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Happy Spring {and a few updates on Life}

Hi Friends,

The last 10 days we have had glorious warm weather, but today is overcast and chilly. I am not going to let the skies rin my excitement for the first day of Spring!

My posts have been sporadic, but this chemo is kicking my butt. I thought I would give you a few updates about what’s been happening.

Chemo / Breast Cancer

I have had three chem treatments so far. They are spaced two weeks apart. My doctor tells me my cell levels will dip low at about two days after chemo and he has been right on the mark. The first day of treatment, I tend to take a nap in the afternoon. The next day, I am a little tiresome with muscle aches. The third day is very hard. My Mom is here for the full day while I am resting on day three. The hardest part of this whole experience is not being able to do the things I want to do and not going to the places I want to go. Its a small sacrifice for saving my life, but quite depressing nonetheless. I will share the whole chemo experience with you soon.

Vision

I visited my Retina Specialist this past month. The chemo will affect my eyesight in the worst way. However, my doctor prescribed me anti-inflammatory drops three times a day to keep the swelling at bay while i am going through treatment. I haven’t noticed any worsening in my eyesight except for my cataracts. I am very used to my eyesight being poor and I adapt to seeing differently.

Disability

Do you know that Stage 3 Breast Cancer and Low Vision still do not qualify for Social Security Disability? I applied last year when I lost part of my eyesight and was denied. I applied again in December and have not heard a decision. I am so grateful to have a business that can sustain our expenses. What do others do in this same situation?

State of the Blog

I have so many ideas  running through my head of ideas to share, tutorials to teach and encouraging stories. I just have to find the energy right now to write them down in posts. My goal is to teach, inspire, share and connect. I will update all my series pages this week and freshen up the blog. I will do my best to try to be consistent, but the ultimate goal is to live. AND live happily. I will be sharing a tutorial this week on how to make my sugar cookies with glaze. Just in time to gather your supplies for Easter cookies. I hope you will stick around! I love having you here!

I’m Dreaming of a……Ranch?

I started chemotherapy treatment for my breast cancer diagnosis 10 days ago. I think I did well according to others who have gone through it, but I was scared the entire time. I will share with you step by step on the procedure and  recovery in a new post this week, but today I just want to set cancer aside and dream. Dream of a ranch. What?

Funny, liberating, life changing things go through your mind when  you get a life threatening diagnosis. You start letting little things go. You let drama fade off. Little things no longer seem like big things. People and experiences take on a bigger meaning. AND you dream. For me, it is dreaming of a less stressful life with open air, a garden and more living on a ranch. I have always dreamed of living on a farmhouse long before farmhouses became the trend. However, we live in the high desert of Southern California where the only thing that people farm is, well, tumbleweeds? We also own a successful business and not moving from the area anytime soon. So, my husband explained that the difference between a ranch and  farm was that a farm is where you farm land  for food (duh! I’m not an idiot) and a ranch is a type of farm where you typically raise animals. BUT the goods news is you can have a farmhouse on a ranch. Lest you think I am losing it, I think you can put whatever house wherever you want it in whatever area you live in.  That’s exactly what I am going to do! Build a ranch in the desert.

The BIG plan is to wait until I am in remission before making any moves. Once we get the go ahead, we want to purchase at least 5 acres of land in a more remote area of the San Bernardino Mountains. We will  enclose the property with a fence and bring in utilities. Then we will build a barn (aka detached garage) and have friends or a family member move to the property to be a caretaker of the property and watch over the building process of the main house to ensure nothing is stolen while under construction. Once construction is complete we will move in and rent out the home we live in now.

I am not sure if my dream will come true, but there is more than a 50/50 chance we can make this happen. Focusing on this dream helps me get through chemo and think of better days ahead. I will keep you posted the closer we get to making it happen. A girl can dream right?

Her Story….Meet Leticia!

I believe every woman has a life story to share. We can all learn from each other’s experiences.

 Her Story is collection of life stories written by women just like and unlike you and me.

Meet Leticia!

letcicia

 I begin this journey by saying: I am a woman, just a common everyday woman, like so many out there. I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or mental therapist for that matter. I am here to tell a story about my life and how I overcame all the hurt, pain, resentment, anger and unforgiveness. My HOPE is that as I put my life in writing, for all the world to see, it might help and give HOPE to someone else who also might be going through  a similar situation.

