It's Not All About Me

I have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be. 

My excuse for not sharing my faith with "just anyone" is that I'm not confident enough in my knowledge of the Bible.

I know parables and key passages but I feel like I don't know enough. 

What if the person I'm trying to witness to asks me a legalistic question about the way Christians live?

I don't have all the answers.

I'm afraid that if I sound like an idiot and don't know what I'm talking about then that person will turn their back on a relationship with Jesus.

All because I didn't represent well enough.

Am I crazy?

I feel a huge burden on my shoulders should anyone be turned off from Jesus because I don't have it all together.

It's obvious that I don't have much faith in myself. 

But what about God?

Why do I have so little faith in Him? 

Why don't I trust that He'll give me the words to say?  

I try to do too much on my own and don't lean on him enough. 

Jesus commanded us to "Go and make disciples of all nations." (Matthew 28:19 NIV).  

Not "Go and study the scripture as best as you can or better yet memorize it word for word and be sure you know it by heart and have a firm grasp on the context before you even think about approaching anyone to speak about your faith."

Of course it's important to have an accurate understanding of scripture but I shouldn't get all tangled up in the legality of it all.  I let it hold me back.  I absorb as much as I can but I'm hesitant to lead, to share, to stand up and get involved.  

I feel like I'm just not "there" yet.  As though I'm not good enough yet to represent God's Kingdom.

The other night I was at a women's group at a church that I don't attend.  The vibe was different than what I'm used to and expected, given what I knew about the speakers.  I started to focus on how the worship made me feel, how the message moved me, how comfortable I felt.

It was all me me me me me me.

I honestly don't really remember specifically what was said but I remember thinking about how it all felt so different from what I was prepared for.  Then God spoke to me and asked, "What about Me?"


These past few weeks I've started to feel distant from God. I would pray and ask Him to stay near to me, let me feel His presence and hear His voice.  I wanted to have the closeness we shared when I first started college. 

But that night He was really clear- it's time to grow up, Vanessa. 

It's not about how I feel and how having a relationship with God affects me and my every day life.

It's what I do with this relationship that counts. 

It's not about Him making me feel better about my life.  

It's about how I'm serving Him.

God told me that I'm a contributing member of my community but am I contributing to His Kingdom?

Not really.

I've been so concerned about what I'm getting out of my relationship with Him that I haven't been focusing on my duty to serve.

If closeness is what I desire and I'm yearning for more of Him, then I need to put myself out there and serve others, in His honor and glory.

I guess I expected it to work the same way when I was in college.  Read my Bible every day, listen to worship music, pray.  But just because God did something one way before doesn't mean He'll do it again.  I tend to put Him in a box and God just doesn't work that way.

He has placed a few things on my heart that are in the works.  I'm trying my best not to get caught up in the details.

I'm closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, and making the leap of faith.


I Got Nothin'


That's not entirely true.

Seems like I'm in a funnk (yes, I misspelled it with 2 "n"s but actually that spelling describes this particular funk very well so I'm leaving it as is) yet again.  I'm starting to think this is actually a season in my life where I just feel, funnky I guess.

I've been working out a few internal issues over the past week and trying to figure out a way to release it out here on this blog.

But until I get that sorted out, I thought I'd share something with my readers that I'm not sure that you know about me.

I may be an island girl but I think I'm definitely a southern girl at heart.

Weird, right?

Yeah- I love my beaches and island life and tropical weather. 

But there's something about the South that I'm just drawn to... I guess that's why they call it Southern Charm- it just sucks ya right in!

If you took a look at my home decor board on Pinterest, you'd see there's a bit of a rustic quality to some photos.  I don't know what you'd call it- Rustic/Beach Glam? I don't have a clue.

Ride with me in my car and we're belting out Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Lady A,  and Eric Church for sure. 

I guess if you're going to know anything about me it's that I love Country music, country/rustic chic decorating, and Paula Deen (I mean, who doesn't, right?)

I leave you with a few of my favorite songs at the moment (AKA songs most likely to be belted out in the car, windows down, and wind blowing in my face)


My Testimony Pt. 2

{You can catch up on Part 1 HERE}

So, real quick- a little recap of Part 1:

I was raised in the Catholic Church.

Baptized as a baby.

Received Jesus into my life at 15.

Had a few ups and downs as my passion kinda cooled in high school.

Got fired up again when I went to college.

And then I lost it...

That, my dear friends, is where this journey picks up again.

