Sister From Another Mister

Growing up as an only child there were days I longed for a sibling. I know that is crazy to think that I actually wanted someone to pick on and vice versa. Being an only child can be lonely but it can also have its perks. Luckily I was blessed with two very important people in my life that filled that void. An uncle who was more like a brother and my mom’s best friend’s daughter who is well known as my “little sister.”

During the first few years of my life we lived with my grandparents and Elan (my uncle). Being able to harass him and look up to him quickly changed my view of who he was and what he meant in my life. To this day he has always been more of a brother than my uncle. I aggravated him like a little sister, embarrassed him on his first dates and would hide in his room just to make him mad. Little did I know one day I would cherish that relationship more than I could have ever imagined. He has always been and always will be my “big brother” and I am thankful for the way my life turned out in order for this to happen.

Jacey…My sister from another mister. Better known as Janice, Jasmine, Hans Solo James Henry IV, Jessi, well you name it all names that start with “J”. From the day she was born I knew she would play an important role in my life. She truly fills that role of a little sister. She harasses me, calls me out when I am wrong but would bend over backwards to be there for me. I could not imagine my life without her. I value her opinions and respect that she can call me out. We can be mad at each other one second and laughing so hard we are crying the next. No matter what happens in life I know and she knows we will always be there for each other.

This is the beauty of life. You can make anything and any relationship become what you want it to be. I value each relationship I have because every one of them is unique in its own way. No two relationships are the same. In life we all have a choice. A choice to make each relationship great, to get the most out of every situation, and to give just as much as we receive. My challenge to you is to grow every relationship you have because one day they will all be taken away and only memories will remain.

“Even though we change and we’re all finding our own place in the world, we all know that when the tears fall or the smile spreads across our face, we’ll come to each other because no matter where this crazy world takes us, nothing will ever change so much to the point where we’re not still friends.”- Unknown

Old Ways Won’t Open New Doors

Everyone is given the same 24 hours. We all have the ability to become anything we want. Career, daily life, relationships, you name it we can become and do anything we set our minds to. In order to be the best you… you must be willing to put in the work and take chances. We will never reach our full potential being mediocre or putting in minimal effort.

During my professional career I have had many opportunities come my way: some good and some bad. Regardless, they have all taught me a lesson. One thing the professional world has taught me is; excuses will always be there…Opportunities won’t. Nothing is worse than missing out on an opportunity that could potentially change your life. Daily we have the chance to change our path and grow ourselves. We have to be willing to take that chance and let the rest fall into place.

Why do we let fear get in the way? Why do we allow fear to keep us from the opportunities we are presented? We miss out on so much because of fear. Recently I have had several people tell me they missed out on so many chances due to fear and reservations. I always ask them what they have to lose when taking a chance? What is the worst that can happen? We are all fearful of failure, but if we go into every situation with a purpose and positive mindset, we would all be surprised at how much better the outcomes will be. People who walk and live with a purpose do not have to chase people or opportunities… Opportunities and people chase them.

Yesterday I was offered the chance at an amazing opportunity. I set up the appointment to review the details and expectations within 30 minutes of hearing about it. Immediately after I hit submit I was anxious, nervous and fearful. These feelings and emotions were all connected to my fear of failure. Fear that I would not represent myself to the best of my ability because there are hundreds of other candidates I am up against. We all view each opportunity thrown our way as a competition. We have to be better than the next person or the last person instead of focusing on being our true self.

Today was the day to discuss this chance I am referencing above. Before the appointment I had knots in my stomach and was questioning if I would be good enough. Richard Branson’s quote “If somebody offers you an opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes- then learn how to do it later” came to mind. We automatically rule out anything that scares us or requires a little extra work in order to be successful. After the 30 minute meeting I was humbled and at peace with the conversation. Regardless if I am offered the opportunity it was worth the time. I was myself and learned something new about myself just in those 30 minutes. It was a great lesson if nothing else comes of it. Hopefully soon I can reveal good news about this amazing opportunity. Fingers crossed!

“Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor.” – Unknown

Don’t be ashamed of your story. It can inspire someone.

Over the last year Nick and I have battled infertility. Many people who know us have no idea we have been going thru this. We have cried many times, been upset, angry, but thru it all we have learned how strong we are as a couple. This chapter of our life has taught us just how strong we can be.

After Nick and I got engaged I heard many times, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby.” For us it was first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes infertility…unfortunately. For many months I questioned God; “why do we have to experience this?” Why teenage girls can have children who don’t want them but Nick and I want them and have to experience such heartache and disappointment? I questioned was I strong enough to make it on this journey, would my husband love me even if I can’t give him a baby, would I become depressed, have anxiety or give up hope? Yes I have had many days where the emotions are too hard to handle or I have become so discouraged I want to give up.

During one of my {MANY} appointments, I saw this couple walk in with tears flowing down their faces, holding hands and consoling each other. Little did I know they had battled the same issues we are experiencing. But their journey had a much more heartbreaking turn…. Miscarriage. As I sat there I suddenly realized that no matter what we are going thru it could always be worse. Life could also be more heartbreaking but we have to remember to praise God even in the storm. His plans for our life are much better than any plan we have.

I decided to have surgery in hopes of helping with the infertility issues. Two months later I am thanking God for all the wonder things He has taught me along this journey. The surgery was perfect. I am healing perfectly and all of our prayers to this point are being answered. Do we have a baby to announce? No. But we are forever grateful for God answering our prayers for a successful surgery.

Nick and I learned that every situation has a purpose. It has a lesson to be learned. Do we know the plans for our life? Absolutely not, but we are willing to trust God and thank Him regardless of the outcome. We have focused on the path more than the outcome. We are taking every step with grateful hearts and open minds. Our journey has taught us so much and it has done many things we could have never dreamed. Out of all the negative things we have been told or experienced on this journey, we have to stop and remember the positives and that this isn’t the end for us.

“But  even her infertility served a purpose. God saw the bigger picture, because he is the one who wrote and illustrated the whole story.” -Unknown 

It doesn’t matter what others are doing.

Growing up we were all taught to mind our own business. Putting our nose in someone else’s business usually ends up with trouble or rumors being started for no reason. How many times have you heard something about yourself that made you laugh because it was so far from the truth? How many times have your feelings gotten hurt because someone said something about you or was completely hateful?

All of us are guilty of listening to others talk about people. We are also guilty of spreading things that could potentially not be true. In life we are so caught up with other people’s lives. Who so and so is dating? Who got this job? Who bought this house? Who is doing things they aren’t supposed to be doing? Why? Why do we care so much about what other people are doing and why do we talk about people?

Jealously can be an awful big part of the reaction we have to what we hear and or say about others. Many times we get so caught up with wanting what others have that we will do just about anything to make that person look bad. Unfortunately, we all are guilty of wanting other people to look bad do to our own jealously or insecurities.

Everything that happens in life leads to an outcome. Whether it is a happy outcome or a sad outcome, everything leads somewhere. Divorce happens, children rebel, spouses cheat, and breakups… you name it they all lead to some sort of outcome. However, these outcomes {in other people’s lives} are not ours to judge. We do not have the right to judge anyone based on his or her circumstances. Not everyone is given the same path. This is done for a reason. Not all of us could handle the same life paths. Many of us judge others so quickly but we have yet to walk a mile in their shoes.

I am guilty of judging other people based on decisions they make. But I am quickly reminded not all of our closets are clear of skeletons. We love to point out other people’s flaws and bad judgments but we forget to sweep our own doorstep clean first. Why do we do this? Why do we like other people to fail or face trial? Jealously. If someone is doing something that gives us a reason to gossip, it is so easy to judge or talk bad about him or her.