 I was sexually abused at a fairly young age. This occurred from about age 7 till about age 12. I can’t really recall the ages that well, just remember being extremely young when it started and almost in puberty when it ended. I never received any therapy and the (incident) was never spoken of again. Being Hispanic those things are just not talked about. They are taboo and they are just brushed under the rug where no one can see it and it is forgotten (out of sight, out of mind). Having had no therapy, I did not have a good perspective on love and what it should be. This only led me to make bad choices in life believing they were good ones.
I left home at the age of 15 and went to live with my then boyfriend (I will call him “Raul”), who was 22 at the time. By the age of 16 I had a daughter and was being physically abused. My life was not good. The abuse became a  daily ritual, even while I was pregnant. There just seamed to be no boundaries or respect. By the age of 17, I had had enough. “No one was ever going lay a hand on me again”. I told “Raul” I was leaving him because I could not take it anymore. He remained quiet and said nothing. That night I went to work (as I had done many other nights in the past) and when I returned home from work the next morning “Raul” was gone. He had disappeared and taken my 11 month old daughter with him. He had kidnapped my daughter and vanished somewhere into Mexico with her. I was devastated, to say the least.
I cannot even begin to explain the pain in my heart at that time. All the words in the dictionary that exist for pain just don’t quite express it. I turned to my family for support, but it was not there. So, I was left to deal with all of the pain on my own and being so young, I was way in over my head. As if to add insult to injury, “Raul’s” best friend “Mark” lured me to his house, locked the door behind me as I walked in and proceeded to rape me. My life had now gone totally dark and without any emotional support around me, I felt all alone. I would never speak of this incident until years later.
Although I never talked much about these things, they were the things that defined me, that shaped the way I looked at life as a whole. From there on out I would only make poor decisions for my life. I proceeded to be very promiscuous, giving no thought or even caring about other ‘s feelings. By the age of 24 I had two other children. I was in a relationship that I really never wanted and it was not healthy relationship for me. It was just so that I would not feel alone. I saw no HOPE at all in my life and even through all this I never turned to drugs or alcohol for comfort, looking back on it now, there was something good in that. In the midst of my mud,  God found me. I gave my life to Christ in HOPE of a change. It was a difficult road from there on out and it was not easy. Upon my divorce, my family and kids turned their backs on me and gave me no support (not a total surprise). I had really hoped for more because, after all, at that time they where the ones telling me to get out of the bad relationship.
However, God had other plans and did not need any help for what He was about to do in my life. I met my now husband who gave me support. We were homeless together sleeping in my car and moving from place to place. We married in a small ceremony with only the people we had met at church around us as support. The road was not easy nor did it all happen over night, but I am proud to say it all served a purpose and I survived.
Now, my husband and I are pastors. We are also the owners of our own cleaning company. God has given us many great and wonderful friends that we proudly call “Our Family”. I swam threw a down hill river of filth and came out clean on the other side.
 letciciabiblestudy    Leticiacleaningbusiness
 God redeemed me!
There is HOPE!!

Thank you Leticia for opening your heart and sharing your story with other women. You are an inspiration!

Gray is not my favorite color

Let me just get it right out there…..gray is not my favorite color. I am not trendy or cool or up-to-date. I don’t do modern. I don’t do eclectic. I do ME. And me doesn’t like gray. Turn on any decorating show or look in the popular decor magazines or look on most decorating blogs today and you will see the most beautifully put together rooms and homes. But most are gray….

    darkgraymaster   graybedroom   graykitchen grayloft   grayporchexterior

I met an acquaintance at lunch one day who had never been to my home. She spoke in length about trends and colors. Her biggest pet peeve she said were white appliances. I sat and listened to her describe the people who owned white appliances as boring and plain and not up-to-date and trendy. She spoke of stainless steel, granite counter tops and gray walls. I left the lunch feeling pretty crappy about my house and myself.  You ever have one of those conversations that you question all your life choices? 

I thought about my stinking white appliances and decided I loved them. I laughed at the thought that someone would judge a person based on their home decorations. I laughed at myself that I spent way too much time thinking about white appliances and what was trendy. I also decided I didn’t like gray….

colorexterior   colorfullivingroom   colorfulentryway                                          colorful dining area   redkitchen

My point is this: Love what you love. Decorate how you want. It is your home Your home should reflect your personality and surround you with peace. Some people embrace gray. Perhaps its calming? Some people crave color. Maybe its happy? Find peace within your home and don;t let pictures or blogs or trends tell you what you like.

justbeyou

Lentil Soup and a Taste of Humility

We first met this couple this past Winter at a Spanish church we attended at the request of the Pastor. He had invited us for worship and a barbecue afterwards. My husband and I had been somewhat instrumental in securing the property where this growing church was establishing roots. Having gone to the same large church on and off for about 15 years, we thought it would be good for us spiritually to experience a different culture and meet new people even if it was only on a few Sundays a year.

