Your feelings should never be a sacrifice for someone who may or may not agree with your life choices. Learn to trust yourself and your needs and wants.

There will be a time where you would have to make a  life-changing decision. It will be easier to make that decision if you trusted yourself and your ability to do what is right for you and/or family.

BELIEVING IN A HIGHER POWER

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I love Jesus! I am a Christian. Nowadays, society will try to make you feel like loving Jesus is a bad thing. Some would argue that I am brainwashed by the church to give away all of my money, but those non-believers do not understand the relationship that I have with God has nothing to do with the church I attend or how much money I may choose to offer.

My relationship with God is 100% about my salvation and selfishly, help with getting through my life’s challenges, but I will address that in a later post.

We should all respect each other’s choices on how we decide to make life work for us. If you are Buddist, great! If you believe in the energy of the universe, awesome! If you don’t believe in anything at all, that is your choice. I will never judge you for your beliefs, just as I ask you not to judge me for mine.

My faith teaches me, that everyone will eventually learn about the grace that God has to offer, and I feel when He is ready to move in your life, that will be between you and Him. I will still love you as He instructs and I will support any endeavor you may want to follow.

Never apologize for having faith in something. If you think the lampshade answers your prayers, then by all means, pray to the lampshade. If that is what gives you the courage to wake up everyday to fight the good fight, then do it. Do you!

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Now, this list also applies to the a**holes. I say this with humor and all seriousness. I know someone who is an a**hole. They will say anything that comes to mind and not cares about someone feelings. If you are like this, you can still apply this to your life. Just know, you have to respect if someone chooses not to deal with you because of your a**holeness or if I choose to hit that good ole block button. It’s honestly my favorite feature on my iPhone, so don’t bring me any drama! 

“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself, comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the essence of beauty.” -Dr. Martin Maraboli

*Photos owned by Google*

6 Ways to Manage Your Emotions

Are you emotional wreck? Hell, right now, I am. I’ve always been a pretty sensitive person, but because of some of life’s challenges, I learned a long time ago how to hide my emotions from everyone. At the time, I thought I was managing them, when in fact, they were just being stored away in a very dark place.

When I was 15 years old, I began to notice that I was different from other people, very different. How I felt, what I liked, even my philosophy on life and it’s meaning, was very different from everyone else around me. I began to think that there was something wrong with me and this thought would eventually manifest into deeper, darker thoughts.

Since this year has been the most trying time of my 32 years of life, I have been forced to address emotions that I thought were long gone. When I first became sick, I was bedridden. Without realizing, I allowed the fear and uncertainty of Lupus cloud my judgment and my mind. I allowed negative thoughts to replace any hope I had of becoming healthy again, which exposed a lot of those old, buried feelings. I slowly began drowning without being consciously aware of it. I’m sure that’s why they say it’s never a good idea to have an idle mind. Thoughts can creep into your mind that will have you convinced that everything that you knew about yourself is a complete lie. Thus, becoming an emotional wreck.

Lately, I’ve had to practice how to handle my emotions, old and new, and I would love to share what has worked for me. So, below is a list of ways that you can keep your emotions in check.

  1. Know Your Triggers

We all have emotional triggers. Emotional triggers are situations or people that have the ability to cause a negative emotional response. For you, an emotional trigger can be friends, family members, or even the upcoming holidays. We may not have the ability to avoid our triggers, but we can certainly learn to live with them without becoming overwhelmed.

Once you are aware of your triggers, you can then deal with them accordingly. Remember, do what is best for you! If you need to remove yourself from the situation, do so. If you need to seek counseling or a support group to help you through dealing with the trigger(s) that just won’t go away, like a family member or boss, do it. Your emotional stability is what is most important.

  1. Don’t react right way

Have you ever lost your temper in a drop of a hat? Some of us *cough, cough* have the tendency to overreact while in the midst of emotional turmoil. Someone can say that one thing to drive you nuts, and then bam, you’re yelling and screaming, probably saying things you’ll later regret.

It’s better for your emotional state if you stepped back for a moment to ask yourself, “Is this worth getting upset over? Is this worth disturbing my peace over?” I’ll let you know right now, 8 out 10 times, the answer is no. Well, at least with me. When I think about it, there are very few people that are worth me compromising my peace of mind over, but admittingly, I am still a work a progress.

