Growth comes from discomfort

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re likely aware of the many protests occurring in order to bring about changes in regards to how people of color (POC) are treated. This is not a new fight, it’s actually been going on for hundreds of years. The hate crimes/ police brutality are not new either, they are just being video taped more regularly thanks to technology. Through everything though, we as a people know that change won’t come from us just sitting at home. We must unite, protest and march together to bring about change. White people along with people of color must come together to bring about the needed changes. We must not remain silent.

It’s easy to see discomfort is a necessary thing to endure in order to grow as a nation, as a community, and as humans. A lot of people get stuck. A lot of people get comfortable. Many people are so comfortable, they’re miserable. Actually I personally know several people who are comfortably broke. So broke they can’t even feed their own children, and yet won’t step out of their comfort zone to relieve some of their expenses or make more money.

Breaking a habit, trying something new, taking a risk, making new connections, or putting yourself in a totally new situation won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it. Calvin Coolidge says “All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.”

I, for one, know that I am not happy with my current financial situation. I also know that I have the power to change it. I want to grow not only financially, but also spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I want to help students learn and better their lives through science and beyond. I know I have to face some discomfort, I actually get really nervous giving presentations/speeches. Especially on video. And here I am jumping into teaching (likely virtually) starting in July. So I know it will be uncomfortable. I know it’ll be hard. I also know it’ll be worth it. I will be exhausted but also full of joy.

What area of your life are you trying to grow or change? Are you sitting idle hoping for things to just magically get better, or are you putting yourself out there to get uncomfortable and force yourself to change?

Positive mindset and manifestations

Please note: I am 100 percent aware that things could be worse. I am not here to say anything negative about anyone, as I do not know everything they’re going through and so trying my best to see things with grace and love despite the hardships I am experiencing.

Three months ago I finally woke up and decided to trust God completely and walk away from the toxic environment I had let take over my life. After nearly 9 months of praying and trying to make things work with the father of my child, I had to finally let him go. He made it clear he had no intention to try and make it work with me. He actually told me I had to change in order for him to even make an effort. Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, my ex husband. I knew if I kept lying to myself and moving forward with this man I would end up slowly dying inside.

Sorry, that may seem extreme, but I know I am more than enough. And I don’t have to change for anyone who’s unwilling to change for me. Think of it this way: I was willing to look past his flaws to try and make it work. He wasn’t. And that’s okay, better to know now and move on before having it hurt even more.

What was holding me back was fear. Mostly, financial fear. See, I was already working three jobs and barely making it. Asking for a room-mate to move out meant losing the small amount he was helping towards my mortgage and bills. It meant waiting on the state of Illinois to process my child support claim, which I expected to take a few months even before covid-19.

But in January, I started readjusting my mindset to focus on the positive. I started writing down manifestations to change the negative things going on in my life into positive. To be completely honest, I never planned on sharing these but have felt called to since we’re all going through hard times these days. So, enjoy.

Instead of I’ll watch our child so you can work three jobs,
Manifest
I’ll take care of you and our children so you no longer have to work three jobs.

Instead of I’ll split your mortgage with you but not contribute towards anything else,
Manifest
I’ll make sure you’re financially comfortable and content.

Instead of my other child is worth more than the one I have with you,
Manifest
Every child is priceless.

Instead of outgrowing a two bedroom condo,
Manifest
I will own a beautiful and spacious house in the Oak Park area.

Instead of you’re not worth fighting for
Instead of I don’t want to help you heal and take down your walls
Manifest
I’ll support you and be patient with you during your healing process

Instead of unless you’re struggling financially, I don’t see why I have to help contribute towards our child’s life
Manifest
I will do everything I can to ensure our child is healthy and happy

Have a great Sunday everyone! And I hope some of this has touched you/helped you in some way!

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Motherhood has broken my heart

I’m forever changed and always grateful for it. This is a growth opportunity, but one I didn’t see coming when I found out I was pregnant in September of 2018. See, I had lost my way. I was trying to pave my own path, only to be shown once again that my plan wasn’t written by me.

