Sometimes change is good

Cliche as this is, but this year has taught me a lot.

One word that I can sum it up would be: growth. I feel like this year was a huge highlight for me compared to the last past few years. A lot of different things had happened. They somehow aligned with one another, building me up. I have to say, it was all thanks to Jehovah. Without the difficulties and changes, I wouldn’t be where I am right now — happy and striving.

Remembering back, I began the beginning of the year in a relationship. But it ended, all for the better. I remember it was a big hit for me. My whole life was about to change. A change that I was not ready for. I was still holding onto things that I just could not let go. I knew I needed a change. But somewhere I could grow in and not change completely and move my life somewhere.

I can’t remember everything that happened throughout this year. All I can remember is I got to attend pioneer school which was one of the biggest highlight in my life. A whole week with no work. Just spiritually, emotionally, and mentally focused in school with people who shared the same goals as I and created lifelong friendships.

I learned that I had to go through a lot of different obstacles to finally get where I needed to be with Jehovah’s help. I learned a few things the hard way. Painful ways. There were months I was just completely drained, but I made it out alive. Blossoming as a result.

I learned to let go a few things — needed things. And to acceptance. It took some time and will always be a part of me, but what’s important is I remember what it taught me. It’s hard to move on, but that is life. If you are moving backwards or just being at the same place, you’re not doing it right. Of course moving forward does not mean it will always be perfect. There will be bumps down down that road. What matter is how you handle those bumps.

Do you just drive over it, ending with a damaged tire? Or slow down, seeing what’s ahead and try your best to go over it?

Part of moving on does not necessarily mean you forget everything in the past. It’s good to look back and understand what you left behind. Some things you never have closure. But that does not mean you can’t give yourself the closure you need. And it can be scary, because then you realize things you did not before. Things you wish you knew or accepted. Still, you can only decide if it stops you from moving forward or not. Because at some point, you need to let go and embrace what you have ahead.

I had to let go of some people in order to gain some. But it also made me cherish the people that I have in my life right now even more.

Spiritually, I grew a lot. And that’s a highlight I mostly can remember. I am now in this foreign field I did not expect to move into so soon. I learned a lot about myself. How eager I am to work hard for something I have a passion for. How patient I need to be with myself and other people. The value of a pioneer. Taking advantage of more opportunities, trusting Jehovah fully in it that He will take care of me. Building my faith. Mostly just using my singleness and youth to the fullest. I can’t express how happy I am and I know you’re probably so tired of seeing those words in the past recent posts, but it’s true. I am completely happy. Am I having difficulties? Of course. But I have joy in enduring.

This year was also filled with simplifying my life more. I have never had a lot of things. I can easily fit all of my clothes in two large suitcases. I do not own a lot of makeup, just a small travel size bag with everyday items. For shoes, I try to keep two for work and the rest, using it for going out, service, and meetings. And jewelry, I think I only have three necklaces and five pairs of earrings. But I mostly wear the same pair every day. I have always enjoyed keeping my life as simple as I can. Because I do have a goal of serving somewhere else if my circumstances allow in the future, it would be better to start living with only needed things right now. That way when the time does come, it won’t be hard for me to move or get rid of things.

One huge thing I got to simply are my finance. Last year I got a car that was working better than my previous one. But the monthly payments were starting to get too much for me and making it hard to save. With my Dad needing a car to use, I gave mine to him and got a used car. This car is fairly older. I do miss the luxury of my old car, but with saving $200 a month in mind along with taking me safely to destination A to B, I cannot complain. It’s also a great car for service, enough space.

Change comes in a lot of different ways. It can be bad. But sometimes, change can be good.

 

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Health & Happiness

shulammitegirl

If you know me personally, you know that I’ve always been on the chunky side and if you don’t know me personally, now you know.

Truth is, I’ve never been uncomfortable with my weight because I never really cared much to be skinny or to gain anyone’s approval.
I’m not afraid of the word, “fat.”
I’m not afraid of stretch marks.
I’m not afraid to shop in the larger section of shops.
But what I am afraid of is declining health.