  1. Change Your Thoughts

I’ve spoken about this so many times. It’s really important that you have healthy positive thoughts. So, whenever you find yourself in emotional hell, you will already be convinced that you are awesome and strong and that you will get through whatever is happening at the time. Negative thoughts will no longer have room in your mind. You can change your thoughts by listening to inspirational speeches, reading motivational literature, or church.

  1. Do something that you love

When you’re immersed in something that you are passionate about and that you are focused on, your mind will be too occupied to become sad. Doing what you love uplifts and motivates you in ways that wouldn’t be able to imagine. It is also a great coping skill to get you through rough moments.

Do what you love as often as you can. That way, whenever you’re going through a rough patch, it’ll be second nature to jump straight into a healthy coping mechanism.

  1. See the bigger picture

One of my favorite sayings is, “There are 3 sides to every story; yours, theirs, and the truth.” Whatever may have happened to trigger a negative emotional response, try to step back to view the entire picture. For example, let’s say your co-worker comes into work upset with an attitude. It’s normally not like her because she usually comes in happy and chipper. She’s really not talking to you or giving you much attention. You could either take it personally and assume her attitude has to do with you, or you could try to consider other reasons why she’s being snappy. You never know what people are going through behind closed doors. Be a friend. Find out. Show support.

  1. Meditate

I am a huge fan of meditation. Sometimes I pray during mediation, sometimes I work on redirecting my busy thoughts. Mediation is a great tool to use due to some of its great benefits:

-reducing stress

-improving concentration

-practicing increase of self-awareness

-reducing depression and anxiety

If you take 5-10 minutes out of your day to meditate, you will begin to see a significant improvement when trying to get your emotions under control. People say it’s too hard because they are unable to get there brain to shut off. Meditation is not about getting your brain to turn off, but more about training your brain to redirect itself when you begin thinking about chores or errands or anything outside of self-improvement and growth.

Some days I don’t have to think twice about how to handle my emotions, but other days, I need to refer back to this list. It has been helping me real my emotions in when I feel they are out of control,  so I really hope it’s able to help you.

Do you have anything that helps you keep your emotions in check? Drop a comment below to let us know. I’m down for all suggestions. Again, I’m a work in progress *cough, cough*

“As you heal, you see yourself more realistically. You accept that you are a person with strengths and weaknesses. You make the changes you can in your life and let go of the things that aren’t in your power to change. You learn that every part of you is valuable. And you realize that all of your thoughts and feelings are important, even when they’re painful or difficult.” -Ellen Bass, Beginning to Heal

Need Fuel? 12 Inspiring Quotes To Get You Through the Day

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We have all bad days, don’t we? You guys know I have. One way that I have shared getting through difficult moments in my life is listening and memorizing motivational speeches and quotes. It helps replace my negative thoughts with positive ones. Since I’ve been practicing this, I find myself being more positive whenever a discouraging thought pops into my mind. Experts now say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. So, 21 days of replacing negative thoughts with more inspiring ones are definitely something that will help defeat depression in the long run. 

Some people believe that words are powerless, but we should know better by now that words have the power to hurt, heal, hinder, harm, humiliate, and humble. We all have heard the saying “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This couldn’t be furthest from the truth. Hurtful words having started wars, destroyed families, and has caused unimaginable pain.

We now live in a world where everyone’s words are being read online every day, all day. In my opinion, we have more social interactions online than in-person interactions. Think about it. We communicate a lot via social media, blog outlets, emails, and text messages. We have the ability to communicate with millions of people simultaneously in a matter of seconds. What a time to be alive, right? We spend a lot of time reading other people’s thoughts and opinions, good and bad. My experience with social media has been egregious. It is actually one of the reason’s why I decided to start a blog. I want to spread more positivity vibes online, since as a society, we spend so much time on here. I’ve noticed that there a lot of people who would rather spread more negative energy than positive energy, but that’s not what I want for our children and the following generations to come. I want them to understand that words are powerful; written, typed, said aloud; they are powerful. As human beings, we should uplift and help each other get through this thing called life.  Below are a few words by some really awesome people who figured out how to overcome the negative energy and push forward. Please judge the message, not the messenger.

