The Quarantined Life is still a Beautiful Life

Right now we are living through a pandemic that has the whole world going crazy. Panic and chaos are all around us every single day as we try to get through this trying time. Change is around every corner and we are stuck with lots of unknowns. 

Do you think its a coincidence that Elsa’s song “Into the Unknown” came out right before all of this? LOL

We are headed into the unknown and that can bring fear and chaos and panic into our lives. 

But I firmly believe that there is SO much to live for right now and so many wonderful lessons to learn through it all. Despite the boredom, there are many things that are making life so meaningful now!! 

I don’t know about you, but I have learned quite a few lessons.

  1. FAMILY TIME IS THE MOST PRECIOUS TIME

I don’t think it is a coincidence that we have to be social distancing. During this time of social distancing the only people we can be around is our family. There is nothing right now that is really keeping individuals from the family apart. Isaac and I have had so much more time together than we normally do. We have been able to study together, to read together, to cook together, to shop together. Our jobs and everyday life used to prevent us from seeing each other throughout the day. Although there are times when I do need personal space, I now value the time that I get with my husband more than ever.

2. SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT YOUR BEST FRIEND

I don’t know about you, but for me, I have been so bored that I just scroll and scroll and scroll. It is actually quite draining. It doesn’t benefit me on any level. There are so many posts and comments that confuse or misinterpret what is going on. It is hard to know what is true and what is not. Yes, there are hilarious memes that keep me laughing but when it comes down to it, that is all it does for me. If anything, I realized that I was MORE grumpy and MORE bored, the longer I scrolled on social media. I learned that it is NOT my best friend and there is so much more I can be doing. Putting my phone down and enjoying what is around me is changing my life for the better. 

3. QUARANTINE GOT MY CREATIVE JUICES FLOWING

Do any of you remember being a kid and not having technology to entertain you? You actually had to come up with your own games, your own challenges, your own stories! I remember when my siblings and I would play with legos or barbies for hours on end. We would be entertained with the sandbox in the backyard. We would read books like there was no tomorrow. That helped me to be creative and to think outside the box. Now that I don’t have a particular schedule, I again have to think outside the box. It has been good for me to just let my hands be free. I have had time to enjoy reading, painting, singing, dancing around the house, organizing, writing, etc. It’s amazing what our hands and bodies can do WITHOUT technology. 

4. FIND VALUE IN THE THINGS YOU DO HAVE

I have learned to find value in the things I already have. This may have been the longest two weeks of my life, but it has also been the longest time I have gone without spending any money. I have been able to go through my clothes and find outfits that I forgot about. I am able to look through my old journals and notebooks and laugh about experiences that I have had in the past. I have been able to find letters and things that are so important to me. Things that money can’t buy. Its incredible the precious gems you can find all around your house.

5. I ACTUALLY HAVE TO COOK

I don’t mind cooking, but the question I hate most of all during my day is “What should we have for dinner?”. But being stuck at home and not really wanting to eat out has forced my hand into being creative in the kitchen. Thank goodness I have been able to have Isaac around to help with that creativity. Although quite challenging, we have been able to come up with different ideas and get to enjoy new meals. 

6. KIDS GET TO BE KIDS

I am a teacher and I know how important it is for kids to learn and to study. BUT, sometimes we push kids too hard. There brain needs time to develop. Kids also need to learn how to do normal every day activities. During this time they can learn about doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, painting, writing letters, actually playing. All of these things will benefit them in the long run. Even though they might not be learning math or science, they still get to learn critical life skills. They also have the opportunity to explore books and find their own love of reading. They can work on math facts with the family which in turn will help them when they do get to return to school. Kids need the opportunity to just be a kid. 

7. SELF IMPROVEMENT

I no longer have the excuse of “I don’t have time”. How often do we use that excuse to lessen the pain of failure of our goals? Get your hands up! I’ve said it a plethora of times and I know I’ve heard it all around me too. Right now, we truly do have time. We have time to work on ourselves and time to be the people that we want to be. We have time to change and to reach our goals. We have time to do what we haven’t already done. Why not take advantage of this time?!

These are just 7 of the lessons that I have learned while I have been social distancing and in this Corona Quarantine. Yes, there are things that scare me about the future. Yes, I know this isn’t the ideal situation. But I do know that there are things we can still enjoy right now. I do know that this time can benefit us, just in a different way. Maybe, this was all a part of God’s plan. Maybe he wasn’t trying to scare us but rather he was trying to teach us. Maybe his love and our faith in Him are what will get us to go into the unknown with courage and strength. 