On The Way Down

During my freshman year at USD, I lost my best friend to drunk driving.

He was back home, I was at school.  He drove home drunk from a party, hit the guardrail about 2 minutes away from his house, and died at the scene.  

My heart was broken.

I felt so guilty.  

I'm usually the one driving him around.  I'm the designated driver. 

And I wasn't there.  I wasn't there for him and he died.

I was angry with God. I didn't understand how He could let something like this happen? Why didn't He just save my friend and give him a second chance?

Why him?

I distanced myself from God.

I started drinking again.  

I stopped attending worship services on campus.

I let my relationships with fellow believers die. 

I became selfish.  I fought with my mom all the time.  

Everything just kept spiraling down. 

I always say that college was one of the best times of my life.  And it was. I met a lot of great people and made some wonderful, happy memories.

But it was also the darkest.

One of my roommates asked me about my relationship with God.

I told her that God and I were like really good friends that lost the connection to one another.  I imagined Him as a friend that I just don't talk to anymore.

She asked if my life was really better without God in it.

And my honest response?

It's not any worse.

Can we just stop here for a minute?

I honestly felt that without God in my life, my life had not changed and it fact, it didn't get worse.

I had distanced myself so far from Him, that I had forgotten the warmth and comfort that I had felt when I first accepted His salvation and grace.

Picking Myself Up Again

For the rest of my college career I kept God at arms' length.

After graduation, I moved back to Hawaii. I spent a few months on Maui before starting my full time job on O'ahu.

For some reason, I felt that was a good time to start going back to church.  I would pick up my cousin and we'd drive 45 minutes to church.  I started worshiping again and began to create relationships with other members of the church.

It was awkward.

It was like meeting a friend whom you had a fight with but not even acknowledging the disagreement.  Just going on like nothing happened.

But it was just what I needed.  I knew that I needed to get right with God, no matter how awkward I felt.

After moving to O'ahu, my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I knew we had to get back into a relationship with God.  We eventually found a home church that we looked forward to attending every Sunday.

Very very slowly, our relationship started to rebuild.

And even in that rebuilding period, there were months that went by without us attending a church service or even reading the Bible.

My passion for a relationship with Jesus Christ began to falter again.

Noticing a pattern here?

Up and down, down and up I go in my walk with the Lord.

It was only recently (this year, in fact) that my husband and I decided it's time to focus on our faith.

We set goals: 1) to join a ministry and 2) join a small group.

As of today, my husband is part of a men's group and plays music (the ukulele) for their worship band.  He helps set up for Sunday services in the morning.

I'm completing an application to work in our children's ministry.

Unfortunately, our church is a newer (and thus smaller) organization and we don't have a women's ministry in place (yet).

But I'm growing in my faith and we've surrounded ourselves with other believers and mature Christians.

It took a long time. 

It took 5 years to get from that point in college to where I am today.

But God has been so patient with me.

I cannot even fathom how much He loves me.

In spite of my rebellion, my sinning, my willingness to push Him away and keep Him at a distance.

He still welcomes me back into His arms.

Redemption is Near

My dear friends- that is what it's all about.

Your past? He can redeem it.

Have you pushed Him away?  He'll draw near again, if you ask Him to. 

Acknowledging that we need Him, we can't do this on our own, and as hard as we try we will always fall short.

He's there.

He's waiting.

He is patient and faithful and wants a relationship with you.

All He wants from you is to receive it.

You don't need to "get right" before you welcome Jesus in your life.

He does not require us to be blameless.

All He requires is a heart open to His grace, love, and salvation.

{If you need someone to talk to about your faith, pray with, or have questions about accepting Jesus into your life, please email me at islestyleliving@gmail.com or comment below}


My Testimony Pt. 1 {And a Message for YOU}

This past Friday I made the choice to get baptized.  

For me, it was a personal decision to make a public confirmation that I am a Christian.  It was a renewal of my spirit and relationship with Jesus.

Where It All Began

I was raised in the Catholic church.  The church teaches that there are 7 Sacraments: Baptism, Reconciliation (confession), First Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Last Rite.

Catholics are baptized when they are infants.  This is to wash away the Original Sin that every human is born with.

There's a bit more to it, but I'm not an expert.  The important thing to grasp here is that as a Catholic, my baptism was not my choice but my parents'. 

The Early Years

As early as I can remember, I've known who Jesus is.  I went to a Christian pre-school and learned that Jesus loves me.  We sang songs and listened to Bible stories. 

K-8th grade was spent at a Catholic elementary school.  We had our religion books where we learned more about Bible stories and who Jesus was and why a relationship with Him is so important.  We also learned Catholic doctrine about Sacraments and sins and penance and all other Catholic official teachings. 

The Day I Accepted Jesus

During my entire childhood I learned a lot about who Jesus was and what He did and that He loved me.

Sadly, this was not the relationship He so desired with me.  I knew about Him but I didn't know Him.

When I was 15, I was attending a public high school so religion classes weren't offered.  This was also the year I was preparing for my Sacrament of Confirmation (confirming me as a believer of Christ and anointing me as a follower).  Part of that preparation included an overnight retreat with the rest of my Sunday school class.

It was two days long.

It was life changing.

This was the first time I learned what it meant to have a relationship with Christ.  I don't remember all that was said, but I remember there was crying.  Lots and lots of crying. 

That night I asked Jesus into my heart.  I have known His stories and teachings for over 10 years but did not have a relationship with Him.

I became very involved with my youth group and our afternoon bible studies.  I wanted more and more of Jesus. My heart was on fire for Him and I was thirsty to learn more.

But that passion didn't last.  In fact, it lasted about a few months, at most.

Through high school and college I struggled with my faith and obedience.

"You mean to tell me it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows after you accepted Jesus into your heart?"


It was almost the exact opposite.

You guys, life got hard.  

I was a rebellious and disrespectful teenager.  It was rough.  

And college? Oh my.

My first semester started out great- I read my Bible every day.  I confessed my sins to Jesus and repented from my wild high school rebellion days.

I started to attend InterVarsity with my RA.  I met a great group of believers.  I even attended the Fall Retreat! 

I was in it to win it. 

Little did I know how close I was to plummeting down into darkness.  

What happened in the next couple of months propelled me down so far into a deep, dark separation from God.

What Happened Next?

Eventually things turned up (and I'll be sharing the rest of my journey soon).

I don't want this to sound like a "Stay tuned for Part 2!" kinda ending.

But there is something I pray that you'll grasp.

If no other reader gets this but you, I'll be grateful.  

Because this message is for you.

There is nothing you can or cannot do that will make Jesus love you less. 
There is nothing you can or cannot do that will make Jesus love you more. 
He loves you.
He wants a relationship with you.
Whether you consider yourself a Christian, Agnostic, Atheist, whatever.
I know the Truth. 
And I can not hold back. 
I will not hold back.
I refuse to stay silent on this.
Being a Christian does not mean you'll have an easier life.
Yes, we share an amazing relationship with God, the Creator, and our salvation is wrapped up in Him for an eternity in Heaven.
But life on Earth does not get easier.
It may get harder.
It may get messier.
You will be tested in your faith.
And you will fail.
But as believers we are covered by the grace of Jesus.
What does that mean?
It means that when we fail- we are impatient, rude, angry, hateful, jealous, prideful, lazy- filthy in sin.
He extends His grace to us.
In all of our brokenness and filthiness- in all of our sin- 
He longs for us.
Because He loves us.
Because He loves you.
When we fall short, His grace and His love is what covers the distance. 
We will never be good enough to make it into Heaven on our own.
But we can with Jesus.
He makes up for all of our short comings.
All we have to do is accept His grace, His love, His salvation.
He is reaching His hand towards you.
All you have to do is hold on.
Because He loves YOU.

{If you need someone to talk to about your faith, pray with, or have questions about accepting Jesus into your life, please email me at islestyleliving@gmail.com or comment below}


Pray For Boston

The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? (NIV) Psalm 21:7


Liebster Love

First things first:

Welcome to all my new readers! I've been seeing a lot of new faces around these parts lately.  Thank you for stopping by, reading, and commenting!

And a HUGE thank you to all my loyal readers and blogging friends.

The support and encouragement I've received from you all is truly uplifting and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside (or that could be my wine).

You'll find information about me here- in my Woman Behind the Curtain page.

And this blog?  I've written my Mission Statement here.

Secondly, I've been nominated for the Liebster Award =)

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It's a peer nominated blogging award, a fun way to get to know other bloggers, and great for checking out new blogs to read/follow.

I was nominated by Jessica from The Wondering Brain.

Here are the rules (or guidelines, if you will):

1. Post 11 facts about yourself
2. Answer 11 questions from your nominator
3. Nominate 11 other blogs with <200 followers and ask them 11 questions.

