Taking Care of Your Heart Pt. 1

HI FRIENDS! I wanted to share my heart, give an update on life these past 6 months, and a few tips on taking care of your heart.

My life has changed DRASTICALLY in the last 8 months and I am in such a beautiful season! I got a big girl job and work 8-5, which I said I would never do but strangely, I LOVE it lol I am also officially dating someone, the sweetest person ever (more blogs on that later) and I have plugged myself into a new home #ILOVEHTX

Anyways, life is pretty great right now! And I’m so thankful for this season and trying to soak it ALL in.  

I have gotten way better at taking care of myself and I think this is something so many of us struggle with so I thought I would share what I have been working on. I’m sharing the ideas over 5 posts as a mini series for the blogs. I hope you enjoy & let me know if you would like more of these types of series.

  1. Treat yourself
  2. Prayer + Word
  3. Rest
  4. Guarding your heart + your peace
  5. Soaking

The older I get and the more that I want to just make sure my heart is healthy. My inner peace has become one of the dearest things to me and something I intentionally look after. I used to let everything and everyone in and out of my life regardless of how good or bad, or anxious it made me. And although I am still learning how to filter through situations and people, I have gotten way better at guarding my peace.

Over the last few months, I decided I wanted to be someone who people like being around, someone who speaks life because I really do believe in people not just because it’s what we’re “supposed to do”. I wanted to be full of confidence, full of love. And I believe the only way to really live this out is to be at peace with yourself and your world. We cannot offer anyone else anything if we ourselves are empty. And even more so, we cannot offer anything healthy, if we aren’t taking care of ourselves – mind, body, and spirit.   

One of the things I love doing is treating myself (sometimes a little too much LOL). Weeks and days can speed by without me even getting a chance to catch my breath until I’m exhausted because how the heck are we already in July?!? I learned in my previous season that I burned myself out at 23 years old because I was constantly giving to the wrong people, sowing into the wrong situations, and never made time for myself. I am still in the process of learning of ways to take care of myself but here are a few of the things I enjoy:

  1. I love dancing! ( ya know, dancing in your love lol?) Dancing makes me happy, it’s a good workout and a good time! I try to go dancing at least once a month or try to take classes every few months. One of my major goals this month is to go to more classes. You can find easy $10 classes around the city or simply go for a night out in town and dance the night away.
  2. I love facemasks and little spa days. There are many different options from target and ulta that I love to purchase. I would just recommend really knowing your skin and how it reacts to certain products before going all out. My face is really sensitive so I have to be careful what I use. I’ve also created natural face masks that I found on pinterest.
  3. Treat yourself to a Mani/Pedi. This is one of my favorite things to do because my life is together when my nails are done and perfect. It doesn’t even have to be expensive or even at a salon! Look up at home Manis, play some tunes, and relax while you hook yourself up!
  4. Treating yourself to a…. treat. In this generation of perfect bodies, health diets, workout regimes, and more, sometimes it’s nice to treat yourself to something sweet. Buy the cookie, have some ice cream, enjoy that snack that you think about all day!

I had the opportunity of visiting Essential Body Bar this past weekend and it was such a relaxing experience. In the center of downtown, this spa is in a cute little house that was turned into a relaxing spa. As soon as you walk in, Letrice, the owner is very welcoming and so is the decor and ambiance.

I had a Microdermabrasion and a Swedish massage.

I had never had a MD done and I was really nervous about it because my face is very sensitive but I was actually able to relax because Sarah explained everything before she did it and there is a mini facial before the actual treatment began.

The treatment itself is not painful. The tool exfoliates and has a suction tip that helps clean/unclog your pores. And it left my face smooth the rest of the day without any noticeable redness or bruising. Today my face is a little dry but I expected it. Nothing a little moisturizer can’t fix!

The Swedish massage was very light pressure and very relaxing. Sometimes, the massage therapists apply too much pressure and i’m always WAY too shy to say something but this was the perfect Swedish massage. I had never tried hot stones and they were so so so relaxing. The massage therapist was also very professional and explained everything he was doing.

