Recently, I finished reading “Overcoming Underearning – A five-step plan to a richer life” by Barbara Stanny. It was gifted to me by my business coach, and honestly, at first, I didn’t think I was going to read it. First, I had never heard of Barbara Stanny, and second, I wasn’t interested in earning more money; my goal was to get my finances in order (you don’t necessarily need more money to achieve that). However, I’m glad I read this book, and I encourage any woman who has a business or needs to get their finances in order (like me) to read it.
In this book, Barbara provides five steps to a better life, as the title says, and today I want to talk to you about step four, create community.
Barbara says, “Whatever we achieve (or don’t) is significantly affected by our cumulative interactions with everyone we associate with on a regular basis.”
And this statement hit home when I read it. I immediately thought of my spouse, friends, and family members, who have supported all my projects. She says that there are four types of supporters:
True Believers – say, “Go for it.”
Confidantes – say, “I understand.”
Way Showers – say, “You can do it, too; let me show you how.”
Messengers – say, “I can help.”
It’s imperative to have support around you to reach any goal because we cannot do anything alone. I mean, you could, but it will be ten times harder and take ten times longer. You need people around you who will hold you accountable, provide resources, and inspire you.
Think about your support system – do you share your goals with them? Why or why not? Can you share your goals with your friends? What about family members? Are they supportive? Why or why not? Barbara mentions that you are more likely to reach a goal or the next level by sharing your goals with one other person.
What about your spouse? Are they supportive? In the book, she mentioned that after finishing her workshop, some women ended up separating from their spouses because they realized the spouse was holding them back. Now, I’m not saying to get a divorce; I’m saying to re-evaluate who you have around you.
I share my goals with my husband, and I share the steps I am going to take to reach those goals. The kids are with my husband when I have events, meetings, or need to record a podcast episode. When I am struggling or have doubts about anything, I go to my husband for support. He gives me his perspective and sometimes suggestions on how to approach my challenge. If not, he always reminds me to pray.
My closest friends celebrate my wins like they are theirs, and I do theirs. I try to support them in any way that I can. And you should have people around you like this, who believe in you and your dreams and will encourage and support you to achieve them.
Let me finish by giving you the six principles Barbara says you need to create a powerful community.
Realize no one will do this for you, but you don’t have to do it alone.
Reach out and ask for support.
Hang out with the kind of people you want to be, not who you’ve been.
Recognize the role of the naysayer.
Watch what you talk about.
Respect yourself by taking time for you.
Do you have a supportive community? Reach out if you need someone in your corner; I got you!
If you want to understand how events or trauma from your childhood affect your current behaviors, I suggest this book! Oprah writes about her upbringing and connects events from her adulthood to her childhood. And Dr. Perry shares his findings from over 30 years of neuroscience research and different stories from clients he’s helped. He breaks down how the brain stores memories and where in the brain they are stored. It’s truly an insightful book.
Few things I learned:
Our viewpoint of the world starts as soon as we are born, believe it or not.
Infants can sense the environment, for example, if there is tension or if they are in a loving home.
Our brain associates trauma with our senses – like touch or smell.
How we were cared for as infants and children affects our brain development, and not only that – but also the timing of when the trauma happened is important and impactful. Since children’s brains develop the fastest before the first two years – that is where the event affects the brain most.
Trauma affects our health (from mental health or physical health).
Few things that stood out to me:
Dr. Perry writes that therapy is more about building new associations and making new, healthier default pathways.
When he talked about implicit bias – he said, “These beliefs and values are stored in the highest, most complex part of your braid – the cortex. But other parts of your brain can make associations – distorted, inaccurate, racist associations.” He explains that a person can have anti-racist beliefs but still have implicit biases that come with racist comments or actions.
His definition of racism is, “In the U.S., racism is the marginalization and oppression of people of color by systems created by white men to privilege white people.” Yup, that is systemic racism, and that does fall into CRT.
The last thing that stood out to me was how Dr. Perry says we can heal as a society. “How can our society move toward a more humane, socially just, creative, and productive future without confronting our collective historical trauma? Both trauma experienced and trauma inflicted. If we truly want to understand ourselves, we need to understand our history – our true history. Because the emotional residue of our past follows us.” – Dr. Bruce Perry.
