When It Rains, It Pours

The past few days have been really difficult for me. Lupus is a cruel mystery. My days have been filled with doctors appointments and uncertainties. It’s discomforting to hear your health care provider say, “With Lupus, it can be anything.”

I’ve been experiencing severe chest pains. Coming from a healthcare background, I know that chest pain is something that you cannot dismiss. I called my Rheumatologist (Lupus doctor) about my symptoms. I waited one whole day to hear her nurse tell me that I need to go the emergency room. I’ve called this lady before about other symptoms and her answer is always, “go the emergency room.” I hate the emergency room. They charge you an arm and a leg to give me a prescription for Prednisone (which my rheumatologist could have done) and send me back home. The E.R. has been my home away from home for the past year and a half. So, I skipped the emergency room and went straight to my local urgent care. I figured they could do the same tests for a lower cost and less invasive procedures. I was quickly met with disappointment when they told me that my EKG is abnormal and that I need to do to the emergency room, anyway. I head to the emergency room only to be greeted by 40 people who are currently dealing with the flu epidemic and was told that my wait would be three hours or longer since there were only two doctors on staff. And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg.

Lupus is a cruel mystery because there is something wrong, but no one can tell me what it is. I continue to give away our hard earned funds to big pharma, hospitals, and private doctors offices without a guarantee that the medication would even help with my symptoms. Daily symptoms include:

  • Memory Loss/Confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness is fingers and toes. They also turn white
  • Fatigue and unexplained fevers
  • Unexplained rashes
  • Unexplained hair loss (which isn’t that bad since I can convince my husband to buy me stylish bonnets and wigs)
  • Nausea/vomiting, unexplained abdominal pain
  • Hours of phone conversations with doctors and hospitals that eventually lead to questions and concerns being unanswered
  • Extreme muscle/joint pain and inflammation
  • Depression (but I kind of had this before my Lupus diagnosis, so I can blame Lupus? I will anyway)
  • Unexplained weight loss (I weighed 185 pounds in October 2016. Now I am currently 104 pounds)
  • NO eating chocolate (this is the cake topper, here)

My days and nights have been filled with thousands of tears streaming from my eyes. Worry has been plaguing me every minute of every day. What is wrong? How can we fix this? How can I become healthy again?

There are so many blogs, Instagram pages, and ads all telling me how to live a healthier life. The only thing that all of these resources have in common is their solutions cost money. If you ask my wallet, “what is money?”, it’ll ask you back, “what is money?” True story.

I thought about starting a GoFundMe page to help pay for medical expenses, but the thought of asking for money from strangers is uncomfortable for me. I feel like everyone is working hard for their money. Who am I to ask for it? Even if it is for a good cause. I want to believe that God will provide for me and my needs. I’m just so frustrated, sad, and angry. Frustrated because I’m dealing with an illness that healthcare professionals have no idea what it is. Sad because I feel like I’m letting down my family. Angry because I just want answers. I want to be better. I want to become the person that I was meant to be.

If you are a prayer warrior, please pray for me. Pray that God reveals his plans for me. Pray that I will be released from the prison of chronic illness and mental hell.

I came across this scripture that helped the tears stop flowing for a moment. That short time was a blessing because I don’t want to cry anymore. It gives me great comfort to know that my Lord is willing to take my burdens. I know I just have to be patient.

“Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30

Blogging With Depression

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Since I could remember, writing has always been a liberating experience for me. It has gotten me away from the harsh realities of my current situation. Growing up wasn’t easy, but I see now that those experiences are guiding me to where I am supposed to be and who I am supposed to be. Without the joys of writing, I wouldn’t have made it out alive. As a small child without a voice, I was able to use my ability to transform characters into letters, letters into words, words into feelings, to give me the chance to dance, sing, and dream.

Depression has the ability to take away what you love the most. Its desire to feed on your negative energy is insatiable. I will admit for a long time, I allowed depression to convince me that writing was something I wasn’t good at and that it wasn’t a goal that I should pursue. So, I stopped. I would wake up every day feeling like I was missing a part of me. After a while, I stopped noticing.

Eventually, I couldn’t deny my love for writing anymore. That’s why, when I was at my lowest and weakest, I started to blog. It has been a long process. Back then, I was posting maybe once a week. Sometimes, a few weeks would go by before I posted again. Most instances, it would take me up to three days to write out one post, but I chose to push forward and continue to write. Now, I am able to share with you guys three times a week, consistently. Truthfully, I’m really proud of myself. I set goals and I’m meeting them. You guys have been really supportive and wonderful. I’ve met beautiful souls on here and I look forward to meeting many more.