Essential body bar formulates their own products and use a lot of essential oils that help you relax during your services. Lavender is probably one of my favorite oils.

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I would definitely recommend treating yourself to one of the services, it is definitely worth a little self care and the prices are very affordable.

In order to offer the world the very best version of you, you have to be the best version for YOU. The world needs what you have to offer and there are only people YOU can reach so be intentionally about taking care of and treating yourself.

XX,

Dancing in His love

Leslie Tatiana

When Fathers Fail You

“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows— this is God, whose dwelling is holy.” Psalms 68:5

I believe that God always makes a way to take care of you and looking back, I can always see the people He brought into my life to guard me and to guide me. 

My dad went to jail when I was really little. Probably younger than a year or right around that time, I’m not really sure when or why because we don’t speak of it, I just know that it happened and my memories of him are pictures of my mom taking me to see him in jail. We would drive a few hours to see him, arrive at 7:00AM to spend a few hours there. The officers would call him over the system and we’d have to wait for him to be called and come out. And this continued for the next few years, but because he was an immigrant, he was deported to Colombia and our communication over the years has been little to non existent. 

I’m sure growing up without a father was a root of a lot of the problems I faced as a young girl and a teenager. I was boy crazy lol and so insecure – placed my identity in my looks, my hair, my popularity. 

At 7 years old, I had a step dad and for the next 10 years, he would shape my identity. At first, he was my entire world! I had never had a dad and I was just so excited to be able to wear the daddy’s princess shirts (because I’ve never been able to) and to have someone to dance with at my Quinceanera or at my wedding. He would buy me toys, take us to the movies, plan my birthday parties, take us out of town, and so much more. 

But then something shifted, something I didn’t understand when I was younger but now don’t blame him for. He was in his 20’s taking care of two kids who weren’t his and had life happening, just like we 20 year olds do. He became angry, aggressive, and controlling- with my entire family. 

I was constantly grounded (because of my mouth – I never hold back lol) for things like mismatching my socks or a girl in my school writing on my arm. I would get my phone taken away for months for turning it in at 9:01 instead of 9:00PM. I felt like he was more affectionate towards my brother because my brother was always the calm, peaceful, good one and I was the one who brought trouble, talked back, fought in school.

I would get notes from the front office letting me know not to ride the bus because he was going to pick me up and I would be terrified the rest of the day, full of anxiety. I knew I had probably done something wrong and was going to get in trouble for it. Sometimes the car rides were a trip to get ice cream and other times, it was lectures and unreasonable anger. This created “waves” that would later follow me into my 20’s. Waves are the idea that I am simply tossed to and fro in life, with no control and no preparation, hence my need to control everything. There is always uncertainty with waves. And even though everything is going so well, something bad WILL come. Because with my step dad- something bad was always coming. 

This continued through middle school and finally ended my 8th grade year when my parents finally split and he never came back. 

Towards the end of his time with us, they would fight, he would leave and I would be so relieved for the next few weeks, secretly hoping he was gone for good. 

And although my heart was hurting when he left because I was fatherless again and  because my mom was hurting, I can’t tell you how relieved I was when it was finally set. I was finally able to be normal. To be a young girl. To be my wild loud self. 

And to think that I once thought that normal was being a daddy’s girl but at this point felt normal was not having a dad. I was glad he was leaving so I could be a normal teenager and have a normal family. 

After this season, I enjoyed life with the occasional teenager rebellion and drama. I felt like I had finally gotten my mom back and was able to confide in her because my step dad wasn’t controlling everything. 

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Then I turned 15 and started attending a youth group. Through this youth group, the youth pastor became a spiritual father, a father figure, a best friend and literally my entire world again. 

And again, for the next 10 years, this man would shape me and make me mostly who I am today. 

At first, everything seemed great. The “my dear’s” affirmed me and the texts and involvement in my life meant the world. At first I would ask bible questions and ask about theology because I was so hungry to know more. Then I would ask about relationships and life. And eventually I began to share every secret from my past to my present and of things to come. I shared my dreams, my failures, my heart and to me, I thought maybe this is what a father was like. He would take me home after services and would pay for my food, invite me to all the family events. I would celebrate him on Father’s day and honor him with a gift. 

