While in Hawaii last summer for a family vacation, my dad, siblings and I were swimming in the lagoon on the beautiful garden island of Kauai; the sun beating down through the sticky, thick air. We came up with a game treading water in depths beyond any of our toes’ reach. The game was to swim to the bottom and grab a handful of sand, then racing back to the surface to see who could do it the fastest! We then would swim out farther, swim to the bottom, then again; deeper and deeper each time.
I kicked my feet into the air, propelling my head towards the bottom. A small sense of panic kicks in; everything in your mind screams at you to turn around, you’re going the wrong way! I reached my right arm out straight, eyes closed, madly kicking, anticipating the touch of the sand. The moment I feel anything but water, I clench my fist – halfway there! I swing my feet around, they are now under me again. With great force I push off the bottom, launching myself back to the surface.
We all did it! Tesa probably won – she’s fast! Next level now! We all swam out 10 feet… Ready, set, go!
My mind begins to politely remind me to turn around and go the other way. The deeper I swam, my lungs began to chime in. Hello, now is generally the time we inhale… Umm… Excuse me… I ignore my mind and my lungs as I kick my legs, focused to make it to the bottom. Water surrounds me, and then boom, sand! Returning to the top, we all gasp for air. Laughing at the struggle and showing our sand-collections.
10 more feet we swam towards the open ocean. We were now swimming with boats bobbing nearby. I wondered if I could do it. Ready, GO! Flipping my feet over my head, I madly kicked, in search of the bottom. Seconds felt like weeks as my mind’s screaming became deafening, my lungs inquiring about a new breath, and to top it off, my ears feeling as if they were being crushed by monster trucks. Everything in my body is telling me to turn around, turn around, turn around! I pressed on bearing the pain…
The following day, we went on an excursion!
I suction-cupped myself into my wetsuit, and hoisted the tank upon my back. We did a few practice dunks in the shallow area; learning how to utilize this newly accessible equipment. Learning to breathe with the regulator (I prefer the more descriptive term, “breatherator” – patent pending) took a few tries. My mind had to learn to depend on this tool for air. I learned how to read the gauge, ensuring that I was equipped with the proper amount of air for the depths I was planning to go. I learned how to adjust my buoyancy, so as not to drop to the bottom, but also not floating to the top.
After our game the day before, I was excited to see how my ears and lungs would adjust to the depths with the scuba gear! Sure enough, after a few minutes, peace filled my mind, my lungs and ears also in agreement with the journey.
My needs were being met by the apparatus strapped to my back. I was equipped for the depths.
Living in your purpose requires you to go to depths that you are not independently (naturally) equipped to handle. As I step into my destiny I am realizing that my mega-dreams are not an accident. They are actually my supernatural purpose. Walking in faith, my mind freaks out, saying Go back, go back, go back! You had a job, you had an apartment, you had everything set-up perfectly! Everything around me points to THIS IS CRAZY. People have other words for it too: irresponsible, hasty… Many do not understand, criticizing me for leaving my traditional job to pursue social justice for strangers. The pressure is heavy.
Then I equip myself with the Power that I was meant to have with me all along. I was never meant to have all the answers. I was never meant to be naturally able to complete my dreams on my skills alone. This journey is meant to be shared with the Divine Breatherator. I am currently in the transition period: going deeper as I get used to using the divine tools I have been given, learning how to check my gauges, adjusting my buoyancy so as not to stunt my descent, but also not to slam into the bottom. I meditate on His promises, read the Living Word that is relevant for every moment, and I pray without ceasing. I was never meant to swim to these depths alone. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7) covers me as my King and I go on the very best adventure.
I am so excited to share my first INTERACTIVE MEDITATION GUIDE available for purchase – $14.95
Many devotionals offer a scripture with the author’s take-away. I find myself skim-reading, potentially missing my moment to engage with The Guiding Light. I desired an interactive meditation that requires my engagement, for we love a relational God! I hope through this experience you are stretched and find increased enlightenment in your day-to-day affairs.
ALL proceeds directly support social justice work, as I advance my global ambassador skills through the Global Leadership Training Center. Please consider purchasing and please take a moment to share the link with your friends and family. This small investment will prove to be so worth it!
Please SHARE with your friends, family, community, and a few people at the grocery store (why not?)
Sunday morning of Valentine’s day weekend 2015, my beautiful mother (my favorite valentine) had traveled to Los Angeles from Oregon for a visit. Our weekend was full of love and it couldn’t have been a better intro for what was about to present itself.