So I want to share with you tips on how to get through blogging while living with depression:

  1. Set small goals: Set goals that won’t make you feel overwhelmed if you don’t accomplish them. Set realistic goals that are attainable. Once you are consistent with those goals, then add another one.
  2. Slowly increase your goals: Add one goal at a time. For me, I wanted things to get better right away, but I had to be patient. I would feel so overwhelmed and stressed. We have to build ourselves up to it. Small steps always lead to bigger steps.
  3. If you feel overwhelmed, take a step back: It’s ok to take a step back. It doesn’t mean you are giving up, it just means you need a break.
  4. Don’t beat yourself up: If you don’t meet a goal, don’t beat yourself up. If you don’t get any comments or likes, don’t beat yourself up. Blogging is a form of expression. I noticed, most bloggers are blogging more so for themselves than their readers. I am. Here we can have a voice. Whether one person reads it or one hundred, you’re voice will forever ring throughout the universe.
  5. Do not compare yourself to other bloggers: This will stress you out. Seriously, depression will convince you that other people are better than you, but it’s not true. Everyone has their own journey that they are on. You are on yours. I truly believe that everyone serves a purpose. There is so much information and diversity at our fingertips. I feel like I am supposed to blog about my life. Others may feel they are called to blog about recipes or traveling. So, you should blog about whatever is in your heart and let the universe take care of the rest.
  6. Know your limits and your triggers: *Deep sigh* This one is a stuff one for me. I recently came across a blog post that basically said that women who dress provocatively are asking to be raped. This was a instant trigger for me as a strongly disagree with this statement. As a woman, I felt it was my responsibility to disagree with him, in a respectful manner of course and then I unfollowed him. Its kind of funny because he later asked me and another fellow blogger to unfollow him because she agreed with my comment. Anyway, because his blog was a trigger for me, so I chose to unfollow. He has a great blog and I wish him the best.
  7. Write from your heart: I like to say, “write down whatever is on your mental.” Meaning, blog about whatever you are thinking about. If you can’t think of anything, blog about how you feel, what you read that day, what you watched online, the strange neighbor, just write! It’ll kick depression slowly down the drain each time you express yourself. It’ll help defeat the darkness and deception.

It can be difficult but remember it’s not impossible. Each step we take is a step worth celebrating.

Remember, you are loved. You are beautiful. You are wonderfully made.

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” ~John Wooden

 

Please Forgive Me

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Forgiving those that have hurt you can be difficult, but asking for forgiveness from someone that you have hurt can be even more challenging. Growing up in a large family, we didn’t apologize to each other that much. We were taught, unconsciously, that if you have wronged someone, you would go a short amount of time without talking to that person and then out of the blue, pick up the relationship where it left off. For instance, I would hear my mom and my aunt get into big fights over the phone. They would go a short amount of time without speaking, but when they eventually did, it was as if the argument never occurred. They would continue life as normal until the next disagreement. This eventually lead to a lot of resentment within our family.

If we got into a fight with someone we couldn’t avoid, like one of our siblings, we would carry on with life like nothing happened. We never apologized, nor spoke about what made us angry. If we tried, most of the time that person would become angry and defensive. Personally, this caused me to close up completely and not share my feelings with anyone, friends or family members. It wasn’t until later in life, after a few failed friendships and intimate relationships, I learned what it means to truly apologize to someone and mean it.

Some people like to think that simply saying I’m sorry is good enough, but sometimes it is not. Sometimes, the pain is so deep and so hurtful that simply saying “I’m sorry” will not fix the damage that has been done. I would like to share with you lessons that I have learned along that way. Please feel free to comment on ways that you have learned to ask for forgiveness. Let’s get to it.

Rules to Asking for Forgiveness

 

Be Patient

When you apologize, do not expect that person to forgive you right away. It may take time for them to move on from whatever you did to hurt them. They may forgive you right away or decide to never forgive you. It’s their choice to decide how they would like to move forward. Everyone heals in their own time. You rushing them to forgive you will only make things worse.

Respect how they feel

You may not like it, but you have to respect it. If you did something hurtful and you don’t understand why they are hurt, try to have a calm conversation with that person. Try to see it from their perspective. If you are still unable to understand why they are upset, respect their feelings. Do not put them down or call them stupid. Everyone is entitled to their feelings.