We all need to remember our hands aren’t always clean. We all make mistakes. Life happens and there is nothing we can do about. However, we can chose to lift each other up instead of bashing or putting each other down. There are so many negatives in life that we could use a little more positivity. Chose to empower each other. It will make the world a better place.

“It’s always the ones with the dirty hands pointing the fingers.”- Sonya Teclai

Best Friends For Life…Husband & Wife

Be His Lover… Not His Mother

Our husbands are grown men. His mother raised him. We should not try to tell them what to do or how to live their life, instead we should support them and help them want to be a better person. Love your husband unconditionally… don’t turn into a mother figure.

Be Willing To Lose Some Battles

There are days we all argue. Sometimes for a reason and sometimes there is not a reason. Some battles are not worth the argument. Being a supportive wife also means we have to be willing to lose some battles we face. Being a wife does not mean we always have to be right…. Even if the saying goes “Mrs. Always Right.”

Communication Is Key

Our sweet husband’s cannot read our minds. If you want chocolate… tell him. We cannot get mad at them for something they did not do if we do not properly communicate what we need or want. Communication is always very important to make a marriage stronger. The more you are open and willing to talk the less you will have misunderstandings.

Never Stop Being Your Husband’s Girlfriend

DATE NIGHT!! There is nothing better than dressing up and going on a date with the man you love. My husband and I got married but we still date. We flirt and do silly things to show each other how much we care. Just because we are married doesn’t mean the dating ends.

Protect What You Love

He is your husband. Protect him. Do not give him reasons to doubt how you feel. I try every day to go out of my way to make sure Nick knows how much he means to me. If today were my last day I want him to know I loved him unconditionally and protected our relationship with everything I have.

Put God First

God is necessity. No marriage can reach its full potential until we are willing to “submit to the Lord with all out hearts.” I pray for Nick everyday, sometimes multiple times. God is an essential need for marriages. I think more marriages would last and become stronger if we were all willing to put God first.

Two Is Better Than One

You’re a team. The day you say “I DO” there is no more “I”. We have to be willing to be on the same side, not against each other. The stronger you are as a team the stronger the marriage. My husband and I like to compete at times, but we always make better decisions when we think together.

“There is no challenge strong enough to destroy your marriage as long as you are both willing to stop fighting against each other and start fighting for each other.” –Dave Willis

We don’t need to rush.

We were all once little tots who could not wait to grow up. We wanted to be just like our parents, wanted no rules, to be able to own our own house, have children of our own, and the list goes on. Why are we always trying to rush thru life? There is only one life we are granted to live yet we rush thru it. I know personally my life is chaotic. I am always rushing here or there, trying to meet deadlines ,  my entire life is planned but I quickly forget how important it is to slow down and be thankful for the moment.

When I was in high school I could not wait to go to college, have my own house, get married, have children, become a successful woman and so I planned my entire path when I was eighteen. I had deadlines and goals set for my life. I wanted to be graduated at 22, married by 23, and children by 25. I was in a serious relationship when I had everything mapped out and just knew what my future had in store.

…. But… God had different plans for my life.

I was rushing thru the best years of my life only to find out God smiles when we have everything planned and forget to ask His will for our lives. After learning the hard way, I earned two college degrees and was in school until I was 25, ended a six-year relationship at 25 and started everything over. Not what I had planned.

As I look back over the last few years I realize I did not stop long enough to be thankful for the moments and memories. I did not take them for granted but I truly did not soak in the moments given. I was so worried about meeting a deadline that in reality society has set.

Today I can honestly say I am so thankful the plan I had did not work out. If it would have I would not have the amazing man I get to call my husband, my beautiful home, all the wonder opportunities I have had over the past two years, but most of all I would have never found who I truly am to realize how thankful I am for my life and the need to cherish these moments.

People have asked me for years “Aren’t you married yet?” or “When are you going to have children?” however most do not know the circumstances that may have kept me from these two cases. They were trying to rush my life to meet the standard of society. I will be forever grateful for getting married at 26. My life view is completely different now as opposed 24. I was grateful for my life then, but I am extremely blessed to have the life I live now.