Once I became a mother, some things changed in my heart. One, I fell in love with my child. She was and still is my miracle baby. The baby that I was told would be very hard to have. The baby I will never take for granted after seeing so many others struggle through fertility and beyond. I can safely say I’ve never felt this type of love before and can’t imagine being able to replicate it ever again (unless there’s another child in my future). Two, I started feeling differently towards her father. This was the thing I didn’t see coming. I started imagining things differently from what was the harsh reality around me. I started dreaming and hoping. I fell in love with him. No, the idea of us working out. Of Aria having parents who loved each other and who could show her what love looks like.

I found myself yearning for the perfect family. The family that loved each other and loved others. The blended family that actually got along. The unusual story of it actually working out. My heart turned into a mother wanting to actually not be that stereotypical struggling single mom. My thought patterns changed and I started having massive anxiety. Sleepless nights, explosive moments, huge mood swings. I just wanted to have it all.

I got so wrapped up in my alternative reality that I didn’t see I was dying on the outside. Things weren’t working out. I was miserable, and I was trying to be someone I hated. Someone I didn’t recognize came out. I started drinking heavily, and using other coping mechanisms. It got so bad that the person I wanted so badly to want me was triggering memories of my ex husband and my failed marriage.

Thankfully, I was able to take a step back and make the healthiest decision. I chose to stop living in my fake world and finally wake up. I realized that being a struggling single mother isn’t half as bad as what I was doing to myself. And actually a lot healthier. Not just for me, but also for my daughter. She needs me to be happy and healthy, not destroying myself. She needs to see what wholesome, unconditional love is. Because she deserves it. And I deserve it. I am enough. I am purpose. I am love.

October = Change

For most of my adult life, the month of October (and the season of Fall in general) has brought change for most years than I can remember. In this post, I’m going to go over some of the biggest changes I went through and how they’ve shaped me into the person I am today.

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The year was 2007. This was the year I dumped my first long-term boyfriend. The actual break up didn’t happen until mid-November (right before Thanksgiving) but I initiated a break during the month of October in hopes that maybe we could mend things. But really, things were beyond repair. To be completely honest, I was in major denial since my ex never fully trusted me. Reading my emails, searching through old chat histories. He was on the hunt for any hint that I was unfaithful. Even when he found nothing, he just kept looking. And I just kept telling myself things would get better. I’m very thankful for the Fall of 2007 when I finally took a stand for myself and walked away from a toxic relationship.

The year was 2008. It took me a year to finally build up the guts to consider dating again. And I went in swinging. Asked a guy for his number that I met at a Young Adults (20s) Ministry, then called him 2 days later and asked him out. We went on several dates over the next few weeks. But after about a month or so, he took me to get coffee and basically dumped me. This was the year that I learned that I couldn’t always get my way.

The year was 2009. I told my close friends and my parents that I was dating a married man. Needless to say, no one took this well. My good friend went so far as to take away my phone until I promised her I’d end things. My mom yelled at me for what felt like weeks, maybe months. I had to even face HIS mom, who was somehow even worse. This was the year I decided to break all the rules.

The year was 2010. The married guy I was still dating was now divorced. This was the year I learned that divorces take a long time and a lot of money, especially when there’s an angry spouse involved.

The year was 2013. I married who I thought was my soulmate. This was his second marriage, but he told me everything was different. He said we were meant to be. He had never felt so sure, and I was right there with him. I loved him unconditionally and saw myself spending the rest of my life with him. This was the year that I learned that I loved planning weddings. After planning my own, I briefly considered becoming a wedding planner. Still wouldn’t mind this job one day, so it’s still on the table haha.

