My Own Importance…

Myles Tan

Six months ago I moved from LA to Nashville. I’m excited about the prospect of being able to build a home base here, and be closer to my family, especially now.

Two weeks before my big move, my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer. We worked together to find a treatment that would work best for her, and then began the journey of finding a way to pay for it.

When I left LA I was doing well, regularly invited to speak and share my story at local events, and building a client list for my writing. In my grand imagination I would move here and be all set up with housing and car registration in a month.

That didn’t happen….. instead I find myself six months later just now finding a place where I will be able to unload my stuff from storage, order wifi, and create a much needed writers cave. (I write in complete isolation. It’s the only way I can dig in to a story.)

I thought I would be launching in to an exciting time with new adventures and fun times all around!!! Instead I have had to step down from much of my work in order to focus my time on the fundraising campaign for my mom, as well as have time to address the many requests the city of Nashville has regarding residency, registration,  and even just turning on the utilities has turned in to a full fledged project.

In this short amount of time I have found out some hard truths about myself. I still identify myself by what I do, instead of just who I am. I know this because while friends and associates are moving forward in their careers I am basically on pause, and experiencing what can only be described as jealously over the successes of others. Even when some of those others are people I dearly love.

Wow. I truly thought I was a deep and generous person. And I fundamentally am. The majority of my life is centered around service to others. But in these past few months I found out how attached I am to my own importance. If people are succeeding, thriving, battles are being won, that should be all that matters. Right? But I found that I actually cared if my name was on the ‘call sheet’.

Then a funny thing happened. I began to be grateful for being temporarily removed from the spotlight. It wouldn’t have been good for me during this time to be committed to these many things. Others have shined in doing good work, and it has been my blessing to watch them grow and succeed.

Yes, I will eventually return to the mountain top – to the front lines of the battle (where I prefer to be). But the work I am doing right now to help my mom, and to have this opportunity to spend time with loved ones is important.

For the last six months I felt I was not achieving much. But then I realized that taking a break from my typical life to do something crucially important IS a version of achieving. I may not be getting 100 likes on my instagram posts right now, but I am loving my family as best I can, and contributing to someone’s life who has had a beautiful affect on so many people.  My mom may not be on a platform, but she’s definitely a star.

Life is not all mountain tops. Every event is not about me. I learned these last months about how I really feel about my own importance, and I’m glad I have been given this opportunity to work this out in my soul.

To whom much is given, much is required. If I really aim to continue working with high risk populations and bringing restoration to the lives of women across this world, I first need to kill that funky ego of mine. Because quite frankly it serves no one.

Have you ever been over whelmed by your own need to feel important?

Have you ever experienced jealousy when you were least expecting that emotion?

Please share with us how you overcame your own self-importance in your life.

We’re all imperfect humans. But I will always believe, Life is better when we do it together!

-Jessika Fuhrmaneck

Author Bio:

Jessika Fuhrmaneck is a member of the Writing and Speaking team for both Treasures LA and Two Wings. She has recently begun working with Love Nashville as part of a Discipleship Team that helps to mentor women who are working in the sex trade.

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Welcome to My Dating Fast

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My bestie Monique challenged me last week to share with you that I have decided to fast dating.  Since I have decided to be authentic this year, and be more transparent, I accepted this challenge.  But, I hate it.

If I keep my fast private then I can cheat, much like cheating on a diet.  The last thing I want to do is admit my shortcomings as they arise.  But years of recovery have shown me that only by bringing my issues in to the light will I overcome them.  So I share with you now, I have decided to fast dating.

The first week went super smoothly.  Hahahahahahahaha!  No, it didn’t!  I so wish that’s what I could share with you today.  Right on que, as I started my fast, temptations came to the surface.

I had a dissapointing breakup in 2016, just before the holiday season began.   Because he told me he loved me and wanted to marry me, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t want to talk through our issues.  Why the cold shoulder?  Why did he become a ghost?  In recent weeks I have made an effort to reach out on occasion and see if he was ready to talk.  I received very little response, which was strange to me because he seemed deeply committed just a few short weeks ago.