Over the last 6 months Nick and I have battled infertility. Going thru this process everything is rushed. Hurry and have surgery, hurry to get on fertility meds, hurry to have IVF, hurry to have a baby within a year, hurry to lose the baby weight. It is so overwhelming because we are almost forced to not stop and be thankful for our life regardless of the situation at hand. Despite the situation we are going thru, we have tried to stop and understand why God has lead us down this path. No matter the outcome we do not want to hurry into a decision due to pressure.

No matter the circumstance in your life, take a moment to slow down and cherish the moment. Once the moment is gone you cannot get it back, once someone passes away they are gone, once you plan your entire life you lose sight of the blessings that could be in front of you. Life is such a precious blessing , do not take it for granted.

“There is no need to rush. What’s meant for you always arrives right on time.”- Unknown

Every End Has A New Beginning…

As 2015 comes to an end, I can’t help but reminisce on the wonderful blessings God has given me. One year ago today I packed my entire life into a U-Haul trailer and headed north. I was clueless to the journey I was about to embark upon, but I knew this was God’s plan for my life. I was blessed with a new house, amazing husband, and had the support the best family a girl could ask for. I drove 15 hours away from everything I had ever known. I had no friends, no job, and no idea anything other than I would finally be with my sweet husband.

Over the year I learned more about myself than I could put into words. I learned how to depend on the things I was taught growing up, learned to never forget the note in my husband’s lunch (or I would get asked if I still love himJ), and new journeys are a blessing from God. Sometimes God takes us out of our comfort zone to show us that we need to depend on Him for answers and guidance.

Michigan has been a fun ride. Before my move I had never been ice skating (on a frozen lake), built a snowman, or driven in snow. Even though I am not an expert at snow driving, at least I will now drive over 25 mph. on the interstate… Oops. I can honestly say moving to Michigan has been one of the best decisions in my life. It has taught me to trust in myself, depend on my husband, and that comfort zones should be banned. Everyone should be pushed out of his or her comfort zone at least once in his or her life.

2015 had many changes for me. Other than uprooting, I was diagnosed with Lupus for the second time, embarked on the infertility journey, helped my husband open his own business, had a parent completely walk out of my life, found my dream job, and become closer to God than I could have ever imagined. Even though many negative things happened, I can’t help but be thankful for all the positive things God has given me. I have too much to be proud of than to let the negatives determine my happiness.

Many people in my life forget how many blessings they have. We are all quick to dwell on the negative instead of remembering what we have. I often stop people in their tracks when they are being negative to remind them of things they can be grateful for. Having that outlook on life has helped me become a much better person.

Every end has a new beginning. We may not want to let go of the past or a memory, but often times we forget God could have something better waiting for us just on the other side of that doubt or fear. The past is the past for a reason. It is there to teach us a lesson; not determine who we are or how happy we are.

I am part of an infertility group and we all remind each other everyday how blessed we are and just because we are having these problems doesn’t mean it determines our destiny. There is a reason for everything and I truly believe infertility is a lesson for my life from God. I am not sure what His plans are for my life, but I truly trust He will lead me in the right direction.

As 2015 comes to and end, I challenge you to start fresh in 2016. Let go of the past… you can’t change it. Be grateful for the things you have and the people you have in your life.

Happy New Year!

“As the year comes to an end, don’t look back on yesterday’s disappointments. Look ahead to God’s promises yet to unfold.” – Buky Ojeabi

It’s not what’s under the tree that matters.

Christmas is such a special time of year; the lights, presents, giving, family time, and most of all the Birth of Christ. We gather with our families and friends to reminisce and celebrate this amazing time of year. However, we forget there are so many grieving or alone. Christmas time is usually a time of joy, love, and laughter but that thrill for some is taken away due to death, illnesses, or other obstacles life throws their way. I have experienced firsthand holiday grief.

Growing up, Christmas was such a special time to my family. My grandma Elaine loved nothing more than for all of her children and grandchildren to be under the same roof with the roar of laughter, the smell of her Christmas dinner, and the blessings God had given us throughout the year. We always read the Christmas story and prayed to God with thankful hearts for the mercy and love He had given our family. Never in a million years did I ever think or realize all of the bliss could one day change. One day there would no longer be Christmas family dinner at Grandma’s, laughter, reading of the Christmas story, or simply the hugs she would embrace us all in upon arrival at her door.

Life is so precious and short. One day everything is flowing on track and the next it is in complete shambles. We have to remember to never take one second for granted because we are not guaranteed the next. My Grandma lived for the moment. She taught me to live with a giving and grateful heart. I have lived my life (to the best of my ability) with a caring heart, always give with no expectation of something in return, and love with everything in me.

Christmas for me is a time to be thankful for the birth of Christ, family, and the ability to give to families in need. Many children wake up Christmas morning with no gifts from Santa, no parents, and for some… no meal. Over the last few years Nick and I have adopted families in need instead of giving gifts to each other. There is no better feeling than knowing a child somewhere, who originally wouldn’t have Christmas, will be able to open gifts and experience the joy and thrill of what’s inside.

Many of us quickly forget how blessed we are. We have a roof over our head, food on the table, presents under the tree, cars to drive, children to love, and the list goes on. However, we are also quick to forget that many are grieving the loss of a love one, not able to provide for a family, or wondering where the next meal will come from. This Christmas I hope more of us remember to cherish the moments we are given no matter what the circumstance. Our life compared to so many are better than most of us deserve.

THE WORD gave life to everything that was created, & HIS LIFE brought light TO EVERYONE.  

JOHN 1:4

Living this life

Life is a constant battle of ups and downs. You never know what the next day or week will hold. I have always been an optimistic person. I always try to find the good in every situation, give people more chances than they deserve, and see a person for who they really are. Over the last year I have been battling health issues that I never thought I would have to deal with. I have always been healthy, physically fit, and for the most part ate healthy.

Last year I experienced a significant gain in weight for the first time in my life. I gained 40 unexplained pounds but no matter how hard I worked out or how healthy I ate, the pounds kept coming. Once I finally broke down and went to the doctor all of my questions suddenly had answers. After 9 long months of testing and multiple diet and lifestyle changes, I was finally diagnosed with Lupus. Even though the news was bit of a shock, having   an answer was such a relief.  During the time of testing and being emotionally exhausted, I was also planning a wedding. Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that attacks certain parts of the body. In my case Lupus decided to attack my muscle, joints, and nerves.

Daily it is a constant battle to overcome the side effects. There are days I want to stay in bed or that I physically cannot lift the laundry hamper and I become frustrated. But then I remind myself that Lupus compared to so many other sicknesses is a small battle that I can and will overcome. Many people like to use a sickness to their advantage, I like to use mine as a constant reminder of how strong I am.

In February 2015 I was the heaviest I have ever been. I would look at myself in the mirror and become discouraged at what I saw. This very same month I decided to join a work out team at my local gym. One of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. Not only did I lose 20 pounds (the healthy way), I gained my confidence and have built strength back that I thought I would never have. Having an auto immune disease is a very confusing battle that people who do not have one have trouble understanding. Thankfully after extensive research and lifestyle changes Lupus is not taking over my life. I control my Lupus.

Fast forward to August 2015 I am all of a sudden hit with another health challenge. Infertility. We all have this timeline for our life. We have to be married by a certain age, have children at a certain age, build a house, and the list goes on, but quickly lose track of our self and well –being. Infertility, just like Lupus, is an emotional roller-coaster. Testing, doctor appointments, blood work, and hours of driving to specialty clinics… it’s exhausting. How many of us think we will have trouble having children? It is frustrating. I have days that I am more emotional than others. People tell me all the time “just relax, it will happen.”But they do not understand the process and treatment you have to undergo. It’s not just a “relax, it will happen” situation. I often question why God is making me go thru this. But I quickly am reminded it is all a part of his Devine plan.