Explain what you did WITHOUT excuses

This may be hard for a lot of us. When we apologize, we tend to say, “I’m sorry, but…”. When someone is hurting, the last thing they want to hear is excuses. Hearing the reason why you hurt them doesn’t really matter. We are all tempted to justify our wrongdoings, but if you apologize without excuses, that person would be more willing to forgive you. They would feel like you are taking responsibility for your actions, thus learning your lesson.

Acceptance

Accepting the consequences of your actions is hard because, in our fast-paced society, we have been programmed to want results right away; drive-thrus, text message delivery notification, internet access, etc. Plus, not that many people like to admit when they are wrong. I used to have a huge problem with it. Sorry, I digress. We are so used to having instant results, but forgiveness doesn’t work that way. If a person doesn’t forgive you right away, accept it. Move forward. If the relationship can be salvaged, try to save it with love and compassion. If it cannot, move on. Accept that what you’ve done cannot be forgiven at the moment. Do not force them. Do not try to guilt them. All that will do is push them away further.

Throw Away Expectations

Do not go into an apology expecting anything. The person that you are apologizing to may not react the way you want or they may react the total opposite. If even they have wronged you as well, do not expect an apology. Expectations will only cause more problems and possibly another incident. If you are apologizing from the heart, then it shouldn’t matter how they react. Expect little, but hope for the best.

Show that you have changed

Everyone loves to see progress. Don’t apologize for something just to go back and do it again. If you’ve hurt someone, apologize, and then hurt them again, you would be a liar. You would lose their trust. Trust is complicated because it can take seconds to lose and years to gain back. Show that person that you really are sorry by not doing whatever it is you did to hurt them in the first place.

Remember, you are not a bad person

I always say, there are two types of people; good people who do bad things and bad people who do bad things. The majority of people who make mistakes are good people who just simply made a mistake. Don’t beat yourself up because you are only human. If you hurt someone, know that you are not a bad person. You a person who just made a mistake. If the person doesn’t forgive you, that does not measure your value as a person. It just simply means that they are so hurt at the moment, they are unable to see the bigger picture.

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Forgiving and asking for forgiveness is draining for both people, but very necessary. Forgiveness has known to lower blood pressure, lower stress hormones, and strengthen the immune system. I believe that forgiveness is vital is to leading a happy, healthy life, but it is a choice. Forgiveness is a privilege, not a right. You are more likely to be forgiven if you’ve likable and understanding afterward.

Remember, you are loved. You are wonderful. You are beautifully made. I hope your day is as beautiful as you are. Stay blessed.

 

Never forget the nine most important words of any family: I love you. You are beautiful. Please forgive me. -H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Author

12 Bad Habits Not To Take With You Into 2018

Tree For All Seasons 2007 John Newcomb (b.20th C./American) Acrylic on canvas

As the time is winding down, we begin to reflect on this past year. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the sad. Tragedies, such as domestic terrorism, devasting natural disasters, and modern-day slavery has turned our world upside down. The great news is, in less than 24 hours, we’ll have the chance to start a new year with new hopes and dreams. It may be difficult at first since but change never happens overnight. Change will be something that we would have to work at everyday that we are blessed to wake up.

Below is a list of bad habits that you may have developed during this trying year that you may want to keep in 2017 and not carry with you into the new year.

