5 Lessons of 2016

I could lie and tell you that I’ve been busy, that I’ve been great, and that I haven’t had time to write, but then that wouldn’t be truth.

Truth is I have days where I don’t want to write. Because it overwhelms me, having to make sure content is good enough to relate to and interesting enough to even read, but I have to remind myself that this is not the purpose behind my writing. Or sometimes I simply don’t want to share what I’m going through because I haven’t quite found the sunshine in it. It’s good to take a break and refocus.

I write because it allows me to get my thoughts together and to reflect on whatever situation I am currently in whether it’s one I am enjoying or one I am struggling through. And I share because I know someone somewhere can relate and feel my support.

I’ve been thinking a lot about 2016. life

Obviously it’s coming to an end and it’s natural for us to think “oh crap” or even “ugh finally”. 

We began the year with so many goals, dreams, with a high hope. I remember my word for this year was FREEDOM.

I can’t tell you how true that has been. Both in a positive and negative way.

I have found a freedom to simply be… myself. I grew so tired of trying to please loved ones and of always trying to do what was expected of me. Here are a few things I found freedom in.

  1. I dropped out of school a year ago. I only have 7 classes left to finish my psychology degree but I am in no rush. I HATE school, and I rarely use the word. I just cannot understand the system, learning “all” there is to know about a subject only to work for someone else and not ever work to your full potential or for your actual dreams. And do not even get me started on those ridiculous school loans that I’ll be paying even after my death!!!! I will eventually finish because I only have a little ways to go, but it’s not in my plans any time soon. I lovelovelove psychology, I just don’t like the system I am forced to adapt to. 
  2. I finally quit my job of three years, went into apartment leasing, hated it so much I cried at the end of each day, quit that, and went into another salon, which I love so much. I got so much crap about not staying at a job and switching so much and yes it affected me financially, but I am at such peace and so happy, i ain’t even mad. I only work a few hours a week so it gives me time to myself and to pursue my dreams. There is nothing more I’d like to say here 😉
  3. I started choosing my friends carefully, by my own terms and not anyone else’s. I also stopped listening to advice on relationships from people who aren’t dating and started making decisions on what was best for me. I have the sweetest friendships right now, even though it’s not people I talk to every single day. They have their lives, dreams, responsibilities and that’s okay. 
  4. I started taking more risks, which in a sense may seem “bad” but I think it has helped me gain new perspectives and it has grown me as a woman, as a person. And I don’t regret it. I don’t regret going to my first bar, going on random dates, bonfires at 2AM, random road trips alone, and so on. 
  5. I discovered so many unhealthy cycles I constantly go through caused by things in my childhood and though it isn’t something I am actively seeking to heal in this moment, I found so much freedom in understanding that my cycles had a trigger, a reason behind them and I am not just a broken wandering soul.

As I look back on my year, I am thankful for how much I have developed mentally & emotionally.

I am so excited it’s December! This is by far my favorite month of the year (besides May). Everything is bright and merry and full of love. Texas has been ridiculously cold and though I am a lover of my hot hot summers, I have been actually enjoying the weather. Full of cuddles, blankets, hoodies, heaters, long lazy days of Gilmore Girls with my sister, and so much more ❤️

My advice these next few weeks would be for you to reflect on 2016. Think about the lessons you learned and what you LOVED about this year, but don’t ignore the battles and those situations you hated. There are habits you can carry into this year because they support your dreams, and unfortunately others that will be the death of you. You are in charge of your success, of achieving your dreams. How you end this year WILL determine how 2017 begins.

You don’t have to settle for anything other than amazing!

Let’s chase our dreams together. I, too, am preparing for this new year.

Here’s to ending 2016 with a bang!

XX Leslie Tatiana

The struggle of “Not worthy”

Total honest moment.

It’s 12:54 AM & I suddenly have the desire to write…. When I have been avoiding it for 2 weeks.

TMI…   maybe it’s my monthly friend that has me in a mood and emotions all over the place and confused thoughts and rambling and the desire to do nothing at all…. (sorry to the fellas, but come on ladies!?)

So I’ve been avoiding blogging because I suddenly felt like I wasn’t good enough… like the words that came to my heart were pointless and that because I don’t have it together, I should just keep to myself

and that’s so unfair to myself, to God, and to this whole process of life.

How unfair to think that my experiences don’t mean much… that my heart doesn’t matter, that fighting through the rubble won’t bless anyone else? A little selfish too.

So now I am here, 1:00 AM in the morning, crying and processing my thoughts.

How many times have we walked away from big dreams and desires because we didn’t feel up for it? How many ideas have we pushed aside because our mess is too real?

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Look ya’ll… I’m such a mess. I have a big heart that loves and wants to be loved. I desire nothing more than to build people up, to be accepted, and to love deeply. I cry at least once a day, for dead animals on the street, because someone cancelled on me, because God whispers, because I realize I am not who I was but I also have a long way to go…. Literally CRY LOL

I laugh at the most ridiculous things…. And it makes me so happy.

