2 years of marriage | Rooftop Terrace Dinner in our own backyard

Hey darlings! 
So le hubby and I just celebrated our anniversary a couple of weeks ago and it was perfect. Time and time again, I am reminded that less is more.
We wanted to have a low-key celebration, because we are planning a bigger trip at the end of the year. So, le hubby and I put our brains together and crafted the perfect weekend. It started with a surprise celebration from the church we pastor that included tons of cake, gifts, and love. Later that evening, we had planned a backyard dinner that would include café lights, tropical breeze, the best playlist, awesome take out (not sure if the joy came solely from the food or from the fact that we did not have to cook it) and each other's company. Our friend came right during the twilight hour to snap some pics and than left us to enjoy our evening. We danced, we sang, we talked, we had a heart to heart conversation about our dreams and about what we love about each other. It was perfect. I am still smiling about it. 

Thankful that every morning he wakes me up with a kiss and every night we cuddle but just for a bit because we each get hot and sleep a lot better on our own side haha! Love that he is my main foodie partner, which can sometimes work against us, but for what it's worth, we have enjoyed great food together and we have no regrets. Love that he lets me dream and gives me room to pursue them. He takes me seriously, even on my most hormonal day and has a killer smile. 

After being married for two years, from this side of the fence, I want to tell you: If you are waiting to fall in love, do it for the right reasons. God is never late. He knows what He is doing in each one of us. Our story and process looks different form one person to the next but one thing is universal. God will not mislead you. He has a purpose and a method to the madness. Be encouraged. Love is worth the wait. Read more about how this whole story began. 

I made my first Steller story and with these pictures and got featured on their main page so I decided to share here as well.



A Guide To My Favorite Hats For Fall & Where To Find Them

hello darlings!

Today I bring you a short user guide to hats, in order to answer many of the questions I get about my own. Also, I thought I could help out some of you since a new season calls for new accessories, does it not? I have loved hats for as long as I can remember, and I've had quite a few through the years. Hats, along with rings and lipstick are my three favorite accessories because of how they can add that simple missing touch to the simplest of outfits but also because of how versatile they can be. I am also known for always air drying my hair and rarely brushing it, so a hat always does the trick to hide any "no time for washing hair" or a plain bad hair day. In this post I attempt to declassify some of the names of the hats that are a huge hit at the moment. I've also included my favorite places to shop for these hats; that way replicating some of your favorite looks will be "easy peasy." 

Floppy hat
I've had this black floppy hat for over 4 years and when it's well maintained it can look beautiful for a long time. Because it has a wide brim and is floppy, it adds a subtle dramatic effect to your overall look. Like most hats it can be worn when you are dressed up or with a more casual outfit as well. I am eyeing this one, but I also like how perfect this other one is for fall and winter even.

Bowler (or sometimes called modern cloche hat)
These are ADORABLE hats and I have yet to own one of these cuties. However, it will be added to my collection soon. Here , here and here you can find options in black, another one in straw (to get more of the Anne of green Gables look). The straw one is not for fall but since I live on a tropical Island I thought I would include a summer option in there as well. 

Panama Hat
These hats are traditionally the straw ones you see selling everywhere during spring and summer season. It is the hat that has a deep dent on the top part of it, giving it a particular look.  However herehere , here and here are some examples of fall versions of those hats.

Fedora hat
Most of the hats you will find have the traditional look of a fedora though they sometimes could have wider brims without being floppy. I have a couple and I gathered a couple of options here , here and here that are very similar. This Etsy store actually makes the hat to your own measurements and they have quite a wide range of beautiful hats and headpieces. I am in love with this grey one.

Beret Hat
When I moved to this tropical island I narrowed down my berets to only one and also one beanie for when I would travel to see my family during the cold months. A beret is usually associated with that effortless but chic french look, so if you ever wanted to rock one, Fall is the best time for it! Here is the one I have, another one I found in this Etsy shop sells many vintage hat options and this one. 

Beanie Hat
These are so comfy and perfect for the colder days in fall. I get nostalgic when I think that I don't wear them anymore because of the eternal summer here but herehere and here are some examples for you to wear them this year. 

Riding hat (or boater hat)
These are the hats that have a stiff top and brim. This kind of hat is traditionally a  man hat. Mine was passed on from my father-in-law and as you can see below or on Instagram, it will look just as beautiful on women as well. This type of hat simply sits on your head stiffly so it may sometimes feel a bit disconcerting not to feel the hat snug around the crown of your head but be reassured, that how it's supposed to feel. Find a beautiful one here , here and here for less. 



Why Do I Attract The Wrong Type & How Can I Change It?

hello Darlings, 

Today I want to start answering a few questions that I have been getting in my inbox. Today's topic is about how we often attract the "wrong type" (same person different face syndrome) and how we can change that. Love seems to be so complicated these days, and in a way I think it is and I don't want to pretend to answer this question exhaustively today. However, I'd like to open a discussion about it. 

First, I would like to say that many times I have not been in control of the people whom I attract. I could be in my ugliest disposition (in my opinion) after a wild workout, sweaty, my face pink because of the exercise and still manage to get a couple of whistles on my way out or a few invitations for a ride while I am jogging (creepy!). 

Here are some simple pointers that I have learned along the way. If you have a good one to share, please do so below in the comment section.

Stand at the right spot

In one of my favorite books, the author compares love to a bus ride. It's only logical to think that in order for us to get to our destination by bus we must wait for it at one of the bus stops along the designated route, right? You can wait all you want at a different bus stop but you will never encounter the bus you are waiting for until you position yourself on the correct route. 

This little analogy simply illustrates this: where are you meeting the people you meet? So many times we want to get different results while maintaining the same habits, which is not possible. Maybe it is time to surround ourselves with different people and start going to places that can bring us growth, fulfillment, and peace to see how our social circle will change. 

Sometimes, we are so set in our ways that even the smallest thing out of our comfort zone can be challenging. Yes, this may mean that you will have to trim some friends out of your life, to be the boring one that does not go the "hot spots" anymore. But today I challenge you to re-evaluate where you usually meet the same "wrong" people and start making different choices. 

Mixed signals

I started by saying that in many cases we are not responsible for who is attracted to us and why. However, that is not entirely true and let me explain why. It is important that our reputation, our intentions, and our behavior matches the kind of people we really are and hope to attract. If I am overly flirty to many people and don't seem to have standards, anyone will just feel like they can approach me, or worse, they might assume we will fall for them and take us for granted from the get go. 

On the other hand, experts are still trying to explain the whole concept of attraction and how even without trying, people will be attracted to specific people rather than others. This means that even when we send the right signals and position ourselves properly, we may still attract the wrong people which is why what we do with the attraction we feel or with the interest we know another person has, is and will always be our responsibility. Our words must align with our actions. Let's stop sending mixed signals, let's stand by our word and standards and live out what we say we want. For example: We can't pretend we just want to be friends while getting or giving the benefits of a GF/ BF or spouse. 

Let's have the courage to be selective with our words and actions, to take responsibility for the ones we choose to utter and not misguide others with our lack of integrity. Let's practice patience and let things unfold in a natural way, and allow time to reveal many things that we can't see if we hastily decide that the person I just met is my next GF/BF. 

Understanding you

I once met a young lady on a plane that shared her life story with me. I was surprised when she told me that after 7 years she had left the father of her kids because he was wrong for her but that she already was contemplating another relationship with a similar type of guy. In my head I was like "Really?!"  It was so obvious to me that this was NOT the right way to go about getting a new and  better relationship.  However, the more we talked, the more I realized that she had never spent time on her own since the beginning of her teenage years and did not know what life was without a significant other in her life. She simply did not know who she was or where she wanted to go in life.  