I had this jarring dream Saturday night, and when I woke up Sunday I saw this post from my friend Aaron White.  Suddenly it became so clear to me that while my intentions were good, my ex boyfriend had no use for my heart to resolve our conflict.  I was pouring water in to a jar that had no bottom.  If I keep pouring love in to this person it will continue to drain me, indefinitely.  

Then I had to ask myself, “Why am I so diligently committed to resolving conflict with someone who is essentially ignoring me?”  The truth is I want to believe that the things he told me were true.  I want to believe that scripture is true when it says love never fails.  I want to believe that when a man says he loves me it means for a lifetime – or at least for a long while.  I want Gods version of love to be true.  Not just for my friends, but for me also.

Fundamentally I want to believe that I have value based on my ability to succeed at relationship.  I must learn that my value is in Christ; that my value is in who I am as a person, my character, my loyalty.  My value can not be diminished based on how others choose to treat me, or respond to my good intentions.

I do have friends, and men in my life who show me value.  I know men who listen to me, help me if I need it, and give me words of encouragement on my darkest days.  So the question for me this first week of fasting is not whether man is inherently good or bad, but rather who I will choose to include in my life.

This week I have learned how to plug the leak, so to speak.  Aaron’s words helped me to see that I do not have to keep being unnoticed by this one man, but rather I could turn my head toward others who respond with love and care.

This week I challenge you to evaluate who is contributing to your life, and who is draining you.  Relationships should be balanced.  Sometimes I give 100% to my bestie Monique when she is having a tough time.  Sometimes she gives 100% to me, when I’m losing it.  But I always feel that the love bank is full in that relationship.  Evaluate your relationships this week, and determine if there are any that are draining to you.  I believe it shows good character to fight for a while… but in the end both people have to sacrifice time, and sometimes pride, in order to benefit the relationship.

Have you ever tried a dating fast?  Share with us one thing you learned about yourself during your fast.

Have a great week, and remember – life is better when we do it together!!

-Jessika Fuhrmaneck

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Being Authentic

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I’ve spent several weeks deciding what to post for my first article in 2017.  One theme has pressed on my mind.

Authenticity.

As a writer and a speaker I often find myself torn between sharing my raw thoughts, and filtering my words to be acceptable to the masses.  Of late, my heart has been wanting to find more ways to just be me.  To be my most authentic self.

It’s not that I’ve been sharing anything false – but I have found myself editing some of my deeper feelings so as not to cause any strong reactions from my readers.  Well…. we weren’t placed on this earth to play it safe.  We are here to feel deeply, and to have passion.

The reason I struggle with opening up and being vulnerable is because on some level I am allowing myself to be defined by what others think or say about me.  Yes – my first goal is to be an inspiration and to point people to Christ, but for me to be truly authentic some one is not going to like me.  That’s just the reality of life.

In an effort to be free from finding my identity in ‘others’, and in hoping to set an example of what authenticity and vulnerability looks like, my writing is going to change slightly moving forward.

I have come to believe if we are ever to truly be deeply loved by ourselves and others we have to say, feel, do, and show what we believe is right.  What is right for us, may not be right for others.  I don’t need my friends to want or feel the same things I do in every situation.  But, I do need them to give me room to feel, say, and do what is true for me.

I’m a big fan of doing life together.  I hope we can learn together this year how to become more comfortable with being ourselves, unfiltered.  Unfiltered for me doesn’t mean hurting others with careless words or actions, but rather it means revealing my heart to others, and accepting both approval and rejection.  If we’re always playing it safe we are never really standing for any thing.

So join me in my adventure to be authentic.  I can’t predict what will happen this year, but I love that there’s a clean slate.  There’s still time to re-evaluate our dreams and find that calling and purpose that speaks to our hearts.

Let’s do this 2017 style!!!  Let’s thrive, not strive!  That is my prayer for this year.  I want to see people’s dreams come true.  I want to see joy unleashed on the faces of my community and the ones I love.  Are you with me?!?!

Do you struggle with being authentic or sharing what you really feel or think?  Leave a comment below.  I would love to hear more about your struggles or victories with being authentic.