I hate putting gas in my car and at least once a week, I end up on 0 miles on a freeway…. In Houston traffic!!!! LOL not joking. I spend way too much money on food and not enough saving.

So far I sound just like you right? So why do I feel so unworthy to share my experiences?

Lets get more honest here.

I don’t have it all together… I still struggle with forgiving. I am angry at my step dad who is not even my step dad anymore and no one knows this. I struggle with sin. I talk too much and don’t listen enough. I barely sleep. I don’t take care of my health.

Butpicsart-3 Leslie…. Cut yourself some slack. You’re 22 and you’re doing the best you can.
And it is the whole vision of Dancing In Your Love: to sort through my mess, discover His secrets, and to encourage others as I learn.

Can I tell you the same today??

Cut yourself some slack. Be kind to your heart. Take care of yourself. Life isn’t always sunshine and that is okay. It will get better and before you know it, those things you’re working at will work themselves out.

Take a deep breath and conquer your day. 

Don’t give up on your crazy, wild dreams just because you see your mess. That’s the process of it all. You were made to do great things and a little fire is necessary to shape and to mold you so you can be the greatest YOU.

For once, be on your team. Be your own #1 fan.

We can do this together. It’s Friday & we made it to the WEEKEND!!

Here’s to difficult days, that sometimes we bring on ourselves.

Thankful for a God who is patient through it all… the one who makes us worthy.

Dancing in His love,

xx Leslie Tatiana

I think I am finally clean

Life has a funny way of happening.

It chooses its victims and its victors, and simply happens.

In life’s toughest seasons, I have found that worship is the key to getting up and regaining strength. Worship is not only just singing to God, but also a state of being, the confidence that God is good, faithful, full of grace, and that He has your world in His hands.

I recently went through a difficult break up in my life, which was caused by many different factors, but nonetheless it hurt. I was thrown into a season that I later prolonged, causing it to last and hurt way longer than God probably wanted for me. My life suddenly became meaningless, dry, empty. The joy and passion for life I once had was no longer evident. I did not want to be around people, around anything that was stable because I was angry, at myself, at the guy, and at God. Looking back at my actions, my attitude, my perspective, I have learned a few things that would have changed the duration of my desert.

1. Embracing

The very first thing I didn’t do was accept. I refused to believe that my world had taken a drastic change. I tried to continue doing the same things I did when I was in the relationship, including hanging out with the same group that was connected to us, keeping communication with his family, eating at the same places, driving by the same streets. Literally nothing changed. Except the appearance together on social media. This made it difficult for me, and I’m sure him as well, to allow a death to happen so that healing could begin. Instead, we kept rolling around in the ashes of what was left, hoping to rebuild something that was long overdue to end.

I accepted my desert and my brokenness a year later, and everything that came with that; pain, friendships ending, new habits, new hangout places. This allowed me to accept my feelings. I was angry, mad, broken, confused, a little relieved actually. The lack of acknowledgement the year before didn’t leave room for these feelings and caused me to live in a lie, not ever dealing with the actual emptiness. After taking it in, my entire outlook of my season was transformed, and most importantly I was able to worship, to look for God, to seek help with sincerity, a new sense of clarity. I was now aware of the condition of my heart and spirit; I could care for myself better.

2. Enduring

The second important thing to do in every season is endure, hold on. After accepting and acknowledging, you have to fight to endure whatever comes your way. This may look different depending on your personality and your season, but this happens by gaining understanding, a new perspective. Some seasons require more time alone, while others require us to be surrounded by loved ones, learning to interact with other souls. Sometimes you need to study the Word, other times a lot of worship and time of prayer will help. Each season will be different but part of embracing it and not having to relearn the lessons years later, is knowing what your season is all about.

I endured my season by soaking in on His presence. Being in His presence was so important for me because I felt as though my heart was a shattered mess and I had no idea where to begin. I felt as though I had to pick up the pieces alone, buy some super glue, and put it all together alone. My identity had been placed in the relationship and when that ended, I no longer knew who Leslie was. Worship allowed me to hear the Lord’s sweet voice again, to hear life, to experience a love so sweet and not be afraid to be broken again. His presence was a safe place for me these last few months and as I embraced the brokenness and loneliness, I learned what I needed to heal and gained a sense of direction. Somedays I spent hours alone, writing, reading, thinking, crying to worship… and Adele songs (not a joke lol) and other weeks I spent all 7 days with my girls. I had to be connected to God and be constantly checking in on my heart to know exactly what I needed that day. Being in His presence didn’t make the pain go away, my friends didn’t distract me enough to forget what had died, but these two things did make the season more bearable.

I didn’t blend.

