Why: Serve

I became a Christ follower 20+ years ago. It was the best decision of my life. That is not to say that I have not experienced hardships in my life. In fact, I would never describe life as easy. However, believing in something bigger than yourself – a higher power, the universe, etc – creates a belief that there has to be a purpose for everything. My belief in a “higher power” is in our Lord Savior Jesus Christ. There are many instances in my life where there is no explanation than a divine intervention – God’s timing.

I have shared a portion of my testimony in my post, He Never Fails. I would love for you to read that to see a small glimpse of how Jesus has changed my life. I have experienced so much of Christ’s love, mercy, and compassion from others that I wanted to give others’ the same experience of His divine intervention by helping them meet, know, and follow Jesus.

But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many. – Mark 10:43-45

To serve

For those who are not familiar with the term “serve” as it pertains to a church environment, to serve is to volunteer your time in particular ministry at the church you regularly attend. The amount of time you usually serve can be as little as 45 minutes as a person who greets guests to facilitating a bible study group, every week. Requirements for volunteering your time is usually a background check and a heart to serve. The beauty of serving is that there are many ministries in the church that need volunteers from the nursery to making coffee to greeting guests to keeping the campus safe. Whatever your interests are there is a ministry that would love for you to step in and show Christ’s love through service.

Our family has been serving at our home church from the moment we started attending. We knew that getting plugged into a church was high on our priority list especially since we were moving to a new area where we only knew one family. Joining the service team has allowed us to make friends, serve our local community through service projects, and most importantly, grow our faith.

Community

I currently serve in multiple ministries as a personal choice. Each of these ministries have helped me deepen my faith in Christ as well as cultivate relationships with other Christ followers. It also fills that part of my soul that always felt as if it was never satisfied until I found Christ and began to share my testimony. As humans, we are innately drawn to seek community and a deeper understanding of the big picture. Both of these internal needs can be met a your local church.

I serve on the leadership team for Mother’s of Preschoolers (MOPS) ministry, as a small group co-leader for a monthly meeting for Moms for Mental Health, and as a coach to small group leaders in the tween ministry. I also serve in multiple other seasonal ministries such as a week long summer church program similar to Vacation Bible School and the women’s Christmas event. Each of these ministries are very close to my heart as they were different seasons of my life that I really leaned on the church for guidance as a mom with lots of little.

These ministries allow me to share how Christ’s love, compassion, and grace has shown up in my life and the life of my family with those who participate in each ministry. Every time I have participated in a small group, local outreach or church event, my heart swells with thankfulness because I had met an individual who had never been to church before or helped pray for a mom who is just overwhelmed by her current circumstances.

Just show up

Are you interested in serving at your local church but don’t know how? Well the easiest way to start is to ask someone who serves there already or contact the office and ask. Chances are they will share their testimony of how serving has impacted their live in an extraordinary way.

One of the biggest commitments that comes with serving is just showing up. While it is absolutely normal to not want to attend church on a regular basis especially to serve a bunch of people who don’t know you, know that your presence is deeply needed week in and week out. Your unique testimony could help someone you greet or even talk with. This simple interaction can change the trajectory of their life and all you did was show up and be yourself. So just show up and see how the Holy Spirit will move through you to bless someone else’s life.

Remember – it is ok to not be ok. Tomorrow is a new day!

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Why: Strength training

Never in my entire life would I have thought that I would say, “I like going to the gym.” Guys, I do. I really do and it’s not because of the most obvious reason. If we’ve never met IRL, you would be surprised how vertically challenged I am. All 4 feet, 11 inches of me. At the gym, I feel even smaller around all the meat heads and testosterone. Imagine little me at the free weights station, attempting to deadlift. The bar is longer than I am tall and the weights on each end are wider than my torso. I truly don’t look like I belong there but I do it anyways. 

At the beginning of my self care/self love journey, my therapist would tell me to workout at least three days a week to help with my mental health. I used to laugh at what she would say. Three years later and I am now consistently getting to the gym twice a week to at most four days a week. What has changed? Strength training. 