Written by Jessika Fuhrmaneck

Writer/Speaker/Advocate

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My Favorite Photos from 2016

2016 has been a long journey for me.  I’m pretty sure many of us are exhausted.  The year has been surprising if nothing else.

At the end of each year I like to look back through my photo collection and choose the pictures that most capture my heart.  Here are this years winning shots.

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(My amazing friend and bestie Monique, who has supported me faithfully through all my heartaches.  Every one needs a friend like this.  She’s a pretty decent boxer as well!)

I started the year off strong.  After graduating from a career focused internship, I found myself in a new job and new community in Orange County, CA.  It was definitely a culture change from the big city LA life I had grown to know and love.

In February, I decided to travel to Tennessee to celebrate another year of life with my dear old friends Liz and Sean.  This was the trip that caused my heart to fall in love with Nashville. While I was visiting Tennessee I had such a peace in my heart.  A sense of being home, that I had not felt in some time.  My heart will always belong to Los Angeles, but I knew it was time for a change.

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(Liz and I)

I said my goodbyes to California. Little by little visiting each of my favorite sites along the coast before the moving day would arrive.  Meeting with friend after friend to tell them how much I have appreciated their love and dedication over the years.

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(Me with my son Damian in Orange County, CA)

Finally the day arrived, and I adventured across country with my friend Brandon.  I love to travel, but I especially love to travel by road.  On the road can I experience the unplanned gifts in life.  Like this amazing photo we took early one morning in Utah.

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For me God is in creation.  He is in this earth.  When I touch it, and smell it, and let it whisper to my heart I know without a doubt that I am loved by God.  These are the moments that solidify my faith and remove all my doubts.

I even tried and failed at love this year.  The hardest part may have been leaving this sweet friend behind.  If I’m being honest, I have lost a lot of faith in love these past years. I wonder if any man can  truly understand my wild, adventurous heart.  Perhaps no man ever will.  But I have many blessings, beyond what any one person ever deserves in a lifetime.  If I died today I would feel I had done well.

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(My angel Gabriel)

But my story isn’t over.  And neither is yours.  And neither is our countries, or even our worlds.  I will look to 2017 with courage, as I always do.  I will spend time with my mother as she journeys through stage 4 breast cancer.  I don’t feel like it right now, but I will likely love again.  And better and stronger next time.  And so will you….

Giving up is not an option.  God made us in His image.  And He is strong and brave.  My friends, I assure you, I understand sorrows and pain.  But life is better when we do it together.  So as this year ends I encourage you to love those right in front of you with everything you’ve got!  Never stop dreaming even when it seems your dreams are impossible.  There is an adventure awaiting us in 2017 if we will just open the door and step out.  We’ll do it together!

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(Downtown Nashville, TN)

As the sun sets on another year remember that love is true and faithful and cling to those things that are good.  God is with us.  He is for us.  Love never fails.

-Jessika Fuhrmaneck

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I Will Not Be Defeated

Sometimes there are situations when it feels like no victory has been achieved. In this past week I have seen the sad, angry, and hopeless posts from friends and family who I love. After a great deal of hard work and dedication one expects to reap some kind of reward. It can feel like a huge letdown when we don’t receive the outcome that is desired.

There are many injustices in the world we live in. It’s important that every being, child, woman, man, handicapped citizen, every race, ALL humans, have equal rights. We can put in on paper, we can legalize rights, but that doesn’t mean the populace won’t find a way to work around the law in order to keep the status quo. It can take decades, and even centuries for change to be tangible. Sometimes the victory is in the wait.

When we can’t find an immediate victory in the day, it helps me to remember that we have already achieved so much. There are huge victories that have been won. Lives and personal safety were sacrificed in order to achieve these victories.

Susan B. Anthony died before she could ever witness the passage of the 19th amendment allowing women the right to vote. Sometimes we fight for the next generation. Sometimes we fight to build a beautiful world for our children and grandchildren. We may never witness the fruits of our labor in our lifetime but we will see victory in heaven.

For me, the most powerful moment last week was seeing Susan’s grave covered in ‘I Voted’ stickers. I believe Susan would have been very proud of our participation in this election.

