Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fear Fighting...When Life Doesn't Fight Fair

Fear fighting made simple. Just do like it says above. Live life. Repeat. Oh, if it were only so simple. Fear, it's one of the things authors love to write about. There are a million quotes how to over come it and the phrase "Fear not" is repeated multiple times in the Bible.

If we are talking about battles, fear is formidable foe. He's sneaky and sly. He attacks stealthily with a unique approach as individual as the opponent. Fear is relentless. He can be irrational or totally justified. He can slow you down, fuel your passions, or paralyze you indefinitely. So how do you fight fear and come out victorious? Is this even possible?

First of all, let me tell you that yes. Yes it is possible. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's get real. I know what it's like to live a fear ridden life. I know what being paralyzed by fear can do because I've suffered the consequences of choices based solely on the fears that burdened me. I know that years and years of fears buried will eventually lead to full blown anxiety. You know what else I know? I know what freedom from fear feels like, what it taste like, and how amazing life can be without it.

So when a friend recommended a book by the title Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie, I was immediately drawn to it and curious. The more I dug into this book, the more I realized how I was not alone, how far I had come, but more importantly how many fears I was still holding on to. Yes, though the Lord had freed me from anxiety and fear, the more I opened my heart to the message that Kelly was sharing, the more I realized that there were these "little" pockets of fear buried deeply in my soul. And though I thought they weren't paralyzing, they were stopping me from living truly free. There were areas of my soul that screaming and yearning to be expressed.

Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie

In my case, one of the recurring fears was the fear of what people would think of me. This one fear, stopped me from writing, creating, and expressing myself. I allowed it to silence my voice. And if I'm totally honest, it stopped me from writing this post till the very last minute. How many other opportunities would I miss because of fear disguised as being socially graceful? If there were only one thought that I could tattoo into heart the way Jesus has my name engraved in the palm of His hands, it would be this:

"Sometimes you have to keep on marching into what God has promised you even when life wants to make a fool out of you" - pg.83

That's my invitation to you my friend. Keep marching into what God has promised you. Soldiers march. They are relentless. They are equipped for the battle. They are fear fighters and SO ARE YOU!

Much love,


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Confession #28: Some days I feel like a phony...FAKE

I sit here surrounded by beauty and writers. I sit here in silence as over twenty people are quietly creating, editing, revising, and crafting with words. I sit here in awe as I see them each engrossed in their own world with such focus and purpose. Or maybe not, maybe they are fighting the thoughts of their everyday lives to creep into their heads. What they are thinking about, I don't know. What I do know is that from the outside looking in they seem to be so much better than me, so much more focused than I am, so much more talented, so much more of a "real" writer than I'll ever be.

My day started after a two hour drive to come here. A write away day. I didn't know what it was all about, I just knew I needed to be there (here). Working a full time corporate job along with being a mom, wife, and friend leaves little time for what I believe God called me to do a couple of years ago, and that is to WRITE. When the year began and I sought the Lord to give me a new direction and purpose, I found that He wanted to show me new and creative ways to do it all. He wants us to renew and abide in Him, not running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Part of this journey of finding new ways led me on a search for a writer's retreat.

So here I find myself. In a beautiful home surrounded by beauty, nature, and silence. As I walked in there were already several writers gathered around a huge table. One of them was giving out general housekeeping instructions. I snuck in the back and got settles as I listened in. The sweet lady interrupted what she was doing to tell my friend and I that there were two seats available next to her. Just like that, insecurity and doubt crept in. I felt called out, exposed, and insecure as I took my place in front of everyone. Then I settled in, she continued to share how the rest of the day would go and which areas we were allowed it write in. But before any of that we had to introduce ourselves first. WAIT...WHAT?!?

I slowly and subtly tuned her out as I prayed not to go first, as I was sitting right next to her. What would I say? Who would care? I'm not a real writer...I'm just a girl that piddles away at her blog. Damn, I'm not even good at that. I started this write 31 days challenge in October last year and I'm still not done. Say what, she wants us to share our writing goals?!? Oh man, I'm in way over my head. No place to run though and I was two hours from home and I didn't bring my own car.

I pause to say as I type this out, I am taken back to a memory of the last time I found myself in a room full of people, far from home, not in my own car and wanting to run out. That was right before I encountered the most beautiful and powerful spiritual experience of my life up until that moment. Yes, that last time I wanted to run but didn't I encountered the full and perfect love of Jesus and found my freedom from fear, depression, and anxiety. So there truly is something about staying when all you want to do is run. It can be life altar-ing. 