I can't help but think back to the scene in the movie

The Runaway Bride

, where a girl had lots of success with men, however she got famous for leaving them at the altar on the day of their wedding because she just seemed to not be able to go through with it. I like the scene in which a journalist starts investigating her behavior and realizes that she has always had her eggs in the morning the way her boyfriend at the time likes it. So when she is asked the simple question of how she likes her eggs, she is unable to respond and that simple question leads her on a journey of discovery (without any men in her life) and growth. 

You were created with a purpose and until you understand that, you may settle for anything really. Whether it be good or bad. 


I remember that painful time in which I finally decided that it was time to regroup with myself and get to know me instead of trying to be the person others would like. That lead me to a more important question about my purpose in life. I chose to turn to my Creator for that and I am so glad I did. 



Guest Post | Wedding Planning Tips From a Real Bride (Part 2)

Hello Darlings!

We are back today for more wedding planning tips from a real, beautiful bride that also happens to be the wonderful food blogger behind Will Frolic For Food. Renee and I actually met through a twitter conversation about wedding planning a few months ago, and I have been following her plans. Learn more about her here. Today she shares with us two of her favorite planning tips combined with problem solving solutions and sound advice. For more on this topic, be sure to check yesterday's post brought to us by lovely Sara, the author of this beautiful illustration and blogger over at Cake over Steak

Renee needs no further introduction since she has been a guest in this blog before. So without further ado, here's what she had to say when asked to share: 

 Don't let Pinterest get you down:

Pinterest is an incredible source of inspiration. In fact, I use it daily as a creative resource for recipe concepts and photography styling. Not to mention all of the personal fulfillment I get from having collections of dreamy photographs of badass chicks adventuring all over the world and wearing soft bohemian clothing

When it comes to weddings, Pinterest is both a saving grace and a black hole. It helped me to develop my wedding color scheme (creamy white, sage and evergreen, with hints of fig and pomegranate pink). I've found all of my DIY ideas through Pinterest. And I use secret boards to share dress and accessory ideas with my bridesmaids and my mom.

But there's a dark side. Pinterest creates unrealistic expectations, to say the least. Within 2 months of planning my wedding I realized that every wedding I had fallen in love with on Pinterest cost at least $30,000. No question. All of those pretty details, the perfect dress, the fancy rustic-barn eco-chic event space: those alone couldn't have cost less than 15K. Not even kidding. Once you start to budget your wedding, you'll realize that those perfect-looking weddings are almost always the work of a professional design team (cost = between $1000 and $13,000). 

I don't know about you, but I don't exactly have that kind of dough laying around! 

The other side of the dark side: Pinterest can suck you in like coins between sofa cushions. I can't tell you how many hours I've spent pinning images of pretty dresses. Too many. Take it from me, there are better uses of your time.

Solution: when you find yourself panicked by the idea that you won't be able to meet the absurdly high expectations of Pinterest weddings, just turn it off. Take a break. Recalibrate. Your wedding will be awesome, even if it's not Pinterest Perfect. And don't let yourself get sucked in by pinning for hours on end! Use that time to work on DIY crafts for your big day or journal your ideas (way more productive!). 

 Reach out to your community for help:

It's been said before, but I'll just go ahead and re-iterate it for you here: LET PEOPLE HELP YOU. It seems like a really responsible thing, to plan your wedding all on your own. But, really, it's not. Is it responsible to drive yourself mad over all of those details? Not to mention the bigger things: finding an event space, booking a band or DJ, hiring a florist, cake-maker, coordinator, and caterer. And those are just the basics. No one will like you better for being Bride B*itch because you're so stressed out. And you won't like you better, too. 

Reach out to friends and family for help. They WANT to help. I can't tell you how surprised I've been at how many people want to be involved -- even new friends.

I'd like to take it one step further: reach out to strangers, to your community. Are you part of a community art project, a volunteer group, a book club? Do you know someone who knows everyone? Send an email out to those folks asking for suggestions and help. Not everyone will respond, but you'll be shocked at how many DO. 

Being in a town saturated with cream of the crop wedding venues and vendors (read: the most expensive and unattainable of everything), reaching out became invaluable. I even had some people offer to let me use their farms and homes for free! I'm just saying, you never know what could happen. And why not increase your chances of stumbling on something magical (and did I mention possibly free?) by putting yourself out there?

Check out Renee's blog, Will Frolic for Food, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook



Guest Post | Wedding Planning Tips From a Real Bride

Hello Darlings!

I can't believe I was able to contain my excitement while I kept this guest post collaboration on the DL (down-low) for all this time. Many of you know that I am a food enthusiast and by that I mean that I think about it all the time and so it is normal and appropriate  that I gravitated towards great food bloggers like "Cake Over Steak" and "Will Frolic For Food".  Besides being extremely talented, they are also engaged and soon to be married. Through twitter "venting" chats about the stress and joys of planning a wedding, we decided to combine their best tips in one post to help all other beautiful brides planning their bash. Today, meet the talented Sara who offered to make this amazing illustration especially for this 2 part series which I am so happy to feature on my blog

Hello! This is Sara from the illustrated food blog Cake Over Steak. In about two months I will be marrying a man that is so perfect for me that I didn't even imagine such a person could exist. (He is also the photographer behind my blog - he makes it prettier for me.) The wedding planning process has been quite a journey for us, so I'm very excited to be sharing some of my lessons that I have learned so far with you! 

♥ As an artist, I can be very sensitive to color, so I felt like I couldn't focus on any of the decoration details for my wedding until we had settled on a color palette. Neither of us were too sure of what we wanted, so we went to the hardware store to browse the paint section. In that setting we were able to hold up colors next to each other and look at slightly different versions very easily. We were still struggling with what direction we wanted to go in, so we ended up getting inspiration from one of those pamphlets that suggests color palettes for various rooms of the house. We fell in love with an image of a bedroom that had mostly white furniture with lots of teal and some gold accents; it felt romantic, serene and classy - it was perfect. We based our color palette off of that image, and grabbed a handful of paint swatches for each color we chose. We used those to help pick out the bridesmaid dresses, save the dates and invitations, linens for our tables, and suits and ties for the groomsmen, I sent a set to my florist, and I kept them in mind while designing my wedding dress. It was helpful to have physical objects in our colors to stash in my purse (I kept a set in there at all times so I would always be prepared) and place directly on top of fabric swatches we were considering, etc. It was a lifesaver!

 Now onto my favorite part of the planning process (other than designing my dress) - cake tasting. We planned all of our cake tastings for the same day, mainly because we were at the location for the weekend, which is 4.5 hours away from where we live, so we had to knock them all out at once. It sounds like a lot of cake (which it was, not that I'm complaining), but it made it very easy for us to compare them and make a decision, so it is something I would recommend if you can set it up that way. Furthermore, I know that some bakeries only offer a specific handful of cakes to choose from, but if you fall in love with a baker that will make whatever kind of cake you want, don't be afraid to pick them even if you didn't absolutely love one of the tester cakes you tried from them. We loved a flavor combination at one bakery, but ended up choosing another baker because we thought her cakes were the best quality overall, and we felt very comfortable with her - she was a "good fit." We just asked her to make a cake with the same flavors as the one we tried from the other bakery. This past weekend we met up with her to taste a sample version of the cake she is making for us, and we could not be happier with our decision. So just remember to keep the whole experience in mind when choosing your vendors. 

♥ And that brings me to the cake topper. If you're not looking for the traditional bride and groom cake topper, don't limit yourself to just searching for "cake topper" when you are browsing Pinterest or Etsy, etc. We found that items with "cake topper" in the description had much higher prices than similar items that were not labeled as a "cake topper." Since we were looking for something like a cute animal cake topper, we started searching for things like "figurine" on various web sites. We even considered DIY-ing something like this. (Initial and word-based cake toppers can also be extremely easy and affordable to DIY.) A couple weeks ago we found some little fabric birds at Michael's that we are really pleased with, and we spent a whopping $12 instead of upwards of $50-$100 for a "cake topper." Don't be afraid to get creative! You could end up with something you love even more because you made it yourself or found it on an internet treasure hunt.