The ushers seated us in practically (what felt like) the front row, smack-dab in the middle! The only people around us were seated one row in front, pretty far over to the left. As I worshipped and agreed with the leaders in prayer throughout the service, one of the women in front of me seated to the left repeatedly turned around, looking in our direction. I asked my mom if I had something on my face. I didn’t. I then started to rack my brain as to how I could possibly know her. She kept looking and smiling excitedly as if she knew me. I uncomfortably smiled back, still unsure as to what or who she was looking at. My mom then said “That woman keeps looking at you, do you know her?”
Her question was interrupted with the Pastor of the church calling the woman, Dr. Patricia Bailey, up to the stage to give a testimony regarding her most recent trip to Turkey that our church had financially supported. Her team had gone to assist refugees at the Syrian border whom had been displaced due to Isis. My spirit quickened with excitement learning who this woman was and how we shared a common love for missions.
After service I jumped over the row of chairs in front of me, on a mission to get to her, allowing nothing to keep me from getting to her. I thanked her for obediently following her call; introducing myself, I said “Next time you go to Turkey, I want to go.” She took down my phone number and said she was so excited and that the world is in need of willing hearts. I expectantly waited for her call that afternoon.
I did not hear from her, so the next day I called her office, leaving my phone number, in the case that she had lost mine. About a week went by and then the phone call came in that would alter the course of my life.
Answering the call, she explained to me that not only would she be returning to Turkey, but that she had an entire school devoted to rising up leaders who have a heart for global development called the Global Leadership Training Center. My body flushed as I experienced every emotion possible in that one phone conversation. I agreed immediately, thrilled and in awe, honored to be 1 of the 10 women invited to attend. Slight anxiety came over me as I realized the program was across the country and I had only a few weeks to prepare. Slight sadness came over me as I realized this meant closing the beautiful chapter of my life that I have so enjoyed in west Los Angeles. Excitement filled my heart, knowing that my destiny was at my doorstep and I would not miss it for the world.
The following weeks were filled with a week spent in Oregon, celebrating my dad’s wedding and soaking up the love from my best friends and family back home, the goodbye to my place of employment where I had spent a year healing, a trip to Las Vegas for my birthday, and a business trip to Kansas City. It seemed that there was a solid plan in place and I couldn’t wait to get started! Days before we were to depart, the person who had planned on driving cross-country with me (L.A. to North Carolina) bailed on me. All of the logistic plans that had been set were now out the window. Finances appeared depleted, and it was just my dog and I. My purpose was calling my name, and the opposition was trying to throw any distraction to trip me up. I refused to relent, pressing onward on the cross-country journey with my dog and the same car I had driven cross-country twice before.
Divine Peace came over me as I traveled those 3 days, time flew as fast as the miles. My loving parents were not physically with me, but supported me constantly. I am ever-grateful for their love, support, and partnership with me as I pursue a life that is about more than myself.
11:27pm on Friday night, I pulled into the driveway of my new home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where I would be transforming my mind, spirit, and soul for the very best cause. My soul-sisters greeted Kelsa and I with such love. It sank in that I was born for such a time as this.
Since making the move to Los Angeles, giving back was a top priority. I’ve been a dreamer since I was a child, and unlike the typical idea of becoming a doctor or a teacher, I wanted to start an orphanage when I grew up. As the years passed I became discouraged with the idea and tucked it away deep in my heart. I may have buried the burning knowledge of my purpose, but I was unable to discard it completely. Landing in Los Angeles I had a moment of despair, I’m already 27 years old, and still no orphanage, not even close. I wanted to go big or do nothing at all. Going big was obviously not an option at this point in my journey, so I (somewhat begrudgingly) settled for the practical. I became a Big Sister with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program and found that even just a small commitment was a big commitment, and I loved it! My little sister is intelligent, outgoing and very fun. She is such an inspiration, wanting to become a cardiologist when she grows up (did I mention she’s 12?!). This was a great way to locally give back, but I still had more to give.
Recently a friend on Facebook shared a story about meeting in-person the child she had been sponsoring for years through Compassion International. This story greatly blessed my heart, so I decided to take another step towards my purpose by sponsoring a child through this proven legitimate organization. As I scrolled through the pictures, discovering how long these kids have been waiting for a sponsor, I couldn’t stand the thought of each of them waiting 6+ MONTHS for sponsorship (when it’s only $38 USD per month!) so, I got somewhat carried away and sponsored 2 more.