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I was able to walk in to a baptist church in Tennessee, and cast my vote standing next to a black man. There was a time when we both would have been beaten and jailed for doing just that. It moved my heart so much that I had to fight back the tears in order to finish casting my vote.

I have a phrase that I use when I feel backed up against a wall. I say “I will NOT be defeated!” When I’m not winning the war, and I don’t have all the answers for the current impossible situation, I remember that I have free will. No one can ever take that from me, and in those difficult moments I realize that I CANNOT and WILL not be defeated.

Many many souls came out to vote last week. I suspect some have not voted in many years. I felt a strong sense of pride for everyone who came out to vote. It is important to have hope and to participate.  I love this country with all my heart, and I am thankful to all of you for participating and inspiring me towards hope.

If you’re feeling lost or emotional this week, remember “We will NOT be defeated!” Sometimes a battle is won over decades and centuries. Some battles we will not see the end of in our lifetime. I’ve made my peace with that. As long as there is breath in me I will spend my days working to help those who are marginalized; to help bring a chance of recovery and freedom to hurting people.

Remember your purpose today and return to it. There is always hope and there is always love.

-Jessika Fuhrmaneck

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Forgiveness: Is it possible?

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I love to write stories about things after I have weathered the storm and achieved victory. It’s comfortable to share my struggles two or three years after I have overcome them. Today, I am going to share about something that is happening now. I don’t have ‘victory’ over it (yet). It’s called un-forgiveness.

Years ago I had someone in my life who was dishonest, manipulative, broke promises, and just generally disappointed me. Looking back I can see now how they weren’t the problem. The problem was me. I wanted this person to be different, to have a different character, to show me honor, respect, and be an inspiration to the women I mentor. The fact is… that’s my problem. That’s my desire. This person lives there life in the way they see fit, and I can only assume they are happy with their choices.

But, even after years have passed I still wake up in the middle of the night remembering the betrayal, having difficult feelings of animosity and judgment towards them, and those that show this person support. I have no peace.

When we are able to allow someone to be who they are without judgment we set ourselves free. I may choose to keep my distance. I may choose to exclude them from my life entirely. It’s a great policy to keep only safe people in our inner circles. (I highly recommend the book Safe People by Cloud and Townsend.) Ultimately, at the end of each day, judging them will only exhaust me, and those around me.

If you’re pursuing a relationship with someone who is not living up to your moral standard, or is not treating you and others with honor, value, and respect, it’s ok to leave. It’s probably best to minimize the relationship. There is a saying “What has been happening, is likely what will continue to happen.” In other words, people usually show us who they are the first time around the proverbial mountain. After that I am actually the one creating a conflict dynamic, which includes me trying to effect change in a person who didn’t invite it.

God can change people. The Holy Spirit is amazing at changing people. Quite frankly, taking on God’s job is only going to result in disappointment and exhaustion. All this I tell you from my head. My mind fully grasps the logic behind this disappointment, and could probably move on from the events of the past. So, why then am I still not willing to forgive this person, or others like him?

I’m just not ready. I have heard that forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. I don’t disagree with that. So, what will it take for me to decide to forgive people who have wronged me?

When the pain of waking up late at night becomes greater than the pain of letting it go. Then and only then will I forgive. Forgiveness, much like grieving, is a process that can’t be given an exact deadline. Some preach that we should finish grieving at a certain point, but I have watched grief in myself and others, and it took different amounts of time for each person.

I can make a choice in my head, but my heart may falter and hurt until the hurt is spent. I can manage my wound. I can bandage it. I can seek healing, but I have not been able to predict the exact moment forgiveness will come and I will be free. What I do know is that God is with me. He never gives up on me. His love never fails. The best is yet to come. These are things I have come to know.

If you are breathing, you most likely have experienced betrayal and disappointment. I’m sure I too have disappointed others in my life, along the way. Know that you are not alone. I’m with you on this journey of forgiveness, and we will make it to the other side. If not today, maybe tomorrow. If not tomorrow, soon. But I WILL forgive, and be FREE.