Strength training

Weight training – or strength training – is truly why I continue to go to the gym today. Strength training has allowed me to challenge my mind in what I ‘believe’ I am able to do. For example, the plate loaded barbell is forty five pounds on its own. ON ITS OWN. When I first started to attempt to bench press, I could barely – like shaking arms barely – push that sucker above my head. Today, I am able to bench press a full three sets without breaking a sweat. How? I kept at it every week until one day, I decide to put five pounds – 2.5 pound plates – on the bar. For me it was a momentous occasion because I did what seemed impossible. *insert happy dance here*

Once I started to see results in my increased weights on the machines and in the free weight station, I began to challenge my mind even more. I would purposefully add a little more weight each time I went to the gym. From there, I began to try a different strength training machine each time I went to the gym. I gained so much confidence that I would put my headphones on, play some 90’s hip hop, and move through each station as quickly as I could. At the end of my workout, I would do some yoga to 90’s R&B and wait for my husband to finish his workout.

Gym dates are the best dates

The main supporter at the gym is my husband. I expressed to him that I wanted to attempt to use the strength training machines and possibly the free weights but I was intimidated because everything looks complicated and honestly, I didn’t want guys to be staring at my butt while I worked out. It actually brought a lot of anxiety for me to attempt any machine or station. So my sweet husband would help walk me through each machine as well as how to use the free weights station properly. 

Three months later, I am confident in my abilities enough to move through the machines without his help and only ask for him to spot me in the free weights station. This is huge for me! If you were to imagine little ol’ me in the free weights station deadlifting 95 pounds while surrounded by muscular men who deadlift 300+ pounds, it is a sight to see. My husband is usually close by – or at the station next to me deadlifting 200+ pounds – just in case I need a spotter.

These evenings spent together have become our favorite times together because we are able to get in some exercise, encourage each other during our workout and also talk through our day. We have dubbed them our “gym dates”. What we also love about “gym dates” is that they are free since we already pay for the membership monthly. So all we need to do is show up and be each others’ cheerleaders. We have been doing this since we’ve started at the gym and I can honestly say that it has helped us reconnect in a way that I could have never imagined. I am so thankful for this time because we are both so busy and carving out time for each other is so important. 

How to start strength training

If this post has peaked your interest in attempting to strength train, here is what I suggest:

  • Utilize the new member orientation
    • There is a reason it is included in your membership. Take advantage of it!
    • Orientation usually include some of the following:
      • A health assessment
      • Body fat analysis
      • Instructions on how to use basic strength training machines
      • Help in choosing exercises, reps, and sets
      • How to use different cardio machines
      • Heart rate and intensity information
      • General workout guidance
  • Go with a friend
    • This is great for accountability and encouragement.
  • Try the group classes and find the one that works for you
    • When I first started at the gym, I used the treadmill and elliptical machine only. I became bored really quickly. I knew that I needed more in order to keep coming.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the gym staff for help
    • I have seen many patrons ask a staff member to spot them. 
    • I have also seen staff members take the time to explain how to use a machine properly.
  • Keep coming back
    • In the beginning, it will seem really intimidating but over time you will become comfortable with the environment and “zone” everyone out. 

Mind over matter

The biggest change with adding strength training to my self care routine and the encouragement of my husband was my mindset. I began to believe that I could do ‘impossible’ things. On rough days, going to the gym was an outlet to release my stress. It also challenged my negative self talk and inner critic because there was nothing for those statements to stand on if I could prove them wrong.

This mindset has overflowed into other parts of my life. I have more courage to try new things and take small steps to reach a goal. There is more evidence of success than failure. So I keep adding on weights, I keep challenging myself to do new things, and I keep moving forward. 

What is your favorite workout at the gym? Comment below!

If I haven’t done it, I’d love to try. 

Why: Life coaching

The beginning of the year has a connotation of becoming your best self. With this feeling in mind, I want to share the reason I started this new chapter in my life; my personal experience with a life coach; and a special offer. 

Many have asked why I am becoming certified life coach. The explanation for this really goes back to what I’ve done my entire life – giving sound advice. This all started with my mom. She was the person who always gave advice to relatives and friends. My mom honestly still gives me really sound advice today.  This naturally rubbed off on my siblings and I. As a seasoned mom of five, I have experienced a gamut of child rearing and marital issues. I am nowhere near an expert in any subject but I can give you my testimony in hopes that you don’t make the same mistakes as I did.