11 Facts About Me:

I love to read

I took 2 years of Hawaiian in high school and 1 semester in college.  I was conversational, never fluent, but now currently out of practice.

I married my high school sweetheart

My favorite movie is Dirty Dancing

Close second? Grease

I'm a pageant girl (not woman, I retired at age 9)

I'm a fan of The Doctor

Love Country music (oh my have times have changed!)

I'm afraid of dogs (well, duh). 

In my humble opinion, exercising is a necessary evil.

I think 11 is an odd amount (pun not intended) for a list.

11 Answers to Jessica's 11 Questions:

1. What does your blog name mean?
Isle Style Living morphed from Island Style Running which was my original blog name.  I started this blog when I first started on my running journey and since then it has transitioned into more of a lifestyle blog.  Hence, the trading of running to living.

Oh, and using "island" was too long for Twitter so I've always used "isle".

2. What's your favorite day of the week?
Friday! Friday! Gotta get down on Friday!

3. Where do you find inspiration for your blog?
Through my struggles and triumphs as a wife and mommy.  I only write when I'm inspired and try to keep it all within my mission statement.

4. What's your biggest accomplishment?
Biggest? Hmmm.. I'm not sure.  Being a mom? But that's not through anything I did- it's all because of God that I'm blessed with motherhood.

Hardest? Passing the CPA exam.  Yes, technically I am a CPA.  If I paid all those registration fees. And kept up with my professional learning credits.  

Wait, so no- I'm not a CPA.  But I passed that darn exam!

5. What song represents you?
Oh gosh, I have no idea.  

Right now I'm loving Florida Georgia Line's "Shine" but I'm pretty sure it has more to do with moonshine than my inner light =)

6. What's your favorite dish?
I love food. All of it.

But if I could have some right now, I'd love some of my dad's Portuguese Bean Soup with warm sweet bread and buttah.

Oh yeah.

7. What were you in high school - jock, geek, or  reject?
None of the above.

I'm smart.  Got along with a lot of people.  

But I wasn't really popular.  I paddled canoes but wasn't too involved with sports. 

I had a few close friends but we're not really in touch anymore.  I kinda just did my own thing.

8. Bath or shower?
Only have time for a shower.

But I'd love a long bubble bath!

9. How do you relax?
With a good book and a great glass of wine.

10. Wine or Beer?

11.  If you had an opportunity to succeed, what would it be?
I'd be an instructor for the Bradley Birth Method and teach classes in my home about 4X/week. I'd make enough to supplement our family income so I could stay home with my kid(s) and homeschool them.  We'd own our own house with a huge yard and lots of room to have family and friends over.

My Nominees:

(Please check them out and let them know I sent ya)

My 11 Questions:

1. Which came first, the egg or the chicken?

2.  Where is your favorite vacation spot?

3. Describe your perfect day.

4. Why do you blog?

5. What is your favorite childhood memory?

6. Brunch or Dinner?

7.  What is your dream job?

8.  If you could change one thing in your life without altering any part of your current situation, what would it be?

9.  What are you afraid of?

10.  Do you know how to swim?

11. What is the most disgusting thing you've ever eaten?

WHEW!! Thanks Jessica for the nomination =)


Do Not Be Misled | Bad Company Corrupts Good Character

One of my favorite parts of the day is lunch.  

NOOOOO- not because I get to eat (although that is a plus)!

But because it's the time during my work day where a few of my co-workers and I mosey on into an empty conference room and socialize.  

I don't get out much.  I can't think of a better way of putting it, but I'm a homebody.  Most of my friends with a family to look after live on a different island.  Most of my friends that do live on the same island, well, we're just in different seasons in our lives.  I'm not a club goer and don't like large crowds or loud music.  And I have a tighter budget than most.  If I do venture out and about, I'm usually with my husband and most times we have Phillip.  So my social time with other women is pretty rare.

Anyway, where was I? 

Oh yes.  Lunch time social hour.   

Topics usually range from current events to personal stories to happenings around the museum (did I mention that I work at a museum?)  

Sometimes it's politics.  Rarely it's religion.

More often than not, it's gossip.

I've been trying really hard over the past couple of months to not get involved.

But it's tough.  Very very tough.

Especially because the more difficult co-workers are know to be well, difficult.  And sometimes when dealing with difficult people, it's nice to know I'm not alone in feeling frustrated and that others share the same feelings.