I hope these tips can make your wedding planning go a little more smoothly. 

Tomorrow be sure to read part 2 with tips from food blogger Renee over at Frolic



Lighthouse Adventures | Funny Anecdotes of My New Life

Hello Darlings,

One year ago, this day my husband was carrying me through the thresh hole of our new apartment. Blissfully optimistic and perhaps even a bit naive ready to start a new life on this Carribean Island. I went from feeling like I was in constant vacation (I mean who wouldn't having the beach so close), to  having settled and loving this season of my life. 

Last week we went away on a mini vacation to celebrate our wedding anniversary so today I want to share my favorite pictures, along with some anecdotes and journal excerpts that I shared during this year to remember the small but funny things that have happened during the year. We visited a beautiful Lighthouse on the end tip of the Island called Cabo Rojo. 

This for me is one of the dreamiest locations on this Island. I can't get enough of the beautiful views. This is
Playa Sucia in Cabo Rojo. We have visited 3 lighthouses nous we have 12 to go! This one is situated at the South West tip of the Island. I stood right there at the end. It was breathtaking. 

First time that I finally had the guts to call out the plantain truck driver that passes every day in front of our house, he did not hear me despite the fact that not only I yelled (or I felt I did) but that I also ran after his truck on a rainy afternoon. Now we are friends, when I take a little longer to come down he slows down because he knows that I am probably running around gathering my change and looking for my shoes. He even looks and now carries pineapples regularly because he knows it's my favorite fruit. 

Neighbors are so important in this chapter of my life, not only because we can hear what goes on in each others houses but also because we literally share on a daily basis. For example: Our next door neighbor is a professional accordion player. He is part of prestigious band here in Puerto Rico and every evening (he has not missed a day yet) he practices for about an hour or two. It usually coincides with our dinner time, so my husband and I have made it a habit to sit down and eat as we get serenaded by him. Sometimes we even light a candle and we imagine that we are somewhere in Italy.

My other neighbor had a cute but anxious dog called Valentino. That is the dog that destroyed most of our mail during the past year, including clothing and wedding thank you cards.  Here's what I wrote that day "So about a month ago we ordered our first batch of thank you notes and when we came home our neighbor's dog had gotten hold of it and had eaten half and destroyed the rest (true story)! Don't worry about the dog, he is fine even after all that paper lol!" 

I love that on this Island there is GREAT food (Mofongo my friends, is divine). Needless to say that I have put on some extra pounds but I am now also a strong coffee and a food truck junkie. When you visit Puerto rico be sure to visit "El Churry". 

We stayed at this quaint hotel in Old San Juan (La Terraza), that has my name written all over it because of the decor.
We loved their breakfast and their roof top pool with a view of the city.
Experienced my first hurricane season and a couple of earthquakes. Here's another excerpt I wrote during a storm that truly explains it all "Tropical Islands have something called 'hurricane season' (no big deal) and last night a short but powerful storm hit when I remembered that my mini basil plant (my first plant ever) was left outside in the rain. I panicked of fear that it would get too wet or fly away. Thankfully my husband risked his life and brought it indoors. He's my hero."

I have so many other things that I could talk about like: the cream truck with the most annoying theme song that passes by our house 4 to 6 times a day or how all the cats of our street think our Terrace is their home and how I had no idea that humidity could ruin my leather shoes but learned it the hard way. However funny these things may seem, throughout it I mastered the art of sweating patiently and choosing joy. I have laughed more than ever, cried and grown so much during this year that I can only be thankful that God chose Puerto Rico as our first home as a married couple. 

What is the scariest thing you have ever done? or maybe just something funny. Do share! 

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall,
    for the Lord holds them by the hand. (Psalm 37:23,24)



1 year of marriage | Some of what I learned

Hello Darlings!

I am the first one to admit that it is actually funny that my husband and I celebrated 1 year of marriage this Sunday, because to be honest, I was never the "have all your wedding planned out from childhood" kind of person. As a matter of fact, I ran from the idea and also from any conversation in which any of my mom's friends would try to marry off with their sons or other family member.
Being the free-spirit, independent and quirky person that I am, I honestly feel blessed and privileged to have met such an amazing (custom-made like I like to say) man to do life with. Later this week I will share our trip pictures, because I have probably just found one of my favorite spots on this Island, until than check out my Instagram for some snaps.
Here are some of the things I learned about love in this first year of marriage:

CHANGE. Yes, everyone said life was going to change but no one could predict that it would change this much for me. The change of last name is really the smallest change, considering that I moved to a tropical Island, I'm still in a transitional career path, I had to make new friends, learn new streets, find a new favorite coffee shop, etc As a result I see how I have grown, changed and adapted. Love does indeed change all of us and it is not always a bad thing. 

PROVISION. Many of our friends, that have been married for a little longer, often share stories of how broke they were when they started their own family but how happy they were. I am not sure if we had more or less than what they had when they started but in this year more than ever I have seen how we were miraculously able to pull from where we knew there was nothing to begin with. I can probably write a book sharing bizarre stories of how oil, detergent, garbage bags and other things have multiplied over the year and lasted us for an abnormal period of time.

BATHROOM SCHEDULES. Yes, love requires a bathroom schedule when sharing a tiny one. 

SHARE. When my husband shares his food, I've had to train myself to return the favor so we can both benefit from trying new food. You may not believe it but I just recently started doing it. I would get to the end of my plate and just forget to ask and he would just be waiting for me to offer (I am telling you, I married so well). Rest assured that I've gotten better. 

HABITS DON'T DIE. Yeah, no matter how optimistic we both were and still are about breaking certain habits, I am learning to accept that certain things just won't change. That my husband will always try to drink coke behind my back, will always change radio stations right in the middle of a great jam or eat my delicious left overs that I am secretly keeping to eat when he leaves so I can enjoy it over a chick flick all by myself.

VIDEO GAMES, SPORTS AND FAVORITE BLANKET are my husbands second wife and will always be my worst competition. 

BE THE FIRST. I have learned that it doesn't matter who apologizes first as long as we both strive to be the first one to do it. Humility and dying to our ego are defenitly not popular virtues in our society but I have seen how we are both winners when we both lose our pride. 

DATES AND DATE ATTIRE MATTERS. Working from home has slowly turned me into a "hobo" and I recently looked at my pajamas (uniform) that I never took off that day and wondered how I had spiraled down this low. So now, on dates, I have decided to not allow myself to look like a hot mess. I take a nice shower, put lipstick, try a new braided Pinterest hairstyle and dress cute for me (and my dignity) and obviously for "le hubby" as well. We have this habit in which he gets dressed in the next room, that way when we are ready, smelling good we come out and surprise one another. Like "oh hey gorgeous!"

We go out, turn off our cell phones (yeah right! we just stop using them), talk, laugh and explore new spots around this beautiful island that usually involve coffee, music, and great food among many other things. You can see some of our adventures here. I always took dates for granted until life started getting in the way and realized that it had to become non negotiable and it is. 
FUN. I knew it would be great to finally be together in the same location with my husband, but I never anticipated that I would laugh and constantly smile this much. My husband has a great sense of humor and even when we are tired and really busy he finds a way to make me laugh.

These pictures are part 1 of our little celebratory one year anniversary photo shoot, done by our amazing friend Valeria.

"Every good thing I have comes from you" (Psalm 16:2)




Love Chronicles | Maintain Long Distance Relationships

Hello Darlings,

Yes! Today we are doing it, we are talking LDR's (long distance relationships)! That is a topic that I am more familiar than I maybe would've liked because my husband and I were in a LDR for 2 1/2 years before we got married and moved to this beautiful island. Even now, I still try to nurture long distance relationships with my family and friends that are still left all over the places I have lived in the last few years. Be sure to join me on Monday for a LDR guide to girlfriends and family!