In the past few years, I’ve had multiple conversations about what I will do with my time now that most of my kiddos are pretty self sufficient. One of the most common occupations brought up was a counselor or therapist. While I am honored that many people believe that I should be paid for helping people with their problems, I knew that would not be the best route for me. Helping others triggers my codependency which then become unhealthy. It would not be healthy for my own mental health, so I knew those honorable occupations would work for me. It would also require years of schooling and my mind is basically jello at this point as well as my time is still solely the domestic manager and I don’t want to take anymore time away from family right now. 

Soon after one of those conversations about the next chapter of my life, I stumbled upon life coaching on the interwebs. It intrigued me and I began my research of if this act of service was right for me. A year and some odd months of researching, talking to family, friends, and other life coaches, I decided to take a leap and get my certification in life coaching. The past few months have been quite stressful as I have learned that becoming a life coach also means doing intensive inner work so that I may help others become the best versions of themselves. 

What a life coach isn’t

Before I share my experience with a life coach, I wanted to explain what a life coach is NOT. Contrary to the current popularity of life coaching, this profession has been around since the 1980s.

Thomas Leonard, an American financial planner, is generally acknowledged as the first person to develop coaching as a profession in the 1980s and the history of life coaching today really starts with him. Leonard observed that his clients, though emotionally stable and hardly needing therapy, wanted more from him than just the usual tips on how to invest and safeguard their incomes. They wanted help in organising their lives better and planning and achieving their goals1.

A life coach is not

  • Life coaching is not the same as having a therapist. 

A therapist unpacks your past (and current situations) and helps you heal from them. A life coach focuses on your current abilities and believe that you can attain your goals, dreams, and aspirations with all that you currently possess.

  • A life coach is a consultant or mentor.

A life coach is not the person you go to for advice. The main goal of a life coach is to help individuals be their very best self without enabling or fixing the individual.

  • A life coach does not helps you solve your problems. 

A life coach communicates without judgement or preconceived notions that everyone is more than capable of finding their life’s purpose. They help you unpack current belief systems that no longer help the individual to grow into their best selves. They are here to help you take actions forward in your life without any personal agendas. 

  • A life coach shares your sessions with others. 

Coaching sessions are safe spaces where individuals can be transparent because the coach will hold their conversations with sacred confidentiality.  

  • Life coach judges the client and their life choices or behaviors.

A life coach is simply a person who will actively listen to you without judgement or evaluations. They are there to support you and offer encouragement to move forward towards the client’s life goals.

As life coach, Nicole Cruz, states a life coach is your own personal cheerleader that is solely focuses on your goals, aspirations and dreams. A life coach is there to help you put action in what is most important to you. I knew from this point on, I needed to attend a seminar in order to see if this was something I could do. After a full day at a local vocational college, learning the fundamentals of life coaching, I knew it would be the perfect way to help others find their own paths without having to trigger my own codependency. 

My life coaching experience

Let me just start by saying that meeting Nicole Cruz was absolutely by divine appointment. Similar vibrations attracting other similar vibrations. The universe listening. Whatever you want to call it. I cannot believe I met her when I did. I was on a journey to figure out what I was going to do with my life now that my kids are pretty self sufficient (not independent – those two things are to different things). I knew I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life but I didn’t want to go through years and years of schooling. 

I stumbled upon Nicole’s Life Coaching Instagram and was intrigued. Nicole was from San Diego and a fellow 1st gen Fil-Am, so I knew that we would relate on many levels. So I decided to reach out to her about her experience as a life coach. Guys, we really hit it off. Our energies vibed. I cried to her about my self esteem issues and mental illnesses. She held space for me and it was so comforting. She spoke at great lengths at what it took for her to become a life coach – mentally and physically – and her journey was so inspirational. She gave me some great advice on how to become a life coach and we kept in touch on Insta. A week later she launched her FREE one month of coaching giveaway and guess what – I WON. So I decided to take this insane perfect timing month of coaching seriously. 