But I'm wrong.  

I've been trying really hard to extend grace to everyone I come in contact with but sometimes people are rude or manipulative or just plain rude (just to be sure, sometimes people can be rude).

Most times when I leave the lunch room I'm laughing at a funny joke or story or following up with a fellow mama on baby stuff.

But sometimes I walk out feeling awkward.  And disappointed.  And just kinda gross.

As if I don't know who I am anymore. 

I used to justify these daily gatherings because I hate eating at my desk.  So if I'm not going to eat at my desk, I should just sit in the lunch room, right?

Now I'm thinking that it's not such a great idea.

I could use that hour for other things.  Catch up on my reading.  Do a devotional.  

Go for a walk!

I used to do that (do you remember?) awhile back.  I can always pick that up again!

Maybe this is the push I need to use my lunch break for my daily walks again.  

It will take more planning and an extra bag for clothes and shoes.

Recently I've been feeling a big push to manage my time better- not just to cross things off my to-do list, but to also prioritize my life.

Do I have the time to take an hour lunch? Most days, yes.

Does that mean I should spend the hour talking story (chit chatting) with my co-workers?  Maybe not.

So today I'm going to do something different.

I'm going to eat lunch outside.

By myself.

With a book.

Maybe go for a walk.

But I'm done with the negativity and the gossip.

It's not who I am and not someone I ever want to be.

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Hips Don't Lie

If you were to take a look at my hips, they'd tell you a couple of things.

This weight loss thing is not as easy as it was 5+ years ago.

When I was an undergraduate student in USD, I had impeccable  time management skillz.


Not to toot my own horn (let's be real, toot toot!), but during my busiest schedule, I had a full time class schedule (13 units or 4 classes + a science lab), board positions in multiple student organizations, and working 3 part time jobs.

And still made it to the gym at least 4 times a week.

But now?  I'm a wife.  I'm a mommy.  I work full time AKA I sit at a desk for 35+ hours a week and spend 5 hours a week in a lunch room.

Between taking care of my husband and son, our home, getting my work done, and maybe squeezing in 30 minutes to myself, I'm exhausted.  

The "little" changes that used to add up don't really matter as much after turning 25

I've always heard how your metabolism slows when you lie about your age get older but I never really believed it.  I mean, it can't change that much when you're not yet 30, right? 


Don't drink enough water?

+1 pound.

Ate too much salt?

+1 pound

Missed a veggie or fruit at mealtime?

+1 pound

Stared at a box of left over Easter chocolate?

+3 pounds

Didn't have time to exercise?

+5^37831926298 pounds.

The extra walking to/from the bus stop 5 days a week?  Not really helping.  

Turned down the sabotage Girl Scout Cookies a co-worker brought in? Good for you, you will only gain 0.543 pounds for looking at them.

Seriously.  The little things that should be adding up aren't doing squat anymore and the little things that never affected me are now HUGE THINGS!


I guess a lot has changed since those glorious college days.  

I'm older.

I've had a baby. 

Apparently that changes your body just a bit.

The helpful truths my hips do tell:

Exercise is muy importante.

Like, duh. Really important.

So important that I'm asking my husband to take on dinner responsibilities 2X a week. GASP! 

I know that it's not a huge deal, but I like to provide the meals for my family and yes, my pride sometimes gets in the way of asking for help.  

So after putting our son to bed I'm heading to our complex's fitness center, twice a week! While he graciously gets dinner going.

And on the weekends I'll get to fit in my lengthier workouts- think total body strength training on one day and longer cardio on another.  

That's the plan anyway.

As for my eating?

Oi vei.

I've been tracking my food for a couple days and have noticed one huge glaring oh-so-obvious issue with my weight loss plan.

I eat WAY too much.

My meals aren't too bad.  

But the snacks?

Oh my goodness, the snacks are outrageous!!

Those snacking choices are what push me over my limit each and every day.

The worst part of this?  I know better.

I've been down this road before.  I know what it takes.

Hard work.  Dedication. Consistency. 


But the will power is gone and it's harder to see results (um, OK.  It wouldn't be hard to see results if I was actually making a better effort).

....And I'm just going to end this whiny post now.  After writing all of this I realize that YES, losing weight is hard.  But so is being overweight.  

They are both hard.  

This past week has been a "re-awakening" of sorts and I now realize that it's not as easy as it was as a college undergrad.

But still worth it.

YUP- I'm still worth it!

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