While still on a small scale I was happy to be doing something to fulfill my purpose (reaching out to the impoverished and victimized). None of these kiddos are technically orphans, but it was an opportunity that was feasible, helpful, and meaningful.
Little did I know, these few small steps released the flood gates of opportunity.
I am honored to share that I have been personally invited by Dr. Patricia Bailey to be 1 of 10 women mentored this year at the Global Leadership Training Center. The 6-month internship includes curriculum and hands-on experience related to Disaster & Humanitarian Relief, Christian Community Development, International Public Health, and Environmental Services. Our group will also be traveling to Haiti and the middle east to provide aide for the impoverished and persecuted.
Please start small and help support the outpouring of love to people who need it most.
Every contribution counts. Even if you must start small.
They say a woman’s intuition is rarely wrong. Might I add that I have experienced this first-hand. While my ex was in the midst of relapse, I had asked him directly about various odd happenings. Things had stood out to me, not because they were especially alarming, but just because they were unusual, like spending more time in the bathroom. This is not something a normal person would immediately assume is linked to drug use, but it was unusual and I asked him about it, even barging in on him a few times. As he sat naked on the toilet, I felt like quite the fool. He always had a legitimate response for my questions. A few weeks later, he was fired from his job (which now of course makes sense). Leading up to this day he had told me horror stories of his terrible boss. I have my own experience with horrible boss’ and took this opportunity to be the most supportive, non-judgmental girlfriend I could be. I remember being so happy to be able to support him as he seemed so put out from this loss. His pride was damaged and I wanted nothing but to lift him up. Time went on and I began having nightmares that he had relapsed. I would wake up out of a dead sleep, sobbing to the point of hyperventilation, waking him up to tell him the terror of the nightmare. He would reassure me that it wasn’t real and it wasn’t happening, comforting me back to sleep. I had this nightmare three times.
Then the day happened and I was not asleep. I was wide awake and the world felt like it was closing in on me. My worst nightmare was reality and I was devastated. My intuition had been spot on, even to the point that my dreams were warning me.
Risking trust again is the most difficult thing I have ever done. I feel like I am swimming in a deep sea and I don’t know which way is up. I am terrified of being betrayed again. That pain was worse than any physical injury I’ve ever experienced. My self-preservation instincts are on high alert, on the look out for lies, betrayal and deception. The problem with this overprotective mode of living is my spot-on intuition is now clouded with hyper-paranoia. Cognitively I know that those who care for me have nothing but the best intentions for me. And then there are moments that one small miscommunication leads me down a rabbit hole of confusion, suspicion, and questioning of what to believe; desperately trying to determine whether or not this is a valid red flag. This minor miscommunication sets off alarms inside my being, fight or flight kicks into gear; my chest muscles tighten, my gut feels sour, and my heart races. My instinct is to hurry and identify the deceit…. ‘Don’t let this happen again’ my subconscious screams (my pride doesn’t help either). My last relationship exemplified that illogical things that should never happen CAN happen. The person who says they love you more than anything may be lying to your face on a daily basis. You can be living together and think you know everything about one another and find out that you’ve been repeatedly deceived. This sucks big time. Unfortunately, I know I’m not the only one who has had this experience.
And yet, I want to love again. I want to trust again. I believe in good. I believe in honesty. I know that this one experience should not define me. It is maddening to deal with me I’m sure, and it is even more maddening to be inside my own head because I don’t know what to believe! I know that there are good people in the world who understand the true value of honest partnership. I know that there are healthy men who want what I want and bring to the table great attributes that I expect and admire. I want to truly and fully believe that my partner will never hurt me like this. I realize that misunderstandings and mistakes will come about, but anyone with self-discipline, self-control and love for the other would never purposely deceive.
I have come a long way since the moment of realizing my worst fear had come true. I continue to pursue healing, to become even healthier than I was before this experience. Now I desire to get my instincts and panic responses under control.This process is so frustrating. I look forward to the day in which these reflexes of distrust will be a distant memory.
“Part of the healing process is sharing with other people who care” – Jerry Cantrell
The importance of a decision I will likely make in the next few years weighs heavy on my heart. Awe and humility overcome me as I ponder the ripple affect that will occur. This decision will affect my personal life, forever. It will affect my mom, my dad, my brother, my extended family, teachers, strangers, and future humans who don’t even exist yet.