I didn’t make this brokenness my identity. I did not allow someone walking away from my life to define who I was. The season could have easily made me bitter, angry, hateful, but I chose to allow God to remind me who I was. I did not allow the pain to blend in with my deepest desires, to control my heart. We allow situations/people to intertwine themselves into our identity and we give them more rights than they deserve. Although we are shaped by our environment, we are not defined by them and this is so important to remember in seasons of growth. How careful a season is handled determines how you end it, if you pass the test, and if you have to repeat later in life.

3. Guarding

I don’t know about you, but seasons make me vulnerable. I feel like suddenly I have no idea what is going on inside of me or around me. I know now that seasons are meant to grow you. To teach you something, but in the middle of it, I tend to get overwhelmed and a little lost. I wish I could sit in class, learn all about the season, and then test over it. But most of the time, I don’t even realize it’s a test, until I am annoyed and frustrated and throwing fits to God.

And then I’m like oh SHOOT!!!! This is a test!!!

And I buckle down and try to pass it lol just like college.

One of the most important pieces to the seasons puzzle, is guarding.

Guarding your heart, mind, entire being- with everything that is within you.

When I first entered my season after the break up, I did not guard anything. I cried wherever, I spoke to many people about how I felt- and got millions of responses, some bashing the guy, some making me feel like crap, others making me miss what we had, others making me glad I was out. But none of them were actually me, no one understood because I was the one in the relationship, I dealt with the fights, with the decisions, with the memories. No one knew exactly how good or how bad it was because they weren’t us.

The opinions affected me a lot and literally had me back and forth, running in circles. Depending on who was giving their opinion that day, I was hopeful, expecting to fix the relationship, to heal what was broken, and to fight for what we had. Other days, I was angry, I hated him, I felt abandoned and betrayed, I hated him for giving up, for walking away.

I would also listen to songs, look at pictures, reread birthday cards, text messages, to remind myself of promises made and then I’d see my current state and this would send me into deep depressing days. I would be having a great day but I CHOSE to take myself to this hole every single time.

After awhile, I grew tired of hurting and fighting myself.

Instead of being my #1 protector, I was the biggest bully to my fragile and vulnerable heart.

My heart would trust me by allowing me to feel and I would take advantage and make it 10583034x worse. I stopped listening to Adele, Taylor Swift and any songs that reminded me of what was. I stopped watching romantic movies and I stopped pinning wedding things on pinterest. I stayed away from anything that would negatively affect me including people. People who had strong opinions about the breakup no longer had place in my life, and it sucked. I let go of many friendships because they were so connected to that time in my life but my heart became more important to me.

This is SO important. You are your own advocate, the best friend your heart longs for. You connect your spirit and heart to Jesus and you CHOOSE to thrive in whatever season you are in. So ultimately, it is YOUR duty to guard your season, most importantly guard your heart. You can no longer have an open door and allow songs, opinions, movies etc., around you but now your main focus should be to successfully pass this season and learn what you need to learn.

I guarded my mind so much, I would only listen to worship, read healing/life speaking books, hang out with people who had my heart as a priority.

And I don’t apologize for that.

I had spent so many years trying to submit to someone else, trying to be someone else so that I would be loved, trying to please man and be perfect. Let me tell you, the first chance I had to take care of myself and “do me” I ran and took it!

4. Growing

Like I ranted before, seasons are about taking care of yourself. About learning of you and of Him. If handled correctly, they take you to the next level in life, making the vision of your life and your creator clearer.

This is something that is to be kept in the front-line, in a place where it can be constantly looked at and remembered. These trials all are different, some last months, some years, and it can be easy to forget what the real purpose is. Although the heartbreak I endured was one of the worsts I have ever experienced, I chose to grow from it. Doing the first 3 things set me up to thrive. I did not allow the circumstance to make me a victim but instead held so close to Jesus that my identity began to change and I began to see purpose in my pain.

I love love love what 1 Peter 1:6 says:

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold- though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

What more do we need?! The trials cause our faith to be tested and if handled correctly, our faith will grow! If our faith grows, we will see Him in His glory, more clearly. Locking eyes with my King is more than enough for me to persevere through seasons of all kinds.

Come hell, come high water, come valleys, mountains, deserts, sunshine….

I am His and He is mine, forever.

Crazy that when the above picture was taken, a year ago, I was broken, faking my way through the pain. The pieces of my heart were too shattered and I had no idea where to begin. Thankful I fought my way through that season, and that I stand today.

Praying for you today. Whatever season you are in, CHOOSE to stay in the fight. Embrace, endure, guard, and grow from your trials.

Be truly glad friends, there is wonderful joy ahead.

From glory to glory we go,
All while dancing in His love.

The Test of the Thought Pt. 1

Let’s take it back to last week.

Monday was terrible. I went to work and by 4:30 I was so stressed- I cried, hid in the bathroom and walked around aimlessly until 5:30 CLOCK OUT TIME!!!