“Once you choose hope, anything is possible.” -Christopher Reeves

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. only through experience of trial and suffering can the Soul be strengthened, Vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” -Helen Keller

“Getting better from depression demands a lifelong commitment. I’ve made that commitment for my life’s sake and for those who love me.” -Susan Polis Schutz

“A positive attiitude gives you power over your circumstance, instead of your circumstances having power over you.” -Joyce Meyer

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually fear that you will make one.” -Elbert Hubbard

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.” -Nelson Mandela

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” -Vivian Greene

“Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and twice as beautiful as you’ve ever imagined.” – Dr Suess

“Never be limited by others people limited imaginations.” -Dr Mae Jemison

“Success is to be measured  not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” -Booker T Washington

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person and some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” -Former President Barack Obama

Living with Depression

Emotionally, today was a rough day for me. Lately, I’ve been feeling this doom cloud hovering over me every second of every day. Depression is apart of my life, full time. Meaning, it is something that has not gone away and most likely will not go away. Like any illness, it can be a struggle if not properly maintained. People who don’t understand try to offer what they think is great advice; “pray, think happy thoughts, try not to stress, try not to worry.” Anyone who lives with depression knows it’s not something you can “get over”. It is literally a chemical imbalance in the brain. Some are fortunate enough that they don’t have highs and lows. They can change their diet, meditate a little and they’re back to normal. People like me, it’s not so easy. Sometimes the emotions are so strong, it feels like daggers are constantly moving in and out of your mind and body.

Today, I had a bit of a meltdown. I’ve always been pretty good at explaining my feelings, but for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been at a lost for words, until today. It was something that my husband said that made the floodgates open and my emotions and words were finally in sync.

Have you ever felt like you were drowning? Like, your entire life is engulfed in water and you fight every day, all day just to try to get your head above water. Not even your head, maybe just your face. You know that if you get one breath, one inhale, then you’ll have more strength to pull yourself out of the water completely. You have people around you who try to understand by throwing you a life jacket, rope, anything that they feel you need to pull yourself out, but you know you need more than that. At this point, it’s either fight or flight. Giving up isn’t an option, but you’re getting so tired. The more tired you get, the further you sink into the ocean. Slowly watching the light from the sun become further away. It’s so dark and so cold.   This is what I was able to explain to my husband after weeks of not knowing.

He then explained that he knew exactly what I was going through because he has been there, feeling the exact same way. It gave me a lot of hope because he is in such a great place and if God could do it for him, then I know he would do it for me. At that moment, I felt less abandoned by God. He reminded me, through my husband, that He has not forgotten me. He sees every tear and hears every prayer. During this storm, He has made it abundantly clear, that I will be clear of any illness and disease and I will be blessed beyond my wildest dreams.

Even though some people may not understand what I am going through, I have family and friends who constantly throw a life jacket or rope to help save me. Those are the ones that I think about when I am unable to see through the darkness. I am truly blessed to have people who want to see me succeed. When I become better and I’m able to look back at days like today and laugh, they will be apart of my “road to success” story; how I fought the depression and lupus demons and won! Until then, I will walk this journey and trust God’s process.

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them — every day begin the task anew.” -Saint Francis de Sales

Trust The Process: What Choosing Life Looks Like

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Live for Today. Choose life. The mantra that I repeat to myself everyday, every hour, and sometimes every second. Chronic illness will try to trick you into thinking that your life is over after diagnosis. We aren’t the same people that we once were. We aren’t able to do the same things that we once did. It can be devastating, if you let it.

Two simple words with so much meaning. Choose Life. I feel as though God has given me sign after sign to stand still. I’m so used to moving and grooving. I was on a fast track to finally becoming financially stable. I had just finished school and after 10 long years, received a college degree. I was working at my dream job as a registered medical assistant at a prestigious hospital, and I loved the day-to-day interactions that I had with my patients. I really felt like I was making a difference. But then, I became ill. After going through the “woe is me”, “my life sucks” phase, I began to notice that God is trying to tell me to be still during this storm.

“Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (NLT) (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Now when I think about my battle with Lupus and Fibromyalgia , my perspective has completely changed. After reading His word, I was reminded that God will break you to position you, to put you in the right place, and to promote you. Lucky for us, He is a just God and a loving God, so when he breaks you, it will not hurt you or destroy you because He is also a graceful God. Trust the process that God has set before you. We may not always know why things are happening to us, but honestly, it’s not for us to know. When God wants it revealed, it will be revealed. Until then, trust the process.