So here sit and there I sat a few hours ago. Did God answer my prayer of not being first? Yes, of course He did; and be careful what you wish/pray for. Our leader for the day started with my friend who sat on the other side of her. After my friend went, we went around the table and room. By the third person, I was officially freaked out. These were REAL writers; poets, academic writers, screenwriters, novelists, playwrights, even a photographer and journalist. I let the voice whisper into my ear and sink into my soul that I somehow didn't belong. What would I say? I don't belong here. 

After what seemed like an eternity, it was my turn. I was the last one to go. So what did I do? I introduced myself, shared about my blog, why I was there, and my writing goals. You see, along the way as I was freaking out, I felt like God said it's ok, just be yourself, you belong here because I've brought you here. So I did. I was myself. I'm not gonna lie though, as soon as I got up to find my spot to write in for the day the same thoughts kept creeping in. I found myself, got settled, and began to write.

Sometimes you've gotta push past the thoughts of being a phony or a fake. In the end, they are just that, thoughts. Lies created to make us believe we cant walk out our purpose and calling in life. It's not about faking it until you make it. I wasn't quite sure what it was about when I sat down to write but soon, I would.

We took a break for lunch and had a chance to chat with some of the writers there. I sat down, ready to eat and struck up conversation with the lady next to me. I saw it as a perfect opportunity to come clean. I confessed to her, how I had felt. We talked about it and she said something, that AHA moment that comes when someone else says something you know but haven't necessarily believed in a while. She said it's an identity issue. BAM! It hit me. The reason I had felt the way I did is because in that moment I allowed my identity to lie in my achievements as a writer, which were none. They were none, not for any other reason than that I hadn't been writing for long or blogging consistently.

Ugh! I believed the lie...once again, I let my identity lie in something other than being a child of God. It happens. It happens a lot. It happens to all of us and sometimes we just need someone, even a stranger to point it out. Isn't God good? He didn't allow me to wallow and sit in that puddle of self-doubt and belittling. He knew it would have been a waste. It would have been a  waste of a day away from everything, a day of silence, a day to create, a day to pour out my soul on this keyboard, but most importantly a day to be still enough to encounter Him and His love for me.

God can pour out His love as you write, sing, work, cook, or do just about anything. So I sat and wrote, and that makes me a writer. Pretty simple, eh? I found a spot, one of the rooms where I was close to the main room but at the same time away from everything. I would write and take stretching breaks. In one of those breaks I took a peek into the main room and I saw all these different people working away on their short stories, novels, poems, dissertations, and screenplays. This time, instead of feeling like a phony or fake I felt like I belonged. I was inspired by their silent creativity, their passion, their focus.

I'm sure there are times when you've felt like a fake or a poser. Maybe you didn't feel like that but maybe you let self doubt creep in to the point where you didn't even put yourself out there. When this has happened in the past, have you asked yourself why? Wait, maybe that's not the person you should ask. Have you asked God, the Holy Spirit why it is your feeling the way you are feeling? If you haven't I invite you to do so right now. No need to make it complicated, you can just say, "Yo God, what's up with this?"

He's good to respond and the answer may surprise you. Now, if by any chance (and it does not necessarily have to be this) it's a case of mistaken identity, I am here to remind you of where your true identity lies my friend. I promise you that no outwardly imposed label is as fulfilling and purpose filled as knowing that:


Much love,

**This is part of the 31 day series: Confessions of a Faithonista**

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Confession #26: Traditions were meant to be broken

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

-Isaiah 2:10

I am writing this coming off the holiday season and this in itself is an important part of the lesson I'm learning.  The idea for this post started off as a God whisper in the midst of the Christmas hustle and bustle. Something about this season in my life was different. I couldn't pinpoint what exactly what it was but none of it felt exactly like it had before. This was unsettling and freeing at the same time.

I had pretty much settled in to my new home town for a couple of years now, I've been with my husband for two years, my daughter is two, and I have been at the company I work for for over a year. So after several years of lots of new and different experience for the holidays, it finally seemed like we had our own little family and friend traditions pretty set...and when I say set I mean pretty much set in stone. And there my friends, lied the problem.

All of a sudden the expectations, the rituals, the self imposed traditions started to feel stifling, forced, almost as if we were enslaved to them. If it didn't fit into the many traditions we had, we tried to squeeze new experiences in, This led to arguments, burn out,and boredom. We all know that boredom can be the worst as leads to apathy. Honestly, I didn't want to spend my holidays like that anymore. So, I cleared my calendar (for the most part) and decided to go with the flow.