Just Choose JOY

I am not going to lie. I am not always “enjoying the moment” or choosing joy. I wish that I could say that I was. But sometimes, life brings on a new challenge or mountain to climb and I don’t look at it as positively as I could. 

In November, Isaac was asking me what I wanted for Christmas. I told him that the only thing that I really wanted was a trip to New York. I wanted an opportunity to visit my “second family” over there and a chance to visit my glorious mission. I also wanted to be able to do all the fun touristy stuff with Isaac too because he has never been to New York. 

In December, we found pretty cheap tickets and we did not hesitate. We bought those tickets and I was SOOOO excited. Beyond excited!! I spent the next 3 months preparing, planning, and getting even more excited. I contacted all the people I wanted to see and told them I was finally going to be able to visit them. Dreams come true…!!

But then, sometimes things happen that are out of our control and we have to roll with the punches. Sometimes our dreams shift a little or get delayed. But that doesn’t mean that they still can’t come true.

As you all know, Coronavirus is the talk of the world. Things are getting canceled left and right. People are getting sick all over the world. There is mass hysteria and panic. This is something we have never really seen or experienced before. 

Isaac and I had to consider whether we were going to brave going to New York in the midst of all of this craziness. We were going to go. We thought to ourselves, nahh we got this. Everything is fine. But then we listened to the voice of the Prophet that suggested we take care of ourselves and prepare with 2 weeks of food and reach out to those around us in need. 

If supporting home-centered church  and keeping people from traveling was so important to the prophet of God, then it had to be something important for us too. 

We ended up canceling our trip to New York and I was so depressed and distraught. I wasn’t going to be able to do the things that I had been planning for the last 3 months. I just wanted to break down and cry. If I couldn’t go to New York, I didn’t want to do ANYTHING else! 

I know. I was a bit dramatic. Or maybe a lot of bit. But, I was upset and I was NOT looking for Joy. That thought didn’t even cross my mind. I would rather choose moping around and being depressed than choosing joy. 

But then, my sweet husband reminded me that sometimes bad things or unwanted things happen, especially things that are out of our control. No matter what though, we still have to enjoy the moment. Heavenly Father gave us this life to enjoy it and to learn and grow.

Sometimes I hate it when he’s right. But that did make me sit back and think a minute. Was it worth it to still find joy and be happy even though I wasn’t feeling it and things didn’t go how I expected them too? 

Words from the Prophet came rushing through my head. “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays… My brothers and sisters, there is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today”.

That really got me thinking. I am the one who controls how I feel and how I think. I am the one in control of my reaction to every day life. I am the one who gets to decide what my life turns out to be. 

Rather than having a bunch of empty yesterdays, I do want a bunch of full and happy todays. 

I remember when I was on my mission, serving the Lord. I was the closest to God than I have ever been in my life. It was then that I learned to find joy in every moment and that I purposely chose joy even when it was hard. 

There was one day when something was bummy. My companion and I were feeling down and the situation wasn’t what we hoped. I had just said out loud “man, this is so upsetting”. The other missionaries around me noticed and just burst into laughter. I was like what, why are you laughing at me? They said that I could have my leg cut off or be starving or be in a dangerous situation and I would still be “upset”. But that my tone of voice and my reaction didn’t show that I was really upset. I realized it was because my reaction was so nonchalant. The situation was upsetting but I couldn’t do anything about it so I just kept moving forward. That became an inside joke for us. It is something that I had forgotten about, but I hope to be able to get to that point again.

One of the jewish survivors from the holocaust had shared his experiences from his time there. He said that the guards had taken his clothes. They had taken his food. They had taken his family. However, there is one thing that they couldn’t take away and that was his thoughts and feelings. He knew that he was in control and that he could be happy, even in the worst trial he would ever experience. Even when his life was on the line. And he was. He was probably the happiest soul living in those concentration camps. That was the choice he made. Because if those were going to be his last days of life, he was going to live his life to the fullest and enjoy it.

I have been kicking myself in the butt after remembering all of this. But I was able to find my faith again. How could I ever forget the miraculous and powerful hand of God in my life? He did take something that I love and so desperately want. However, I know that he is going to give me something better. That is a promise he has made to me in return for living my life for Him. 