Like everyone, health issues run in my family and as I get older I am more at risk.
True, I’ve always known that but I didn’t realize the impact it had on me personally until last October.

Last October, my grandmother, the woman who helped raise me was admitted to the hospital and had to have a major surgery.
A week prior to the surgery, my grandmother was…

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Self appreciation

One thing I have personally worked on a lot throughout this year was appreciating myself more. Many people ask me about my condition, with care or without when they first see me. For years, I have been struggling with my appearance. I first had psoriasis when I was 13 years old. During that time, I was still trying to figure myself out, going through teenage years. Shortly, it gradually spread. Still in my teenage years, a lot was going on. I did not fully understand this disease. It took a lot of time and research to finally understand what it is and how to cope with it like I am today.

Years, I was covered 90% all over. It was hard to move around, breathe, even sleep. Not being able to know what exactly is triggering it. Because it is an autoimmune disease, it’s frustrating since it can be a whole list of things adding up.The past two years, I have been able to see my real skin peek out even more. I still have flare ups. It is still hard on some days. But I am very happy to see a lot of improvement.

I have learned to love myself more and accept how I am, appear. Cliche, what matters is the inside, but you do not see that when you first meet someone. So of course the appearance matter to an extent. I’ve learned that if I can accept who and how I am, I will get better. I am my own enemy. If I keep fighting myself, I will get worse. Having enough stress on my plate, fighting myself will be a waste of energy and time. It will only make me get sick even more. It took a lot of work and time. And right now it is still a process. Some days, I can be the most confident person ever. On others, it is a battle. But I work through it. I think that is why reminding yourself what you love about you is important. It sounds weird, but self motivation and love is nothing wrong. It is healthy.

I’ve found that reminding my own self what I am capable of, what I love about myself, and that I am strong helps a lot. Because at the end of the day, no matter what anyone says, it is me that deals with my own problems. There’s not a day when I go out and not get ugly looks. I hear people whisper things. Even say not so pretty things to my face. It hurts a lot. But I get over it. I view those things like something I can build positively on by not letting it get to me so much. I need to push my own self to ignore it and brush it off.

Why? Because all of these things are just temporarily.

Here are some things I love about myself:

  • genuine kindness
  • spiritually focused and striving
  • seeing good in others and their potentials
  • adventurous
  • outgoing
  • self love
  • adaptable
  • willingness to challenge myself
  • the way I hug people
  • facial expressions
  • ability to smile during hard times
  • cooking
  • bravery
  • taking in the little things of life
  • love for books
  • foodie
  • open mind
  • appreciation of silence and nature
  • list making abilities
  • sense of humor
  • good manners
  • giving out second chances
  • hopeless romantic

 

What are some things you love about yourself?

 

Keeping things balanced

With a full time job, pioneering, and learning a foreign language; it is very hard to remain balanced. Of course, with Jehovah’s help and learning how to prioritize, it isn’t impossible.

Today’s Watchtower article was very encouraging, focusing on maintaining your spiritual health while serving in a foreign language. Moving into a foreign language from a foreign language does make me value the need and how much opportunities there are you can take advantage of while you are young and single. When I was in the Vietnamese, although I needed to study in both Vietnamese and English, it was not hard for me since I know both. I did not need to make as much time as I do now since I am in the Spanish.

Now I have to make more time than before. My personal studies are different. I have one day where I do my normal personal study and on another day, it’s mostly focused on theocratic in Spanish. Then I set aside time throughout the week to study for my weekday meeting and Watchtower. Not to mention additional time to study Spanish and review my comments. On top of that, my pioneering and job along with responsibilities at home.

At times I get worn out and get discouraged, because I feel like I can’t do it. Mostly, because I want to improve so fast, I get impatient with myself. It still is hard for me at meetings to understand everything the brother says. It is frustrating when you want to do more, but your body simply cannot. But that’s where Jehovah comes in and gives me the push of motivation that I need to not give up. Once again, I cannot express how much I love my congregation. Because of the support and love that I get, it really is what pushes me to do more. I’m not alone. Jehovah knows what I need and has given it to me more than I’d imagined.