One month of coaching

Our initial session was about expectations, my belief systems, and my ultimate goal. Nicole walked me through an inner critic exercise and talked me through my belief systems with such compassion. She also gave me suggestions on how to start to change my belief systems and also gave me an action item (which I hated and dreaded) to push me forward. I remember leaving that session invigorated and ready to tackle the world. We met weekly via Zoom and the next three sessions were about my “wins” for the past week and specific exercise that would again propel me forward closer towards my goal. At the end of the four weeks of meeting, I felt like a different person. Nicole urged me to celebrate my victories from that month and it was the first time I really celebrated working on the inner parts of myself. Let’s face it, outward success is easy to identify but working on your belief systems and breaking them down is no easy feat. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I couldn’t have done any of that inner work without Nicole cheering me on and helped me take the actions I am taking today. Also I didn’t reach the goal I initially had for the session but I think I gained so much more than that particular goal. Truthfully, I’m not even mad that I didn’t reach it because I knew I learned so much more about myself.

As of today, I have helped co-create a group coaching program with Nicole as well as helped co-create content with all Asian company. What I have gained is even more perspective about my belief systems and have even passed that knowledge out to those around me. I am also halfway through my certification for life coaching and I am learning so much. What I didn’t realize when I started this was that I would also be doing some deep inner work as a life coach.

Special Offer

Are you still with me? Great! I need your help. I am in need of volunteer clients for my life coaching classes. My goal is to help 30 people in the next 30 days! This will allow me to practice what I’ve learned in my certification as well as help you move towards your best self – whatever that would be. If you would like to schedule a FREE 30 minute magnify session with me, please click on the link below to schedule your FREE session – HERE.  

Thank you for being here and continuing to support my blog. It means the world to me and I am so grateful to have this opportunity to help you on your journey.

Remember – it is ok to NOT be ok. Tomorrow is a new day!

Its not just you – Mentally healthy mom

This post is part of a series on sharing individuals stories to help others realize, they are not alone. If you haven’t read the introduction to this series, please start here. This week’s post is from Criselle. When I read through her story, I cried because it resonated so deeply with me. If her story is familiar to your own, please know you can ask for help just like Criselle.

Tears were streaming down my face; I was sobbing and couldn’t control my breaths. “I can’t. None of it matters. We live and die, and that’s it. None of it matters, there’s no point.”“It’ll be okay Criselle, living life and being there for your boys is what matters.”

I was sitting in my car in a Target parking lot, 34.5 weeks pregnant with my second child, and I was in the midst of a mental breakdown, a severe panic attack, plagued with existential thoughts. My little sister, 24 at the time, on the other line, trying with all her might to help me get through the several months of anguish, anxiety and depression that I had been experiencing through a majority of my pregnancy. I had finally filled the prescription for Zoloft that my OBGYN had given me eight weeks prior. I told him two months ago I had been experiencing dark, suicidal thoughts. He explained that Mom comes first in pregnancy, and that the Zoloft could offer me the help I needed; then he also wrote down the number of a therapist I could call and set an appointment up with.

I took only one Zoloft while pregnant, while sitting in the car, crying to my sister, feeling all the pains of my diagnosed anxiety and depression. On top of that, the guilt I felt for possibly hindering the breathing development of my son; that’s a side effect of Zoloft while pregnant. I only took one because the next morning my water broke, most likely due to the panic attack. My son, Clayton, was born 27 hours after that. He was premature and weighed 4 pounds 11 ounces. And, of course, I blamed myself. 

Fast forward two months later, Clayton is still a tiny, little thing, but he’s gained about two pounds. I was finally feeling better mentally, two months worth of Zoloft and the endorphins of breastfeeding will do that to a person. 

I didn’t realize it then, but I HAD to take that medicine to not only help myself, but to help my unborn son, too. To help my four year old son. To help my husband. They were losing their mom and wife to a sickening hormonal imbalance, and I HAD to take medicine for all of us. Without it, I may not have made it past that day in the Target parking lot. 

Once out of the fog that is mental illness, I began to see how all the people around me were fighting in my corner with me. My sister, talking it out with me over the phone. My doctor, letting me know that I had to help myself and giving me resources to do so. My doula, who would check in on me during pregnancy and postpartum. My family, for understanding that I wasn’t able to fulfill my duties as a mom and helped me until I could. My friends and acquaintances, who after reading my post on social media regarding my mental health and early birth of my son, reached out to me with kind words and love. 

It’s been almost 2 years since that day in the Target parking lot. I have always known I would do anything for my children, but the most important thing I can do for them as a mother is to be mentally healthy.

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