Tuesday…. By 10:00 AM I was ready to walk out because I couldn’t handle the stress and the environment anymore. I’ve recently become someone who doesn’t tolerate anything that does not bless me or anything that takes my peace away. I spent way too many years submitting to people, environments, and habits that I couldn’t stand and in the end, was in deeper mess than if i would’ve had enough self-worth to walk away. And that’s what I did Tuesday. I went to lunch around 12 and never came back to work.I spent the day walking into salons and leaving my resume and now I have a new job, in the field that I love- beauty industry!

Then later that week, my name was involved in a “he said she said story” and words were placed in my mouth that I never said. It took away my peace. I’ve worked so hard these last few months to get rid of everything that did not bless my life and the enemy took advantage of it.  But I chose to stay silent and allow God himself to fight for me. I talked to God over and over, complained and cried because I am not one to stay quiet and allow disrespect, I am a fighter (lol)- and the only thing I heard back from the Lord was Exodus 14:14 “the Lord will fight for you: you need only be still.” And I had no defense back to this, I simply submitted and did as told.

This night I also went to a spanish church service on the other side of town and one thing that stood out to me was my thought process during this event. I was in the midst of it, singing spanish worship songs, listening to a pastor preach in spanish, surrounded by spanish speaking people and I suddenly missed my life a few years back- because there was no pressure to be better, to step out in faith and serve Him leaving everything behind. I thought I had my life together, planned from school to marriage to ministry and friendships. And this is when I knew something was wrong. Though the message and the pastor himself blessed me and confirmed something I had been praying earlier, the enemy was up to something because I wanted to go back to my old life, a time in which I had every detail of my life planned and I was the one in control, playing God.

Besides me, I knew a couple of people in our leadership were dealing with attacks as well. With finances, relationships, insecurities, thoughts, exhaustion, all sorts of things. I know that we don’t get spiritual enough these days to say”attacks” (which we should) but i will get spiritual today and just call the enemy out.

It’s not a coincidence that all of this happened in one week, especially the things in my life considering i’m on a “no drama” type of attitude and I am nipping things as soon as they happen.

But then came Sunday.

& setting up that morning felt different. And though we couldn’t grasp what God had in store a few hours later, we could smell Him cooking while we cleaned Numbers and got ready.

Service was set to start at 6:00 PM…. By 5:50, the front doors of the club were packed. It was awkwardly packed, people kept staring at me so I could open the doors and let them in. The atmosphere was alive and people we’re excited, though there was no room to stand – ready to worship God and celebrate Revive.

From the moment the doors opened, all 14 rows were packed. I put out an extra row “just in case” and went to sit at the front. 1 minute later, Pastor Eddie came over to me and told me there was no room to sit and all chairs needed to be put out. We ended up being so packed out with 140 chairs that we had to ask leaders and Dream Team Members to give up seats and sit on the side bleachers! How GOOD is GOD?!

The worship team was on fire- nothing more to say here. I have been led by each one into worship but last night was different. Each person was on another level and another realm. Alive and electric- dancing, singing, shouting, hands lifted and eyes on the King.

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Jabin Chavez at Revive!? Seriously?!!!! How in the world did we manage that? God did it. And I loved what one of my pastors said “it is God’s way of saying I got y’all.” He killed the word and messed us up, stirred up a hunger and a revival that WE are the church- when God sees a city, He sends His church. He saw Montrose & He sent Revive.

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So going back to the beginning, we all went through hell this past week and though we didn’t broadcast it, it was a very difficult week. & there was a moment in Jabin’s message that brought everything together. He explained how the devil does not know the plans God has for us but he knows the potential, and because of that potential, he attacks. Jabin does not know what our church has been through in its short year of life and neither do some of you, but he very specifically pointed out that through the attacks, through the haters, through the mess, through the Red Sea- God promised to be with us.

 

Last night, I saw dead spirits and souls coming back to life. I saw new faces in awe of a REAL God. I saw parents encouraged and proud, finally understanding why their child is ALL about Revive. I saw youth catch a vision, a hope for their future. And what impacted me the most, I saw my pastors and the team of leaders get a glimpse of the potential we have together and a picture of what God can do in Montrose. It gave life, hope, strength.

The tears have been worth it Revive. Crossing over and leaving a familiar land to an unknown and unwelcoming one. Losing people, losing loves, friends, family. Having to drive 40+ minutes to set up for 2 hours, worship, and tear down for 1 hour. Being criticized, forgotten, and undervalued.

ALL of this was worth it last night- because so many souls came alive, friendships and families were strengthened. We were injected with the vision to run for another year, to build His kingdom and love the broken.

 

Thank you to each one of you who celebrated with us. We love you dearly, we are honored, and we cannot wait for the next 100 years!

 

Happy Birthday Revive!

Here’s to building a legacy with Kingdom Carriers, all for His glory!

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Finally, Goodbye

Goodbye

It’s been many months, years.

But just a few weeks ago we parted ways.