Trusting His process is hard, at least it was for me. But then, after nine long days of going through a lupus flare I noticed something different about my husband. It’s not that he did anything different, it’s just God changed my perspective. When I’m in pain, everything that he does is annoying. Everything he says I take offensive and sometimes everything he does is wrong. Well, at least that’s how I felt when my mind is so engulfed in my own pain, that I am unable to see how blessed I really am. Until today. Today, my husband woke up, got our three children feed, clothed and ready for school and then went to school himself. Immediately afterwards, grabbed lunch for me, then went to his first day at his new job, only to come home, cook dinner, feed the kids, entertain them!, put them to bed, and still have the energy to give me a deep-muscle massage to relieve my body ache.

I immediately asked my husband to forgive me. He has been a ROCK throughout this entire process and I’ve taken him for granted. He effortlessly makes me laugh and smile everyday so I wont think about the pain. He tries so hard to make me happy, even when I’m working his last nerves. And most importantly, he is an amazing father to our kids; helping them understand and cope with what mommy is going through. Thank you Jesus for sending me this man! He is proof that You have not forsaken me, nor forgotten about me. You’ve sent the perfect person to stand with me and push me to beat this.

God has placed the tools that I need in my life to get through what I used to call a tragedy. I would be lying if I said wonderful things haven’t blossomed during my illness; I’ve grown closer to my husband, kids, and family members. I’m able to be more attentive to my families needs and wants. I’ve even been able to build a stronger relationship with Jesus Christ.

Remember, trust the process. Trust Him. Thank you to EVERYONE who has prayed for me, helped me, blessed me, and has been supportive of me. I love you more than I can express.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

A Hundred Weeds or A Hundred Wishes?

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A few years ago, I was having lunch with my brother. We were catching up on the latest tea in each others lives. I can’t remember exactly what made him ask, but he proceeded to ask me a question that I would think about almost everyday since that conversation. He asked, “Ashley, why do you always expect the other shoe to drop?” In other words, why do I always expect the worst to happen? My response was very simple, “Because I know it will and I want to be prepared when it does.” Most people would say that my skeptical personality is lethal to my overall perception of humanity, but it all depends on one’s perception of skepticism. I would say that I am more of a realist.

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I believe that there are two different ways to perceive Karma; fear-based and love-based. Fear-based karma is the consequences, good and bad, that are brought to you based on your actions, good or bad. You are judged for your actions; basically, you reap what you sow. While love-based karma is a belief that every lesson is a gift that provides lessons for your soul’s personal growth and will continue to bring back these lessons until you have learned from them.

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I’ve learned that how you perceive life’s challenges is half the battle. Love-based karma believers take the challenges of life and learn from them. They see each challenge as a lesson to get through and grow from the experience. Fear-based karma believers view life challenges as punishment for something they may have done to someone else in the past. I used to think that my condition, SLE ( systemic lupus erythematosus) and Fibromyalgia, is a punishment from God because of all of the awful things that I have done in my past. While now, I look at this illness as another one of life’s challenges that I need to work through and learn from. Now the only question left is, what am I supposed to learn from this? But I think that question should be answered in another blog post. Bad things happen. It’s life. The only things we can control is how we perceive the challenges and our reaction to the challenge. This is what separates us from the animals, right?

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“When you look at a field of dandelions, you can either see a hundred weeds, or a hundred wishes.” -Unknown

Love Letter from Depression

Dear Ashley,

Its your oldest friend, depression. How’s it been? I’ve missed you so much. I’m glad to hear that you are sick because I knew it would be the easiest way to get back into your life.

I’ve missed our long nights of no sleep and endless tears. I’ve missed the sound of your heart breaking every second of every day. Do you remember, Ashley? Do you remember the wonderful negative thoughts you used to have? I’m glad to see that they have come back, stronger than ever.

I love that you feel like a horrible parent and a horrible wife. I love to watch your tears flow as you beg God for mercy.

It’s just you and I, Ashley. Cant you see? We belong together. You and I are one. I will never leave you, nor forsake you. No matter how many pills you take, no matter how many bible scriptures you read, no matter how much you pray, I will always be with you.

Love,

Depression

 

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