Life is better when we do it together. 🙂

-Jessika Fuhrmaneck

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Victoria Woodhull: The First Woman to Run for President

In honor of our upcoming election I thought it might be fun to revisit a bit of political history. When I started research for this article I would never have expected this story to include abuse, trafficking, and talking with the dead!

Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to ever run for President of the United States. She was born in Ohio. Her mother was considered illegitimate, and her father a conman. Biographers claim she was beaten, starved, and sexually abused by her father, but it is not proven. Victoria had only 3 formal years of education, but was considered extremely intelligent by her teachers.  She eventually became a leader of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.

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Woodhull married in 1853, when she was 15 years old. Unfortunately her husband did not remain faithful to her. She later divorced, and married Colonel James Blood. This situation led her to become involved in free love. Victoria believed that women should have the right to leave marriages that involved infidelity or abuse.

“To woman, by nature, belongs the right of sexual determination. When woman rises from sexual slavery to sexual freedom, into the ownership and control of her sexual organs, and man is obliged to respect this freedom, then will this instinct become pure and holy; then will woman be raised from the iniquity and morbidness in which she now wallows for existence. . .” –Victoria Woodhull

At one point Victoria used a form of opium. She also supported the legalization of sex work. However, it is suspected that when her sister Tennie was trafficked in to a brothel in NY, Woodhull rescued her.

Victoria was an interesting character in history, by anyone’s standard. She made a living as a magnetic healer and was part of the spiritualist movement, during the 1870s. Magnetic healing is when one uses the vibration energy in their hands to create electromagnetic fields to heal others. Spiritualism is a belief that dead people have the ability and desire to communicate with the living.

She accomplished several firsts in her lifetime. Her and her sister Tennessee were the first women to open a brokerage firm on Wall Street, as well as found a newspaper, Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly.

Ultimately, Victoria Woodhull was nominated in 1872 by The Equal Rights Party. Whether she could run legally was in question because she was under the age of 35 at the time, and the constitution mandates that candidates must be a minimum of 35 years in age.

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Victoria was arrested a few days before the election on obscenity charges for publishing an article about a minister having an affair. She received no electoral votes, but she did receive some popular votes. It appears that the votes placed for Victoria Woodhull were never counted, so we have no exact number of votes on record.

While having some interesting and alternative personal beliefs, Victoria definitely appears to have been respected by her community for having a certain amount of power and persuasion. She certainly made strides for women’s suffrage.

While a lot of information about Victoria cannot be proven, it seems likely that she suffered some abuse at a very young age, and I can sense that she felt a deep injustice was happening to women in our country. Whether her particular methods of trying to help women empowered them or created more issues is hard to say. As a woman who worked for 12 years in the adult entertainment industry I can personally attest to the idea that empowerment is sometimes misrepresented.

My takeaway from her story was that she had a deep desire to see women gain some control over the things that were happening to them politically, sexually, and economically. As an American woman, I can understand that desire.

It has been 144 years since this election. I wonder what we can do today to help to empower and equip women both domestically and globally. I have dedicated much of my life to helping hurting people get from where they are to where they want to be. I think, in her own way, that is what Victoria was trying to do as well.

-Jessika Fuhrmaneck

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Medicine for Joan: My Mom’s Journey with Stage 4 Breast Cancer

I am a writer and I work mostly with NGO’s and churches to help tell the stories of those who have experienced trauma and are hoping to see their dreams redeemed.  Today I’m going to share with you a story that is much more personal for me.  I hope you will be inspired to help us.

My mother Joan has been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Some of the cost will be covered by insurance, much of it will not. She has chosen to use an alternative treatment.  While this choice is becoming more popular, the insurance companies have not yet caught up. We will use the insurance coverage for everything that we can but all of the alternative medicine will have to be paid for out of pocket.

With an illness like stage 4 cancer it can be hard to predict what will happen from day to day, but we have estimated that we need to raise $20,000 to cover the next 12 months of treatment and tests.  She will be working closely with a team of experts to advise her dosage, as well as continued testing and diagnostics from her doctor.  Specifically it costs on average $1,200 a month for the medicine and we expect another $5,000 in co pay fees.