Being in a LDR is definitely not for everyone. Constantly being away from the people we love and relying almost solely on technology as a lifeline for constant communication is sometimes sad and slightly frustrating.

We had a little discussion over on Instagram about this topic and here is some of the fun stuff we came up with.

Room to breathe
Being far from each other sometimes gives time to focus on certain tasks (really stressful projects or school for example) and then really enjoy the special time spent together. I never really paid attention to this, but it was during those years that I was able to give myself completely to a very demanding job without any guilt. I would be in the office Facetiming while working really late on a project. It is also during that time that I did most of my traveling. We would call each other from Argentina, Venezuela, Peru or Chicago but never feeling like there was a difference in our separation because we kept the same rhythm of communication. Now, looking back, I can say that making the best of the situation by using your time wisely during this season can truly be beneficial in the long run.

Also, it goes without saying but... have a life. Make friends, engage in activities, hobbies and things that you enjoy so that you don't go crazy just being at home waiting for some type of sign or communication from your BF. 

We texted, skyped (or FaceTimed) daily. We wrote emails, messages, occasional cards and hand-written letters during our courtship. On special occasions and on a "just because" occasions, I got little surprises delivered to my house, my office and hand delivered through my friends that acted as messengers. I think this is where people in LDR's really must get creative. Love makes you do crazy things and it is so important to constantly, throughout the day and week make your presence known. Not to be creepy or annoying but just to be "present". My love was not physically there but I never felt like he was too far emotionally. From the "good morning princess" text to the prayer and blessing he would give me at night before going to bed, even far apart, we created our own little traditions and fun ways to cope with the sadness of not being able to see each other for a few months at a time. 

I feel that since all we had was communication for most of our 2 year 1/2 relationship, our communication skills were and continue to be strong. However, we intentionally worked hard at it. This is, according to my opinion, what can potentially make or break a relationship; when you are able to keep your commitment to constant communication regardless of the distance, time change, poor reception or internet access. The truth is, the effort has to be made and as a couple you must find what works for you and do it constantly. 

My husband and I joke about our perpetual "separation" anxiety attacks because of the trauma of all the times we had to leave each other. All the airports drop off, bus terminal hugs, hotel lobby embraces, passports, visas, airplanes, delays and long drives are all silent witnesses of our love story. The short times you get to spend together are so amazing that you just can't wait to do this forever, which is what we decided to do last May. But sometimes, the agony of not really knowing when it will be possible is rough, especially when you live in 2 different continents like some of my friends. 

We found that leaving letters, gifts, messages and even hidden gifts and surprises for the other person to find in the next hours after the separation helped. Now, with social media, it's really easy to document the special memories made in those short periods as opposed to other people that get to see each other all the time. 

Worthy of trust
Being away for special occasions, not being present on nights when you feel like going on a date or when your love is not there to simply chill, puts us in a vulnerable position whether we realize it or not. Here we are living our life, meeting interesting people that we can physically see and laugh with face to face on a regular basis. And yes, you will be tempted sometimes. I am not saying that you will set out to be downright unfaithful or that you will fall for it but you may allow yourself to spend more time with that "friend" that satisfies all the emotional needs your distant significant other can not fulfill at the moment. This is tricky to talk about but remember that this relationship is your choice, so be honest and be worthy of trust. Be transparent (which is why communication is super important). Sometimes this means sacrifice what is happening "now" for something greater later.

Obviously "le hubby" and I were in this relationship because we knew that we wanted to be serious about it. make sure that if you decide to put in all the effort that a long distance relationship takes, that you are both on the same page and desire to see it succeed. Are you in a long distance relationship? What advice would you give to people that are in a similar situation? 

One of my favorite movies concerning this topic is "Like Crazy", not because of the ending (sorry if I am spoiling it for anyone) but really just because I totally relate to their despair.  



Date Day | Secret Garden Getaway

Hello Darlings!

Today for another "date day", I am sharing a botanical garden date we managed to squeeze in between two hectic weeks a while back. Imagine this old sugar cane mill transformed into a beautiful botanical garden with endless plants and flowers that can only fuel the imagination of a "green thumb"-less person like me. Nice ruins, sculptures, historical replicas of country houses (and great food to match the scenery), bridges to stroll on, I mean just an all around gem and picture taking eye candy.

So yes, life is pretty crazy for us and though we don't have babies yet, it sometimes feels like we have 2 toddlers because of the projects we are involved in. Also, in the middle of the "getting things done", busyness and running around we may sometimes miss the beauty hidden in the simple and mundane details of building a life together.

We may or may not have crashed a wedding that day...

So we have established 3 simple rules, that besides making God the center of our home are meant to protect our love and nurture it.

♥ One of them is that we have as many dates in the week as we can but at least one is non negotiable. Our dates usually consist of visiting a new coffee shop or going on a picnic somewhere and taking pictures, exploring new foods or simply cooking together or even taking a road trip in order to enjoy each others company, dialogue, good music and laughter.

♥ Kiss as often as possible and as long as possible everyday. I have no scientific or medical proof but I am convinced that a good make out session with my husband can truly relax us and just make us happy :)

♥ Prioritizing is probably my worst enemy but I have learned the hard way that it must be done. A wise person once told me about the days when my house was going to be a mess and have piles of dirty dishes in the sink and I'll feel pressured to take care of it but the best thing that I will sometimes have to do will be to leave everything as is in order to spend quality time with the people I love. She was oh so right!

What are the time management "rules" that you follow in order to spend more quality time with the people you love? 



Love chronicles | More than a ring, a life long commitment

hello Darlings,

First week of May! can you believe it? Though we are still in spring, summer is already in the air. We live on a tropical island so we benefit from the year long warm sand, beach picnics, salty air, popsicles and yummy tropical fruit.  However, for my husband and I May will always be special because it is our anniversary month. This year we will be celebrating our first year of marriage and what a wonderful adventure this has been!

To highlight the occasion I will be writing a 'love chronicle' attempting to address different questions I've gotten over the year after sharing our love story, and how we met.

Everyone loves a good love story. I remember the day my husband and I decided to post on social media that we were engaged, it felt like Facebook and Instagram were going to crash because of all the traffic and commotion it caused. I remember all the attention we got and the love that people expressed by supporting our union, wishing us well and spoiling us with gifts. If you haven't experienced this do not dispair; this post is not about that, you probably know someone around you that has.

My husband proposed on top of the Rockefeller (top of the Rock) in NYC, after singing and playing our song
in front of like 200 curious and excited tourists.

However, I am a bit concerned that we don't talk enough about the hard, day to day, life commitment that you are signing up for that is not so overtly expressed behind the overload of staged Instagram pictures (#engaged #Isaidyes #futuremrs) or the borderline spam, love-gushing statuses. While there's nothing wrong with expressing our love, I believe that the wedding industry, along with other things (yes television, music and Pinterest I am looking at you!) have sold us a dream that can not last unless we get our facts straight.

Love is a commitment and it is beautiful. I dated only one man, and now I am married to him and I know that I am more in love with him today than the day I said "I will" and "I do". Love is a commitment that does not crumble with absence, in presence of other options, with distance, when I get annoyed or when I am cranky because of stress, hunger of just because I need a nap. This kind of love is not blind, in other words it does not belong in a magazine but on your real life couch where you will snuggle or next to a hospital bed when going through sickness.

Darling, please before you look at your naked ring finger and vow to do anything (or to settle) in order to get one, think that you were not made to merely get attention but to know real, committed love. See the thing is, an engagement ring does not have magic powers; it will NOT fulfill any pre-existing lonelines problems, or quiet any insecurities. It will not make you whole or make you love yourself more. All those things MUST happen and will hopefully happen BEFORE the ring.

It takes courage to love, but it takes everything to first love ourselves the way God intended. Like an author once said: "It's not about ALL the attention proposals get, it's not about the ring or even the wedding plans. It is about a commitment for LIFE. Is that what you want? Or do you just want to be #engaged?"