Regular personal study, reading the scriptures, and meditating on those things is something else that helps enormously. When I meditate on what I read, in a way, I allow Jehovah to talk to me. Anyone can read the Bible. But when you really ponder on the things you’ve read, it makes it so much more meaningful and intense. That was something Daniel experienced. I remember in the Watchtower study article, he read the “holy books” and maintained his spiritual health with Jehovah God. He did not want to sin and make Jehovah sad. He did everything he could to grow and remain faithful to Jehovah.

So what I do is I plan my two weeks. I put it in schedule for service, work, studies, errands, ect. I have it on my tablet so it will be easier for me to keep. I used to carry a planner around, but I now use my tablet and my planner at home for more personal things and financial planning. I love color coordinating! For instance, my favorite color is purple. I decided to use purple for the ministry. Blue is for going out, orange for errands, so on. I try to make it fun for myself when I plan my two weeks. Plus every time I look at my calendar, it makes me happy seeing it filled with different colors! This is a way I remain balanced: is to have a schedule and prioritize things in my life as needed. It’s all about knowing what is most important in my life and setting goals accomplish it.

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I’ve learned that it is insanely important to have a rest day. It’s okay to miss a day or morning out in service. Jehovah will understand. I used to feel so bad for missing a day in service, but I needed it. My body needs it. I’ve learned that even if I do push myself, it’s not healthy to go into the ministry and be distracted due to my health. I want to give Jehovah my all, but in a positive and healthy manner. Not to go just to make hours. What’s important is when I go out, the all that I give to Jehovah is pure and healthy. It also affects other people around me. So to also have brotherly love towards them, I do not want to worry others and make them feel bad.

A few questions I ask myself are: What more can I do for Jehovah? In what ways can I contribute to the congregation more? Which of the older friends need a ride to service or meetings? How can I encourage the young ones? Who should I make plans to go out with this week? How can I improve in my comments and in the ministry? Am I keeping things prioritize from work and my relationship with Jehovah?  In what ways am I showing Jehovah I trust Him?

“For all things I have the strength through the one who gives me power.”

Philippians 4:13

“Have an interchange of encouragement” Rom. 1:11,12

This past weekend was very special for me.

I had the privilege to attend the Annual Pioneer Meeting in Spanish. There aren’t enough words to express how happy I am to be part of it. Not being able to attend the English this year had made me sad, but all thanks to Jehovah, I was able to attend the Spanish. The meeting was held at our Assembly hall. 310 people attended. It was my first time attending the meeting at an Assembly hall with that many people! It was very encouraging to see all the pioneers in the circuit, young and elderly. Listening to different experiences and how they got into the pioneer work. Also to remember what it is being a pioneer and how to help out others, seeking others interests first. Remembering to always continue encouraging one another.

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Cindy & I

I remember as I was driving to the pioneer school, I was shocked and amazed. I couldn’t believe with Jehovah’s help, I’ve come this far. I was crying with happiness, because earlier that morning, my elder had sent me wonderful news. And to top that day off, attending the meeting was something I thought I was not able to do this year.

The next day I attended the Assembly. What made this Assembly special to me is it was my first official Español Assemblea. The other times I was just visiting. This time, I went on my own, with my congregation. I didn’t feel alone. I felt at home.

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It has been seven months since I’ve been with the Spanish. Just a few months away from a year! I’ve grown a lot with the Spanish. I love everyone in the congregation. With my parents the Vietnamese and me in the Spanish, I do not feel alone when I go to meetings, service, or spiritual gatherings. Some people think I feel lonely, but it’s the complete opposite. The congregation has become like my own family. Even though I go alone, I never feel like I am. I have a strong support from everyone and that is something I cherish very much. So much has been done, many waiting to be accomplished!

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My first assignment in Spanish doing the contribution box!

Mai Gems: November

For the month of November, one word to sum it up is: eventful.