My mom has ordered the first dose of medicine from her savings.  Together as a community we have already raised more than two months worth of treatment!!! We have enough to cover the cost of treatment through November.  We are suggesting a donation of $20. It’s about the cost of dinner out once a month. If we can find 1,000 people willing to donate $20 we will have covered all of the cost of her treatment!

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Joan has remained a dedicated mother to her 3 children all of our lives.  She is non-judgmental, supportive, and filled with words of wisdom.    We have been spoiled having her as a mother.  She is the hub of our family wheel.  Joan has spent years acting as the care taker for ailing family members and those in crisis; traveling from state to state to stay with the sick, help with hospice, and help out when new babies were born. Now it’s our turn to care for her.

She is a grandmother to 8 beautiful grandchildren, and has been a great help babysitting and teaching them values and about our family history and culture.  Mom is a lot of fun, often giggling.  Whether she’s spending time with family, or riding Harley’s with friends she usually has a smile on her face.

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Our mom recently was cured of a difficult illness, and she does not believe God brought her through that experience just to let her die now.  Every dollar that you donate will mean the world to us.  Losing her would be a huge loss for our family.  We will do everything we can to help her heal from this cancer.

There are not enough words to express how thankful we are for each and every dollar donated to help save our mom.  We want to see her enjoy the next 20 years with her children and grandchildren and have many laughs along the way.  Our mutual faith in God has been a great support for all of us while we navigate some very overwhelming emotions.  We are so grateful for your prayers as well.

Please help us save our mom.  Every donation means the world to me and my family.  Thank you so much!!

To donate please visit www.gofundme.com/MedicineForJoan

#MedicineForJoan #20DollarsForJoan #1000Strong

Welcome Home!

I am returning from a 3 month hiatus. So much has happened…. where do I begin? I visited Nashville, Tennessee in February and knew that I was home. It took me six months to make all the arrangements but I am finally here!

Many people have asked me why I made such a bold move. There were several reasons. The weather is good.  I’m not a big fan of long winters.  I can buy a house for about 20% of what it would cost me in SoCal. It’s an 8 hour drive from my extended family, which is important to me, especially since my mother has recently been diagnosed with cancer. I have 14 friends who’ve moved here from LA in the past two years. I can still work in Entertainment if I choose to. An added bonus is the writing community is growing here so I feel I have peers I can connect with. But most of all I feel at home, and I love the culture.

It had been stirring in my heart for about 3 years to consider moving to the south. I visited several cities, but nothing felt like home till I came to Nashville. I have worked hard in Los Angeles. I served, I gave all I had to my local church and community ministries that are still dear to my heart. I was privileged to heal, recover, and be a blessing to others. But there were parts of my life that remained unfulfilled. To put it bluntly, it wasn’t my place of blessing. It was a place where I grew and served. The next chapter would require a change in geography, and God had been whispering that to my heart for some time.

It wasn’t easy to pull up roots I had worked hard to dig in. I thought I would always go to my church in Koreatown, and was convinced I would marry someone from there. There’s a parable in Luke that talks about a tree that isn’t bearing any fruit. The man says “Leave the tree alone for one more year. If it bears fruit next year, fine. If not, then cut it down.” I probably waited a lot longer than I needed to before seeing that there was some place else God wanted me to be.

Nashville is a gift to my heart. Many things I do in my life are to give back, and to help hurting people around me. Nashville is one of those things in life that is just a gift. I don’t need to strive, I don’t need to influence anyone. It’s just a gift to me, from God, because I am His chosen daughter and He loves me. All I had to do was have the courage to accept this beautiful gift.

So here I am! Back from my hiatus! Excited to continue working with many of the great organizations I have had the privilege to serve as well as see what God has for me next.

I’m glad you are all still here with me on this journey of life and love. I hope we will all continue to impact this world in wonderful ways for many years to come.  Life is always better when we do it together!

Here are some of my favorite shots from my trip across country. If you’re looking for me I’m here in Nashville, watching the sun set over the Cumberland River, and fade in to a perfect shade of peach colored sky.

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Home sweet home!

 

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