The year was 2014. My parents announce they’re moving to Pryor, Oklahoma. My dad got a job at Google and my mom will benefit with the amazing health benefits offered by Google. My dad recommends my husband to take his job that he’s leaving in Chicago. I start a new job as well, and finally make closer to what I’m worth (actually using my Master’s degree for the first time). Finally, my husband and I aren’t living paycheck to paycheck. This was the year I learned prayers do get answered, even if some of them aren’t exactly what you imagine.

The year was 2015. I ran my first half-marathon. My parents announce they’re moving back to Chicago. My mom’s health turns for the worst once they move back and she’s gone faster than anyone could’ve guessed. This was the year I learned that life is too short.

The year was 2016. My husband decides to fight for me for most of October, cancels our anniversary trip to Hawaii and moves out of our house the week of his birthday. My entire world comes crashing down. Soon enough I figure out everything that happened, especially since he refuses to meet with me in person due to guilt and shame. This was the year I learned that no person on Earth is worth losing your shit over. I even graciously didn’t destroy any of his things he left behind (which was everything). I’m very thankful I had an amazing therapist who helped me through the divorce.

The year was 2017. I ran the Chicago Marathon, my first full marathon. I trained hard and I raised enough money to provide clean water to 26.2 kids in Africa. Ok, actually 27 since it’s hard to cut kids into little pieces. This was the year I learned the most about myself. I invested in myself and my spiritual life. I’m very grateful for the change in 2017.

The year was 2018. I recently found out I was unexpectedly pregnant. While I wasn’t officially dating the father of my baby, I had let myself have deep feelings for him. Despite all the things going on, I was still too scared of rejection to really talk to him about how I felt. Lucky me, he decided to move on without really talking to me. I also decided to get baptized. I felt like it was extra-special since I was pregnant with Aria. This was the year I learned that while not everything is in my control, God is still on my side helping me be strong to face every challenge. This was the year I learned that I had to be strong and independent because now a baby was going to need me. I’m very humbled by the experience of being pregnant and single.

The year is 2019. And while I have a baby now, I am wondering what this October will bring. Hopefully good changes. Some things really aren’t much different from last fall, but definitely not pregnant this time.

What types of changes have you seen in your life? Do you see them in the fall like I do?

Radiating love and kindness

So today I’m supposed to write about someone who has helped me and influenced my life. It’s hard to think about anyone else other than my mother. Both of my parents have influenced me and helped me so much. My father is a close second, but today I feel like reminiscing about my mom.

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My mom was one of those people who could talk to anyone. She always had a story to share but also an ear to listen to those with their own stories. Where-ever she went, she had a smile on her face and a kindness unmatched. But she was even better with those she loved and cared for. Not only was she there for her immediate family, my brother and I, but also her siblings, parents, uncles, aunts and in-laws. She was that person who would give the shirt off her back to help out someone in need.

Countless times she would help out her brother who was struggling financially. Even going so far as giving him a car. When her mom was sick, she was there for her as much as possible. Trying to make her as comfortable as possible. And later on, same thing for her dad. She was always there for my brother and me growing up, even at our lowest of our lows and highest of our highs. She was the glue that kept our family together. What did that look like? Daily dinners where all four of us sat down and enjoyed a wonderful home-cooked meal. But more than that, she kept her extended families in touch. With her willingness and love for talking, she would keep up frequent communication with her family members. We would see our cousins, aunts and uncles more than just the holidays. And family was always a big part of our lives growing up.

But more than that, she was my best friend. Of course, she was also my parent so she laid the ground rules and enforced them when needed. But growing up, she was always there to lend me her time, love and encouragement. And even when I messed up, she still loved me. She was one of those people who demonstrated unconditional love to me. And I’m very blessed, since most people don’t get to experience this type of love first-hand. I grew up with faith and religion, and was taught about the love that Jesus and God has for me. But to experience it in person, from my own parent, was magical. And I am oh so glad for it.

Princess warriors

Last Friday was an amazing night! It was Sheer One Night event at Free Church. Over a hundred women gathered to mingle, eat, and grow together. Pastor Urshanna was needed elsewhere, so Pastor Katrina spoke in her place. And she brought down the house!

Katrina opened the night with this visual from Ephesians 3:1-8: Paul became a servant of the gospel by the gift of God’s grace given to him through the working of his power. Although Paul was less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given to him: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ. What does this mean? Even the least of us, even the worst of the worst, are given God’s grace when we follow Him.

Comfort

When you need comfort, Jesus wraps His arms around you. Don’t be anxious about anything, but in every situation present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Correction

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) If you’re not disciplined then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. (Hebrews 12:8)

Compass

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Psalm 32:8)

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We stay connected to the bride…

  • On Sunday Mornings: Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:16)
  • In small groups: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
  • Through serving: You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13)

We discover Jesus as our constant savior

We need rescue from…

Others

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalm 18:16-19) We are princesses of God but we are not damsels in distress!

 

 

Ourselves

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:18-19

We have a great capacity for mistakes.

Some additional passages that are great to read:

Philippians 4:8
1 Peter 3:3-4
Proverbs 31:25-26
Psalm 100:5

Marvelous Halloween Weekend

Halloween at church

yTBhfbDThis past Sunday was a blast! Captain America, Black Widow, Antman, and Dr. Strange all made an appearance at my church (Free Church)! And almost every kid was dressed up either as their favorite superhero or their favorite character. Historically, church and holidays like Halloween have been kept separated. Many traditional churches don’t even acknowledge Halloween, or they say it’s evil and try to encourage their members to not participate in the holiday.

While I grew up attending very traditional Catholic churches and schools, my parents always let me dress up as who (or what) I wanted to be (other than when I was a toddler and they dressed me as a strawberry). I actually trick or treated through high school, well beyond the normal age limit for trick or treating. But I never saw the holiday as an evil tradition. If anything, it was one of my favorite days of the year since I got to dress up as someone else and I got to collect candy.

I think it’s cool and important to recognize and celebrate Halloween inside and out of church. One way to think about it, we are celebrating the eve of All Saints Day, which is a day to recognize the saints.

Marvelous Superheroes

marvelous halloween

Not only does Free Church recognize Halloween, it also celebrates it by bringing in the good guys and gals. The Avengers are some of the best superheroes out there! They make great role-models as they fight crime and protect the good guys. Children and adults alike can look up to these superheroes, very similar in many ways to looking up to Jesus and His teachings. I see the similarities between Jesus and superheroes and can honestly say that I admire and look up to both. This is one reason why I love to dress up as a superhero.

Another reason is that feeling when a kid recognizes the superhero you are and wants to be just like you. I love seeing people smile and feel safe around me (or Black Widow). In general, I love to dress up though as any character that I can pull off. (I.E. Wonder Woman or Han Solo)

Who’s your favorite superhero? Do you like to dress up? Who are you being for Halloween?

See more pictures from this event HERE

Have a happy, safe and ghoulish Halloween!

Party in the Park

This past weekend my church threw an amazing party in the park. This is an annual summer party they throw that just keeps getting bigger and bigger every year. It was great to be a part of this event and to be able to hang out with my church community outside of church.

To give you some perspective, Free Church was started in 2012. In five years, it has grown from only a few to about 300 churchgoers. There were well over 100 people at this party yesterday. The growth is amazing to see, and we got our very own building this year (the Hemingway Museum). 🙂

I’ve only been going to Free Church since November of 2016, but I feel myself growing as well. While it’s great to see more and more people at church, it’s even better to feel my faith growing as I learn and dig deeper into this community I call home. I feel safe and cared for in my church community. And I feel strong. There’s about 46 of us training for the Chicago Marathon this year. We’re all running it for Team World Vision which brings clean water to those who need it the most in Africa.

This week is week 6 of training and I already feel myself changing. This past Saturday was the second time I ran with my church group, and it was amazing. We ran 10 miles and we crushed it! Not only do I notice my chub decreasing, I also feel my legs getting stronger. But beyond that, I feel healthier all around. Not just physically, but also mentally. My mind feels more clear and focused. I feel like I can achieve my goals that I have for myself.