Walking in that Sunday, we were unsure of ourselves as we made our way to the back of the makeshift sanctuary in the garage so as not to cause a distraction. This church was starting from scratch with a  few chairs, musical instruments and a lot of hope. We had a few people look us over and give us a look of disdain wondering what we were doing there. We had a few people who came right up to us and hugged us. It was a small congregation of about  30 people. After the service we were introduced to a reserved, but confident couple that sat in the front row (names withheld for their privacy). He dressed in dress pants and shirt and tie. She dressed in dress pants shirt and blazer. Their Sunday best. It seemed as if they held high standards in dressing their best for church on Sunday. I was impressed by how welcoming and sweet they were to us.

We attended the Spanish church again that following Sunday. We again met up with the sweet couple from the previous week. We learned they were the proud owners of their own cleaning business. I was impressed at how this couple worked together as a team. Little did I know then, their story would continue to inspire me 6 months later.

Fast forward to Summer. The church closed it’s doors unable to continue spiritually and financially. The property I helped to secure for my good friend now sat empty. It just so happened that the sweet couple had become friends with the property owner and needed a place to move to. They had been living in an un-permitted garage. The landlord charged them an unreasonable (in my opinion) amount of rent. The couple had lived there for five years. During this time, some of their cleaning equipment had been stolen, the landlord came in one day and exchanged their larger refrigerator with a small dorm size refrigerator claiming the other refrigerator used too much energy, the landlord increased their rent occasionally if they felt the couple was using too much electricity, half of the outlets in the garage / living space didn’t work, and the oven quit working many years ago. Oh…and dealing with cockroaches. “That was the final straw for her“, she said.

My friend asked my opinion about renting to the couple. I definitely thought it was a win-win.

For a month now, my husband and I along with my friend and the couple have been trying to help clean the property and convert it back to a single family home. Its been somewhat trying at times running a business and dealing with my eye disease, but hearing their story has deeply inspired us and we wanted to help our friend. I heard much more of their story this weekend and it took my heart to a whole different level .

About five years ago, this couple had both lost their jobs. They were homeless living in their car. She told me they  went to their church and had asked the Pastor to help them as they had nowhere to go. He told them he couldn’t help them. They asked an Aunt if they could rent a room from her and she thought it wasn’t a good idea. They were homeless living in their car and bathing at a local park. Each day they would go and look for work. Finally, they were offered jobs at a company who cleaned offices after hours. After saving enough money working at the cleaning job, they rented the garage space they called home.

As she was telling me this story I was outraged that this landlord could treat them so callously over the past five years. I was determined to get the new house ready for them to move into this past weekend. I told them I thought we should go right over and move their things out of the garage space. She told me they had promised the landlord they would stay until the 10th of the month and they also wanted to repaint the walls and clean the space properly. I could my believe my ears. “Do you know everything the landlord has done is illegal? She has treated you so poorly. She is overcharging you and treated you with such disrespect! You shouldn’t pay her one more penny.”   Her reply was “She didn’t know us and took a chance on us when not even our Pastor would. We have to set an example in our lives and do the right thing even when someone else doesn’t.”  I was dumbfounded  . Shocked in fact. I was also ashamed. How could I have missed this? I stayed quiet and continued to work letting her words soak into my mind.

We finished the house last night. It is all set for them to move in this week. The wife left for a little bit before dinner and came back with a couple of bags of groceries. She overheard my husband say he loved lentil soup. After working a full day, she had gone to the grocery store to buy the ingredients for lentil soup to make for us for her first meal to cook and serve in her “new” kitchen. She made the soup homemade along with corn tortillas. My husband, friend and I were served first sitting at a card table with canvas folding chairs my husband keeps in his work truck. The piping hot soup was served in bowls that didn’t match. The wife ate her soup out of a mixing bowl because she only had 4 soup bowls. It was one of the best meals I have had. The flavor was good, but the fellowship was what I liked the best.

 

I walked through my door last night into our 2800 square foot home neatly decorated for Fall. I had left our house clean and I looked around at how very blessed are, but I also had a bit of sadness. My husband asked me what was wrong. I couldn’t explain it. He just looked at me and said “I know what you mean.” We didn’t have to talk about it. Sometimes we all need  a taste of humility and a dose of contentment. I am so proud to call this couple our friends. We come from very different backgrounds, but have so much to learn from one another. Sometimes knowing someone from a different background helps us learn who we are. Don’t you think?