Overall, this book is about changing the question from “why are you like that” to “what happened to you.” Because our upbringing has a lot to do with who we are.
This book is a great resource, but I still fully believe in therapy and doing the work to heal and better ourselves.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I have my hands on a few projects. One of those projects is my immigration podcast. Immigration is close to my heart since I’m a child of immigrants, and it’s been in my heart to help and get involved with immigration. I want to be able to help in any way that I can, whether it’s being an advocate, educating, or volunteering.
In 2019 I was determined to go to law school to become an immigration attorney because I felt that was the best way I could help. I took the LSAT (the test to apply to law school), but my score was average, and I was disappointed. At the time, I was finishing my master’s, so I had a lot on my plate and couldn’t dedicate enough time to study for the LSAT. Because of my score, I got discouraged.
After starting my podcast, I came upon the opportunity to help a non-profit organization that helps new migrant families find resources for things they need. I help with translating documents and in online meetings.
While doing this, I realized there was a need, and I reached out to an immigration attorney to get their advice on if I would be able to help with the demand that is there, but she told me to be careful – it would be best if the families hire an immigration attorney for that particular need.
So once again, I got the urge to go to law school. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough in the area of immigration and that I could do more. I talked to my husband and a close friend about it, and they both said the same thing, I am doing enough. They both told me that the podcast is doing something; it brings awareness to immigration. My close friend said she would pray with me (I had reached out to her for a prayer request) about the situation and see if God leads me toward law school.
Well, this feeling of me not doing enough or questioning if what I’m doing is “worth it” comes to me occasionally. Like, right when I think, “what’s the point” and I feel like giving up, God ALWAYS reminds me that I’m right on track. And this time wasn’t any different.
Literally, the next day, I received a message from a person I’ve known since I was a child but hadn’t talked to in years, and she said, “I see you making a difference out there! Keep up the good work.” She then told me she had subscribed to my podcast. And to me, that was all the recurrence I needed to know that I was doing enough.
This reminds me of two bible verses – the first one is Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future, (NIV). And Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps,” (NIV).
God knows the plans for our lives, all we need to do is seek Him, and it will come to us. And His plans are much better than what we have planned for our lives.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you brought in the new year surrounded by loved ones or exactly how you wanted to. I cannot believe it’s 2023, and I’m writing my blog post about my word of the year. I swear, every year goes by faster and faster. (And I probably write that EVERY SINGLE YEAR LOL.)
Last year’s word was growth. I wrote that I wanted to grow in my career, which I did (check), in motherhood (adjusting to being a mom of two), and in my writing. And if you read my recap of 2022, I feel like I did a lot of growth last year. So, this year – it makes sense that God gave me the word discipline.
Here are the three areas where I’m going apply discipline this year.
So, after having my son, it’s been a struggle to stay consistent in trying to lose the baby weight. I know that losing weight, in general, is hard work, but I’ve never had to do that in my life before because I’ve always been skinny. Even after having my daughter, since I had her so young, the weight came right off. This is the first time I’ll have to work to lose weight, and it’s all new to me.
I want to be consistent in working out, and it’s not only for losing weight but to be healthier too. I would like for it to be my lifestyle. My biggest problem is not being consistent. I’ll start working out, do it for like a week or two, and then I’ll just stop. So, this year, I want to be disciplined in working out.
Did you know I have a business? Probably not because I’m not very good at promoting it, but I do. I provide writing services to small businesses (newsletter, social media, blog posts, show notes for podcasts, etc.) And I help podcasters launch and manage their podcasts. (Official name of my business is coming soon).
So, in this new year, I want to be disciplined in growing my business. Last year I did a few networking events, so I’ll continue to do that but also, I need to promote my business better. If you want to start a podcast, send me a message, and let’s talk.
With my podcast, I’ve been consistent, and I definitely want to continue to grow. Eventually, it would be nice to have my own podcast studio and have guests come and do the interviews in person.