  • To start off in the beginning, the Vietnamese congregation hosted a get together at my house It has been long months since the Vietnamese group and congregation had gotten together since the split. It was so nice to see everyone and to catch up! I had the best bacon mac and cheese. Yes, bacon.  I invited a few friends from my congregation to attend and we all had lots of fun with games.
  • Rosie’s to die for cherry pie. The first time I had it was over a year ago and I fell in love. I finally got to eat it again. Did I fall in love? Yes.

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  • Catching up with a dear friend. I hadn’t been in contact with a dear friend for almost five years. Then one day I received an surprise text from her. It made me smile a lot and we made plans for dinner to catch up on what’s been going on throughout these years.

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  • I found out I really like aged cheese! I am not a big cheese fan. I do not like eating cheese alone. There’s this bistro box at work that for the longest, I cringe when looking at it, because I didn’t enjoy what was in it. There’s one specific cheese, two year aged cheddar. The one I least enjoyed. The first time I had it, it tasted like rubber. Second time, still tasted like rubber. I didn’t understand why my coworkers enjoyed this cheese. Finally after giving it four tries, I finally liked it! The texture is gooey and taste is bland. But it’s the kind of bland that you end up getting addicted to it. It’s so weird.. but I’d like to add it to my highlights since it was an important moment for me.

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  • I’ve never been the type of girl who goes to the salon to get my nails done nor do I like going. I’ve always enjoyed doing it at home since it saves money and I enjoy pampering myself. But during this month, a very sweet regular customer at the store had surprised me with a manicure. It was my first time getting them done differently other than gel. I love love the color so much!

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  • In the congregation, there’s an older couple Cardona’s. The brother has been sick so they haven’t been able to make it to the meeting regularly. But for the past month, he’s gotten better and they both have made it to the meetings every week. All thanks to Jehovah. It makes me very happy seeing them at each meeting. It’s encouraging to see the strength they have and faith they put into Jehovah. I always feel encouraged when I am with them.

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  • Sister date. It’s very important to me to try to make time for my sister and catch up. Even though we both live in the same house, we have very different schedules. There’d be days when we don’t see each other. I try to have a date with her at least one or twice a month to catch up.
  • Another highlight during this month was going out with a lovely sister in my congregation, hermana Vasquez. I’ve been trying to make plans with her for a month, but due to our different schedules, it never worked out. Until we were both off for the holiday! It was perfect. I really enjoyed getting to know her better and spending some quality time in service.
  • Attended a graduation party with friends in the congregation. What was special about that night was that I realized, it didn’t matter how much people you were with. What matter was who. You can have so much people with you, but with the right encouraging people who you are with is important. Wholesome fun isn’t about the quantity, it’s the quality.

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  • Ended the month with a wonderful night with my best friend. We finally got to spend time together after a long time with a movie, Whip It and some wings. Hanging out with her is never a dull moment. Just filled with highlights.

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MK’s Cilantro Lime Chicken Salad

IMG_8145.JPGAvocado and mango? Chipotle with cilantro? And chicken? Yes, please!

I love spicy and tangy. So I decided to incorporate those two flavors in a salad! The spiciness from chipotle combined with the tangy lime and ripe mango is simply amazing. I had a fun time experimenting all of these bold flavors together, creating a plate full of flavors making your taste buds happy.

Ingredients:

  • red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • chipotle pepper, cut and smashed
  • avocado, sliced
  • romaine lettuce, chopped bite size
  • mango, sliced and chopped
  • cilantro, handful chopped
  • Italian seasoning
  • chicken breasts, cut into bite size cubes
  • purple onion, sliced and chopped
  • lime, wedges
  • salt & lemon pepper
  • chili powder
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 bar of butter
  • mexican table cream

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In a medium bowl: combine chicken breasts, cilantro, fresh lime juice, sprinkles of salt, lemon pepper, chili powder, and pepper flakes (I eyeball everything and go with whatever my taste of spiciness/saltiness is).

Set aside.

In a hot skillet: pour in some table cream and butter. Saute chicken breasts on medium high. When chicken is medium rare, put in chipotle and sprinkle Italian seasoning, stir around on low heat. Let simmer.

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On a plate: combine cilantro and lettuce together with the remainder of fresh ingredients. When chicken is fully cooked, place on lettuce. Enjoy!