  1. tumblr_llpiownyoe1qznniio1_250Taking things personally: You must know that not everything is about you. For instance, if someone is having a bad day and they become irritated with you, most likely, their attitude has nothing to do with you. We all go through things and process them differently. It may be a little upsetting, but now is the time for understanding each other more. Learn to just let it go.
  2. poster-die-vergangenheit-festhalten-1374533Holding on to the past: Personally, this is easier said than done. The best way to begin moving on from your past is to forgive the person or situation that is holding you back. Whoever wronged you, forgive them. You’re not forgiving them for their sake, but for your sake. When you forgive, you find peace. That person no longer has a hold on you or your thoughts.
  3. 18Spending most of your free time on Facebook: Facebook is a great social media outlet for people to connect all over the world. Unfortunately, Facebook has a way of making one feel spiritually and emotionally drained. Between online trolls (people who purposely make accounts to be mean and hateful) and “the world is ending” status updates, it’s easy to get caught up in the drama. You see so many posts on destruction and chaos all over the world and the human psyche wasn’t meant to be exposed to so much trauma at once. Personally, I no longer have a facebook account for this very reason. I was checking it constantly. When I would finally log off for the day, I would feel angry, anxious, nervous, worried, everything but entertained. I had to let it go. I haven’t checked Facebook in four months and I feel a difference. I believe it has honestly helped with my depression.
  4. stress3Over-stressing: Stress serves zero purposes to your life. Stressing is a complete waste of time. I used to think stress was apart of life, but it doesn’t have to be. What has helped with lowering my stress is believing that all of my problems are in the hands of God. Troubles will arise in my life, but I know that I have help. I know that when those bad things do happen, I will have the strength and integrity to get through them. When you believe in the power of a Higher Power, one’s life struggles becomes easier to deal with.
  5. sleepprimary_0Sleeping in late: Have you heard that expression “the early bird gets the worm”? Apart of being happy is being productive and keeping yourself busy. If you sleep most of the day away, you are giving yourself less time to be productive. Use that time to complete a task that is on your to-do or use that time to meditate. 
  6. Fueling drama: When you allow yourself to instigate drama, you are starting 61d4bfaab2ae94724ba3ddf7ffb273dfan endless cycle of negative energy. This negative energy will stay with you. Next thing you know, you’ll find yourself involved drama that has nothing to do with you. This will then turn you into a toxic person; someone who cannot live without drama. 
  7. healthy-dietHaving a poor diet: You are what you eat. Oh, how I miss the juicy taste of a beef burger or the incredible flavor of triple chocolate fudge cake covering my tastebuds. Over the past year, I’ve had to make major changes to my diet. My kids say I eat like our pet Guinea pig since my diet mostly consists of fruits and vegetables. Eating healthy promotes good physical and mental health. Take time out to learn about ways to improve your diet. You may not have to eat like a Guinea pig, but replacing fries with carrots would be in your best interest.
  8. f8c05617bba402dfddb8a3471cb39897Complaining all of the time: Do you know that your words have power. When I was younger, I remember my mom always saying that you can speak things into existence. I’ve found out the hard way that this is one hundred percent true. If you complain all of the time, then you are creating a mindset that will always see the bad in any situation your life. When you complain, you are reiterating to your brain that what you are saying is true. Instead of complaining about your situation, try finding what you can be grateful for. For instance, if you lost your car, you can say that at least your helping save the ozone layer until you are able to get another one. That may sound a little corny, but once you begin to train your thoughts to see the good, it’ll eventually become as easy as breathing.
  9. DruckOverthinking: Overthinking leads to negative thoughts. Negative thoughts can lead to stress. Stress can lead to severe depression and anxiety. I remember being so mad at my husband over a misunderstanding. I allowed my thoughts to overshadow the possibility that it was a misunderstanding. By the time he would ask me, whats wrong, I had already made up in mind everything that he had done before he was able to explain himself. This leads to a lot of confusion and dysfunction. Don’t allow yourself to overthink a situation. If you find yourself overthinking, replace it with reading a book or meditation. You can call a friend to get advice or simply let it go until it presents itself again.
  10. 11GossipingSimply, mind your business. Spreading gossip about someone is one of the worst things you can do. Everyone has problems. Everyone has stuff going on. How would you feel if you found out someone was spreading gossip about you? Oh, they have? Well, don’t stoop to their level. When someone gossips, they are telling more about themselves than they are the other person. It says they do not respect the privacy of others and what they may be going through. We should all pray for each and be supportive towards one another during our hard times. Life would be so much easier.
  11. great-live-in-the-moment-quotes-64-on-beautiful-quotes-with-live-in-the-moment-quotesNot living in the moment: Every day is a gift. It’s like one of my favorite quotes says “The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present” by Alice Morse Earle. If you are struggling with depression or any kind of illness, the 24 hours in your day may seem very long and dark. Even if you have to live hour to hour, minute to minute, appreciate each breath that you take. You are here for a reason. You woke up this morning for a reason. You may not know that reason yet, but have confidence that one day it will be revealed, but you must push forward. Everything counts, no matter how big or small.
  12. hug4Trying to please others: If you think that you can please everyone, you are mistaken. Humanity is not perfect. It is physically impossible to make everyone happy while trying to be happy yourself. Live your best life the best way you know how. If there is someone in your life that is displeased with your decisions, simply remind them that you are living for you and if you are unhappy then no one around you will be happy. Living your best life is the only way.

I would like to wish each and every one of you the best success is 2018. You are wonderful. You are loved. You are beautifully made. Have a very Happy New Year from my family to yours.

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.” -Neil Gaiman

 

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

 

Who’s Ashley?

smiley-face-question-mark_556117Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve read a lot of post about personal growth. I mean, it’s the end of the year, so I’m sure it is only appropriate for people to share how awesome this past year has been for them. I was trying to think of what I could write for a “2017 End of the Year Wrap-Up” blog, but honestly, I’m having a hard time coming up with a post. It’s not that I do not have anything great to say about this past year. It’s probably because it would force me to think about situations that I would prefer to not think about right now. My emotional and spiritual healing just isn’t in the place that I can share the ups and downs of 2017 and not cry uncontrollably while logging off. It feels a little pathetic admitting that, but it is what it is.

So, instead of letting you guys know about how my year has been (since I kind of do that on every blog post), I would like to share with top secret information about yours truly, only told to a selected few. Let’s go!

5 Not-So-Known-Facts About Me (Ashley)

I am an extremely private person

drkwgThis may sound crazy because I have shared so many intimate details of my life for you guys to read. Honestly, every time I’ve posted a story about what I’ve been through, I’ve gotten extremely anxious and fearful. Then, I think about how many people are going through the same circumstances. For such a long time, I felt alone. I thought that I was the only one going through a hard time; the black sheep. This past year, I’ve quickly learned that I’m not alone and the number of people going through turmoil is astronomical. The fear of judgment and anxiety is not as strong as my desire to help broken people, like me. So, I choose to push forward. Luckily, you guys have been awesome and supportive.

I Iove playing tricks on my husband and kids

pointinglaughingemojiI don’t play mean tricks, just “payback” tricks. For example, I love LifeSavers mints. Not just any mint, specifically, Wint-O-Green flavored. Shamefully, this addiction has caused a couple of cavities. Anyway, I love putting the mint wrappers in my husbands’ clothes and shoes. So later, when he puts on his favorite sweatpants, all he’ll hear is the soft crumble of the wrapper. And there are so many of them. I’ll put at least ten mint wrappers in his pockets. It’s awesome! He’s always so annoyed by it. Afterwards, you’ll find me snickering in the corner like, “Oh yeah, that’s what you get for not putting away the dishes, hahahaha” *evil scientist chuckle*.

I love all things Sci-Fi and Fantasy Entertainment

batman-312342_960_720I love reading comic books, sci-fi/fantasy novels, and watching DC and Marvel movies. Actually, my favorite superhero is Batman. I know, I know, it sounds cliche, but there is something about having a dark past and being able to turn heartache into saving the world, so appealing. If you are a Batman fan, you know that he loves his city unconditionally; good, bad, poor, rich, he saved everyone…without killing them! He feels all life is precious, no matter who you are or what you’ve done. I guess Batman was similar to a father figure since my own dad was absent. Batman was a huge part of my childhood. Like J. Cole said in his song No Role Modelz

First things first rest in peace Uncle Phil/For real, you the only father that I ever knew/I get my b***h pregnant I’ma be a better you

In this verse, he is referring to Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, who was a great father figure for a lot of fatherless, black children in our community. For me, it was Batman.

I love learning about History

4294118869_b34713c1a1_bThe majority of television shows I watch are about history; Vikings, The Tudors, Game of Thrones, Shaka Zulu, just to name a few. I love watching documentaries and reading about history. Anyone’s history. I love learning about other cultures by being aware of their past. When I was younger, I was very judgmental of cultures I didn’t understand. Now, I’ve controlled my judgment by learning about why people or cultures are the way that they are. It helps me “look through the eye of the beholder”. Well, not exactly, but it is a close as I’m going to get right now since traveling around the world has been put on hold. 🙂

I’m secretly a conspiracy theorist

cartoon-coloring-page-line-art-of-a-paranoid-guy-peeking-through-blinds-by-toonaday-505.jpgThink about it, if God can change my life…if He can create trillions of stars, hundreds of planets, walking-talking organisms such as humans, then why couldn’t he create extraterrestrial beings? Or Big-Foot? Or government conspiracy? I’m just saying, I think there is information that only the universe knows. As much as we (humans) like to think that we are the most advanced, superior beings ever created, in my opinion, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Again, this is just my opinion.

Thank you so much for taking the time to learn a little about me. Thank you to all of my followers, old and new. Each like and each follow inspires me to write reading material worthy of your time.

Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

How Fear Became My Guide

10 Steps for Overcoming the Fear of Making a Change

Fear can be scary. The uncertainty, the regret, the guilt…all of which can be partnered with fear. Those feelings are heavy or overbearing. They can make you feel numb and overwhelmed at the same time. This is probably why people give into the fear because it can be too much to bear. Have ever wanted to do something, but then thought, “No I can’t.”, “What will people think?”, “What if I fail?”

I’m here to tell you that fear can be your best friend. Sounds crazy, right? It’s not. Fear can be your guide to greatness.

Today was my husband’s Christmas party at his school. A few weeks ago, he told me that I should try to sell my awesome 100% all natural soy wax candles. At first, I agreed, until last night. Fear was hitting me hard. I began coming up with excuses as to why I shouldn’t take my candles to his party. I thought to myself that no one was going to be interested in buying my candles. I became so afraid that I almost had a panic attack. My thoughts were becoming louder than the truth.

That’s when it hit me. If I’m having this much fear from an idea that could improve my life and my family’s lives, then maybe this is something that I SHOULD be accomplishing. I mean, the worst thing that could happen is no one would purchase any of my candles and that is ok! I know my candles are awesome and honestly, they provide therapy when I’m making them. I love the smell of the soy wax melting into its silky substance and how the essential oils swirl in the wax before settling. So I made myself get up. It resulted in 4 glorious, relaxing hours making soy wax candles; prepping them to look awesome and appealing. Making sure that each scent was strong, yet soothing. Each candle that I crafted slowly took away my fear and replaced it with pride.

So, this morning we headed off to his party. I was cute (really cute *snaps*) but sweaty from my nerves being on ten. I was so nervous. At first, the other party-goers weren’t showing interest, but then my wonderful husband asked, “Hey, does anyone want to buy a candle?”

I sold out immediately. I repeat…I SOLD OUT! It was amazing. I look back and wonder, what was I so afraid of? If I would have listened to fear, I still would have been wondering how to pay my car insurance bill. Now, I have the money that we need.

I didn’t listen to fear, but I allowed it to guide me. Whatever it is that you want to do…Whatever it is that will make you dance naked on the rooftop if you accomplished it…DO NOT listen to fear, but use it as a guide to do better and become better.

Sometimes, God wants us to feel fear and sadness. He wants us to use fear, sadness, disappointment, and every other negative feeling, to become stronger than you thought you could be. Allow your negative feelings to turn into positive actions.

You are awesome. You are loved. You are wonderfully made.

“For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” -2 Corinthians 7:10

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

I Want To Twirl, Dam**t!

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As people, we have the tendency to take our lives for granted. The heartache that we go through numbs our ability to live in the now. This past week, my husband and I chose to watch Valerian and The City Of A Thousand Planets. It’s a movie about a planet full of intelligent beings viciously wiped out by a galactic war that they had nothing to do with. The opening scene of the movie was with this beautiful blue girl twirling out of her seashell home only to walk out onto a white, sandy beach with a wonderful view of a clear blue sky and a gorgeous blue, clear ocean. She looked so peaceful, so serene. You could tell that she didn’t have a care in the world. I immediately thought to myself, I want to twirl dammit. I wish I was able to walk outside every day with a positive attitude, skipping along to the birds singing, twirling around soaking up the sun. I’m not being facetious. I want to have a natural high from life that only each breath can provide.

Then I realized that I can.

When you walk outside to face the day, you and only you determine what kind of day you’re going to have. Once your foot crosses the threshold, you can choose to handle your circumstances or allow your circumstances to handle you.

I wake up every day knowing that unfortunate circumstances are going to happen. Who I am will determine how I deal with what is going to happen. I don’t want to be a coward and hide from them. If millions of people can do this, then I can too.

Somewhere along the way, I started to believe that a life of misery was my destiny. The heartache and anger of my past and present is a permanent part of my existence, like depression. I’ve allowed Lupus to trick me into believing that my spirit is doomed. Honestly, the person that I’ve become and the thoughts that I continue to have is a person that is foreign to me. Up until now, I’ve never had to put so much effort into getting through the day. It’s discouraging.

So, I chose to face the day with dignity. I chose to face the day with the armor that God has provided for me. I chose not to sink into a dark place that only feeds my inner demon.

I chose to live life.

“On a good day, enjoy yourself; On a bad day, examine your conscience. God arranges for both kinds of days so that we won’t take anything for granted.” –Ecclesiastes 7:14

 

 

 

Phenomenal Woman, That’s me!

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As I type this, I am struggling with a couple of health issues that has me bedridden; kidney infection and a lupus flare.  Although, I am really proud of myself for getting a few things crossed off of my to-do list, including getting prepared for a much-anticipated surgery this upcoming Monday.

Since I’m not feeling well, today’s post will be fairly short and easy, but inspirational. I want to share a very special poem that I like to recite to myself whenever I feel overwhelmed and unable to push through the day. 

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Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   

But when I start to tell them,

They think I’m telling lies.

I say,

It’s in the reach of my arms,

The span of my hips,   

The stride of my step,   

The curl of my lips.   

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,   

That’s me.

I walk into a room

Just as cool as you please,   

And to a man,

The fellows stand or

Fall down on their knees.   

Then they swarm around me,

A hive of honey bees.   

I say,

It’s the fire in my eyes,   

And the flash of my teeth,   

The swing in my waist,   

And the joy in my feet.   

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered   

What they see in me.

They try so much

But they can’t touch

My inner mystery.

When I try to show them,   

They say they still can’t see.   

I say,

It’s in the arch of my back,   

The sun of my smile,

The ride of my breasts,

The grace of my style.

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

Now you understand

Just why my head’s not bowed.   

I don’t shout or jump about

Or have to talk real loud.   

When you see me passing,

It ought to make you proud.

I say,

It’s in the click of my heels,   

The bend of my hair,   

the palm of my hand,   

The need for my care.   

’Cause I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me!

Always remember, whether you’re a woman or man, boy or girl, young or old, YOU ARE LOVED! YOU ARE STRONG! YOU ARE PHENOMENAL!

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10

Ah Ha! There’s My Motivation!

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Recently, I’ve been pushed to the edge. So far so, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it back. Then, I was given a sudden reminder of why I’m fighting this fight in the first place; my family. It may sound a little cliche, but my children are the most important aspects of my life; emotionally, physically, spiritually. God trusted me to raise these beautiful people to value their lives and to serve humanity as instructed by God. But I can’t do any of that if my head is unstable. I’ll admit it. I’ve allowed people and circumstances to stress me out so much, I lost sight of why I was fighting. Now, after support from my husband, family members, and God, I was able to see why I NEED to fight.

I made a list of Daily Goals that I have to do no matter what, no excuses. There are only about 7 small tasks, but when I accomplish one, I feel even more inspired to accomplish the others. Hopefully, this will lead to my list growing with more difficult tasks that will lead to accomplishing my goals, thus getting the breath of air I spoke about in my last post Living with Depression. I know, once I catch the first breath after drowning for so long, I will be able to swim to land in no time and that moment….that moment is THE MOMENT! that will define the rest of this journey.

One item on my list is to listen to motivational speeches. It’s a way to get pumped up in the morning to start my day. When I’m in pain, I’ve begun a terrible habit of concentrating on that pain and the more I would concentrate on it, the more it would hurt. Then I would give myself excuses as to why I shouldn’t get up. Then…my mind would wonder to even darker places. It was a bad cycle. So, motivational videos help replace those negative thoughts. I’m too busy listening to what they are saying to listen to my own thoughts. Eventually, my thoughts will become those of the motivational speakers and I would no longer need to listen to them, well, maybe not as often.

I would like to share a video that really helped me get over a couple of fears I am having about moving forward. Take a listen and maybe it could help you as well. Sorry, I could only post the link that’ll take you to YouTube. Thanks for understanding 🙂

FIND YOURSELF MOTIVATIONAL VIDEO 2017

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” -Francis of Assisi

 

Side Note* I just became extremely overwhelmed while writing this. I began thinking, “what am I doing?” ,”whos going to read this?”, “people won’t like this”, “this is too much information I’m sharing.” <—– It’s these thoughts that confirm why I should continue to share my thoughts, as crazy as they may seem.  There has to be someone out there that can relate, right? 

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

Learning Life’s Journey

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Turning 30 has given me a different perspective on life. The amount of awareness that I’ve experienced has been a little overwhelming. A small example; I used to be one of those people who hated the idea of having insurance. Any kind of insurance; car insurance, renters insurance, medical insurance. I thought, why pay for something that might NOT happen to you. Then I turned 30. Now the idea of insurance is a necessity, something I refuse to live without. I remember last month our car insurance lapsed for 30 hours and I was in a panic. All I could think about was how it would just be my luck that I would get into a car accident on the ONE day I didn’t have insurance. I blame this fear on life experience (being in an accident without car insurance and dealing with that hell) and turning 30.

There are a lot of other things that I was used to doing and saying, that now hold a different meaning, a different value. Take love for instance. I thought love was kissing someone and being filled with unexplainable emotion (lust). I thought love was “feeling” like you would do anything for that person, no matter the circumstance. I honestly thought that wedding vow was just something romantic to say to get people teary-eyed and “awwww” mode. When in fact, it is a warning. It is a warning that life is going to get hard, really hard. And the person standing in front of you is supposed to be there no matter what. They even ask you if you’re sure if you can keep the commitment. Honestly, my first marriage, I didn’t understand that. When people told my ex-husband and I that we should wait to get married, I didn’t see why. I was forced to grow up quicker than the average kid. So, I thought I had everything figured out. I thought if I knew what I wanted and did everything to accomplish it, then my life would be great, right? Wrong! Double wrong! Triple wrong! Life is a journey, it develops in stages. Just because I was more “mature”  than the average 21-year-old, I definitely didn’t know about marriage. My life’s journey hadn’t come to the part where it taught me how to love my husband and conquer life’s challenges. Eventually, getting through my 20’s and a shit load of mistakes, I now know what it takes. I know what love truly is and I know what it isn’t.

I love my husband. I love my mother. Both are two very different people that I’ve had to learn to love despite who they are without judgment. We say we want unconditional love until you find out he/she has the ability to hurt you like no other person walking this earth. Or that the person you love has some weird fetus that you knew nothing about. (Not me, of course, just saying 🙂 )

I like to read comments on Instagram about celebrities breaking up for whatever reason. It’s funny to read what others think about love and marriage. You see comments like, “I would never put up with that.” or “He/she wouldn’t be able to treat me like that” or my favorite “I would leave if he/she ever did that.” If you love someone unconditionally and they show you a side of themselves that you didn’t know anything about (I’m talking something like a porn addiction, not spousal abuse) and you leave them without helping them through it, then why did you marry them? Why did you repeat those vows to your partner? Now I know that love is waking up next to the same person every day, not wanting to kill them. It’s waking up next to them being just as committed to them as you were on your first date, hell, even your wedding day. It’s learning something new about them every day and love them despite how it may annoy you, hurt you, or disappoint you. Love is working through the tough crap, the really tough crap! The “I don’t know if I can do this anymore” crap and loving them despite. Love is accepting any change that life throws your way and working through it together; mad, sad, whatever. You do it together, for the sake of your love, your marriage, and your family. It’s realizing that your relationship is bigger than what you want or need. It’s about someone else’s needs. My husband and I have been through a lot, but I would trade it in for anything in the world. Our trials were hard, but they taught us how to love each other so much more and appreciate each other so much more. So when we say “I love you”, it’s not just something we say out of habit. We’re really saying, “Thank you for sticking around and appreciating me. Thank you for loving me despite my flaws and secrets.” We know the worst parts of each other and that is what makes our love so strong. We know that whatever we face from here on out, we got this, cause we’ve been through worse.

Life is a journey. You can’t rush it, you can’t force it. No matter what you think you know, trust me, you don’t know the half of it. We may plan our journey, but God may have other plans. When He throws your plan out of the window and set His in place, it would be in your best interest to follow it. I thought my marriage to my ex-husband was a good idea, not knowing my current husband is what God wanted for me and I’m so grateful that His plan was way better than mine.

I now see insurance as something to have WHEN an event happens, not IF it’s going to happen. Life is one tricky bitch. The moment you think you have her all figured out, BAM! a curveball smacks in the face. Plus, life doesn’t discriminate. No matter who you are, life will happen! I never understood that until recently. I can admit to that. It makes it easier to not look at life’s challenges like something is happening to you when in fact, who isn’t it happening to? Everybody I know, right now, is going through something life-altering, but trust your journey, grow from your journey. You will notice your perspective has changed and that have you made progress, no matter how small you may think it is. 

“You’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching. March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit in.”  -Mandy Hale

 

 

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

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