Okay, for the past few months, I’ve been reading finance books, listening to audible books, and learning as much as I can about investing, budgeting, and savings. Hubby and I have been working on getting our finances together and being more financially literate. So, for this new year, I want to be disciplined with my money. Our biggest goal is to get out of debt (it’s so easy to get into debt, but such a hassle to get out of it). We have set a plan to pay off debt, and I want to stick to it.
My biggest problem is seeing events happening, and I want to go to all of them. And I want to buy all the books! And I want to travel, and I want to make all these memories with my family. I want to do everything at once and right now because life is short, LOL. But then we get into more debt, and it’s a cycle every single year.
But this year will be different! At the end of the year, I will write that they are debt free! 🙂
It’s that time of year again! It is time to do my yearly recap, write down all that went down in the year, and get ready with the new word for next year. It seems like every year; it arrives quicker.
I feel like these posts will be great for when I’m old and want to reminisce on my life – I’ll pull up these yearly recap posts and read them to my grandchildren. LOL (They probably won’t care.)
Alright, let’s get started.
We brought the new year at home with our newborn Jayden and hubby’s family. It was quiet and pleasant. We spent the majority of this month at home; we were both on parental leave from our jobs and very sleep-deprived. I started having guests for my YouTube channel this month! I started with my friend LaUni who is a musician – you can check out the interview here.
I bought a cookie decorating kit at Sam’s Club for Valentine’s Day. Lia and I decorated the cookies with our neighbor and her two girls. I attended a Galentine’s Paint Night with the ladies from church, which was nice. And they surprised me for my birthday and gave me flowers and a gift. This month is my birthday and our wedding anniversary, so this year it was hubby’s turn to plan something, and he did a romantic picnic in our little patio, which was so cute. He ordered Hibachi, and we watched the Super Bowl while eating. This month I also started writing on Medium – if you’d like to sign up, you can use my referral link here.
This month hubby and I opened an online t-shirt business. We ended up closing it a few months later, but I’m planning on using the LLC for something else (stay tuned – it’s still in the works). Also, thank you to all who supported us and bought t-shirts.
Jayden got his first ear infection, which was the first time I had dealt with that because Lia never got one when she was a baby.
Maternity leave ended this month, and I was NOT ready to start work. I wrote about that for Medium. While on maternity leave, I saw a coding position available, so I emailed the link to my work email, and on my first day back, I applied. One of my goals for 2022 was to land a coding position.
The first episode of my podcast was published! I was so excited to finally get a podcast going since I’ve wanted to host one since like 2019. Thank you once again to those who have supported the podcast. New episodes are available every other Tuesday on all major podcast platforms.
This month we flew down hubby’s firstborn son for Spring Break so he could meet his baby brother. We took all the kids out to Disney Springs. For Easter, we attended our church’s annual Easter celebration. It was an adjustment going out with a baby now. LOL, we were so used to just going out with Lia.
I attended the LifeWay Women’s Live Conference with the ladies from the church. You can read about my experience here or watch my video on my YouTube channel. I believe it was my first time being away from Jayden all day, and towards the end of the day, I was feeling mom guilt because I felt like I shouldn’t have been away from him for that long.
So, remember that I applied for the coding position? Well, the following week, I had an interview, and they gave me an offer right away – I started at the end of this month. I was so excited because it was a goal of mine for the year that I could check off and a goal I had for my career.
This month hubby and I had our first night out away from Jayden, but I wasn’t ready to leave him yet. We went to see Ricardo Arjona in concert, and he is one of hubby’s favorite musicians. His songs are literally poetry that tells a story. Anyways, I had gotten floor seat tickets the previous year, so I said even if I’m not ready, we are going. (I enjoy his music, too, LOL). We enjoyed the concert very much, but I ended up getting COVID.
I got COVID, and I called the pediatrician, and he told me that Jayden would most likely get it, so monitor his symptoms. So, Jayden got it, and my husband got it; the only person who didn’t get it was Lia. I talk about our symptoms and how we handled them on my YouTube channel; you can watch the video here.
After we were all done with COVID, well, Jayden and I, because hubby had lingering side effects, my daughter brought home the flu from school. So that was another week of being sick. It felt like we spent the whole month being sick.