When we are closest to God and when we have faith that He knows us and what is best, we start living in the moment and enjoying the life that we do have. We stop feeling major disappointment and grief but rather hope and confidence. We start trusting in his timing and know that he’s got some pretty awesome things in store for us. We start choosing joy so that we have a bunch of full yesterdays and beautiful todays.

Legacy

Legacy… The power that comes from that small, simple word is indescribable. Legacy. What actually is a legacy? How do we determine our own legacy?

The dictionary would define Legacy as “a gift or a bequest, that is handed down, endowed or conveyed from on person to another”.

Have you ever thought of legacy as a gift? I sure haven’t. I personally thought of legacy as the way people would see us when we are gone. Basically when we are dead! But our legacy isn’t just built in the day that we are gone. It is a life long process built by how we live.

What gifts do I go about giving every day? I’m not talking about the gifts that are wrapped in a pretty pink bow or that money can buy. I am talking about the small acts of kindness, the connections we make with others, the impressions we leave with people, the service that we perform, or even the advice we give.

I have never truly thought of any of those things as gifts. However, I don’t know what my words or actions actually mean to those around me. To them, it may in fact be a gift. That’s not for me to decide.

There is a quote that I really like (P.S. I really LOVE quotes so you’re going to see them a lot in my posts!). It says that “legacy is planting seeds in a garden that you never get to see”. Sometimes we don’t get to see the fruits of our labors or the effects that we have on others. And that’s okay.

A few months ago, my grandpa had a brain aneurism and he was left unresponsive. That day was one of the most terrifying and stressful in my life. Many thoughts passed through my head. Was he going to die? How was my grandma doing? What would happen to her if he didn’t make it? Would my grandma have to choose to end his life? How was my mom? This was her dad. I would be a horrible wreck if it was my dad. What would I say to him, if I had to say goodbye to him? What was the most important thing that my grandpa taught me? So many questions, none of them answered.

That very day, all of my family members, from all over Arizona, rushed to the hospital to see my grandpa and to say goodbye. As I walked into the room, I immediately started to cry. Seeing him hooked up to machines that were keeping him alive was not a friendly sight to see. Looking around at my family members that had gathered, they were all just as devastated as I was. Looking at my grandma, who was probably going to have to say goodbye to the love of her life, broke my heart.

As I walked up to him to say goodbye, all these flashbacks came into my mind of moments that I have had with this marvelous man. Each one had touched me in a way that I can’t explain. Each memory was a precious gift that my grandpa had endowed to me. I grabbed his still hand and told him how much I loved him and how he had changed my life for the better, by his example and the precious gifts he didn’t know he gave me. 

Tears came to his eyes, even though he was unresponsive. Seeing him cry, made me know that he was there. He was listening. He knew how much I loved him. He knew how much we all loved him.

The following morning my grandpa peacefully passed away in his sleep. I went to be with my grandma that day as we both held each other and cried.

A week later, we held a funeral service for my wonderful grandpa. As I sat there in the service, listening to his children talk about the life he had, that one simple word came to my mind. Legacy. What had my grandpa left behind? What impact had those small gifts throughout his life had on me? On all of us?

My grandpa’s legacy was one of joy and happiness. He left a legacy of service and unique love. He left a legacy of never giving up and always doing his very best. One of his best sayings was “Suck it up and do the right thing”. That is the gift that my grandpa left his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

As I watched my grandpa’s casket lower into the ground, I took a moment to ponder on my own life. If I were to die that day, what would people say about me at my funeral? What would my legacy be?

A few months after that, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints celebrated the 95th birthday of our beloved prophet, President Russel M. Nelson. The church broadcasted this birthday event so anyone around the world could participate. His children were able to speak about the kind of man their dad was. Members of this church got to talk about what kind of leader he was. Even his companions at the hospital he once worked at got to talk about the kind of surgeon he was. 

I watched this celebration with great joy, marveling in the life that this powerful man led. Although he has not passed on from this life, he has 95 years of a legacy behind him that he continues to develop today. When that word came to my mind again, I thought about the life that this man was living. 

President Russel M. Nelson

President Nelson’s legacy to me is one of service, love and hope. One of a sincere love for the Lord his God. One of always taking time to bless the lives of those around him, especially his family. Everyone that talked about him, shared their nuggets of gold that he was able to give them throughout his life.

Again, the questions started flowing to my mind. If I were celebrating my 95th birthday today, what legacy would I have already developed? What would my family, friends, co-workers say about me? What would my legacy be?