This isn’t to anyone specific… some words may absolutely be, to be honest.

words to everyone and everything I have let go of, all in one. These past months the Lord has really been molding me and walking with me as I face some of my scariest fears and trials. I am learning how to guard my heart, trust Him,  and how to again, like I’ve written before, walk on healing. It’s amazing how much He had taught me and how hand in hand he has walked with me. This is just a little insight on how I feel in this moment after letting go of a few different things. 

 

Dear You,

It’s been way too long and I am relieved to say that I am finally ready for real freedom, the freedom I so eloquently described in other words. I have experienced a taste here and there but I seemed to always end up back under your spell… in the same vicious circle I always wanted out of. There is a lot that I could complain about and a lot of anger I could hold onto, but instead I’m choosing to simple say goodbye.

I am thankful… maybe not as thankful as I will be years from now, but I have always been one to try to learn from my circumstances…. & oh boy has this taught me so much. I want you to know that I loved you, like I’ve never loved anyone before… & maybe that is the problem there, because I loved you too much, I looked for you and your approval too much and that is what led me to lose myself.

Thankful for the lessons, the memories, the ability to experience such a love that has shaped me into who I will be and the pulpit that I will have. I have learned that it is God who decides your worth, from the moment He gave his life for me… I found my worth. My worth doesn’t come from you, and whether you choose to be my friend or not. I do not need approval from you because God has made me whole and complete.

Letting go has opened my eyes to all that I was allowing… all that I was putting up with. I found a new strength, the ability to say goodbye.

Again, thank you for the experience, but I love life and myself too much to hang around. I now know that I do not have to be somewhere that is inconsistent and so insecure. I know that I deserve 100% honesty- someone who will have my best interest at heart no matter the atmosphere. A friend who knows me and allows themselves to be known, instead of living a life of secrets.  

Saying goodbye to years of feeling less to you. Of finding my identity in what happened and allowing myself to be victim to fear. I no longer blame God for what you chose to do. I know God is good, what you decided impacted my life but in no way does it control it… any longer. The broken little helpless girl is now a woman… of faith, love, and hope for the future.  

Goodbye to the many years I spent controlled by you. I have learned that my past does not dictate my future I’m a negative way, instead it allows me to connect and to be better.  Goodbye to the selfish little girl who just wants to be loved, my identity is in what Christ has done for me- not in pleasing humanity. I am victorious in Him and not a victim to my circumstances.

Goodbye

Praying that you find yourself, that you find who you are and you pursue the things that make you come alive, in Him. I will heal from this and eventually you will not mean more than a memory- hopefully you can do the same. Forgiveness is powerful, it’s freeing. I am on that road and I am finally so happy.

Goodbye

You have no power over me. I am whole. I am free. I have been redeemed. He patiently waited for me to understand that He knows me… And despite knowing me, still chooses me. So I am writing to let you know you no longer have power over my thoughts and over my decisions. You can knock but you will no longer be let in.

The door has been shut.

And this is my goodbye.

 

This was for people, sins, habits that no longer have a hold on me. Know that He created you for greater things and you have the power to CHOOSE to walk away from anything that does not bless your life, anything that makes you feel less than the amazing human you are- relationships, friendships, jobs, character traits. Know that you deserve the best this life has to offer and you are worth a great life. Dream big and never change to gain someone’s approval. Also know that this is hard. In no way is it easy to suddenly walk away from something you are used to and much harder when you love… But the reward is greater than the pain you will feel. I hope you find strength today to walk away and to never look back. God is truly good and He has a good good plan.

Dancing in His Love

August 16, 2008

Allowing myself to share and to re-experience this trauma is terrifying. But 8 years later, I am praying it blesses your life and it allows you to feel a little stronger and stand a little taller.

I grew up with my little brother, who is 2 and a half years younger, and my uncle who was 4 years older than me. We used to play hide and go seek(in the dark because that’s the only way to play right?), cops and robbers and most of the time we would end up fighting because that’s what big brothers do best right? He would make me so mad for all the pranks and fights we would get into and all the different rules he would change last-minute, but when he was in trouble with grandma or when he had nowhere to go, my mom took him in and we learned to grow up with him.

My mom was in the living room of our two bedroom apartment in Katy, Tx. She was currently enrolled in online classes at Phoenix University.

I don’t remember what my 11 year old brother was doing, because I only know my experience, and he has never spoken of his.

I was praying in my mom’s room. Writing and listening to a third day song- which I have blocked out because the pain from this night was too much so I cannot remember the exact song anymore.

Mom’s phone rang.

And then there was crying and crying and questions. and crying.

I turned off the music and waited.

She came into the room- “Edwin was shot… my little brother is gonna die.”

I didn’t know what else to do because I was 14… not an adult who had experience with someone dying and being shot, just a 14 year old who was starting high school in a week. So I did what 14 year old’s do best and I called my best friend Lisa. And I told her what I knew, and in a few minutes, my brother and I were being dropped off at her house to stay with her family while mom came to Boxelder rd. to help.

I don’t remember much else from this night. Except that my brother clinged to me and we prayed together before going to sleep that my uncle would survive. And that we would get to see him the next morning. I had full faith that I was going to wake up the next day okay.

only to be woken up with the worst news my family has ever received till this day.

I arose from Lisa’s bed, got my brother ready, and waited for mom to come get us. My heart felt like it was no longer beating- and this feeling continued for months after. My breathing slowed and knots formed in my throat, and stayed.

I remember crying in the car, and hearing mom and a family friend talk about me as if I wasn’t in the back. I had entered a completely separate world and I was now watching myself experience this trauma. Too much for me to bear, I took the backseat in my life and watched everything around me crumble. My brother never said a word, never blinked, never reacted, and never asked anything. He just sat still and allowed the chaos around him to swirl.

walking into my now home- then grandma’s house,  the eerie dark atmosphere that surrounded my home was an indescribable one… I could not catch a breath because the darkness and sadness and death was so tangible in the air… it was better to not breathe.

There was bullet casings in the grass that the cops missed and blood stained cement that Marvin was attempting to clean up. That spot by the front door stayed dark for months after until it was finally washed away and covered by the seasons.

And all i heard was crying, and screaming, and the questions in my head grew louder and the anger began to stir. I didn’t understand because I had prayed & I was nice to my brother & I was a good daughter by listening to mom when she dropped me off in the middle of the night in another home instead of letting me be by her side. I had asked God to save him and to protect him and I woke up the next morning, with a God who didn’t hear me.

My grandma was empty inside and all she did was scream and ask for her son, who was dead. who had died in our front door. Whose life was taken from us in the comfort of our own home.

The next days weren’t any better. And his room was cold and empty, lacking in life and in humor. His voice, his loud obnoxious raps, and chopped and screwed music, the room was silent, gone.

And then came the people. And the people sucked. Because they whispered and they asked questions and they gave opinions and theories, without being asked.

And some sat quietly in the living room, and their silence reminded me that this was the worst thing that had happened to my family, in the comfort of our home. I wanted everyone gone and I wanted answers.

So I sat by the front door.

And I waited.

Because I refused to believe that he was gone. Any minute now, he would walk in through the door and punch me and call me a “peon” and sit to eat Doritos…. or cocoa pebbles, which till this day, my grandma still buys.

Then came the wake and though I thought I had experienced the worst, this was worse than worst.

His body slowly changed colors and his fingers lost life and they hardened. And I could no longer stand at the front to hold his hand because it was no longer him, the life had left and all that we were left with was a strange body.

I experienced my first panic attack this day.

As I grabbed his hand and it was harder than the day before.

So I hate funerals. 8 years later and I refuse to look at lifeless bodies. Because of him. Loving someone, robbing fake banks together, giving my little brother wegies, putting ointment on his wounds from fights with grandma, and then suddenly seeing them lay lifeless. And as you call their name, they still don’t get up?

I would stand for long periods and I would hold his hand and pray. And I would demand that he get up and walk, but it never happened. And soon his body became so cold that I was no longer allowed to go up to the casket because I could not mentally handle it. Different family members would hold me down in the bench. It didn’t make sense to me.

He never walked through door. And he never got up.

I still consider this the event that changed my family forever. My grandma still cries. My brother barely speaks, and I am never home. We have never experienced a death so close to home- figuratively and literally. So it’s still rubble we’re figuring out. I can’t see guns or hear balloons pop without my heart beating faster. There’s not a night in which I don’t look around me a million times before walking into my house. Black SUV’s scare me, I run if they drive by. My German Shepherd does not do well with fireworks because he was also here with the gunshots and the chaos of the police and the entire Boxelder street.

But the best thing is that, today, I know God is still good. He did hear my prayer and he took care of my family because we didn’t fall apart. We are still breathing. And there is an unshakable bond between mom, brother, and myself. We saw hell and death, and have been able to live life for 8 years, maybe with a few faults but nonetheless live.

And though we never found the killer, and I don’t quite understand- I choose to believe that God turns bad to good.

Not sure if this speaks to you, but I choose to believe that I have a God who has a plan bigger than what I can understand. He is not surprised nor is he moved by the events of our lives. I pray that in every situation, you choose to see the good, and that even though you prayed and you asked for a different outcome- know that He did indeed hear, He holds our words close to his heart and whispers them to none.

I am stronger today. I know what its like to lose, and to eventually rise again and stand tall. I no longer cry every day and now, I can share his story, in the hopes that it will bless many lives. I only share this so that you know you are not alone. We all have situations we don’t understand and trauma happens. But what you do after is what matters. And I pray that you always choose to stand and continue in the fight. This life is good and we are blessed to be able to feel so deeply and to experience love.

I wish you would have had the opportunity to meet him. He was misunderstood. A basic Alief raised young man- looking for a place to belong because his family was broken at home. But with such great potential and intelligence.

Eight years later and here is my experience of August 16th, 2008.

Missing you forever Ed.

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To gaze on the beauty of the Lord

I was in Barnes & Noble tonight, browsing because I love reading and one can never have too many books!
There were so many books on dating, so many opinions and advices and thoughts on what godly dating is like and what the bible says about it and what authors think it should be like.
It’s been 5 months since I decided to stop dating for a year…. & it really hasn’t been as easy. I’ve found myself lonely driving home or lonely on the weekends when all my friends are with their boyfriends. But I have also found it strangely satisfying. Getting to take care of myself and learning who I am… It’s literally a love hate relationship LOL like I want to go on sweet dates but then I also want to be left alone and make decisions thinking only of myself. See cus being with a significant other, all want to do is serve and take care of the other person and make sure that they are okay- which sometimes caused me to lose myself in them. So in this season I’ve taken time to see what I like to do. And to depend on myself for my own growth and happiness.

It’s been a hard few months, my flesh desires to cling to someone, to share my hard days with and to rejoice together and oh BOY do I have options- not in a conceited way lol but I can take matters into my own hands and make something happen but that isn’t I want. In the moments when I feel most alone and I crave someone’s presence to be next to me, I go back to my vision and my dream. I want to be able to be on my knees worshipping, worried about His kingdom and in that process, find someone who is willing to run with me, to build His kingdom, to build our own dreams, and someone who will care for me and my spirit. LOL LIKE IS THAT SO HARD TO ASK FOR?!

Just kidding.

So I’ve resisted making moves, making myself available. I’m been a little of both guarded and open if that makes any sense. I’ve been guarded to any romance, but I’ve been openly making new friends and carrying conversations. In that process, I’ve learned more of what I also like and don’t like.

Now what I’m struggling with is my love story with God… It’s a hard and complex thing. God as father and God as my first love
1. I don’t have a relationship with my earthly father so trying to go deeper with God in this area is ridiculously hard. Like what the heck does that even mean? What does that even look like? Totally clueless.
2. My romantic relationships haven’t been examples I want to follow so understanding this level of love with God…. It’s also different.

And here is what I have so far:

Do you know that He desires to know you? He desires to love you and to entangle you with His ropes of love. And how beautiful it is to think of the Lord, the definition of love, loving you 😍 He’s the sweetest, most constant love I’ve ever known and despite my guarded heart and my insecurities and my fears of His love, it doesn’t change His sweet embrace. He doesn’t give up and he continues to entice me, to dance with me. And as long as He always does this, then nothing else matters. It’s worth the wait, worth the fight. His plans are good and I am trusting this sweet, but difficult process because like He has promised- it will be more beautiful than I ever imagined.

My prayer these next few months:

“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.”

Psalms 27:4

Praying you’re encouraged!! God IS good! How sweet is it to have the freedom to gaze upon His beauty and for Him to return the gesture!? Cannot wait for these next few months and how He will surprise me and how much deeper we will go together.

Forever dancing,

Waiting on The Lord

Being completely transparent.

I have recently made huge changes in my life.

Probably because I’m early 20’s…. Deciding who I’m going to be, what I am going to do, and every other anxious decision that comes with 21.

One of these changes led to a decision, a decision of singleness for a year- meaning no boys, no dates, no flirting, no late night calls, and nothing else that means boyfriend.

My entire life- I can go back to seasons and remember the relationship I was in, the moment I felt like my life was falling apart, and then meeting someone new, and forgetting all about the previous season. And no offense to anyone else who enjoys this, but I refuse to have a life summarized and described by the relationships I’ve had and failed in. I am tired of fighting God and giving Him tiny tiny pieces of my heart, and then pouring my heart out in things that resulted in chaos. That cycle is mediocre and I was created for so much more.

So in these last few weeks of being with myself…. I have experienced some great days, and some….. days that swallow me whole, with little oxygen and sunlight.

I wish I could say it’s been easy. I wish I could say “wow it’s been a year already and i’m so much wiser”. Truth is, it hasn’t been a year LOL only less than a month.

The days that swallow me- I can barely hear God, mostly because I’m focused on my physical loneliness. I have no plans no desires no peace just fear and a million thoughts and questions and doubts and my past plays in my head and I want answers NOW and I want things my way and I want my plans and I want me to be satisfied and I have the worst attitude ever and….. Stop. Breathe. Take it one day at a time. God is good Leslie, Remember, He is Good.

Honestly, I cry and cry and cry and sometimes it’s better. But other times, the tears don’t stop. It’s an endless hole of emptiness and pain that I cannot even begin to accurately describe without losing the beauty of the process.

But then there’s the good days ❤ and these are the things that fill me with hope. I wake up, and the voice of God is so soft… so sweet…. so calm. And my day is organized. I pray, I worship. I dwell all day. I grow as a woman- filling my day with the things that will move me forward.

I am strangely enjoying this season.

I love Mondays. I clean, finish my home chores. I read, which I used to adore doing, but forgot with time.

I literally unplug, stay off my phone, go to a movie alone, and I just enjoy my own company. Absolutely amazing because I never thought I would be one to experience this and secretly crave it.

Waiting on the Lord is not easy. But oh man is it such an EXPERIENCE.

I’m not waiting on the Lord simply to date, but to simply move. I have no control over the things that will come, or the ones that will not, but what I can do is worship. I choose to worship. I choose to bend my knees, to fight through my legs numbing, to sing and tell the Lord what I am feeling, what I am believing for. I choose to speak and share my heart with Him because He is worthy and so faithful. There is no other stance that I will take. I don’t have all the answers and I have no idea what my decision is leading me to but I do know my God outdoes Himself every time I choose to give him control. This process is beautiful.

I am so thankful for the good days, and honestly the bad ones too. Because when I reach that moment, I am going to understand it so well. And I am going to appreciate it and know that I fought – I didn’t get swallowed but instead grew in strength and integrity and all things lovely.

I will wait on the Lord. He is all I have.

I can’t wait to share what He does this year!

Forever Dancing In His Love,

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“And suddenly you know… It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

Sneaking in some writing time at work because I need a little breather from the demands and requests of our clients. (naughty naughty)

I woke up this morning by the ringing of my alarm, which we already know I hate. I don’t remember going to sleep because I looked at my clock at 2:00 AM and decided I wouldn’t be able to wake back up in 3 hours so might as well pull an all nighter…. But that didn’t happen.

Anyways, with little sleep and much grogginess, I woke up with such a new freedom.

I have been preparing my spirit and my heart for this day, the last day of this stinkin year.

 

Let’s reflect together.

 

My 2015 started off on a high and I preached for the first time on January 18th. Such a great experience being able to prepare and dive deeper in God. My favorite part was learning that whatever you’re preaching on is exactly what God ministers to your heart. For example, I talked about forgiveness and that whole week before, God reminded me of things I needed to let go of and people I needed to forgive.

2 weeks after this high, my life slowly spiraled down and the funny thing is that not many knew how messy my life had become, maybe only a handful.

Not many details are needed to understand that I entered a desert, one, which I put myself in, and one that I chose to stay in. Despite the many talks my mentors took time to have, despite prayer, despite His presence, I chose to continue in my mess and run from freedom and healing. It’s crazy now that I reflect because I don’t understand how any of it happened. I wasn’t ready to defend myself and my guards were down for the first time in my entire life so I was knocked down to the very bottom.

 

From the moment I heard about a man named Jesus (7th grade) and all through high school, I worked hard to overcome pain. To overcome anger. Just to overcome.

And I can’t believe that I was in a place where I submerged myself back into all these things God himself took me out of.

Long story short, the desert continued. I ran and ran and ran and ran only to find myself still in the middle, bound and surrounded by my biggest fears.

Finally, Revive launched. And I knew I had no choice but to fight for myself because I did not want to lose what I had worked so hard to gain.

 

And months of fighting, here I am today, standing strong.

Back on my feet and I couldn’t be more excited.

Maybe my perspective is a bit dramatic and I see everything different, but life is a little more fun that way 😉

I woke up this morning with the sound of bells.

The sound of bells which for me signify freedom.

 

This freakin year is finally over and I don’t have to hold onto anything I do not desire. I don’t have to bring anything along that brought me chaos and pain.

I also don’t have to carry heartache and offenses because I have too many dreams and goals to be worried about who hurt my feelings.

I ‘ve been reading Joshua a lot. I believe this is my message for this next year. Trusting in God, trusting that He has placed me to lead His people, my generation, and having a faith so strong in Him, that nothing else distracts my journey.

 

Be encouraged because this is an end but also a beginning. The heartaches and failures of this year, happened and it’s done with.

 

New year, new victories. For we know from glory to glory we go.

Here’s to a magical new beginning! ❤

 

Forever dancing in His love,

Leslie

Dear You,

Can I tell you something?

Something that might make you smile, cry, anxious, all at once.

You are worthy. 

And can I be a little more bold and tell you more?

You are loved.

You don’t have to wake up every morning and wonder how your day is going to go, wonder who will be free to spend time with you. You don’t have to force someone to love you and to give you the attention you are desiring because there is already someone who has made you #1.

I want you to know that Jesus himself has His gaze set on you, and He looks to you with fire burning in His eyes. On your beauty, on your contagious smile, on your loving heart and your thoughtful mind.

And everything that you are, the good and the ugly, He loves.

Walk in dignity, with strength, and your head held high.

Let go of that which does not align itself to His pure love.

And be free to be loved.

Because you are worth more than you realize.

Love,

Me