This month I launched my gratitude journal! Check it out on Amazon!
I almost forgot the most important thing that happened this month – I GOT MY BRACES TAKEN OFF!
I saw Juan Luis Guerra again in concert – I attended with my friend and my aunt. It was so much fun!
Lia left for the summer to be with her dad in the Dominican Republic.
I started the self-publishing process of my poetry book, and that was a challenge. I wrote about my process here. If you are interested in self-publishing or have any questions – contact me; I’d love to help.
We spent the 4th of July at home, and family came over, which was nice. We went to see the sunrise at the beach, which was beautiful. If you haven’t done that yet, I recommend you do that at least once in your life. Lia came back from DR!
And my poetry book was published this month! Barnes & Noble, Target, and Book Depository were the first websites to pick up my book; now, when you google it, there are websites from all over the world that have it! I spent the majority of this month creating my marketing plan, and I did a photoshoot to help promote it. I contacted fellow writers to read the book and provide reviews, and some of my friends did too. And I set up podcast interviews to discuss my book, the journey, and promote it. I was also planning a book launch party. This was a busy month for me.
August is one of my favorite months because it’s my husband’s birthday, a few good friends, and some family members. Lia started 3rd grade – so she’s an upperclassman now, LOL. Hubby and I went to the batting cages for the first time, which was cool. And towards the end of the month, I had my book launch party!
The feeling of seeing all your family and closest friends together celebrating your book is something I cannot even express. My best friend from high school flew down for the book launch party, and it was nice to have her stay with me for a few days.
I was invited to be a guest speaker at a Latina business networking event. I spoke about my journey with my book, why I wrote it, and what it is about. I also talked about my podcast, and I booked two sisters to share their journey of being children of immigrants. (Once their episode is published, I’ll let you know).
We took our first family road trip down to Miami for Labor Day weekend. We stayed in a nice Airbnb in the middle of the art district, so we were a few blocks away from the Wynwood Walls. We took the kids to the Miami kid’s museum, we ate, and we shopped. Overall, it was a nice family getaway.
One of my friends from high school sent me a picture, letting me know that my poetry book was in the district library in my hometown. I cannot wait to visit back home to see it in the library.
My dad’s birthday was such a blast this year. The family gathered at his house to eat, play dominos, drink, and we ended the night singing karaoke.
This month I did spoken word poetry for the first time! It was hosted at an art museum, and I thought there wouldn’t be too many people, but the turnout was good. I was so nervous, but I did it, and I’m proud of myself.
Lia and I went to a fall festival at a church close to our house. She had fun playing games and getting her face painted.
My sister got her senior pictures taken, and I helped her with her make-up. I cannot believe she’s a senior in high school already!
I started therapy this month because I thought I was going through another depressive episode and found out that I was burnt out – I wrote about it on Medium.
The busy season started! Lia and I went to paint pottery with my friend and her daughter, which was fun! This was a new experience for all of us. We also saw HAMILTON, the musical, and we LOVED it! I was a vendor for the first time at a Pink Friday event. That was an experience.
We celebrated Lia’s 9th birthday! And I was interviewed for an internet radio show. (So many firsts this year). I slowed down on scheduling podcast recordings because of being burnt out, but I am still doing interviews and being a guest on podcast shows.
Do you remember when I told you my best friend came for my book launch party? Well, she told me her job needed medical coders, and I applied. Getting hired took a while because I applied at the end of August but didn’t start until the 7th of this month. So, I am a coding analyst for a non-profit insurance company.
Oh my – we made it to December! I honestly cannot believe how fast this year went. It feels like time goes by faster and faster as I get older. But I started this month performing poetry again. Once again, I was so nervous, but I’m so glad I did it! And I cannot wait to host my own poetry night. I went to a friend’s surprise birthday party and had an amazing time; I also got to meet her baby boy. 🙂 We put up the Christmas tree and attended Lia’s Christmas presentation. Lia and I went to my sister’s winter dance showcase (her last one since it’s her senior year); hopefully, I can make it to the one in the spring too. We took family pictures. And I was a vendor again at a 2nd-anniversary celebration for Femme Strong. It was a great celebration, and I connected with other amazing women business owners.