Since then, I’ve continued to ponder these questions in my mind. I have been thinking about the little gifts I have already left behind in my 25 years of life. I’ve thought to myself “Are these the gifts that I want to be remembered by? If not, how am I going to change that?”

I have a choice. Today and everyday. My legacy isn’t something that just comes by accident or chance. It isn’t something that I don’t have to work on. It isn’t something that will just slide right in. It is, however, how I choose to live my life each day. It is how I choose to respond to people. It is the random acts of kindness I perform. It is the small little gifts I choose to give to others. It is something that I will spend the rest of my life building. My legacy is what I decided to make of it. It truly is up to me.

“Legacy is not leaving something for people. Legacy is leaving something IN people”.

I challenge you, right now, to ponder what legacy you have already developed? Then, take time to ponder what legacy you want people to remember about you? If they don’t coincide, then change. Your legacy is in the power of your hands. You get to decide, the same as I do, the little nuggets of gold or gifts that you will leave with people every day. 

Broken

B-R-O-K-E-N!! Have you ever felt broken? Like life really gave you a beating and you just couldn’t get back up? Have you felt that there was no way you would ever be made whole again?

I don’t know about you. But, I definitely have felt that way before and it is not my favorite feeling. It is actually the WORST feeling.

I think that at some point in our life, we will ALL feel broken and hopeless. I don’t say that as some sort of death wish for all of you and I don’t want something bad to happen to you. I just say that because that’s how life is. We can’t escape those breaking moments, no matter how hard we try.

Why? Why do we have to feel broken? Why do we have to go through experiences that bring us down? Why do we have to go through some hard, terrible things?

Although these moments are not something that we would choose to live through, they become the defining moments for our life. It is these moments that make us who we are. You see, there is a quote that explains this perfectly. “In Japan, broken objects are often repaired with gold. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history, which adds to its beauty. Consider this when you feel broken.”

I find this quite interesting. Most people, when they brake a glass object, quickly sweep it up and dump it in the trash. That might be the cause of us treating ourselves like trash whenever we are feeling broken… I’m just saying!! But the Japanese have a better tradition that we need to reconsider. They say that flaws are seen as a unique piece of the object’s history.

When I think about my own history, I do think about all the happy moments in my life, the moments that I purposely want to remember. However, I can’t keep out the bad ones. They stick to my story like super glue to an object because they are a part of who I am.

Many years ago, I was a victim to someone else’s brokenness. It in turn left me feeling quite broken and worthless. I’m not even sure that this individual knew that… They kept living on, wrapped up and absorbed in their own brokenness. They didn’t even realize that they had broken me along the way. I’m sure many of you have had similar experiences. Although it is easy to get offended because of it, the truth of the matter is that it was not something meant to destroy. It was just something that happened as a result of someone being broken themselves. When we are broken, we have sharp edges that can potentially hurt others.

I remember that I would cry myself to sleep many nights in a row and pray to a God that I didn’t feel was listening. I felt worthless, hopeless and like trash.

But, He being a loving and perfect God, even a Heavenly Father, was in fact listening. He was there with me every step of the way. He was the Japanese master that recognized that my flaws and broken heart were going to make me unique and beautiful. He turned this part of my life into gold. Instead of hatred and bitterness, a flame of love, forgiveness and hope ignited in my heart. God did not abandon me and He helped me to feel whole again.

There was another time that I felt broken while I was serving my mission in New York City. Missions are supposed to be exciting times and you’re never supposed to have hard times. Or so I thought… As a young woman, far away from her family, experiencing culture shock and not having loved ones to rely on, I found it hard when people would share their horrendous experiences with me. I had not prepared myself for that, thinking that everything was going to be rainbows and butterflies.

My main purpose as a missionary was to invite others to come unto Christ and to love and serve them with all my heart. Loving them and serving them came quite easily to me. I am the type of person that opens my heart quickly to others. I enjoy helping others find joy, love and laughter in their life.

What I wasn’t expecting to feel was the burdens of the people that I served. I didn’t know that I would be witness to the various trials in their lives and that there were rainstorms, dampening the lives of the people that I had grown to love.

Hearing story after story of traumas and broken families and broken people, I was weighed down not knowing how to help them. Because I had opened my heart to them, my heart was also breaking. I was feeling the pains that were written in their hearts. I didn’t have my family or friends to turn to. I felt alone and almost hopeless.