And just as I said "Yes", it started raining really really hard. My husband and I jut stood there dancing in the rain.
We could not stop smiling.

"Unless the Lord builds a house,
    the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
    guarding it with sentries will do no good." (Psalm 127:1)



(Part 2) Before running down the aisle, please leave baggage at the door

Today, I am excited to share part 2. Not because I am proud of my baggage or anything but mostly because I have received so many testimonies on how these words are speaking and challenging you. I thank God for this and give Him all the glory. If you have not read part 1, make sure you read it as well!

Mirror, mirror on the wall
Here is the BIG, fat load that I had to surrender at the cross. I have mentioned before that a good self esteem is the new sexy and I know that by personal experience. I had to learn that no matter how I feel when I wake up in the morning my value does not change.

On a previous post I wrote about how there are so many things fighting to make us forget how beautiful God made us. For some it is sexual abuse, for others the media or the size on the labels of their clothing but whatever it is, something or someone planted a seed of lie to kill your confidence.

Do not to attach your worth to mortal things because it is dangerous. Once the thing we attached our identity to dies or leaves, we are left devastated and disoriented. There is only one person who can truly and accurately tell me the degree of my beauty: GOD. This is because he made me and only he knows the time it took to form my awesome hair and my big personality. Please understand that it is not because people don’t see or appreciate your beauty that you are not beautiful. If your heart is hidden in God, you are His child; that is your identity. 

Being confident is not an act or a show. It is a reality that only a girl that has had the guts to be confronted with the truth and has left it all at the cross can enjoy. 

You are so loved. (Isaiah 49:16)

Get rid of the people you hate
 Yes. I myself had to meditate for a while on how I would get rid of the people that had badly hurt me. The answer that God gave was much unexpected. He showed me that the only real way to be free from the unwanted link that tied me to hurting memories from the past is FORGIVENESS. I know that when you’ve spent so much energy hating somebody that really deserves it, to have someone talk to you about forgiveness is almost insulting. 

God asks for us to forgive people that have hurt us for many reasons, but here are a few of my favorites.

1. Hate takes a lot of energy and is not stagnant. It actually grows and starts taking roots in our hearts. Before we know it, we will start talking like a bitter person and make decisions based on that one person from the past. The bible clearly says that from the abundance of the heart speaks the mouth (Luke 6:45).

2. Forgiveness will not give you a sudden episode of amnesia making you forget the wrongdoing, at least not immediately, but it will surely heal your memories. It will allow you to cut the memory link that is holding you hostage and tied to the very person you want to forget; it is like letting them go and giving your pain to God. 

3. Forgiveness is not a feeling but a decision that we make in obedience to God’s love and forgiveness to us. He gives us the divine power to carry out our choice to obey, and as a natural result, we are freed of the hurt the wound caused. The harsh truth is this: if we do not forgive, God will not forgive us (Matthew 6:15), no matter how good we are or think we are. We are all sinners, and as a result, we all need forgiveness. So, why would I want or expect God to forgive my faults if I am unwilling to forgive the faults of others? We often like to hold ourselves to different standards because we may feel that we are more righteous than others (I know I do many times). The truth is, we have all stood in the ‘guilty spot’ wishing someone would give us a second chance. Forgiveness does that.

You have to look at forgiveness like a double-sided band aid. In the sense that it has double action and both have to be accepted in order to fully benefit from it. First, like I mentioned before, we need to forgive others but we must also accept God’s forgiveness towards us and while forgiving ourselves. You no longer have to keep punishing yourself by getting into all the wrong relationships or by accepting abuse. You have to accept forgiveness because Jesus already paid the price and carried on Him all the punishment. Sounds crazy? Yes. That’s because we are so used to receiving punishment for our actions, but God is offering a different way. Take this second (third, fourth or as many as you need...) chance and walk FREE.

The  X   

Yeah. Now let’s talk about the ex-girlfriend or the stalkers that are constantly after the person you love. What do you want me to tell you? Take her by the hair and drag her to the nearest bathroom stall and drown her a bit? Nope. Not exactly what I had in mind, actually. 

This may be hard to swallow but your lover’s past makes Him who he is now. The twists and turns his/her life took, were part of their journey and God knew that when He brought him into your life. I have written about God’s desire to keep us from heartbreaks but not everyone’s experience is the same, and thankfully there’s hope. 

The way to get rid of your lover’s ex-girlfriend is love. I hear you! I sound hippie with all my love talk, especially that some ex’s are evil and immature. You may be mad that you read all the way here just for this but this is the liberating truth of Christ. Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). One of my mentors once told me that the best way to love an unlovable person is to start praying for them. Pray for that person that you don’t like or that you think you should not like and you will see how your heart will be healed and your perspective will change. At the end of the day what really counts is that your heart is clean and free to love. You know the world may expect you to be ‘all rude’ and have an attitude towards ex’s but Christ’s logic is always contrary to the world’s. 

On my road to the altar I learned that I can truly and sincerely love someone that everyone expects me to hate. Not with my own strength but as I strive to sincerely die to my flesh, I experience not only victory but healing, restoration, and supernatural love.

I am right most of the time…but not always

Ha! I am a choleric-phlegmatic with a dash of melancholic (my temperament combination) and this mix tends to have the natural gift of rapidly detecting a problem and just as fast, finding a solution. This is a blessing and also a curse in disguise because people with these temperaments, are often right (very often if you ask me). Other temperament mixes may resent ‘Cholerics’ because while they are still evaluating the situation, ‘cholerics’ have not only found the solution but are probably already lining people to execute their plan. 

Note: if you want to do a temperment Personality test here is a good one!

I had to learn that in my relationship I don’t always have to be right even when it’s obvious that I am. The Holy Spirit often holds my mouth and convicts me of my ‘I told you so’ mental speeches to people. Love is not about who is right or wrong (which really is a self-seeking satisfaction for our ego), but about serving each other in love. We are ALL on a journey, we are all (hopefully) better then we once were, but we are NOT perfect; we are on our way there.

The point is not to repress your personality or wish for a temperament transplant (like I once did) but to embrace our strengths and constantly bring our weaknesses to the feet of Jesus for grace to overcome and for forgiveness when needed.

I’ve met many young people that are still single (or not very happy in their relationship) because it is ‘their way or the highway’. They have set patterns to do everything and refuse to be flexible or to compromise when it comes to change. Stubbornness is not a virtue and God truly has a better way. Do not always fight to have it your way. Start evaluating where you could let others be right from time to time (even if it ends up being a complete mistake) it will stretch for growth. 

On my road to the altar I learned that love covers multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Even my own.   

Bottom line

I wish I did not have to write this but I learned that my tantrums were only a reflection of why I was not ready to marry before I did. In other words, it was not until I accepted God’s help to be healed from my memories, for His love to quiet my insecurities and it wasn’t until I decided to grow up and handle conflicts like an adult, that I could truly enjoy God’s gift for me.



Before Running down the aisle, please leave baggage at the Cross

I love being a woman. I love how God made us and how important we are to Him. I have previously shared our story and the lessons we've learned as a testimony, hoping that it will bless you. This post has 2 parts where you will see that love stories do not always start off as fairy tales. Actually, they usually begin with a confrontation with the bad and the ugly that is killing us inside. Today I share some of the baggage that I and many sisters out there have had to leave at the Cross before being able to walk down the aisle.