People make this decision everyday… Sometimes on purpose and often without any foresight at all. I look around at so many, each with their own story; some hurting because of the way the decision was made that created them. The way it was planned so perfectly and then blew up, surprising everyone when nothing turned out the way it was supposed to. And others were the result of complete irresponsibility and carelessness, somehow ending up well-adjusted, with awareness to do it better for their own. As I observe, there does not appear to be a replicable formula to guarantee a positive outcome. A well-off, intelligent, educated person may seem like the ideal partner and then turn to drugs. A person perceived as unintelligent, or with a bad past may use creativity and moxie to rise to the top, loving loyally along the way.
Choosing a life partner will be the single most important decision I make, especially if I choose to have children. This person will set the example of how to love a spouse. This person will mold their hearts and speak to their souls. This person will be one of the first to communicate to them how they should feel about themselves…. answering life’s questions: Am I enough? How do I deal with hardship? What is my value? How shall I love others? This person will have a choice to leave or to stay, everyday. This person will have the choice of participating in society or not. This person will have the choice to love me, or not.
So while I see all of my friends on the app they compare to “hot or not”, picking dates based on photos alone, I realize why I’m the last to know. If I could pick a partner based on looks, I would have done that by now! I dont want a partner selected on only physical attraction. Rather, I want a partner that I’m attracted to spiritually, intellectually, physically, and emotionally. So while there are no guaranteed instructions on how to select a life partner who will show up each and everyday, I will cast my desires out into the Universe, praying that God will honor my humble heart.
I pray for my partner, a partner who exhibits and provides stability. A partner who values my whole being, far and above his physical desire for me. A partner who understands the gravity of what lifelong love means, and what an even bigger responsibility parenting is. I pray for a partner who is proud of loyalty and faithfulness. A partner who loves God and is in awe of the power that is bigger than we can fathom. A partner who can accept help and admit when he’s wrong. I pray for a partner who brings out the best in me; someone I respect and trust, who’s advice I will heed. I pray for a partner who will understand that his daughter’s sensitive soul is more valuable than a letter grade, who will offer affirmation more often than criticism. A partner who will love and nurture his son, while teaching him how to be an honorable man. I pray for a man that will be my very best friend, my partner in crime, who will never stop adventuring with me and our family. A partner who acknowledges my needs and allows me to acknowledge his.
“I hope you find what you’re looking for” was inscribed inside one of my goodbye cards from a very good friend a few years my senior. I was 19 years old moving from the great Northwest to sunny Florida. At the time this note left a bad taste in my mouth. Someone who had ‘gone looking for themselves’ I perceived as flawed from my upbringing. I don’t know if my perception was accurate or not, but either way, I was now offended. I’m not looking for anything! I thought to myself, as if exploring this world was in any way something to be ashamed of. I told my family that all I was looking for was an adventure. Little did I know I would find so much more…
I found a land without hills or mountains; with tropical flowers, sea breezes and dolphins swimming in the sea.
I found that my dog is an excellent road-tripper and my very best friend.
I found that I equally love snowboarding the Tahoe mountaintops, and swimming the warm Gulf of Mexico.
I found that I am interested in becoming a pilot.
I found that my interests outweigh my current resources… and this spurs me to continue living and loving with abundance.
I found that the gray, overcast sky makes me sleepy, and the sun helps me to thrive.
I found that I LOVE rich coffee, good wine, and fresh healthy food.
I found that if I had to choose, I choose to live in the city. The energy is vibrant and contagious.
I found new eyes with which to see my hometown and the way life is lived there.
I found that kindness can take you far.
I found that when the chips are down, good people will come through for me and I will rise to the occasion, no matter what.
I found that humans are humans. All of us have some good and some bad. Having boundaries is equally important to loving others well.
I found I am able to put myself out there and reap the benefits of vulnerability.
I found that love endures, and living unafraid is the way for me.
I found that I am unashamed.
Go and find all of the things you’re not looking for.
1. Beware of the many young boys disguising themselves as grown men. Their disguise may be extravagant; fancy cars, expensive homes, smooth words. These boys will be experts in many things, but sacrifice, selflessness and perseverance will likely not be in their repertoire.
2. Many will desire you. Some will value you. Your positive spirit is attractive. It is your responsibility to discern between the people who are infatuated with the idea of you, and the ones who treasure your soul. Many will want you for what you can offer them. A select few will value your being as a whole. Guard your heart.