Eventually, the verbal & emotional, spiritual abuse began. I would get shamed and called out in public. Things like “shut up and sit down” or “stop acting like a freaking child” and even being told I was acting skanky or that I needed to get my crap together to be used by God was what I would constantly hear. These may not seem like much but I don’t believe anyone should be spoken to this way, blood or not. 

And it wasn’t always this way. But one day, I woke up, 10 years in, and don’t really know how I allowed someone speak these words over my life when I am a strong girl, never afraid to defend myself. 

I realized over a year ago that the feeling both my step dad and this new father figure made me feel was all too similar, too familiar. 

And that’s when I began battling my connection to him. It feels almost easier for someone to walk out and never come back versus having to find courage to leave and then constant strength to not return when life feels like it’s falling apart. 

You see, I learned to depend so much on him that whenever something would go wrong, I knew he could fix it, no matter how bad I had messed up. 

And although the way I was spoken to and treated was not okay, I am thankful today. 

He taught me to be strong, to show up no matter how I felt, to find beauty in my brokenness and developed me into the woman I am today. 

And I was dreading today. Because father’s day is never easy for me. I am reminded that I am fatherless, that I only have one parent, that I have had one father walk out and 2 figures who failed me. 

But it’s never about that, never about what someone does to you, but rather how you react and what you do with it. 

I have chosen to forgive and to continue forgiving. It’s not easy. Some days I feel like I hate them and other days I want to cry because I miss him so much. And other times I want him to fix everything and just go back to “normal”. 

What I choose to stand on is that nothing surprises the Lord. He sends humans to take care of us and in their humanity, they don’t get it right but at least they made an effort. 

The Lord is the perfect father and I can finally view him that way. I woke up this morning and instead of feeling abandoned, I felt a sweet love entangling me. And the first words I whispered were “Happy Father’s Day my sweet God” 

He knows my pain, my anger, my deepest sorrow. And I don’t have to explain that in this moment. All I have to do is respond to His faithfulness and know that He is good, and He truly is. 

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Maybe you have a dad and a mom. And maybe you can’t relate. But maybe there’s someone who failed you, abandoned you. Or someone you need to forgive. I want you to know it’s a choice. One to make DAILY! I have to remind myself daily to let the hurt go, forgive the words spoken over me, and to let go of those who walked out. Some days are easier than others but day by day, I make the choice.

Whatever you are facing today, know that God is good. He is faithful, he has your back and He always makes a way to take care of you, even when you don’t understand. Humans fail us all the time, just as we fail other humans too. 

But the best thing about Jesus, is that He makes everything good. He covers us and allows a blessing to come out of the most painful moments in life. 

A special father’s day to those who have stood in my life as one. I still honor you from a distance and choose to do it because the word of God tells me to honor and because of His grace in my own life.

Happy father’s day to my mom. I love you. Thank you for everything always. You are the best mom and dad we could’ve ever had. 

And lastly, Happy Father’s Day my sweet God. Thank you for never failing me. Never walking away and for always loving me. You are my very favorite ever and I don’t know what I would do without you. A father to the fatherless. A father to me. 

Forever dancing in His love, 

Leslie Tatiana 

Bloom with Grace

WELL, if you know anything about me, it’s that when I don’t write, I’m avoiding a process.

I thought that maybe if I pretended I was over it, didn’t care, then it wouldn’t hurt.

And man am I wrong again.

But then it’s beautiful because I get to pour out these random words, make them into sentences, and bring freedom to myself and to someone else.

It’s only February.

And my word for this year, restoration, has felt more like TURMOIL!

But when I take a step back outside of my emotions, I realize just how much restoration has been happening. I promise I’ll write an update next week on the things that have been in the process of restoration but for now, lets get real and dirty.

I sit here typing as tears form in the corners of my eyes, and I can’t even fully tell you why. Partly because I don’t even know…….  and partly because maybe I do, but for the sake of the drama-less community of DYL and the Holy Spirit always being like girl calm down, I generalize.

I am angry. I feel lost. I feel free. I feel stuck. I feel opportunity rising. I feel depression around the corner. I could punch a hole in a wall. I could crawl into my bed and not come out until Sunday night. I could be the life of the party and talk your head off.

I don’t share this for you to be concerned about me, or for you to pity me.

I am stronger than I know, and I always figure it out.

But what dilemma to feel so many different things all at once!

I left a place I called home and people I called family in October (which I’ve mentioned in previous blogs) and I never would’ve imagined that my entire being would be shaken by this. Silly I know. But it did.

My routine of life as I had known it abruptly changed. I had to make an attempt at new friends. I had to find a new home to attend on Sundays, at a new time, with strange faces. I had to really decide what LESLIE believed in. And I had to be vulnerable.

Which I have been, in building friendships, in trusting where the Lord was leading me.

But I am still hurting. The carpet was snatched from under my feet, and I fell hard and when I looked up, it was me who had done the pulling, without warning.

Like girl, can I get a schedule, an explanation, a 10 page research essay next time before these life-altering decisions happen?!? LOL

I can 100% stand by my decision to leave, but I wish I would’ve prepared myself for the heartache that I was about to walk into.

It’s heartache for many reasons but mostly because I forced myself out of my comfort zone and things I wasn’t expecting to change, changed.

I was complaining to myself today about the weather. It’s been raining and chilly again, when just last week, the sun was shining (80 degrees bright) and the wind was just right. I woke up two nights ago because there were loud thunderstorms at 3:00AM and the showers have been making an appearance on and off for 48 hours now.

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It’s that rain that sprinkles and doesn’t fully come down, the one where you can’t turn on your wipers, but you also can’t turn them off. The one that stops when you grab your umbrella but starts as soon as you start a conversation with the friendly stranger in the parking lot. It’s a rain you cannot predict… or trust.

And you know what that reminds me off? My emotions right now.

I cannot trust what they are feeling, because tomorrow, I might be laughing and loving my freedom, while last night I was sad and overwhelmed with this process.

But when you embrace the rain, let it fall on your windshield a few seconds longer before turning on the wipers, when you don’t get angry that your blowdried hair is going to frizz but instead you allow the waves and the curls to do their thing, when you don’t get mad that you cannot wear your suede boots but instead you pull out your shoes that have a little character and a little history to them, the rain suddenly doesn’t suck as much anymore right? Somehow NOW you can trust it. And what’s even better is that in May, the flowers will bloom. The one’s that died in our cold winter were replaced by new seeds, and these random days of rains are bringing that life, allowing the seeds to develop, to grow roots, to be planted, and then to be enjoyed in the summer on the hottest and brightest of Texas days.

See, I’m going to choose to embrace my emotions, to embrace the pain that I feel, the anxiety I feel when I walk into a new group of people to introduce myself, the awkwardness I feel when I share my heart with strangers only to find we do have things in common. Embracing though closely related is not trusting. I am not placing my hope in the wild emotions, but rather in the seed that has been planted; which is the Word of God in my life.

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The Lord has promised many things to me and my heart, both through His Word, but also through His presence. And I know that these showers of emotions and processes are bringing life to those seeds I am planting and have previously planted. And as I continue to be faithful and obedient, the flowers will bloom. I will bloom. My heart will bloom.

And you will too.

If it’s a hard season for you, if you are not where you thought you would be, if you are in the middle of a thunderstorm, if you are in the best season of your life, know that you are PLANTING seeds that will turn into beautiful flowers, or trees, if that’s more of your liking 🙂 The Lord has ALSO promised you many things.

I can’t tell you enough that the Lord is faithful. And if you don’t believe in that, the simple law of reaping and sowing is seen in every situation. You are sowing into your future, into your next season…. and you WILL reap the benefits of it. Both you and I will.

Embracing and Blooming and Dancing in His Love,

Leslie Tatiana ❤

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I Failed in 4 Days

And just like that the first week of 2018 is over and we begin a new one.

If you are anything like me, AKA human, the first week didn’t go as planned. I had all these great plans and goals and an atmosphere that I wanted to set for this year… but somewhere in the middle of the week, I failed. I failed so bad.

And it sucks.

I worked out one day. I read my bible 3 out of 6 days.

My room is a mess, like an earthquake named Leslie happened.

I hurt a really dear friend.

Like is it possible to mess everything up in a matter of 4 days?! Because I did.

But I learned something.

What happens when it’s a new beginning, but you are still the same person you were in the last chapter? With the same habits, the same past, the same fears, the same same same!?

YOU FREAKIN FIGHT ANYWAYS.

I will admit that I was discouraged for a bit. I felt like the rest of the year was going to suck. And I’m dramatic so then I wanted it to be December 31st, 2018 so I could be in 2019 LOL I thought my world was crushed and that I had really done it this time. 

but then I was reminded of God and His mercies. And let me tell you, I am so so thankful that they are new every morning. I don’t ever want to be someone who abuses the grace that God so freely showers us with, but because I am so dramatic and such an over thinker, and grew up with an overly strict step dad, I have to remind myself that I AM HUMAN AND I WILL NOT ALWAYS GET IT RIGHT. So I showered, got dolled up, and kept going and working towards my dreams.

I caught up in my daily bible reading, starting cleaning (started because seriously don’t know how I made that much of a mess LOL)

We will never advance if we stop moving forward every time we make a mistake or trip up a little. It is bound to happen because we are human and can only do so much ya know? But what matters is how you continue in the process. The small steps that you take make all the difference.

I was so afraid to make a list of goals I wanted to accomplish. I didn’t wanna dream big for DYL and fail. I didn’t want to say that I would read daily and then miss a few days and feel horrible and lost.

But in order to enter a new season, YOU have to actually enter it.

You, being, the messy, confused, loud, shy, scared, annoying, sensitive you. And while you walk out your new season, you can turn back and see the progress you have made.

So if your week was anything like mine, I want to encourage you: KEEP ON KEEPIN ON!

Take a deep breath, relax, remind yourself that you are human and you are doing the best you can. Refocus, rewrite your goals, and start again. We don’t need a whole new year to start all over. Everyday is a fresh opportunity to make better choices and to take tiny little steps towards your destiny.

KEEP MOVING. KEEP FIGHTING. KEEP STRIVING. KEEP DREAMING.

The best is yet to come and even though we screwed up, we still have 51 weeks to go and it’s not over yet!

I believe in you, I believe in His plans for you.

Lets get it!

Dancing In His Love,

XX

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2018: Restoration

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you celebrated in the way that you desired! Whether it was in PJ’s, in sparkles, a suit, or dancing the night away.

I spent the night with my family and close friends and it was everything I hoped it could be. Anytime I can dress up, dance, and be with loved ones- I’m game!

I have been reflecting on 2017 all day and continuing to ponder on my vision for 2018.

And in all honesty, I was a bit overwhelmed today.

My heart has been processing all the loss that I had in the previous year and I began to miss people, miss moments, miss things. And you know, I don’t think this is a bad thing. So often we are taught to refocus when you think of the past, that friendship, or that ex. But I think we would be mentally stronger, more honest, and better off if we allowed ourselves to process the meaning of these feelings and thoughts when they happen.

I am not saying to dwell on it, and to listen to Adele… or to go look at pictures or stalk them on social media LOL but really…. Ask yourself, why am I thinking about this? Why am I missing them? What caused this today?

And here is what I discovered when I answered these questions today.

I am at peace with all the decisions I have made this year, at peace with all the things I have walked away from.

But 2018 terrifies me.

I am so afraid to screw it all up, to have a “lowest of lows”  year, to stray off the path the Lord has set before me. And because of that, I began to think about this past year.

It’s so easy to miss the old because there is no surprise in it. You know the in’s and out’s of that environment, of that relationship, even of those habits you hate. It’s like you can almost bet on what will happen next and how it will happen, you can probably go all in and win.

And right now, everything is SO new to me that I am unsure of what comes next.

And for a control freak like me?!? Yeah, no.

But there are a few things I know for sure.

The Lord… His plans are so good, and I don’t need to worry about what is to come because I am 100% sure it will be good.

Also…. Fear will not and cannot stop me from living this year. Although I am scared, I will do it afraid. I will continue to live my life without my past, knowing that it will be a good year, even if it’s not how I imagined it to be. Because on December 31st, 2018 I will still be standing, with my hands in the air, declaring that the Lord IS truly good!

I would like to share my word for this year with you.

I am not going to lie and tell you I fasted and prayed for weeks before the year was over to hear from God what He was speaking over 2018 lol not quite

That is just not how I do things (at least not right now because I am not that disciplined, yet LOL) But I do hear from God and I had a word that was resonating in my spirit over the last few days of the year and I am sharing it to remind myself and you the power of God.

RESTORATION.

: an act of restoring or the condition of being restored: such as
a : a bringing back to a former position or condition : reinstatement the restoration of peace
b : restitution
c : a restoring to an unimpaired or improved condition

I have lost (and gained) so much in previous years and especially in the last one. Some of that loss was mostly because of my own choices, which I will ALWAYS take full responsibility for… but it was also due to seasons, people, world events, LIFE.

For example, I lost a little faith in God. SO much happened in nature, in world news, in my own personal life, in my loved one’s lives… that there were many many many times I wanted to scream at God and ask Him, “what the heck man?!”

I also lost my vision for my life. I lost sight of what I am called to do.

And over the last few weeks, I have been dreaming and planning and receiving life into my heart.

But I truly believe this year, everything I have lost and everything I deliberately threw away will be restored. I know this one thing, and that is that God is faithful. The most faithful that I have ever known. Even when we aren’t.

And He takes every little thing possible and uses it in the GOOD plans that He has for us. I believe that He is the God who restores, and anything can be restored in Him.

Your faith, your hope, your health, your purity, your dreams, your relationships, your heart.

Nothing is wasted in Him and restoration is always possible.

Pray and ask the Lord to speak to you over your year. Your word or season may differ, but His hand is still over your life, just like it is in mine.

I can’t wait to write about the victories and losses this year and share them with you so you can be encouraged once again. I love reminding you that you are not alone, that we are more alike than you know. I will always be transparent and open when I can in order to bless you and bring you closer to the Lord and to your own dreams and visions.

Follow along as I testify of His goodness and His restoring Hand.

Here’s to dancing in His love another year,

XX,

Leslie

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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God of Miracles.

It’s been such a strange season for many of us at Revive. Our worship leaders Israel and Jeanette Belford were flooded with tough news about the pregnancy that had just begun only a few short weeks before. And what is for most a joyful experience turned into a battle, as they prayed and worshipped, choosing to believe in the God of Miracles. From the moment they found out to today… Revive and other Families have surrounded them and been with them in every step.

Today, 1:37 AM, I am sitting in a waiting room, with 2 sleeping, 8 awake but tired people, at the Texas Children’s Hospital in the Medical Center.

Although our faith is being tested, my heart is full in a strange way. 

I am astonished first at the perseverance of the Belford’s. Leading worship every Sunday, choosing to celebrate Baby Belford AND still raising their hands to glorify God. I sense the tiredness, I sense the fear, but what is more- the trust in our sweet sweet Jesus. They have truly shown what it means to fight and be still, to wait on the Lord and believe in His promises.

And then, the amount of people who have called in, left work early, stepped off the elevator and walked through these doors on the 9th floor. It is said that during the worst times of life, you will see the true colors of people who say they care for you. And I am oh so thankful that this generation is living what they believe. We are told to love one another, to lock arms and share in joy, to share in mourning. The world sees hypocrisy and jealousy and hatred and judges and let me just take a moment…. To breathe in this beauty.

We actually get to put into practice what we believe. The support that has been shown is indescribable. And although we won’t physically feel Jeanette’s pain, and maybe we can’t relate to how Israel feels as a new father, I am so full of gratitude to the God we serve. Only He can pull this off. Bring people from all types of walks, churches, histories, and bring them all together for ONE purpose- to see a miracle. To unite in faith and belief that He is still unstoppable, that He has the last word.


Regardless of the outcome by the end of our time here at Texas Children’s, God is still good and our position does not change-

To God be the glory  

Forever and ever

Amen