Not everyone will think that I am wonderful and that’s ok
As a young woman in ministry since the age of 16, I have learned (the hard way) that in order to be free, we have to resist the urge of wanting to be ‘wonderful’ to everyone. Not everyone will appreciate our talents, understand our personality, or even acknowledge the calling of God upon your life. I know this may sound crazy, but that’s o.k.
 God has traced the limits of our world and the influence we will have in it (Job14:5). It is not our job to prove who we are or what we are worth. Though God requires holiness and a good testimony, many times God will speak for us and fight our battles when we choose to decrease. 
This is a very important lesson for marriage but also for life in general. It is really liberating to not feel like you have to impress anyone. The truth is, there will always be at least one (usually someone that does not know you very well) that will dislike you or even think less of you. I’ve had to learn to recognize who is worth my time and my efforts and nurture those special relationships instead of trying to impress people that were determined not to see who I really was. However, when in a relationship, you should recognize each other’s ‘wonderfulness’ and be in complete awe of it. Brag about each other’s strengths and be each other’s number one fan. I do not have to work to be ‘wonderful’ because my husband already thinks I am (even when I fail miserably) and his love gives me room for error and is quick to give me a hand to lovingly be more Christ like.
Love yourself because you are enough. Jesus already paid the price for you in the Cross and there’s nothing we can ever do to impress Him or make ourselves more lovable then we already are in His sight. 

Not everything is a competition 
I am naturally very competitive. I have seen how to a certain degree, competitiveness has been healthy for me, always pushing me forward. However, when not measured wisely, it can get out of control. After quite a few tantrums with God, I had to accept that I needed Him to control my whole life (including that area, obviously) because that whole idea of having to prove myself could have been a relationship killer. 
Please understand this: God deliberately chooses to use us the way he pleases. No one is better than another, we are all servants and whatever talent or blessing we may have, comes from God. Therefore, all the glory is to God and not to the vessel through which he operates. Constantly feeling like we are not recognized enough for how great we are and constantly feeling the need to prove it, is really a sign of insecurity. A “one on one” at the feet of Jesus may be necessary for us to gain of healthy perspective of who God is to us and who we are in Him and Him alone. 
As young ladies we are often expected to be viciously jealous of each other and constantly trying to compete with each other. Honestly, women are not like they are depicted in the movie Mean Girls. Women bring people and nations together because of the nurturing instinct and motherly love. God created women as sociable beings and not one emotionally healthy woman would ever feel at peace when there is discord among sisters. There comes a time when each girl needs to become a woman and act like a lady.
I have happily learned to dance to the rhythm of my own drum and it is a liberating experience. I now strive to fully live for God according to what He asks of me and me alone. After all, that is what I will be judged on. What He asked me to do and I chose to do or not do (Matthew 7:21). Will I ever be tempted to try to impress people? More often than I would like to admit, but God’s grace is enough to keep me and you.

Jealousy is poison 
Let me start by saying it loud and clear: Jealousy is NOT a proof of love. It is rather a proof of underlying insecurities.
 When you date a godly person that is sincere and committed, you would think that there would be no reason for jealousy. Wrong! The harsh truth I learned is that jealousy is always a reflection of scars of unhealed wounds in our own heart. It often has nothing to do with the commitment of the couple, but more with the condition of the heart. No matter how controlling or territorial I choose to be with my man, it will NOT make him be more faithful then what he has already committed to be. 
Imagine being in a long distance relationship and being anxiously jealous? We never really knew what the other was doing unless we took each other’s word for it. There are many people out there that are not worth your trust (unfortunately in and out of church as well) but if you are or desire to be in a relationship with a committed child of God you will have to learn to trust. Imagine if I would have had been stressing over the thought (because that is where it all starts) that he may be somehow cheating on me or in danger of falling for someone else? I would’ve quickly become crazy. I can sit here and try to convince you that your love chose you, so he/she is not going anywhere, etc. But the truth is that until you surrender the control into the strong, loving hands of Jesus and allow healing to begin, you will not be free to love. 
James 3:16 "For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind"
On my road to the altar I had to learn to let Jesus heal me from memories of unfaithfulness I had witnessed growing up. I learned to trust that if God trusted my husband enough to care for my heart after being so protective of me for so many years, who was I to doubt Him now? After all, this whole love story was his idea. 
God understands your fear but His love casts out ALL fear (1 John4:18). I recently shared a scripture related to this issue of control on my Instagram: “Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city (or a relationship), guarding it with sentries will do no good” (Psalm 127:1). If God is the creator of our story, He is also the keeper, so do not stress. There’s nothing we can do better than God. God NEVER fails. Start your healing today in the arms of your loving Father. 



Never been Kissed: Why our first Kiss was on our wedding day

Here I was, 28 and standing at the altar facing the best version of the man of my dreams and I was about to be kissed for the first time. Birds were singing, the sun was shining, and time seemed to have stopped for both of us as the pastor said “You may now kiss your bride.” My husband tenderly embraced me, and for a few seconds we looked into each other’s eyes, smiling with an overwhelming sense of love, peace, satisfaction and sweet anticipation. My first kiss was perfect. 

I know. I can imagine all the questions coming to your mind after this introduction. How many people do you know that are passed 12 and that have still not been kissed? Let alone, someone over 20 years old. Who dates for almost 3 years without ever kissing (on the mouth) or making out?  Let me assure you that this did not happen because either of us are helpless, unattractive, socially awkward freaks (or so we like to think). Neither of us is ‘sexually confused’ and we were always very, very, very attracted to each other. So why not kiss? Why try to take abstinence to whole other level? After all, God did not write in the Bible (at least not in black and white) that kissing was a sin. So, were we trying to be holier than God?

Not your average 13 year old   
It all started when I was 13 and had a different crush every week. I never acted on it but was at the age when I constantly dreamed of the man I would once marry. I looked older so I would be asked to date all the time, but my father quickly rained on my parade using ‘Spanish ways’ to prevent me from dating so young. As I waited for my turn, I started to look for role models, successful young couples that I could imitate and that would inspire me. I discovered that it was hard to find. At school, every ‘love story’ was short and full of unwanted drama. I would have to sit through horrific stories of heart breaks and see each one of my friends lose more than their innocence in the process. At church, well it was like an episode of “Beverly Hills 90210”. By that I mean that everyone had dated every youth group member at some point and had baggage from passed relationships. Even at my young age I classified all my findings as dysfunctional and decided that I wanted a different story. 
That year I gave my heart to Jesus and started learning what surrendering my “whole life” to Him meant. My new found passion for God and His word, combined with the negative results of my very unofficial research led me to a radical decision. If I wanted a different result than the ones I saw from couples (of all ages) around me, I needed to take a different approach than the one they were taking.

The plan: No Dates…until I was ready to marry
I decided not to date until I was ready to marry (which for me was 12 years later) because I wanted to fall in love with one person and not be departed from them ever again. My plan to achieve that goal was that every time I would meet a “potential special someone” or every time I would be asked to date I would ask God first and evaluate the candidate (without getting involved in any way) until I received an answer from God on what I should do. As I started getting deeper in the word and in my intimacy with God, I began to hear His voice and accept His guidance for every area of my life. As a result, I concluded that the romantic area of my life would not be an exception. God showed me that by guarding my heart, I was loving my future husband without even knowing him yet. By abiding under His shadow and guidance, I would not bring to the altar leftovers survived from past heartbreaks; instead I would bring a clean and whole heart able to love freely.

What really happened?
I naively thought that any guy that would claim to like me would understand my boundaries and be delighted to comply (I actually did, goodness). Fortunately, I had a rude awakening. Not all guys were interested in my “heart” to say the least and not all Christian men were ‘godly’. I learned that the whole waiting period sometimes felt like a torture, especially when everyone is trying to marry you off (if you are single you know what I mean). I learned that holiness and respecting myself was not as popular and celebrated, even among Christians. I was ridiculed, pushed, and doubted, but I grew closer to God and my faith ended up getting stronger. I learned that purity comes at a high price of sacrifice and even when no one is watching, God is. God kept me (Jude 1:24) and He did what He promised. He gave me the grace and abundant love necessary to be satisfied and complete in Him. I am aware that we are all at different places in our lives, do not be afraid. God's love can reach you where you are and his grace can cover you.
 For the record my husband was my first boyfriend ever.

The plan: To not Date until I felt complete as a young woman in God’s love
I decided that I wanted a romantic ‘one-of-a-kind’ love story. I wanted the whole package. I wanted the ‘drop dead handsome’ dude, the fearless pursuit, the hand written letters, poems, songs and the acceptance and blessing from all the people around me. In other words, I decided that Shakespeare drama was not for me.  I did not want to live in disobedience and live the painful consequences of it. I simply wanted a happy story that was written by God and that made Him smile. My plan to achieve that part was tricky but I was determined. I decided that I would not look for a boyfriend; instead I was going to let God bring the person to me and choose who it would be. I decided to focus my energy and attention on getting to know my Creator, discovering and developing my talents/gifts, and living fully as a single Christian girl. I wanted to be complete in Christ. I desired to know and love Him to the point that even if He decided not to give me a husband that I would be truly and totally satisfied in His love alone.  I discovered that getting to that point in my relationship with Christ was key to a successful love story; that is if I intended to play by God’s rules. (I know that last part is hard to digest)

What really happened?    
I learned that it was not for me to decide when I was complete. God showed my immature self that He is not bound by time, space or my whims. He taught me that marriage was not about ME (I was like what???), it was about Him being glorified. How? By bringing two people that will challenge each other and point the world to God through their love for each other and their mission. I was lovingly taught that God was not only able to provide for my needs but that he also loved me enough to satisfy my desires as well. He showed me that He knew me better than I knew myself and so as long as he was ruler over my destiny. He would not fail to give me even more abundantly then what I ask or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Now I see why the perfect time was the one God picked:May 25, 2009.

What no one wants to hear… 
God challenged me to evaluate what sexual and emotional purity meant and how He desired nothing less than holiness. I realized that a man would never be mine until the day of our wedding, not even while we were engaged. Too many times I saw people that with an extra ounce of arrogance or maybe determination; had played with the fire of passion before the time was right, believing the lie that they were strong enough. I did not want to assume I was. I did not want to have to hide to show love to my companion or ‘seek’ privacy because what we did was not ‘PG’ kind of stuff making others uncomfortable. Many people fail to understand that our bodies belong to God and until He gives permission, no one should touch it with sexual desire. We often act contrary to that. We act like our bodies belong to us and in certain areas God can reign but when it comes to this I can give a little pleasure to my flesh and I get to decide how much.  Call me extremist, radical or crazy but I thought it would be very romantic to kiss the love of my life for the first time the day that he actually became mine and I became his. The day that we would not have to hold back in any way because the time to ‘awake’ loving passion and fully enjoy it had come with God’s blessing.
So why not kiss?This post is written as a testimony and not as a theological teaching or argument for you to follow our footsteps. This is a challenge to seek guidance in what to do or not in your relationship based on God’s desire for you and not based on what you see in movies, love songs or your feelings. The Bible says: “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (…)” (Jeremiah 17:9). This means that your feelings about what you want to do in a relationship are a really bad place to start. Usually, the flesh and the spirit are on two different pages when it comes to the desires of God, so be alert!!!

What about the guy? 
When I met the man who is now my husband, he had been in a previous relationship and ‘not to kiss’ was never an option for him.  Before we dated, we were friends and during that time he discovered my take on kissing before my wedding day. Time passed and when he decided that I was the person he wanted to date and eventually marry, he told me that because he loved me he was going to help me honor my vow to God. During almost 3 years of dating (read our story here and here) we had numerous opportunities to kiss, not only because we wanted to, but also because it felt so right. However, not once did he try to kiss me, even when our feelings dictated otherwise. This revealed so much about my husband’s character and about his love for me. I mean what would happen if you told your date or boyfriend that you did not want to kiss until the day of the wedding? Ha! They would probably think you were crazy. Not my husband, he decided that he was going to put his body under God’s authority and present me clean before God and promote holiness in something as small as this and make my vow his vow as well. Self-control when it comes to the flesh, is a great victory,and it showed me that he was not playing Christian, he was truly living in the spirit even when it was hard. His integrity and determination showed more love than any kiss would have ever had. 
Wherever you stand today, I pray that you will not “be conformed to this world: but (that) you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2).

Photography belongs to Nuance and bubbles blog. Photography by Rachel Boggs Photography and Alex Istormin. 2013.



My road to the Altar: from "Hi" to "Will you be my Girlfriend?"

Last week I shared the back story of our love story. Today, I want to share details of the one year of friendship we had as we dealt with our growing attraction to one another.

Shortly after they met in Honduras they started communicating through Social networks (Valerie added Javier on Facebook first and Javier added the picture he snapped of her right after). What started as very short messages morphed into longer and longer ones as the weeks and months went by. They remained in the “friend zone” for nine months. During seven of those months, they decided to limit their communication to the written word. Looking back, they realize that it was not only romantic, but it also developed patience and communication skills without making them feel closer than they really were at that point. It acted like a speed break in this pen pal relationship charged with great chemistry.

Real friends, not friends with benefits
Many times, when we first meet interesting people, we get excited and sometimes burn through the stages. We make an acquaintance into a “friend with emotional benefits” right from the start. We decide from the start that this good looking, interesting person I met today can potentially be my next BF or GF. Making such a premature decision leads many people to overlook serious character flaws and major red flags because their emotions and hormones (let’s face it!) are already involved. In reality, this period should be a time to cultivate a real friendship. At this crucial point, where a friendship can potentially become a relationship, Self- Control (a fruit of the Spirit) is necessary in order to get to know the person and not how much they like you.

After nine months of talking about everything, except how much they were starting to like each other, they had the inevitable ‘serious talk’. It was on Valerie’s birthday (2010) that she asked for clarifications about what their exchanges meant to him, since for the past two months they had upgraded to daily phone conversations in which the intensity was undeniable. That night Valerie received the longest most beautifully written declaration followed by a long phone conversation where Javier explained the adventure on which he wanted to take Valerie, if she accepted.

Be pursued but don’t lose your voice
I am a firm believer that there’s a great blessing and beauty in a woman being pursued by the person that really wants to conquer her heart (which should be hidden in Christ). However, I do not believe that women should lose their voice during the process because God gave us a heart, a mind, and desires of our own to use. Many people make the mistake of assuming that lovers should read each other’s minds when truly the only person that can unmistakably know all our desires and completely satisfy them is God.
From the get-go, communication is very important. You only stand to gain from asking the right questions and communicating your expectations, as long as they are realistic. As a woman, I had to learn to be fair in what I desired from a godly human man as oppose to what Disney (or Hollywood) taught me about men. The harsh truth is that if I was not willing or able to live up to my mental “ideal”, I should not expect it from others either.
I want to say to all my sisters out there: if after you have clearly communicated your desires and expectations, you do not feel respected, heard or comfortable, have the faith and the self-respect to move away from that situation. If you made a mistake, God will let you know and guide you back, but do not stay because of fear that you may be missing out on love.

The nine months leading up to “the talk” were really important and proved to be beautiful and full of small steps of faith. They never crossed boundaries trying to get romantic. Instead, they worked on cultivating a friendship that proved to be a great foundation for their future marriage. Javier visited Valerie during different Conferences and events around the U.S. and other parts of the world (which was part of her job) to show that he was serious about getting to know. However, he never tried to be romantic until he became sure that this was what God desired for them both. They separately prayed for each other, asking God to reveal each other’s heart, for guidance, and for His will to be done. On February they had “the talk” and set a date in June for Javier’s visit to Montreal to ask her father’s blessing to date her. On June 28, 2011 they started their dating relationship, a year after they had met.

Pray, consult, and THEN act.
 I’ve been to many youth camps and other high intensity youth events and shortly after I start seeing relationship status changes and new added pictures with ‘special’ friends appear on my social network feeds. Other times, couples have come to me and said, “Hey Val, this is my new BF or GF and we are dating to find out God’s will for us to be together.”
The truth is, we are called to pray before, during, and after we meet special people (NEVER stop praying is really what God says). However, choosing to hastily follow our heart can be dangerous because the heart is deceiving, but if we choose to pray and wait to hear from God, we would save ourselves a lot of trouble, don’t you think? No, there will not always be an angel that will appear in your room (with a bright light) to say, “YES, this is my will for your life.” But I am of the school of thought that believes in a God who still speaks to his people. In our case, God chose to feed us bits of information little by little (this required constant faith, trust and patience.)
If God would’ve given us a definite “yes” we may have become overconfident and ruined something that was meant to be handled with care; in other words, in godly fear, wisdom, and timing. Take a chill pill, and spend more time praying and in God’s word instead of trying to impress or catch that cute person you met at youth revival or something. It is in the presence of God and in His word that you will be reminded of the characteristics of love itself. Ask for wisdom to handle your emotions until you feel peace that this special person you have met, truly has God’s character and produces fruit that prove it.  
Here are some of the things God did during the time Javier and Valerie were getting to know each other.

They were separately invited to minister in the same places and without knowing they would meet there (keep in mind that they were in separate countries). Unknowingly, in their written correspondence Javier started communicating things that Valerie had written to God in her prayer journal. In Javier’s case, Valerie’s non-flirtatious attitude, while in this day and age unconventional, made her even more attractive to him. Contrary to popular belief, guys (especially godly ones) do not see spouse material in the obvious, flirty girl that is falling at their feet. Hard to get (not as game but just being more in love with God and confident in that fact) is much more attractive and lets guys know that you are not a toy to play with, but someone that deserves being pursued and conquered the right way.  Another way God manifested himself in their relationship was that He began to place peace in their family members’ hearts and they all started falling in love with each other even though they had never met. Being from the same denomination, Javier and Valerie had a lot of friends in common but had NEVER heard of each other. After they met, all these friends started praying and were thrilled that they met.
During the whole ‘open to receive God’s direction” process,  Javier and Valerie were willing to pull away from their correspondence if at any point they felt it was what God required because their relationship with Him was and is the most important thing in this whole world.

It’s not ALL spiritual
Honestly, I spoke a lot about the spiritual aspect of the pursuit because it is the core of what it should be, but not every aspect of love is spiritual. Coming from a Pentecostal background, I have seen too many people over-spiritualize certain things that should not be. When you meet someone special, you have to connect in different areas: enjoy each other’s company, sense of humor, physical appearance and intellect. You HAVE to be attracted to each other in every way and that takes time to discover and unveil. Time will tell who this person really is because you can only put your “best foot forward” while conquering for so long. You want to fall in love with a friend (a friend that you are very hot for) and make God smile through the whole process.



My road to the Altar: Before the love story happened

Hello lovely people! Many have asked about how I met my husband, so I decided to tell you all about it. You will find the story followed by sideline commentary that has to do with lessons that I learned throughout the process. Actually, this post tells the preface of the story (or the back story), which in retrospect was just as important as the love story itself. I will tell you all the juicy details in 3 parts.
"It all started with a Christian Leadership Conference held in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. This conference was specifically for Central American leaders so, as a Canadian, Valerie was not supposed to be present. However, she was was invited to join as a translator. Javier was not supposed to be there either, because two other people from his nation were already going to attend. Two weeks before the event, however, one dropped out and the invitation was conveniently extended to him."

The right place. The right time.
 Out of the many, great scenarios my vivid imagination had produced since infancy, not one was as creative as the one that actually happened. Looking back, I realize that only God was able to lead me to the right place at the right time in order to meet the love of my life. Only He can lead our lives in such a way when we submit to Him. When I finally stopped focusing on things that distracted me from getting to know God with all my heart, I realized that He was concocting a great surprise for me.  My suggestion for you: follow God’s voice and let Him lead you.
"One day before the event started, rumors began circulating that a tall, handsome young man with a killer smile (Javier) was going to be part of the conference and it was suggested to Valerie that she should meet him. Valerie openly refused to be introduced to him due to the fact that she hates arranged introductions because they feel unnatural and totally unromantic. The whole weekend passed and though people tried over and over again to introduce them, they both felt weird about it so they never tried. Javier even noticed that Valerie would run the opposite way from where he was and would give him attitude when he tried to melt her heart with his secret weapon: his adorable dimples when smiling."

 Happily single: Not an oxymoron
You did not read wrong. Before I met the love of my life, I was single (it was not only a status but also the condition of my heart) and very enamored with my life which was full of adventure and freedom. After seeing so many failed relationships around me, I turned to God, looking for a better way. I asked Him to keep me from meaningless relationships so that I could experience what He had in mind when he created love.  I had finally reached the point in my life where I was happy with the person I was and all the projects I was involved in. (BTW: confidence and good self-esteem are very attractive. They are a secret weapon to help weed out all the people that are not worth your heart or your time.) It took many, private crying sessions in my room and many gentle but firm “slaps” (like I call them) for my ego to let go and confide in God. Only then was I able to surrender every area of my life to Him. I felt like I had finally found that spot in the arms of my heavenly father where I was satisfied with His love alone. That is why you see (in the story) that I was reluctant to meet this cute guy and risk jeopardizing my peace and balance. 
"The conference ended and most people left to go back to their respective countries. Only the staff and a few others made plans to fly out the next day, May 25, 2009. (This date is important; you’ll learn why soon!) There are only two flights that leaves from Tegucigalpa airport to go stateside and most people on staff had gone on the first to Atlanta. Valerie, however, was going to New York City via Miami, so she had to wait in another terminal with three other staff members. Ten minutes before boarding, the tall, handsome young man with a killer smile (Javier) runs to the terminal where Valerie was waiting to board her plane.  Neither of them knew they would meet again. Javier was going to Puerto Rico via Miami.  Javier mustered all his courage and came straight to Valerie. He introduced himself: "Hi, I’m Javier”. She simply answered, "Hi." He, uninvited, sat next to her and started talking to everyone around them trying to make eye contact with Valerie, who was determined to stay out of that conversation. For a moment, however, she forgot her plan and interjected a comment and that was all Javier needed to start addressing himself directly to her as if they had been having a friendly conversation from the beginning. Eventually, Javier nervously asked Valerie if she would like to stay in contact with him though Facebook. She agreed, thinking that there would be no harm. After all, they would never see each other again. Thankfully for Valerie, the time to board had finally come.  Interestingly, one staff member worked with the aircraft personnel to arrange for the conference group to all sit in one section. Javier ended up sitting right behind Valerie. So while they all waited for the aircraft to depart, Javy decides to make a bold move. Without any warning, he snapped a picture of Valerie. She was partly in shock, partly flattered, and partly convinced that this tall, handsome Puerto Rican with a killer smile was a 'church player' that had come to the conference to conquer pretty girls' hearts.
(Some of you may feel tempted to say that I was playing hard-to-get.  Let me assure you, that was not what I was doing…)"

Desperate is not attractive
I meet many young people that are in this sort of ‘stand by’ until they meet love. It is as if the universe will magically align once they find the right person. In my limited experience, I’ve seen that success and growth are achieved mainly through hard work and sacrifice, not by getting a new GF or BF. We are all at different places in our lives, but the truth is that when we are busy and passionate, we don’t have time to get desperate. Desperate people take desperate measures. This puts us in the vulnerable position to go for regrettable relationships and to lower our standards (Proverbs 27:7). Don’t wait, this is the time to pour into your own life and to develop your gifts or perhaps even develop new talents. 
"They all landed in Miami and planned to have lunch together. Through a series of involuntary events, Javier and Val ended up sharing a table for two. They went through a few minutes of awkward small talk.  After that short conversation, Valerie left thinking that Javier was cute but was not a possibility to explore and Javier left thinking that Valerie was pretty and was definitely a possibility to explore."

Passion, confidence, and knowing your identity in Christ are very appealing traits that help attract the right people: the ones who understand their value. I encourage and challenge you to fully jump in (head first ha!) and start your love journey by getting to know the one who “loved you first”: Jesus.