I remember listening to what at the time was my theme song: “Worn” from a group called Tenth Avenue North. The lyrics read, “I’m tired, I’m worn. My heart is heavy. From the work it takes, to keep on breathing. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve let my hopes fail. My soul feels crushed by the weight of this world.” I lived those words. I felt crushed by the weight of the world. I felt tired and worn. I felt like I couldn’t make a difference in the lives of those people who desperately needed hope.

But you know God. He has a plan of his own. He had not forgotten me and He had not forgotten the people that I was there to serve. As I cried out with the pain of a broken heart, my loving God sent me comfort, strength, and peace. That’s when he reminded me of the following words to that song. “But I know that you can give me rest. So I cry out with all that I have left. Let me see redemption win, let me know the struggle ends, that you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn. I want to know the song can rise, from the ashes of broken life and all that’s dead inside can be reborn”.

God was reminding me that he is the mender of broken hearts. That He is the master of turning our brokenness into gold. I was not only able to become whole again, but a lot of the people I served were able to feel that healing power as well.

From just these two simple stories (believe me, there are many more…), I know that my flaws and broken pieces are a part of my unique history. They are my defining moments that shape my character and strengthen my qualities. I have learned more about my God and myself through those moments. I would never take them back, even after all the pain I went through.

When we feel tired and worn and the weight of the world crushing down on us, we need only remember that there is someone who mends broken things and that makes them TRULY BEAUTIFUL. There is someone that listens to what seems to us as unanswered prayers.

“Broken souls that need His mending. Broken hearts for offering. I believe that God loves broken things. This broken soul that cries for mending. This broken heart for offering. I’m convinced that God loves broken me. Praise His name, my God loves broken things” (Kenneth Cope).

All About Me

Who is Jessica Hernandez? The big question. Well, I wish I could say that I have an answer for you, but I honestly don’t. The Jessica that I was as a little girl has gone through many experiences that have shifted, changed, reshaped and ultimately refined her. There is no saying who I will be tomorrow. All I know is who I am today!

The wonderful thing about life is that we are constantly evolving and changing. Sure, it is going to be painful, uncomfortable and it might not always be what we imagine. But, it means we can have new begins and transformations and fresh starts. It means that we are not unchangeable and stuck. What a relief that is?!?

I could write my changing moments in a journal. I could write them into my own personal blog just for me. But then again, I get the feeling that God has put me through some of my experiences so that I can help and support others who go through something similar. I can’t help but feel that God doesn’t want me to remain silent, when maybe my story can help and benefit someone else.

Quite frankly, I don’t know who my blog is for. I know that some days it will be for me. Some days it might be for my future kids. Or some days it might be for someone that I don’t even know that just happend upon my blog.

As I said before. I am Jessica- a wife, a some day mother, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a teacher for students with special needs, a beautician, and just a normal, every day girl.

I was born and raised in Tucson and I am still here! Those of you that have been in Tucson, know what it is like to fall in love and just stay. I love the smell of desert rain, cuddling in a blanket, reading a book while we get monsoon showers. I also don’t shy away from running out in that rain and dancing my little heart out. I love the stunning sunsets that bless us every night. Tucson is a wonderful place to be.

I come from a family with two amazing parents and 9 rambunctious, crazy awesome kids. I have 5 beautiful sisters and 3 goofy brothers. Growing up in a big family helped me learn a lot about patience, multitasking in a LOUD space, and always living in the moment. I can’t tell you how many times we kept each other laughing or exploring new crazy ideas. I wouldn’t change my childhood for the world.

When I was 19, I decided to serve a full time mission for my church. I was sent to New York to love and teach the people there. That experience changed me drastically. I am so grateful for the experiences I had there and for the people I met who stole parts of my heart. To this day, New York continues to hold a chunk of my heart! There will be more to come on the adventure I embarked upon when I stepped foot in the state of New York.

2 years ago I married the most charming man, the love of my life, Isaac Hernandez. Our story is not the typical romantic story. But it is my most favorite love story and the best part is that it won’t be over for hmmm lets see, just forever!!

Now before this gets too long and you just stop reading. (SORRY!) I just want to make sure its clear that this blog is simply going to be about the life of me. The lessons I have learned and will continue to learn. The adventures that have shaped me into who I am today, both the good, the bad, the ugly, the sad. I might throw in my hobbies like art, singing, learning to cook, learning to exercise at home, and all that fun jazz.

Stay tuned to go on this journey with me and find out what this blog will become and the things we will learn together!

Join 22 other followers

%d bloggers like this: