Home away from home

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“No, mom I don’t want to go to Spain this Summer.  I have plans with my friends already.”  This was my signature saying every Summer that we had family plans to go to Spain before my teen years.  You see, you probably think I am crazy now but I didn’t like to go to Spain much because I thought it was boring.  When I was younger I thought I knew everything (like we all do).  Especially if you have been to my mom’s village you would understand.  To understand a bit more- It’s about population 50 right now, you can walk around the whole village in about 10 minutes, only old people live there, my grandmothers house is over 150 years old, there is a plaza, the houses, a bar and a church….oh yea and cows, goats and wild things.  Oh, don’t forget that we still drink from the cow trough.  The water is really good though straight from the mountains.  Don’t get me wrong, we do have electricity and running water. Yet it’s crazy to think that the time my mother was born they had non of those.


These days, upon arrival to the village people who are of the village will greet you with 2 kisses and will say “¡Anda Jessica, la hija de Maria Jesus!”- (Wow, it’s Jessica, the daughter of Maria Jesus.) Never fails. When I was younger I didn’t like all the kisses and people calling me the daughter of my mother, Why couldn’t they leave out “daughter of Maria Jesus?”

It’s been 28 years of going back and forth to Spain every couple years and over the last 10 years is when I really began to appreciate it. Being here now is such a blessing.  When I arrived this time, after 4 years of not being here, getting picked up from the airport by my cousin and brother I was so excited I was jumping up and down like a crazy person, I know they were embarrassed of me but I didn’t care. This time I couldn’t wait to leave my life back home to get to the village and see my family.

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Upon arrival in the village for the yearly festivals I see about 30 people gathered at my uncles house as they prepare a barbecue. I get out of the car and here goes the kisses! I love them now!  There are my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, moms cousins, and more.  They are barbecuing loads of meat, veggies, and we have all types of drinks you could think of.  Dinner time in the village doesn’t start until about 10:30pm and goes until about 12:30pm.  Remember, we are Spanish, we are a really loud bunch with laughter, yelling, singing and dancing a ton.  Then guess what, at 1AM we start the village dancing in the plaza.  Once we arrive there are hundreds of people dancing to a live DJ and musicians on a stage.  Anything from salsa, reggaeton, EDM, or house music and the whole village is alive!  My whole family LOVES to dance maybe until 4 AM, maybe 7AM, some 10 AM. I think I am a little too old for that now. HAHA.

With only a few hours of sleep my cousins and I decided that we needed to keep the village traditions alive.  We dressed up in a very traditional dress for a special parade.  These dresses are made delicately by hand with hundreds of beads and sequens. Because of their Catholic beliefs, the purpose is to honor a Saint.  With our heavy dresses and outfits, beads of sweat drip off our foreheads and our back as we wait until the end of the parade and the church service to finish and finally change into clothing we can breathe again.  I used to hate dressing up for this but I think this was the first year I actually appreciated it.  I loved it because it’s keeping the village and the spirit alive.  Personally I am not one to honor the Saint yet I am very respectful of everyones beliefs.  The pictures don’t even do it justice.

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The rest of the day is filled with sangria, lemonade, dancing in the plaza and a 3 hour long lunch together as a family.  Siestas (naps) are huge in Spain with the pace of life slower and more enjoyable.  Laying out by the pool from around 7pm to 9pm is the best time to lay out after a nap.  Then it’s snack time where the whole village gets together to eat and drink.  My aunt, cousin and I had great conversations about life as we went on a hike after sunset into the mountains to a small river we used to go to when we were younger. Taking in the moment sitting in silence as we watched the stars where it looks like you can see the galaxies and listening to the running water of the river..moments like these I never want to take for granted.


Saying good-bye is one of my least favorite things to do.  I get emotional every time even if I don’t show it, I want to cry.  Looking into my abuela’s eyes and saying “I love you” and “hasta pronto” (see you soon) watching the tears in her eyes makes me not want to leave.  I know it’s never “good-bye”, it’s “see you soon.”

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These moments I will never forget.  Every conversation, every lunch together, the village that used to be boring is now greatly something I can’t wait to come back to.  Home away from home.

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Can Your Dream Really Be So Small?



You see, sometimes our dreams can be stripped away from us to enter into the calling God has for us.

You know, when I was a little girl I would sit listening to cassette tapes with a pen and notebook in hand writing about my dreams.  I would do all my friends hair and make-up because it would make them feel beautiful.  This is what made me feel beautiful.  Then when I would exercise at the gym with my friends and watch them feel better, have more energy and we would look great, that made me excited.  All I wanted to do seemed like I wanted to help people look and feel good. My mom being from Spain, and myself growing up there I always had a desire to travel the world, to experience other cultures and explore.  I told myself I wouldn’t just look at picture books but I would experience them myself.

So, when an opportunity came to move to Los Angeles, California opened up I thought I was ready to take on my dream.  This was it. City of Angels.  Photoshoots, Fashion Runway, high-end celebrity hair. Training people on their fitness journey on the beach of Santa Monica. Cali dreamin became a reality. Riding my beach cruiser watching the surfers everyday. Really, I was living my dream.

Then my dream seamed to slip from my fingertips.  I questioned God because I thought I was so faithful because I followed this dream. I felt like I had a break up with God. He was my best friend yet felt like I was being left in the dust.  I cried out in tears like never before because I didn’t understand.  It felt like a punishment.

For a while I felt like he was taking my dreams away while it brought me to a place of surrender- for the first time in my life.  He reminded me on the beach one night, “Be still and know that I AM GOD.” 

Right in that moment I felt like everything was going to be ok.  It was clear to me that the dreams I had were small compared to the CALL He had for my life.  It seems that when we think we are giving our 100% to God we really are still trying to hold onto something; some sort of control for our dreams.

I realized that my dreams were cool and all, but they were too small for what I am called to create.  It’s so dang easy to hang onto specific visions or relationships that we have for ourselves.

Over the past few years I have realized that every single time I have a dream that bursts inside of my spirit, it stays only a dream until I fully surrender- until I let go of my own desires of what it exactly looks like.  You know- God cares about your dreams, He cares about all of your desires.  More than your dreams, He wants ALL of you.  He wants you to know that as you dream those dreams, that as you surrender them to God, you will see those dreams manifest as you become obedient and say “yes” to what He calls you to now, not to what he calls you to a year from now.

I can tell you from experience- the dreams of being a little girl and wanting to make people feel and look beautiful on the inside and out, and to travel the world has turned into a far bigger dream than I could ever imagine. Day by day, it becomes more and more clear.  It is only by God that getting to bring beauty, healing, love and adventure literally to the world is now not just a dream- it is far bigger than I could ever dream of and if He has brought me this far, then I can’t even fathom what sort of plan he has in store next- yet I know it is BIG and exciting!

He uses our talents, gifts and passions to use us to fulfill His mission to this world. Step out in who you are, discover those hidden gifts because you have a huge calling a purposeful life!

I had a dream for my own life, but God has a dream for the world. As we are willing we can step into it.

This is the exciting part.

What is the calling you are stepping into?

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Don’t choose the easy way out


Growing up I found myself playing every sport and getting involved in almost everything.  I played basketball, ran track, volleyball, swimming, took piano lessons, singing lessons, FCCLA, DECA, Key Club, and more.  I became good at many things.  It became a hobby to try something, become good at it and then move onto the next thing to bring on a new skill and challenge.

I realized after years and years of starting and trying something new it has completely affected who I am today.  Once I realized this, I learned something profound about myself.  I like to take the easy way out.  Sign me up! I never ever would have thought this to be true, nor that I would ever want to admit it but I have finally realized these roadblocks that have been holding me back to be exactly who I was designed and created to be.  And maybe this can open the eyes to a few or even one person, which is totally worth it.

I have grown into having all different types of skills and “building my resume” that when one thing doesn’t work out, that’s ok I can try something new.  It gives me a lot of freedom.  It’s code for not “being grounded”. 

In most of the things I do, I like relate them to an athlete.  As an athlete myself I can definitely relate. I know what it’s like to want to give up and take the easy way out when the going gets tough.  It’s also funny because when I had this revelation of myself I was reading Hebrews 12:1.  If you’ve never read the bible before, it’s a really great book with so much insight that you will learn tons about yourself and the one who created you.  It says “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

It made me think of an athlete on race day.  They have come trained with endurance and strength.  Their clothes are lightweight because they don’t want anything to slow them down.  I realized that all the different skillsets, things, opportunities, even some people can really be weights that hold me back from being my absolute best and running the farthest and fastest I can.  In the training for race day, the athlete has to make a lot of sacrifices.  They usually eat a lot better to support their optimal physical performance, they make sure they get all their running miles in each day, get adequate sleep, they sacrifice activities with friends or anything that will keep them off track of their goal; they are focused.

For myself, I noticed that to be the absolute best I can be, I can’t take the easy way out.  I have my passion with love for people in mind specifically in the area of the beauty and the health industry.  Even when times get exhausting, when I want to quit, when I want to see results fast and I don’t want to endure through preparation I will remember the strength God has put in me to endure and keep going.

Maybe you feel stuck today, unable to leave your own prison cell. Today, we live in a time and place where freedom and independence are highly fashionable. 

God’s ways are radically different than our ways. He values faithful perseverance and the willingness to deny yourself for the sake of Christ no matter how difficult the road seems.  He designed us to have purpose and to live fully in our purpose!  Lets not get caught up in taking the easy way out when the going gets tough.  Let go of anything that slows you down.  Set your goal, get focused, be excited and know that you can get through and endure through anything!  It’s so worth it!

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Fully Alive?


To really live. Actually live. Authentically. Fully Alive.

What does that mean?  Is that something that we can grasp in our brains?  Especially in such a culture that seems like has it all figured out?  Go to school, get a job, find a special someone, get married, have kids, and work….It’s life, sounds about right.

Recently I have been talking to so many people who are searching, and really searching for their next step in life.  Just like I did, they look at picture books of the world, or see things others are doing and only dream about them and say.. ”one day…when everything falls into place, maybe I will do what I love.”

Am I fully alive or floating, bobbing in whichever way the current takes me?

Is this the life you really dreamed of?  Did you realize that we only have one life to live and to make it count?

I do have to say that everyone is so incredibly gifted.  And this is something I have learned over the past couple years.  Things I can’t do, others can do!  The things I can do, others rely on me.  We have a purpose.  I am beyond amazed by all the creativity, work, and projects people are doing that are so dear to their hearts!  Each gift is a piece of the craft as we add to the masterpiece in this world.  This is something that each person needs to realize.  You and I were put on this earth for a reason.  There are things inside of us that burn so deeply that maybe we want to experience, we want to see, feel, smell, even if it doesn’t seem like the norm.  Maybe people don’t understand.  Maybe we can’t explain it.

There is pressure from the world, your friends, parents, co-workers.  Fears of the unknown and the future. Is your heart pulling you one direction and your head the other?

I want to encourage you in whatever you are feeling right now, this very second.  Embrace the feelings.  Reflect on your hearts desires and ultimate longings.  What brings you complete joy? What can you see yourself doing even if you didn’t get paid for 10 years?

I have had some serious life changes in the past few years and they have all lead me on the path of my deepest passions and striving in my gifts which God has blessed me with.

If this is you, I want to encourage you to try something I did.

Pictures are one of life’s greatest inspirations.  As a human, when we see pictures instead of words, we are more apt to achieve, more motivated, inspired and can see a bit more clearly.  Even if we don’t think we have an artistic side, we still work this way.

What I did was I got flat on my face one day when I had no idea what to do, what direction to take, with one pen in my hand and a notebook I closed my eyes and asked God to give me pictures of where I saw myself, where does my passion deep inside take me?  If nothing mattered: time, people, finances, etc. Then what do you truly see?  On my drawing there were quite a few pictures.  It didn’t seem like any of them fit together but each thing was what I was passionate about and what I cared about.

I could then look at this to show me that step I needed to take without looking at what the people around me and societal norms wanted me to do.

I never did know how the pieces of my drawings would fit together but everything that was on that piece of paper is exactly what I ended up doing that year and it is exactly where I am now.  (I still have this drawing) =)

No picture will ever be the same for anyone but each person has an amazing passion, an inspiration, a gift that can be used for so much bigger, greater and more fun things beyond what you see right here and now.

I am excited for you. Genuinely excited for you!  That is a passion of mine I didn’t have before: to see you find your passion and taking it with you to use the gifts God gave you to go beyond yourself.

Don’t give up. Grow in your strengths while you follow that passion!

Enjoy this ride. Enjoy this journey.

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Home and out of my comfort zone

Lately there have been some feelings inside my heart that I can’t explain, feelings I don’t understand.  I have to say, I love everything about my life.  I am blessed with great work, great family, great friendships but still some things inside of me are unexplainable.  I’ve tried to explain it to people but then I just start to get really confused myself.

I guess I have been realizing I really love living oversees.  Since I got home 2 years ago from traveling to over 19 different countries in a year I came home a changed person.  I came back to  friends family and a home that didn’t seem to change.  But I changed a lot.  The conversations I cared about were different, the things I wanted to do were different, I saw injustice at home the way i’d never noticed before, and I took my career and did it in a way that i’ve never done before.

I realized that while I travel I get to meet the most incredible people in the world.  I hear stories that you only read in books, i’ve seen things that most people don’t know exist, I get to teach things that set people up for a future, and  I get to learn; I learn a lot.  I learn about myself.  I learn how much I am adored, loved, wanted, valued.  I learn my weaknesses, my strengths.  I learn how far I can go physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  I learn to welcome being uncomfortable.  It’s now normal.  There is no change or challenge when you are in your comfort zone.

I realize that it’s easier for me to live in these places I have been.  People want to know me, they care about me, they have love for me and no expectations; they just want me to be me.  I find comfort in this.

Then I come to the reality of being home.  Don’t get me wrong, once again, I love and am blessed where I live.  But it’s hard.  I am more out of my comfort zone than I have been in a really long time.  Living in a place where i’ve grown up and people knew me, where you I have changed and they haven’t, where the reason I work isn’t the same as it was before, the decisions I make aren’t the same decisions I used to make, my values and what I find most important have now changed.  It’s hard when I am expected certain things or people see me the way I was or I am not understood when I make a decision.  It’s exhausting.

So here I am, a new year, a fresh year. After set backs, discouragements, tired of explaining what I am doing with my life I am here, I am raw and really authentic.  I am excited, I am ready to go far beyond myself and my limits to live here, now, and thrive out of my comfort zone, I am ready for change, ready for a challenge and just so ready!


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Not so ordinary day in Chiang Mai

I have been in Chiang Mai for a couple weeks and I felt at home the first day I stepped foot here.

I have been staying at the wonderful Zion Cafe in the heart of Chiang Mai in which my friend, Emmi, has her organization, Lighthouse in Action. It’s a gorgeous hostel and cafe; if you are ever in Chiang Mai, check it out =)


I wake up between 7:30 and 8:30 each morning and head straight for the rooftop which is about 7 stories up where I get to hear and look over the bustling city as I do my jumprope and resistance band routine followed by a yoga sequence. It is the perfect way to start off a sweaty morning.


I then shower, get ready as my french press coffee brews and head downstairs where my lovely friends in the cafe know my breakfast order….fresh fruit with yogurt and scrambled eggs with hot sauce. Yum! I’ll sit and talk with my friends in the cafe for a bit. While I eat breakfast I get some reading done, journaling, singing praise and worship music or whatever I feel for this time =) Then it’s time to hit the town….

I will usually have a few stops to hit: visiting my friends. Over the past couple weeks I have met some amazing people. People who need someone to listen to their stories, people to laugh with, to pray with, to learn Thai and English with, to dream with; you know..what friends do together. Then it’s time for a long/ get lost bike ride. There is something you need to know about me if you don’t already. I like to get lost and then found. This is my time of adventure. This is my time to wander, to run into the coolest coffee shops, the hole in the wall boutiques, artists on the streets, monuments, parks, markets and places that tourists don’t go to- the hidden treasures. Many times I can’t buy anything but I love to walk into a place and ask the story of this hidden treasure- they are either really simple or extremely remarkable and inspiring.



Then it’s time to find my way back. Sometimes I have a hard time and end up riding about an hour in the wrong direction–there was one time that the sun was going down and I still had no idea where I was. I had to ask about 4 thai people until I was finally on the way home. PHEW! It’s always a good exercise let me tell you. Being a bike rider ( and no, not a motor bike but a bicycle) can be pretty intimidating in the city as you follow traffic and act like all the crazy cars. =) It’s my favorite thing really. It’s a place where I feel invincible, the wind blowing in your hair, heart racing, exercise without feeling like exercise, all the things you see..man, i love it!


As it gets dark I will take my bicycle home because I don’t feel like I need a hospital visit anytime soon.  After the sweaty ride i’ll change out into something clean and head out on the town again.  It is now time to go to the night markets where you can find the coolest art, clothes, food and anything you want! I’ll usually try something new each night and I generally get a fresh coconut to drink the water out of and eat. YUM, my favorite!  This is also the perfect time for people watching. I can get lost in the atmosphere of the markets.


After I’ve gotten some yummy goods in my belly it’s time to hit up the “red light district”.  This is where my heart lies.  In the dark of night for some reason I feel peace in these streets.  I look into the bars and see beautiful women, “he-she’s” and children that have some how gotten into this place.  They all have a story.  What I love to do is go where most people don’t go to genuinely love them the right way.  No, I am not there to get wasted with them, I am not there to sleep with them, I am not there to ask them for anything…..I am there to listen to them, to laugh with them, to remind them that there is hope for a future other than this.


No, I don’t think it’s my job to “save” them.  Maybe in the past I would have thought so.  But I know it’s my job to share good news.  To share that there is a freedom in a God that is Big.  That there is restoration in what has been broken. That there is healing from the past and a bright future ahead! I just hope that by the time I leave that they feel genuinely loved for who they are..not what they look like or what they can offer but loved with knowing I want nothing in return, just because..unconditional.

After a while hangin out then it’s time for some shut eye. By this time I am tired! I’ve got a short walk home..thank goodness and then shower and lights out!

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The Fire that Purified Gold


My second day in Chiang Mai I got to meet an incredible, beautiful and gorgeous girl, (I’ll call her Jenna for the sake of this post.)  She sometimes works at zion cafe by day but always works at a strip club by night.  When we met at the cafe she had a sweet sweet smile as she grabbed my arm and motioned me over to the couch so we could talk!  It was so great to sit as we chatted and laughed for a while.  She began to tell me that she loves coming to the cafe to work because there she surrounds herself with good people and it keeps her out of trouble. She then looked me in the eye and said, “i’m giving you a thai name.  It’s going to be Plå. It means fish!”  I laughed and said “Khxbkhun kha (thank you), but why fish?” Jenna told me that my eyes were as beautiful like a special fish.  Alright, I’ll take that =)

She told me how there was a girl, 2 years ago, who came into her work every single day to visit her.  She told her about Jesus until she was tired of hearing about it.  Thankfully what seemed like a nusence at the time saved her life.  Jenna can’t explain it but she can feel it.  Her relationship with Christ is what matters most to her now!

It was incredible to hear her talk about her life being transformed for the better each day.

Jenna and I had an amazing day together.  She took me to a beautiful lake where we sat in little huts as we ordered food.  My favorite part is that we got to get away from the loud, busy city and come to this place of peace, tranquility and spent time sharing stories and in awe of Gods creation.


It was a tough time for the both of us because Jenna shared her story with me.  She shared some things that most could never imagine anyone going through.

There are so many details but I will share some of it with you so you can gather a picture.

When Jenna was just 11 years old her mother sold her away.  She was taken to clean houses and nanny young children.  When Jenna thought she could trust the lady she was working for she was then sold away to a man where she was promised an even better job.  She was to clean his beautiful home each day.  When she thought that was easy enough, little did she know that was not the case.  He locked her up in a room where he abused her sexually and in more ways.  One day when Jenna was on her menstrual cycle and he couldn’t abuse her the way he wanted to he kicked her out of the house with no money, no place to sleep and no food to eat.  He stole her purity.

At this point she didn’t see a reason to keep pure.  She had nothing to lose.  Why not take advantage of using my body for money; at least I can live; she thought.  She ended up being tranported to different parts of Thailand for work.  Jenna went through a point in her life where she constantly felt sick.  She thought she was getting fat so she did everything she could to suck her tummy in for work.  Finally she finds out, 7 months in, she is going to have a baby.  There was no way for her to know who the father was.  In order to pay for medical bills she worked until the day before her baby was born.  After just a couple short weeks with her baby, she was back to work again.

There was a handsome English man that Jenna fell in love with.  He embraced her, took care of her and was kind to her.  After officially being together for a long while, He had to go back home to work and then he promised to contact her and come back for her.  After that day, a heart break; she never heard from him again.

A little bit of time goes by to when Jenna surprisingly finds out she is due for baby #2.  After this baby is born she begins dating another man, a thai man.  He loved her, took care of her and embraced her.  He wanted to take care of her children.  After being together for 4 years, once again she was left heart broken, without a man to love and cherish her like she desired.

With her 2 children and being a single mom it was tough.  Just last year one of her babies got bit by a bug.  She had an allergic reaction which in turn lead to death.

Jenna has been through so much in her lifetime.  From being sold by her family,  to abuse, to loss of purity, homelessless, heartbreak and family death.  She is a beautiful spunky young woman!  If you ever saw her you would never guess she’s been through all of this.  Her heart has changed, her eyes have opened, she is now one of the strongest women out there.

It takes a strong woman to not hate those who have hurt you, it takes a strong woman to not seek revenge on those who’ve abused you, it takes a strong woman to trust God when your baby girl has been taken away from you.  But this woman I can tell you is strong.  The way she doesn’t hate, she doesn’t resent; instead thanks God for the hardships she has gone through to be where she is today.

This beauty touched my life; I learned from her, I desire to be strong like her, I want to have faith and trust like her. She has been through the fire that purified gold.

My only prayer now is that she finds a new, real job where she doesn’t have to be in the bar at night.  She is there for survival.  She now doesn’t sleep with “customers” for she bartends, but the enviroment is still not great.  She has her daughter who doesn’t live with her because her daughter needs a better living situation and schooling than Jenna can give her.  I pray that she can live a life of complete freedom never bound again!


1 Peter 1:7 “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

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