The moral to it all is over the last year God has shown me there is a plan He has in store for everyone’s life. Thru infertility, moving to Michigan and Lupus God constantly reminds me of how much He loves me and that I will overcome these battles. I have a support group of women that are going thru the same thing. Some have been battling infertility for one year and some ten years, but one thing (other than infertility) that we all have in common is our Faith. We may have days where we are emotional or struggling to overcome the heartache, but will all know we will be blessed in this storm.

No matter what you or anyone you know is going thru, remember to keep your head held high and never lose your Faith.

“Faith is all about believing. You don’t know how it will happen, but you know it will”.-Unknown

Miss Congeniality sound be voted on after the competition

The competition is over. You didn’t win. What now? Many of us have competed in some sort of contest at some point in our life. The truth about competing is there can only be one winner. We cannot all win the title we are fighting for. I have competed in many different things throughout my life…some I have won…some I have lost. The main point in competing for something is to always be better than the person you were the last time.

I have lost on numerous occasions. Some I have not even placed. However, I always try my best to stay true to who I am. Losing shows so much more about a person’s character than winning. Anyone can win and be graceful but it takes a strong person to lose gracefully. Over the last few years I competed competitively in pageants. During my years in pageants I met a number of people and learned a lot about the way people act once the pageant is over. The day of the competition emotions are high, everyone is scoping out the contestants, and we are trying to make sure you have the best wardrobe all while keeping our composure.

A few months back I decided to compete in a fitness competition. Over the course of four months I had calories cut, lifted lots of weights, and practiced countless hours to make sure I was 100% prepared to take the trophy. During my preparations I kept reminding myself this is a hobby and win or lose I would still be the same person, but I will have a lot more muscles. So the competition came and passed and guess what…. I didn’t even place. Nothing. I left with nothing. But I was told I had one of the best attitudes even after losing. I congratulated all the winners and made many new lifelong friends.

That’s the thing about competing. All of the contestants are vying for the same thing. We all want to win. We have all prepped and prayed. But there can only be one winner. It’s ok to lose. It doesn’t make you a bad person or say you aren’t good enough, it simply means it wasn’t your time to win. But what most of us quickly forget is; the judges are watching until the very last person leaves and you never know what competition they could be judging next. By standers are also watching your actions and if you leave with a bad attitude you are proving to everyone why you didn’t win. Poor attitudes result in poor outcomes. You cannot walk around with a bad attitude after losing and expect sympathy.

Losing does not make anyone a worse person or say you are not good enough. It simply means that particular completion was not your time to win. God always has a reason for things that happen in our life. Whether it is the outcome we want or not, there is always a reason. We have to thank God for the opportunity win or lose. I have always reminded myself when I lose that the other person must have needed the win more than. After ever lose I have always had something positive come from it. Never beat yourself up to the point you lose your composure. After losing we must simply regroup and start chasing our dream again. Never give up on something you want even if you lose.

Being a competitor in anything we have to train our self to have poise and grace regardless of the outcome. Every single person on that stage deserves to win. We may not always agree with the judges but every person deserves to win due to the mere face they have trained and prepared just as hard as we have.

Miss Congeniality never wins due to the lack of respect or being conceided. Miss congeniality is won based on the fact they realize the hard work that everyone has put into the competiton yet still remains humble and kind. I never vote for Miss Congeniality until I have seen every person interact with every contestant. Actions always speak louder than words. Miss Congeniality should be voted on after the competition so true colors are revealed and the right person is selected.

Win or lose we are all winners. We should place our self in the position to keep trying harder and never lose sight of the goals and dreams we have set for our self. If we all were to give up we would never have anything worth fighting for.

“I get it now; I didn’t get it then. That life is about losing and doing it as gracefully as possible… and is enjoying everything in between.” – Mia Farrow