3. Listen to your intuition when it does not trust a person or situation. Be selective in who you choose to surround yourself with. Their norms will eventually become yours and before you know it, this is what your soul will identify as familiar and you will be self-sabotaging your life with the very people you chose to see on the daily.
4. Rise above the pack mentality. Seek advice from trusted sources. You do not need to be in the company of others to be fulfilled. Choose wellness. Choose activities that cultivate joy and peace. Honor the lessons you’ve learned by doing it differently next time.
5. You are responsible for your own happiness. You are the creator of your baseline. In triumph and defeat, no one else has the ability to control your response. Choose a partner who supports you in success and failure and who will not abandon you, or worse yet, destroy what you are building. But should this happen, choose the path of love and healing. Rebuild as many times as necessary. Grow. Love. Endure. Love yourself well and you will set the bar for how your lover will love you.
6. Ask for discernment and wisdom, and selectively choose your path. Ultimately, you must live with the consequences of your decisions. Do not choose based on rebellion or conformity according to external influence. Let go of shame. We are all doing the best we can, based on our own experiences. Many will claim to know the answers one way or another and you will come to find that we are all just humans, doing our best to interpret the information we’ve gathered through our own experience in a specific context. Do not burden yourself with the wisdom of a single person. No matter how wise, it is just a single person. Communication is often troublesome. Seek wellness and wisdom and do not leave a wake of destruction for others to clean up after you.
7. Don’t take yourself too seriously. While you strive to grow and learn, remember that you are one blink in the vast span of time. All of humanity is experiencing their own trials, rising and falling. Do the best you can while maintaining a joyful disposition.
open or bold resistance to or disregard for authority or to any opposing force
a challenging attitude or behavior
I have been harboring a spirit of defiance for quite sometime. The realization of its existence and intensity in my life recently came to light. It was a quiet, gentle unveiling. I attribute the peaceful discovery to space created by silent meditation. The irony was after meditating I felt slightly unsettled, as my mind did not seem to ever reach a point of stillness. Then the following morning, a peaceful clarity of honest self-awareness appeared, accompanied by a decision to put the spirit of unrighteous defiance to rest.
This spirit in me has been manifesting itself through personal relationships and other general social interactions. Like that of many wires coming from a computer tower connecting to the power source, I began following this spirit back through time, attempting to locate the source to identify where this began and when exactly it became so out of hand.
I have always been strong, and bold in terms of standing up for what is right. I did not care if others agreed or if it was “popular” to hold my perspective. At some point, (likely in my teenage years), I began using this strength to my personal advantage, to fight, for not only things that were righteous, but also for anything I wanted, felt, or thought at the present moment.
Intelligence combined with stubborn boldness allowed me to plow through any conversation with anyone. I was not compelled to keep a relationship/job position if I didn’t want to because I know how to also be kind, joyful, and hard working. Defiance is the shadow-side of my bold personality. While there are moments that stand out clearly as my strong personality blessing others; doing or saying something on behalf of another person who cannot do or say it for his or herself; there are also moments that I have used this attribute for my own selfish desires, or rebellion.
Part of my defiance began when I realized that religion was at times being misused to oppress, control and instill fear in people. I disagree with this fear-based method of compelling people to conform so I began questioning many things, out loud, and eventually got to the point where I trusted very few and disregarded most insight offered by another. I take responsibility for surrounding myself with people who were untrustworthy. I have reached a crossroads in that regard.
Rebellion also flourished in me when authority figures tried to exert power “because they said so”. This highly offended my intelligence and I felt quite insulted as I believed I deserved the respect of some involvement of certain decisions that directly affected me.
Defiance naturally flourished considering the nature of my, outgoing personality attracting many types of people to “befriend” me. I can join a room and get along with just about anyone. This was a blessing and a curse. Many people enjoy me for who I am, and many more enjoy me for who I can be for them. By not distinguishing this difference earlier in life, I exposed myself to the users and abusers, manipulators and danger. Defiance became a survival mechanism; a coping skill.
As I heal from the bumps and bruises life has brought along the way, I realize that I am in a safe place that I have worked very hard to come to. I am not forced to hang out with unhealthy people. With maturity comes self-control, respect for others, and connectedness with healthy, valuable habits. I no longer need to rebel against ‘the other’ because I am becoming more of myself. My genuine, authentic self; the ‘me’ God had in mind. As I continue to grow into my best self, I see miracles everyday and appreciate wonder in all things. I fill my time with the things and relationships that make me better and the striving ceases. Good night rebellious defiance. I am safe, your work here is done.