I had to wrap my head around it because for the most part, I'm pretty chill and go with the flow. So why all of a sudden did I cling so much to the traditions of the holidays? What about it made me cling on for dear life? Would Christmas not be as special if I deviated from the plan? Of course not. So when I got quiet enough to listen, the Lord clearly spoke to me the following:


It was as if a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt at peace with my decision and so I waited. I waited to see what He had in store for me. What would He bring me when I broke away from the bondage of traditions and do Christmas, His way, by His design?

Please don't get me wrong, I love the traditions of Christmas and I'm not saying to ditch your traditions. What I am saying is what would happen if you pulled back for one second and asked yourself WHY you are doing it? How do you feel when you participate in them? Does it add stress and strife? Are you so busy in the holiday season that you wear yourself out trying to get it all done and being everywhere you need to be? Maybe that's not you at all, and that's great! It is something to think about though.

I'm blessed with the opportunity to talk to so many people from different walks of life on any given day. You know what? Most of them were stressed out around the holidays. These weren't people who are depressed and hate Christmas, just people who were tired, doing too much and spending more than they should in the name of tradition. Yet, many too afraid to break from the comfort that is tradition. Why? That's probably a topic for another post.

God is not about traditions. God is about creating. God isn't about staying in the old. God takes the old and makes something new and beautiful out of it. He did it for me this Christmas and He'll do this for you. Not just on Christmas but everyday of your life. So, what did my Christmas end up looking like? What was so great about skipping out on that family party? Well I'm so glad you asked...as usual, this post went long and what He did was AMAZING! Yes, full CAPS AMAZING!!! So amazing it needs its own post ;) Once, Confession #27 goes live just CLICK HERE and come along the journey with me.

Much love,

**This is part of the 31 day series: Confessions of a Faithonista**

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Confession #25: Let God be the Curator, not just the Creator of your life

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
-Ephesians 2:10

Have you ever walked into an art museum? Have you ever been impressed by the sheer beauty and magnitude of the space you were standing in? Not only are the pieces of art displayed, beautiful and unique, but usually the building and interior space is too. It can be one of the most breath taking experiences you can encounter. This is one of the reasons I decided to get married in an art museum, El Museo de Arte de Ponce in my hometown of Ponce, Puerto Rico.

It was truly a dream and God ordained. We were surrounded not only by amazing architecture but some of the most amazing and valuable pieces of art. It was this image, the museum of my wedding, that God used to speak to me on friendships during a season of feeling much isolation (check out the first part of this post here).

As I cried out to Him, wondering what I did wrong and felt so alone, He was quick and gentle to answer. He showed me the beautiful art museum and said to me, "Cristina, let me be the Curator of your life and your friendships". It clicked. I got it. Well, I thought I did because the more I prayed into that simple image and phrase He gave me, the more I began to understand all that it encompassed. See, I never thought I would share this with anyone. Some revelation is meant just for us. Us and God, to be hidden in the secret place. I must tell you though, as the weeks went on and I saw this come to life in my friendships and relationships, the more I knew that when the time was right it was meant to be shared.

The image above encompasses the message that God wanted to get across to me, EXCEPT, and this is a big except...He wants us to let Him edit our lives. He is the Curator. Yes, not only the Creator but the Curator of our lives if we allow Him to be. The most important role in a museum is the Curator. It's defined as someone who manages an art collection or exhibit. They are paid to decide which piece of art goes where, how it will be displayed, if it will be a temporary exhibit or a permanent fixture. Do you see where I am going?

Every person in your life is a masterpiece. God created each and everyone of us. We are unique, one of a kind masterpieces. Our lives, our friendships are kind of like the museum. Our space is filled with people and relationships. They cannot all be in the same space at the same time. Can you imagine a cluttered museum? Not only can't you observe its beauty but you just don't have space for every piece of art that is out there at the same time. Sometimes some exhibits are temporary, some pieces of art are on loan from other museums. Some get lent out and then come back. Some pieces of art are fixtures that will be highlighted and on display for the life of the museum. Does any of this take away from each individual piece of art's beauty? No, not at all. That's just the nature of museums. Some pieces of art never see the light of day...hidden in a back room being restored for years and years. Still yet they are there, adding value, being worked on, part of the story.

