Zion Max Santoyo

July 6th, Zion Max turns 1 years old.  My heart skips a beat every time I accept the fact that my boys are growing up way too fast!  Where does the time go?

My pregnancy with Zion was night and day compared to Diego’s, not to say the least in comparison to their personality and character.  Unlike Diego, Zion has me on my toes 24/7!  His risk taking, adventurous, and curiosity personality can make any mother go bonkers! But he has so much life and soul to him.  His smile can light up a room,  His laughter can breath life to the lifeless, and his eyes can make a grown man cry.  The passion that stirs in his heart is ridiculous!  I thank God everyday for him.

Just like Diego, Zion was a beautiful surprise.  God has a way of showing up in our lives when we least expect it!  When I found out I was pregnant I was shocked, we weren’t planning to have another baby for awhile.  So when the news became apparent, I was speechless.  The pregnancy in itself started off rough and landed a bit rough, but the arrival was spectacular.  Zion could not have come at a better moment in our lives!

As much as he is a momma’s boy, he loves and adores Jesse.  He recognizes and jams out to Jesse’s music, which I think is amazing.  He loves to play air drums!  He stares and studies Jesse so intently, and who knows, he may probably be thinking to himself how much he wants to be like him when he grows up.  Jesse is an amazing leader and teacher to him. You can literally see in Zion eyes how much he admires and loves his daddy…its amazing to watch.

Zion is everything I had asked for in my prayers and more.   A gift of life!  Happy Birthday my gorgeous baby boy.  You and your brother will one day change the world…you’ve already changed ours…

Your Mommy

Reinalisa Santoyo

Live Like You’re Dying

“I know the plans that I have for you,” says the lord, “Plans to prospers you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

It is amazing to see how faith works!  When everything in our lives is as what you want it to be, give or take your finances, relationships…etc, then it really isn’t true faith.  It is only when our lives are literally falling apart at the very core that is when we have the chance to make our faith real.

When I stepped into my doctors office this past Tuesday I was optimistic.  I knew in my heart whatever news she would deliver, whether good or bad, I would be taken care of.  Jesse, I believe, was more nervous than I was.  The doc walks into the waiting room where I was at and she comes right out by saying, “Well Mrs. Santoyo, your ultrasounds came back and everything looks normal.  There isn’t anything that can indicate any disease or malfunction towards your liver.  In fact, all your organs look great and completely healthy.”  (Mind you this is the 2nd ultrasound that I had to take, the first showed obscurity) As my doctor was saying this her face looked confused and bewildered and she insisted that I draw a 3rd set of blood so that it can be evaluated yet again.

The lab results would come the next day, and my doctor said she would contact me with the final results. She goes on by saying if it is not my liver than it could be my bones, and a bone scan may be the next step to find out what may be causing my alkaline levels to rise. I smiled and said, “ok.” 2 weeks prior I would have lost my mind!  I would have gone into a deep depression and probably would have cried myself to sleep, if my mind would not deprive me of it.  This time it was different, I had peace, I was secure, and I had faith.  Faith was the only thing of value that my heart and mind had.

Wednesday came and I went about my day as usual, I made coffee, fixed breakfast, got the kids ready for school.  I was completely unmindful that my doctor would contact me with the results; so when the phone rang, I didn’t think much of it.  Low and behold it was Dr. Logan on the other end, and I was calm and ready.  She begins to speak, “Mrs. Santoyo, how are you today?  Your results came back and thought you should know that your alkaline phosphatase is normal now!  Your levels are at 143 units/L!…”  I smiled and said, “Really!  That is good news, that is really good news…”

It would be ideal to say that I became really exited after hearing the good news, but I wasn’t.  I was at peace and I was passive.  The moment that I decided to give my life up to God and trust in Him I became excited.  This good news was just an icing on the cake.  I knew deep within my core existence that He had a plan.  A crazy plan might I add, but nonetheless it was a well thought out sketch of my life.  Only He knows what my heart and mind feel, think, and struggle with.  He knew what he needed to do to bring me back to my roots.  The true essence of why I worship God. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace…” Hebrews 12:11

I have gone through of chain of disappointments and let downs in the pass several years.  As each day pass my heart began to fill with fear, animosity, jealousy, and regret, all the ingredients for a lonely and desperate life.  It takes the sense of losing your life to realize what really is important.  Thank you to everyone who kept me and my family in prayer.  Whether you may believe or not there is power in prayer.  A special shout out to David Maldonado, Travis & Kelly Johnson, and Michelle Bulger.  You have inspired me and allowed me to see once again what true friendship and community is all about.

So I leave you with this, love out loud, laugh even when it hurts, hope for the best in every situation, dream the unthinkable, and Live like you’re dying…cause every second counts.

Until next time my dear friends

La Unica Reina

I’m too Young to Die…

Tangibility!  Is that even a word?  Well let’s look it up!  Tangibility is a noun and it means something tangible, and tangible is an adverb and it is defined as something capable of being touched, something real or actual rather than imaginary or visionary.  So when I say I wish sometimes faith could be tangible, what I am trying to say is that I wish faith wasn’t so complex…I wish it wasn’t something that is not found deep within a person’s soul and mind.  Now before you get all crazy on me, I am not saying that I don’t have faith.  I am simply saying that faith in itself is sometimes hard to obtain when faced with challenging and complex situations that may put a person “faith” to a test.  Questions, concerns, and doubts can filter out a person’s faith even in the most prominent believer.

Faith is defined in the word of God as “…the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…” (Hebrews 11:1) Basically it is the conviction of truth without “tangible proof.”  I am not going to sit here and write a thesis on “What is faith, and how can one obtain it?”  I am simply saying that my faith, at this moment, is truly being tested in this chapter of my life.

This August I turn 30, and to be quite honest I am really excited about it.  I believe the older you get the wiser you become.  The 30’s will probably be just as exciting if not more than my 20’s.  I will most likely have some dull moments and I inevitably will have some amazing and adventurous moments too.  All in all they will both serve to be worthwhile and educational to my life.  But there are those “skip a beat” moments where your whole world and mentality of life becomes interrupted.  I am talking about whiplash, blink of the eye interruptions, the kind of stuff that will make anyone hit pause and sit back within their chair and look at everything in an overview…and then ask the question “What if?”

The older you get the older your feel…lol… its true, your body feels more exhausted, more worn out than ever.  The past several months I have been feeling…lets just say not my norm.  I have complained here and there but most of the time I just put it behind me and go about doing my business and taking care of my family.  Jesse has been on me to make a doctors appointment for some time now, and reluctantly I did.  Tuesday afternoon I went into my doctor’s office for a full exam.  I had the whole works done, from ultrasounds to my blood being drawn.  For the most part the exam went really well!  Now it was waiting for the results that tortured my soul…literally.

The following Friday I had another appointment with my doctor to learn of my results, and this became the deal breaker towards my faith.  She began to poor out good news saying that my ultrasounds came out normal and my blood work looks normal and great but…and that is when it happened…she said the word but.  The most 3 dreadful letters combined together that creates uncertainty.  Usually the word “but” follows after a sentence that has or will deliver good or bad news, and in my case it delivered the bad.  My doctor goes on to say that one part of my blood test came back abnormal, and it was my Alkaline Phosphatase levels that concerned her.  Everyone who gets there blood drawn for a full normal physical gets tested on their alkaline pH levels, the primary importance of measuring this is to verify the possibilities of bone or liver disease.  The average levels for an adult ranges from 50-160 units/L, mine was at a whopping 373 units/L.  This indicated a red flag for my Doctor and she suggested that more test be taken to determine what is the source causing the abnormal levels.

I left the doctors office on Friday and I looked up the wonderful Alkaline Phosphatase on the infamous world wide web, and low and behold I became vulnerable to a large open sea of medical knowledge that I dove into, and wished I never had.  The possibilities of liver disease or bone disease is probable and so is “CANCER.”  My heart skipped a beat and so did my world.  My faith for the first time has been altered with, and my mind and thoughts have taken over everything I held so dear…this includes God.

That weekend, God and I had it out!  I talked, I argued, I prayed, I cried, I became angry, confused, disappointed, depressed, and alone.  For the first time I caught myself saying “but, What if.”  And this mind boggling question wasn’t steering towards what if God can Heal me, no instead it was what if I die of Cancer…I am too young to die!  My faith had evaporated into the air. I could not recognize the woman that was staring back at me in the reflection of a mirror.

Nonetheless, Jesse, the boys, and I left to Chicago to help clear my head and think positive through this whole ordeal.  And I must say it has helped in many ways.  My family has been extremely supportive and comforting, but they have no idea what is going on in my mind. The mind is such a powerful weapon and can make a person go insane. You sit and wonder the possibilities and the outcomes.  Wonder can reach right into your heart and mind and shake you up.  It can be good and it could also be bad.
I had the follow up appointment yesterday with my Dr. for the second part of my results, and to my disappointment the Alkaline Ph levels are still abnormally high.  After further tests they were able to narrow it down to my liver.  Today I had to take a second ultrasound on my liver and will not get the results until next Tuesday.  The mystery still remains, and I don’t know how the outcome will be.  Truthfully between you and me…I am scared.

Pete Wilson said it best, “Fear, in and of itself, is really not a problem.  But fear without faith is a big problem.  Fear without faith will eat you alive.”  Doubt, fear, and lack of faith has been eating me alive.  The solution became relevant after long and sleepless nights…the word of God.  From the moment I stepped out of my doctors office I began to filter my mind with medical information that the the internet so easily provided and not once did I turn to the source that fuels my world…the word of God.  Matthews 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, and all things will be given to you as well.” This includes wisdom and understanding.

So here is my conviction of truth.  My faith has to pour into trusting in God with arms wide open, without doubt. Doubt disables faith, or at least in my case it has.  Proverbs 1:7 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Knowledge.”  Pete Wilson said it best again, “…crises will become less of a crises when you replace your fear of the unknown with a healthy fear of God.”  All that composes who I am is God.  My world belongs to Him.  I want to walk, talk, and live in everything that composes Him, in everything that is Him in me.

The outcome is still unclear and there are those moments that still make me pause and look at everything in an overview, and in those moments I learn to appreciate the gift of life a little more than the day before.  My faith keeps me living.  Although I cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, I know that my God is with me in every obstacle, every storm, every tear, and in every fearing moments of my existence.  I have given my life to Him, therefore trusting Him with my life.  “Lord have your way, and may Your will be done.”

Until Next time…

Hasta La Victoria

La Unica Reina

“…seek to see the invisible, know the unknowable, comprehend the incomprehensible, and experience the eternal.”

Warren W. Wiersbe

The Many Faces of Diego Alexander Santoyo

Where does the time go.  I remember like it was yesterday when Diego, my 1st, was born.  It was a long and hard 36 stressful hours in labor with him, but at the end it was all worth it.  He was born 4/27/2007 at 7:27pm…Talk about a seventh heaven baby…He smiled from the moment he came into our world and continues to smile everyday after.  Today my Diego turns 3!  He, as usual, woke up with a smile on his face, and when I said to him, “happy birthday Diego,” he said, “thank you Mommy.”

For those who know me and my story, then you know how God used Diego to save my life in many different ways.  I was going in so many different and wrong directions before I learned I was pregnant with him.  He is my pride and joy!  My lifesaver!  He brought color to my then gray and dreary world.  He allowed me to see life in a different perspective and not take ANYTHING for granted.  I love him so much, and I thank God everyday for him!

I cannot imagine my world without my boys.  Our lives were short and colorless before they came into our lives.  Now they teach Jesse and I how to love unconditionally, how to laugh or smile even when it hurts, and most of all how to live life extraordinarily.  They are my riot of color in my dreary gray world!

Happy Birthday Diego!

Love Always

Your Mommy

To Whom it May Concern!

I don’t know what it was about my childhood that influenced me to swim against the current. Even before Christ burst into my life, I knew deep down in my heart there was a larger plan. I grew up in a very rough neighborhood where everyday I had to defend myself either verbally or physically. I lived in a house that was loud and violent. It was my mother, my father, and my 4 older brothers that made my house a riot. I have great childhood memories, and I have bad ones that marked my life resulting into some bad decisions.  As crazy as it may sound, I would not have traded shoes with anyone else in the world, but I can’t help but ask is this what God intended to happen in my life?

My father left when I was about 12 and then moved to Puerto Rico when I was 15. After he had left he took a bit of my soul with him.  I rarely saw him and he rarely kept in contact with me.  Those days were very dark days in my life, as well as pivotal crossroads.  My mother was left to raise 5 kids and she slaved away to make ends meet.  I remember when we didn’t have enough money for food, so my mother would always come up with some clever way to prepare dinner that kept us from starving. There were times when the heat bill wasn’t paid on time in the middle of winter resulting it to be cut off, and yet I can’t remember a single moment where we lacked warmth.

God has a funny way of showing his grace and master plan.  The rollercoaster’s that I’ve endured doesn’t come from a lack of food or deficient heat, but instead it comes from a deeper soul searching place.  This much is true, I may not have come from a perfect family but I am grateful for them.  Though in many ways it was dysfunctional, it is part of my past and is some ways part of who I am today.

I have taken those successful moments and failed moments of my past and allowed it to shape my character.  I was taught at a very young age to remember who I am and where I came from; otherwise, I won’t know where I am going.  Everything that I have gone through, the good, the bad and the ugly, has shaped and molded my character to be a strong and courageous woman.  I can look back now and have no regrets because every situation that I have endured has only contributed to the way of think, and into a person of great stature.

Someone once said, “Attitude is the way you mentally look at the world around you. It is how you view your environment and your future. It is the focus you develop toward life itself.”  There’s one thing that I have learned through out the years and that is change comes from the inside out. My attitude towards life is more vibrant and lucid than ever before, all because I am accessible to change.  My husband and children add to that fuel that ignites this passion within me. It is because of them that I feel I can accomplish anything and everything I put my mind to.  Despite of where I came from, I know where I want to go as an artist and as a designer. My personality and character is reflected in the art I create, and I can’t help but express my history through it as well.  Until Next Time…

La Unica Reina

Arms Wide Open!!!!

I am living my life to the fullest.  My perspective on my future is not so fuzzy anymore.  I have come a long way from what I use to be to who I am now and I am loving every moment of it.  Every experience, and I mean every experience, the good and the ugly has brought me to this serene moment in my life.  Its funny how much we can learn from our past mistakes and how they can ironically lead us to golden opportunities.  It feels good to acknowledge the feeling that my heart is expressing right now.  My arms are wide open ready to embrace what the future holds, and I am so ready to embark on this scary, yet much anticipated adventure.  I hope to share every story, and adventure with all my readers.  I also truly hope that I can inspire people to live without fear, think the unthinkable, and experience the eternal.  I stand here today writing to you because of someone else before me inspired me to live outside the box.  Those people have forever left an imprint on my life, and I will always be grateful to them.  Now it is my turn to pass the baton and challenge men and woman to live there life extraordinarily.  Live your life with arms wide open and challenge your heart to love unconditionally. Until next time my dear friends…

Live Without Fear

Think the Unthinkable

And Change the World

La Unica Reina

In the Pursuit of….

I began my career endeavors in my hometown by attending Columbia College in Chicago.  I was pursuing an Art History degree. As my studies continued, I began to realize I wasn’t going in the direction I wanted to.  Coming from a not so supportive family of the Arts, I was a bit discouraged and it reflected academically.  I took a break from school and I sought for a 9 to 5 job. In doing so, I kind of let life just pass me by.   Three year ago I began to realize what my talent and passion was. It has been part of my life as long as I can remember.  To be honest my first passion is people, and then there is the arts.  In my earlier years, I never stopped to acknowledge my strong interest in design. I have always looked at something or someone and saw it’s potential.  Whether it is a frame, a color, or an object, I have always sought for something more. I am fascinated with walking into a room and helping it find it’s distinct character by way of design. I often make things at home, from paintings, to home decorations and I take joy in even having to nail something new to the walls at home. After coming to this realization I decided I needed to find the right school that could help develop this passion into a professional artistic career. To acknowledge this, and it having the full potential to becoming something incredible that will simply add to my life excites me.

I have chosen to study interior design because it’s a larger scale of a blank canvas.  My mind orchestrates so many ideas, colors, and shapes, that a single canvas sometimes cannot obtain.  I can close my eyes and visually see an entire room at its fullest potential.  I just don’t know how to cultivate it into reality.  I need the knowledge, the skills, and the tools to make this vision come to life.  I feel and believe interior design can and will help me convey my visions and my ideas.

It is beyond words to express how important it is for me to go back to school and learn from the best to become a great artist and make a difference in peoples lives through design.  I look back at the time I stepped away from school, I don’t frown or regret it, but I have acknowledge that it was a season in my life that ultimately lead me here.

I am pursuing my dream not only for me but also for my 2 boys and my husband, whom I cherish with all my heart. They are behind me 100%.  I want my boys to look back and see that in spite of all the obstacle I have endured, that their Mom pursued her dreams, and that they will understand when they get older that they too can do anything they put their hearts to, and nothing is impossible when you put your heart into it.

So just as an advise, don’t let people belittle you, or undermine you because you have yet to get a “degree”.  But instead, rise above their ignorance, and be who you are and believe in what you want to do.  It is never too late to go back to school and pursue your dreams.   I have come across people in my life that they don’t have a single clue with what they want to do with their lives, so they will either bring you down with them into their misery, because misery loves company.  Instead, rise above that and pursue your dreams even if it is a bit out of reach at the moment, just remember every step you take gets you closer to your dreams.  I have taken my steps and I hope that I can encourage you to take yours.  Until next time my dear friends…

“Hasta La Victoria”

La Unica Reina

Starting to Blog Again….

I am not the greatest writer in the world, I know this, but I feel an urgency at times to write what I feel and think.  Most of the time its just pure nonsense, but then there are those moments where I want people to press the pause button to their lives and listen and read to what I have to say about the ugly truth that I have come face to face with. I will write about beauty and reality, about hate and haters, about art and music, about 3 very important people in my life, and my most recent discovery, interior design.  I will write about everything that applies to my life that’s in my life that makes up who Reina really is.   You are familiar with the saying “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder,’ and there is truth in that.  Everyone’s idea of beauty is different – each person sees beauty in different ways. As I begin to blog again you will see my view on beauty in a different way.

So I hope you read and enjoy.  And in advance I want to apologize if I offend anyone.  My intentions are not to hurt or offend anyone but to speak and seek the truth.  So feel free to comments and your thoughts.  And constructive criticism is always appreciative.  Until next blog…hasta luego.

La Unica Reina