Alright, since this post is out today (December 19th), this is what we still have coming up:
Jayden’s first birthday
New Year’s Eve
If you’ve read this far, thank you so much for your time, and I hope I’ve inspired you in some way or another. I pray that you and your loved ones have a Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous new year. God Bless You Tremendously.
For the past few months, I have shown interest in financial literacy, money management, investing, savings, budgeting, etc. And I searched for articles that recommended books about money, one of the most popular books recommended was “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter. That was the first book I listened to, and then I listened to Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover. One of the articles recommended, “The Richest Engineer” by Abhishek Kumar, and when I went to Barnes and Noble to purchase it wasn’t available; however, I found this gem, “The Psychology of Money” – Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness by Morgan Housel.
The book is broken down into 20 chapters, and each chapter has a lesson – so as I was taking notes for this book review, I wrote down what I got from each chapter. So, I will write the title of each chapter and the lesson, but I still highly recommend reading it because each person can get something different from the chapter.
Chapter 1 – No One’s Crazy
Lesson – “Your personal experience with money make up maybe 0.0000001% of what’s happened in the world, but maybe 80% of how you think the world works.”
What I got from the chapter – Everyone’s habit with money has to do with their perception of the world. So, depending on how high or low inflation was when you were born will depend on how much you will invest.
Chapter 2 – Luck & Risk
Lesson – “Nothing is as good or as bad as it seems.”
What I got from the chapter – Be careful who you praise and admire. Be careful who you look down upon and wish to avoid becoming. Therefore, focus less on specific individuals and case studies and more on broad patterns.
Chapter 3 – Never Enough
Lesson – “When rich people do crazy things.”
What I got from the chapter – You have to know when enough is enough because you’ll continue to take risks without fear of consequences.
Chapter 4 – Confounding Compounding
Lesson – “$81.5 billion of Warren Buffett’s $84.5 billion net worth came after his 65th birthday. Our minds are not built to handle such absurdities.”
What I got from the chapter – Good investing is about getting good returns that you can stick with and can be repeated for a longer period of time.
Chapter 5 – Getting Wealthy vs. Staying Wealthy
Lesson – “Good Investing is not necessarily about making good decisions. It’s about consistently not screwing up.”
What I got from the chapter – Getting money and keeping money are two different skills.
Chapter 6 – Tails, You Win
Lesson – “You can be wrong half the time and still make a fortune.”
What I got from the chapter – Tails keeps investing, businesses and companies going. You can be wrong half the time and still make a fortune. The failed ideas and inventions are still part of the story but not the part you usually hear.
Chapter 7 – Freedom
Lesson – “Controlling your time is the highest dividend money pays.”
What I got from the chapter – True freedom is control over your time, which is the key to happiness.
Chapter 8 – Man in the Car Paradox
Lesson – “No one is impressed with your possessions as much as you are.”
What I got from the chapter – People admire the fancy car more than the person driving them. If your goal is to be respected and admired by others, be careful how you seek it. Morgan says humility, kindness, and empathy are the way to go.
Chapter 9 – Wealth is What You Don’t See
Lesson – “Spending money to show people how much money you have is the fastest way to have less money.”
What I got from the chapter – There are many wealthy people who don’t look rich and many poor people who look rich. Spending money isn’t what’s going to make you wealthy.
Chapter 10 – Save money
Lesson – “The only factor you can control generates one of the only things that matters. How wonderful.”
What I got from the chapter – Getting a return from your savings is better than not getting anything at all. The more money you save, the closer you can get to having control over your time.
Chapter 11 – Reasonable > Rational
Lesson – “Aiming to be mostly reasonable works better than trying to be coldly rational.”
What I got from the chapter – Be reasonable, not rational, with money.
Chapter 12 – Surprise!
Lesson – “History is the study of change, ironically used as a map of the future.”
What I got from the chapter – Surprises are what moves the needle. Things we cannot prepare for, unprecedented things. (For example – the pandemic)
Chapter 13 – Room for Error
Lesson – “The most important part of every plan is planning on your plan, not going according to plan.”
What I got from the chapter – You don’t know what your future expenses will be, save for the gap. Know that every plan will not go according to plan.
Chapter 14 – You’ll Change
Lesson – “Long-term planning is harder than it seems because people’s goals and desires change over time.”
What I got from the chapter – You will change. Your goals and desires will change, which sometimes can make financial planning hard, but compound interest needs time to grow, so try not to take out the money.
Chapter 15 – Nothing’s Free
Lesson – “Everything has a price, but not all prices appeal on labels.”
What I got from the chapter – Everything has a price, and nothing is free, but it depends on how much you’re willing to pay for the price of success, and unfortunately, the price tag isn’t visible right away.
Chapter 16 – You & Me
Lesson – “Beware taking financial cues from people playing a different game than you are.”
What I got from the lesson – Everyone’s financial situation is different than yours, invest for you.
Chapter 17 – The Seduction of Pessimism
Lesson – “Optimism sounds like a sales pitch. Pessimism sounds like someone trying to help you.
What I got from the chapter – Pessimism is easier.
Chapter 18 – When You’ll Believe Anything
Lesson – “Appealing fictions, and why stories are more powerful than statistics.”
What I got from the chapter – It’s easier to believe tales than the truth.
Chapter 19 – All Together Now
Lesson – “What we’ve learned about the psychology of your own money.”
What I got from the chapter – This chapter recap all the lessons.
Chapter 20 – Confessions
Lesson – “The psychology of my own money.”
What I got from the chapter – Do what works for you. Handle your finances in a way that lets you sleep at night. What works for him and his family is maximizing their savings and living below their means, even when their income increased. The best way to do that is not to keep up with the Joneses.
Morgan provides a bonus chapter talking about the history of the US economy and when the gap between the 1% and the working class widened.
Again, I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to improve their finances. What financial books have you read that you would recommend? Let me know
A Just Mission is about how churches in The West go out into the world on short-term mission trips but rarely do they have people from the countries they are going to leading these trips. Mekdes Haddis uses her experience as an immigrant; she’s from Ethiopia and came to the US for college and culture to provide solutions to better mission trips. For example, she gives suggested solutions from training and development, mutual benefits instead of one-sided, and inclusivity of indigenous leaders on the missions’ team.
There were a few things that stood out to me in the book. First, in chapter three, she said, “We are not made to objectify one another; we are made for holy community, to equally reflect God’s beauty to one another.” This comes from having her hair touched without permission only because of curiosity. This is something I’ve heard people of color experience all the time. But as Mekdes mentioned, she’s never had the urge to touch straight hair, and hair has a lot of representation in many cultures.
Chapter five is about decolonizing short-term mission trips, and there were a few things in this chapter that stood out to me. First, she and her husband are very intentional about which organizations their money is going to. She writes, “For my husband and me, choosing to support mission organization has been a difficult journey because we know too well how culturally and spiritually unprepared people mischaracterize or demean our people. For the most part, we have shifted our financial support from Western institutions that promised to end poverty to those that invested in indigenous leadership.”
On pages 112 and 113, she includes a few steps to ensure good practices of short-term mission trips, and number six is something I’ve felt was always weird. Mekdes tells us to leave our cameras at home or hire a professional photographer from the community and support a small business. I have always felt strange when teams go on mission trips, take pictures and videos, and post them all over their social media. I understand wanting to show others their work in order to motivate others to get involved as well, but have you stopped to think that maybe they don’t want to be photographed?
I went with my church once to feed the homeless at a local park, and there was a person taking pictures and videos of us praying over people and handing out sandwiches. One of the persons receiving the food told them no pictures, which made me feel a little awkward. What are the intentions behind our actions? Are we doing this from the good of our hearts, or are we doing this to show off our good deed for the day to get an appraisal from others?
Matthew 6:3 (NIV) says, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your hand is doing.”
I hold this verse close to my heart, and I don’t post or boast of it when volunteering for certain things or making donations to charities, but that’s me. Everyone is different.
In chapter eight, she touches on the issue of immigration because a report from Religion News Service shows that 75% of white evangelical Protestant Republicans believe immigrants are invading American society. Mekdes writes, “This is an area where we need to have a clear stance, because it would be hypocritical to send the very same people who don’t want immigrants among them to the homeland of those they despise with the ‘gospel.’” Of course, this stance is close to my heart because of the work I’m doing with providing a platform for immigrants to share their immigration journey in order to change the narrative of immigration to a more compassionate and empathetic way.
Overall, this book has a lot of information and resources to improve how American churches approach mission trips. And I believe anyone who has thought about going on a mission trip, has gone on a mission trip, or attend a church that goes on mission trips should read it.
With Love, Heidy
What are your thoughts on the way American churches approach mission trips? Do you think any improvements need to be made? Why or why not?
Between August 2020 and March 2021 was a heavy grieving season for me. My grandfather went to heaven in August, I suffered a miscarriage in November, and my mother-in-law was called home to Jesus in March. Fortunately, if you can say that, this wasn’t my first season of grief; I learned the hardship of grief early in my life. At the young age of 23, my biological mother passed suddenly.
You don’t think about the passing of your mother. Although it’s impossible, you tend to think of her as immortal – someone who will always be there. That wasn’t the case for me. Everyone around me still had their mothers, so no one could understand my pain. They didn’t know the void in my chest that never leaves, the constant heaviness that hurt even to breathe, and they didn’t understand that a part of me died and I would never be the same. Actually – at the time, I didn’t know it either.
Since I had already endured the pain of losing a loved one, I thought I knew how this season of grief would be; however, I thought wrong. Each season is different because your relationship with each person is different. And losing a baby is another type of grief, but I’ll leave that story for another day. One difference in this season from the first was my relationship with God was stronger. So today, I want to share three things that helped me in my most recent season of grief.
One – Talking about my memories with my grandfather
My grandfather lived with us since I was 16 years old. We lived in a humble two-bedroom house; I slept in the living room while he slept in my room, so he was involved in many milestones of my life. For example, I took my driver’s test with his car. He helped me purchase my first car. He was present for my high school graduation. And when I was younger, I was told that he would go to a children’s boutique in the Dominican Republic to purchase a dress for me as a birthday gift. He did that for the first five years of my life. My mom would then get professional pictures taken of me in the dresses. To this day, I still have the pictures. So, sharing all these stories and memories with whoever would listen was helpful for me.
Two – Going on a trip to the beach
My husband’s birthday is August 13, and I planned a trip for us to Anna Maria Island. My grandfather passed on August 10 – just three days before the trip. I was so conflicted if we should continue with our plans. On the one hand, I wanted to celebrate my husband’s birthday, but then on the other, I didn’t want to seem insensitive to the situation. Since we couldn’t receive a full refund, we went for three instead of going for four days. And I am so glad we went. It’s hard to continue your day-to-day routine when your heart is so heavy, and this trip helped us get out of routine. It gave me time away from everyone to process my feelings and distract my mind for a few days. Also, I feel the closest to God at the beach, which was therapeutic for me.
Three – Staying rooted in God’s word
As I mentioned above, you can’t do business as usual when your heart is heavy. So, your schedule and routine are all messed up. However, in this season of grief, I was intentional about continuing my Bible reading. I continued my daily Bible plan and enjoyed reading the Bible at the beach. Listening to worship music while going through the miscarriage was comforting. And during my mother-in-law’s passing, I signed up for an online Bible Study; although I couldn’t log on to the calls, I continued to do the study, and it helped me stay mentally and emotionally stable.
These are things that helped me during my heavy season of grief. I know that everyone processes grief differently, and grief doesn’t look the same for everyone, but I hope my experience can help one person. And if you haven’t experienced grief, I hope you save this article and use it as a resource to help you during that difficult time.
I want to leave you with a Bible verse that came up multiple times during this season and reminded me that God was with me.
Psalms 147:3 NIV – “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
For Labor Day weekend, my family and I went to Miami!!!! We had not taken any trips this year, and it was our first trip as a family of four!
We rented an Airbnb right in Miami’s art district, so we were three minutes from Wynwood Walls. But before we headed over to the walls, we ate breakfast at Morgan’s Restaurant.
I had the avocado toast, and my cousin shared some of her chicken and waffles with me. Both were very good. This place has a good portion size, just not for the avocado toast. It is recommended to make a reservation prior because this place got packed as we were there.
Alright, now we head over to the Wynwood Walls. I purchased tickets in advance, but you don’t have to; art is inside and outside. Make sure to wear comfortable clothing and shoes because Miami gets HOT, depending on what time of year you decide to go.
One of the good things about Miami’s art district is that there are many restaurants and food trucks around to eat. When we first arrived in Miami, we ate dinner at El Tiesto Cafe, a Dominican-Japanese restaurant. We tried their sushi, and my husband left wanting more. Highly recommend this place. I cannot wait to return to Miami to eat here again.
The following day we went to the Miami’s Children Museum so the kids could play, mainly my daughter because my son is eight months old, but he ended up having fun too. The children’s museum has a ton of activities for kids. They have two stories of different rooms, so they have a space for construction, a bank, firefighter, police, a boat where kids can fish, a cruise ship, and a dance glow party. My daughter’s favorite part was the Publix supermarket. They have it set up where you can get groceries; the kids are the cashiers. The check-out computers have the items from the store, so the kids click on the things you choose, and then on the computer where you pay, it shows you the total. You then pick the bills and coins until you have paid the total amount, which I thought was a cool way to help kids learn about money.
After the museum, we headed to Dolphin Mall – Miami’s largest outlet shopping mall- and ate lunch at a Peruvian restaurant called Gran Inka Gastro Bar. I also recommend this restaurant. The food was so fresh and good. Then we did a little shopping. I have a sentimental feeling about Dolphin Mall because my mom used to take me there to go to Dave & Buster’s when I would visit her in the summer.
After the mall, we went to dinner at Havana 1957 Cuban Cuisine on Lincoln Road. I had been to the one in South Beach, but my husband had not tried this place before, and I wanted him to because I remember how good it was last time. It was just as good as the first time. I recommend this place to eat in Miami. After eating, we walked around Lincoln Road but didn’t do any shopping; we were over shopping.
This brings us to Monday; we had breakfast at Moise’s Bakery in Miami Beach. This place was recommended to me by my neighbor. The owners of Moise’s Bakery are from Venezuela, and the breakfast was very delicious. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of my food, but we had Pan de Bono and another bread with ham inside that I don’t remember the name of right now.
On our way home, we drove by Aventura Mall, another mall my mom used to take me to, and we decided to go inside. Aventura Mall is the 5th largest mall in the United States and the largest mall in Florida. It has an art collection inside, which was cool to see. After walking around for a few hours and buying a few things, we headed home.
I cannot wait to continue to make memories like this with my little family.
With Love, Heidy
Have you been to any of these places? If so, what was your experience?
This book was impactful for me because it gives a lot of resources to help with mental health, specifically depression. The book starts very relatable because the way he mentions his depression episode was exactly how I felt during mine.
Chris provided information I had not known about depression and even talked about the music genre “the blues.” He informs of the genre’s origin and how it relates to depression. This reminded me of the Spanish music genre “Bachata” because usually, the lyrics are very miserable.
One thing that stood out to me was that he talked about vulnerability and mentioned that there are two people we cannot lie to ourselves and God. He knows everything; he knows us from the inside out. And another thing that stood out to me was when he wrote about needing balance in our lives. We need to stop and check ourselves to see where our life is when we feel depressed. Is our work, family, hobbies, etc. balanced? What can we do to make sure it is?
“Stop trying to do everything and focus on what God wants you to do.” – Chris Hodges
Whether single, dating or married, you should read this book. I loved how honest he was and that he included his wife in the book. He provides practical biblical advice about being single, dating, and married. And there’s a chapter about sex, which I find very important. I know some Christians don’t like talking about sex, but sex is something that God created to be enjoyed between a husband and wife; we can talk about it.
I highly recommend this book to everyone.
With Love Heidy
Have you read either of these books? What were your thoughts on them?