God showed me that the relationships and friendships in my life are the same as the masterpieces in the museum. He wanted to show me that what seemed like isolation and loneliness was just a shifting of art. He showed me if I allowed Him to curate my friendships I would be able to see the bigger picture. He reminded me of the friends that no longer were but made my life beautiful at one time. He showed me the faithful friends behind the scenes, the ones that hadn't left but were just in another exhibit room. He showed me that sometimes He highlights and puts the spotlight on other friends so that they may shine and they can see their true beauty. Others are in the backroom being worked on as we speak, I might not even know they are friends yet but they are being polished into their glorious beauty soon to make a grand entrance. He showed me that if some of the masterpieces weren't "removed" for a season I wouldn't have space in my life for new works of art. What a beautiful illustration of what a good, good Father He is!

He was faithful to show me in such a tangible and gentle way how wrong I was. At that moment, the lie of loneliness lifted, the perception of rejection gone, and a new sense of hope and love stirred up inside of me. I stepped back and looked at ALL the masterpieces in my life; the new, the old, the temporary, and the works in progress. I then realized how beautifully perfect His design was. Will you allow God to be not only the Creator of your life, but also the Curator? I promise you you'll be surprised at the beauty you'll find in your life because, you see the masterpiece's beauty is brought out in how it's displayed in the museum and the museum is nothing without its masterpieces.

Much love,

**This is part of the 31 day series: Confessions of a Faithonista**

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Confession #24: What God told me about friendships

"I don't know if I've ever been in a clique. The older I've gotten, the more I've realized what a true friend really is. So my friendship circle has changed a bit." 
-Aimee Teegarden

The quote above I came across in the most ordinary of ways. Honestly, I don't know who this Aimme Teegarden is (but as soon as I'm done writing this I will do my due diligence with my mad Google research skills) but she's right on the money when it comes to what I want to share with you today. I was looking for a deep quote on friendship and yet I found exactly what I'm about to say in a couple of sentences. See, a couple of months ago I was really struggling with this whole friendship thing. Trust me when I say struggling what I really mean was that I was hurting and hurting bad.

If you've known me for a while or read some of my other posts, you know by now that overcoming people pleasing has been a hard one for me. It was hard to admit to myself that I was placing people and relationships before God and though living to please God above all was a very freeing feeling and the best way to live, it came with many bumps and bruises along the way. When the Lord makes us new, it's up to us to lay down old behaviors and thought patterns and after years of being a certain way, it's not always easy.

Fear. It all boils down to the fear of rejection. Somewhere along the way I became so afraid to let others down that I aimed and strived to make everybody happy. This came at a steep price. Yet again I digress, back to friendships. So, a couple of months ago I found myself in a strange place. Convinced that I had overcome my people pleasing ways, I found myself feeling very, very alone. Now it wasn't an all of a sudden thing. It was slow, almost undetectable. Friends that I usually spent the most time with weren't around as much (or at all) anymore. There had been no misunderstanding, no blowout, or strife. It just seemed like everyone was off living their life, doing their thing and I was no longer a part of it.

Now don't get me wrong, I still had plenty of friends, invites, get togethers, and women I loved surrounding me but all of a sudden it felt like I had been abandoned by EVERYONE. Yes, dramatic I know but that's what it felt like. I'm not a high maintenance friend and my long term friendships have always ebbed and flowed. I have friends who I don't speak to for months or years at a time and then when we do connect it was like no time had passed. That made it even harder for me.I started to second guess myself, wonder what I had done wrong...I started believing the lie that I was being rejected.

Why do I share this? Why so much detail? I share because I want you to understand the place I was at when I finally gave it over to God and asked Him what He wanted to teach me in this season. You see, it wasn't about them, it was about me, the condition of my heart, and peeling the layers of my soul to discover areas where I still needed healing.And guess what? When I asked, He was good to answer. His answer made so much sense and gave me so much peace. It forever changed the way I look at friendships and all the people He places in my life.

I didn't realize the background part of this post was going to drag on so long, so I won't torture y'all any longer and split this into a two part confession. Before I go though, have you ever felt this way? How does rejection creep into your life? Is it through friendships, romantic relationships, family? I'd love to explore this with you as I share what the Lord has taught me.

Much love,

**This is part of the 31 day series: Confessions of a Faithonista**

Monday, October 31, 2016

Confession #23: My Story...My Why

**This post is for YOU...this post got completely deleted and not saved as a draft as soon as I hit publish the first time. There was no record of me having typing it whatsoever.I don't believe that was a coincidence. Normally, I would have let it go and even scrapped the post but I know that if you're reading this it's for a reason. My prayer is that however you ended up here, that God pour His love on you wherever you may be. That you may know that you are valued, valuable, and loved beyond belief. That He calls you worthy and courageous...Child of The Most High King.**

On January 24, 2015 I did something I'd never done before. I poured my heart out to share my story in a Facebook post. This is my story:

About two years ago I was at a really dark place in my life. From the outside everything looked good, Facebook fabulous at its finest. I was recently engaged with the man of my dreams, I had friends, I loved Texas, yet I was a mess. I couldn't understand why I couldn't succeed career wise, why I felt like a failure, why I was depressed, and anxious. I was paralyzed on my couch literally one day and cried a desperate prayer. I was going to church because it was "the right thing to do". I found a great job and started planning my wedding to be let go on the day of my birthday. My income was supposed to pay for our wedding. I had no answers, life didn't seem fair. So we came to the decision to stop trying to find a job. It should have been a huge relief but it wasn't. You see my identity was wrapped around achieving academic and career success. It was where I placed my worth. Without that I was lost, a nobody. Yet deep down I knew that that distant God I prayed to would come through and I would have some sort of celebration and small wedding. I was angry, I felt useless, and alone. And guess what? When I gave up and surrendered my will, my expectations, my vision...I found God. See I always knew He existed but I didn't know Him. I was going to my church every week to talk to the ladies I had "nothing" in common with (or so I thought) to talk and work through my issues. See I thought I was there to fix myself. But no, God placed me there so He could fix me. These women loved on me, prayed for me, cried with me, became my sisters. And along the way...well, my life changed. Was it instant? No. Was it life altering, irrevocable, overwhelming, and mind blowing yes. You see, that year when I thought was a waste and I was doing nothing...I got to know God. Not only know Him, fall head over heels, madly, and insanely in love with Him! Something that would've never happened if I had had my dream job. I'd would've been too busy to find Him. Did my life circumstances change overnight? No. Did all my hardships disappear? Not at all. In many ways they got harder. But since then I've changed. I KNOW THAT I KNOW who I am. I know where my worth, strength, and beauty come from. They come from God, the most High King. I am His daughter, His heir. I know joy like I've never known before. I've faced circumstances that would've destroyed me in the past and have come out of it with more joy, strength, and faith. I still don't understand it all, I still get impatient and wonder why bad things happen to good people. But I know that God works all things for good. I've seen my family be blessed by him, I have family in people I've known for so little time, I've seen miracles, healings, but above all ...I've seen God's faithfulness through it all. He will speak to you through the storm...you need just to call on Him. This is what I speaking of earlier of building an altar. This is one of my altars. When my faith is tested and I am weary, when I feel like I've deviated from my calling, or that I'm not hearing from God I will come back to this holy place. This moment in time when there was an exchange between Heaven and earth.

As I stumbled on this post tonight, I felt like someone needed to read it. They needed to know that there is hope, that today can be the day where their story changes. What's your story? Have you built your altars of faith? You don't have to do it alone. I've been there before you, in part because I know God has called me to help others embrace their story and realize wherever it may be at, there is not a period but rather a semicolon. You aren't alone. Your story doesn't end here. 

Much love,

**This is part of the 31 day series: Confessions of a Faithonista**

Confession #22: I should be writing Confession #30 today...but I'm a little behind

So today is the last day of October and that means that I should be publishing the last post of my write 31 days challenge. As you can tell, I'm only on confession #22 (out of 30), so I'm just a little behind. Normally I'd either 1) beat myself up over it or 2) ignore the fact all together and just leave this series hanging. Not this time though. I'm committed to finishing this goal even if it takes me a few extra days and rolls into November. There's just something about this challenge, this year, and this series that makes it more than just an ordinary goal or something to check off a list (I'm not a list person anyways).

Last year i think I did around 6 posts all together, and even that was huge for me. Starting this journey, I had no idea how this series would end up. I had no clue what God would lay on my heart or what I would feel like ranting about that day. I just committed to being honest and transparent and in the process I've learned and grown so much. I guess there's a freedom that lies in writing about yourself or your experiences and feelings. No one can argue or discredit you for your story and that's what I've realized I've been laying out there, my story. It's not always pretty, glamorous or uber spiritual but it is 100% me on any given day. This series has opened the opportunity for me to connect on so many levels with people I didn't even think were reading. Every comment, every message I get, all of it means so very much. Not because it meant someone read something I wrote but because it's build a bond between people who have said "me too". We've been there and we get it. 

We live in a time in history where people are quick to pick up their pitchforks and condemn and shame others from the anonymity behind the screen and our hand held devices. So, to see that some of us can come together and walk in each other's shoes even for just a few minutes means the world, a least to me it does.

So if you'll bare with me and give me a few extra days...I'll continue to write and we will end this challenge right where we started, together.

Much Love,


**This is part of the 31 day series: Confessions of a Faithonista**