If you have the means, please consider helping me bring clean water to the women and children in Africa. This small act will allow them time to do other things, like go to school and study. Thank you!

https://www.teamworldvision.org/participant/jenb

When to walk away

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Do you feel emotionally drained and don’t know why? Do you doubt yourself after talking to your partner? There are 5 things that every emotional manipulator does to confuse and drain you.

  1. They will persistently dismiss your emotions. If you ever tell your significant other about something they did or said that hurt you, they will turn it around and say you’re making it a bigger deal than it really is, disregarding your feelings. Their apathetic attitude will eventually make you start doubting yourself, so you introspectively gather your thoughts and start believing it’s your fault. You lose motivation to pursue the issue any further.
  2. They play “tit for tat” pretty well. If you ever become confident to approach them with what you think they are lacking in terms of affection or intimacy or emotional support, they  will respond by listing all the things they find lacking in you. They might try and throw it back at you and once again blame you for the reason there’s even an issue in the first place. If you’re like me, this will just make you crawl into your shell further.
  3. They are completely different people when no one else is around. You’re with your friends having a great time, everyone’s laughing. But then at the end of the night when no one else is around, your partner starts a fight saying how terrible you are with his friends and how mean you are to him in front of his friends. He can make fun of you but you can’t make fun of him back. Sometimes it feels like he just wants to fight.
  4. They try to convince you that everyone else is on their side. We all make mistakes, but if you make a mistake and you’re with an emotional manipulator, one thing to look out for is if they try and point out to you the error of your ways and tell you that everyone else is in agreement that you’re wrong. These supposed phantom alliances that allegedly conspire against you leave you feeling left out and insecure. If you inquire as to who’s saying this, you probably won’t receive an answer or they will just lie to your face.
  5. To them you are not intelligent enough to understand their reasoning. An emotional manipulator is not prone to explaining their own actions to you when asked, their reason will be that it’s too complex for you to understand. Their goal is to put themselves above you by pointing out to you your lack of intelligence. If your partner continues to withhold information from you, you will never know when you do something right or wrong. This puts you in a terrible, vulnerable place to be attacked over the smallest things.

Speaking from experience, if your significant other is doing these things, it’s time to leave. There’s no reasoning with someone who’s unwilling to be reasonable. And no one deserves to be manipulated like that anyways. We are all our own people and we all have a right to our feelings and emotions.

Defend yourself from these types of people. Raise your tail feathers and quills. Don’t let manipulators get to you.

 

Magnetic Energy

Have you ever met someone and instantly connected with them? Almost like a magnet, they draw you into their world and make you feel welcome. Like your energy melds well with theirs, and you both give off a similar vibe.

I’ve noticed that this tends to happen when I meet other positive and passionate people like me. When I meet someone, I try to read their vibe and adjust my approach to them accordingly. I have a lot of energy, but am exclusive in regards to who I share it with. Usually when I first join a new group of people, I remain pretty quiet as I observe everyone and how they interact with each other. For example, I started running with this fun run group about two months ago and I didn’t really tell anyone much about me until about 3 to 4 weeks into it.

Another good example is a new job. It usually takes me about 2-3 months to warm up enough to be a fraction of myself at a new job. I do this so that I can learn the company culture and environment without tainting it with my craziness. This is also a way for me to be careful that I don’t overstep my bounds at a new company. What tends to happen is that most people think I don’t know English or that I’m from a different country that’s how quiet and shy I seem those first few months. I’ve had many people ask me where I’m from and when I respond with Chicago they ask but where were you born? Chicago. Still Chicago.

As long as you’re positive and passionate, we will likely get along. Just don’t lie to me. And don’t call me Jenny. Do you have a magnetic personality? Do you give out your energy? Or do you reserve it for only certain people? Or maybe no one other than yourself? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!

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