Walk with me

Processed with Rookie Cam

6:45 AM alarm nudges me awake. So I wake up. Shower. Pray. Make lunch. Get ready. And rush out the door. This is my Monday through Friday morning schedule. 10 times out of 10, I’m always running late. But the odd thing is, before this job, I was an on-time punctual kinda girl. At the onset of this job, I was that girl. The kind that shows up bright eyed and fresh faced half an hour early with a smile on my face. The kind that sings through the Monday morning blues and laughs through the Thursday afternoon anticipation. But something shifted the more time I spent at this office and while I am filled with gratitude to have had this job, my morning glow has faded. I’ve become that always-rushing-to-work typical New Yorker. And I hate it.

I hate rushing past the freshly bloomed tulips on the corner. I hate looking down at the concrete as my feet hit the pavement. I hate missing the clear blue skies after a rainy yesterday. I hate missing the faces waiting for the infamous G train. I hate ignoring the guy drawing on the train or the girl painting her face with concealer with a dog between her feet. I hate not being in the moment.

As I was quickly walking down to the train this morning at the exact time I had to be at work, my head was full of thoughts. My round eyes caught the sight of the orange and yellow tulips but I didn’t take it in. My legs were doing a fast dance with the rain as if I were competing in a salsa show. And my brain was full to the brim with thought after thought and it was exhausting. The kind of exhausted that grabs you after you’ve jogged 5 miles on an 85 degree sunny morning.

In a split second, I had the most challenging thought I’ve had in a while. I felt Jesus ask me, “What if I were walking with you right now?” Just like that, I slowed down and pictured Jesus walking to the right of me. God challenged me in that moment to be in the here-and-now; in the present. And as I became intentional about walking with Jesus, I felt such peace. There is something powerful about walking with  a friend and allowing yourself to be in the moment. You see and hear things differently. You experience life in a whole new light.

I walked down the stairs into the subway station and I saw the girl with the lavender hair. I heard the conductors voice loud and clear, “Next stop, metropolitan avenue.” I saw the rain drops quickly falling. I was in the present not threatened by my every thought. In that moment, all that mattered was I was walking with Jesus. When Jesus was with His disciples, He walked with them. They talked and walked. They laughed and walked. They walked together. They were doing life together as they walked. They were all in the moment, in the here-and-now, in the present. They didn’t allow life’s demands to cloud their relationship with the Lord. They were intentional about spending time with Jesus. In the same way, we have to be intentional. We have to make time at this time, right now.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from group therapy, which is a requirement for my group therapy class; it’s how powerful it is to bask in the moment. In the moment is where working through happens. In the here-and-now is where you can feel what you feel. In the present is where you have the potential for growth, for healing, for love.

My question to you today is: if you were walking with Jesus, would that change your pace?

Meet Maria

I kind of squealed a “let’s go see the horses guys” before walking off to be extra touristy with my iPhone 6+ in the middle of the campo in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. Thank goodness a few of my team members followed behind me as I snapped a gazillion photos of the less than mediocre brown horses patiently eating yummy grass. Being born and raised in New York City, you don’t see horses just lounging around. You catch the occasional police officer perched on top of a horse but for me it’s a rare sight. So the inner city girl was joyous each time I saw one of these majestic animals. I must have driven my teammates insane with the “oh my gosh, I love horses” for the hundredth time. But thankfully they were patient with this city girl.


As I walked away from the horses, we all walked down the broken streets of colorful homes. Everything seemed pretty silent until I stopped to say hello to a few kids sitting outside. After introducing myself, they all seemed pretty intrigued. Before I knew it, my team and I were walking down the street & a whole crowd of about 12-15 kids gathered around us. It was amazing! They asked tons of questions like where we were from & how long we were staying. Ironically enough, they knew we were with the church without us having to say anything.


As I spoke with them & asked them questions, I noticed the cutest little hotdog (or a dachshund for you dog lovers) waddling past me. Because there are so many stray dogs in Cuba, I knew better than to pet just any dog. But when I saw the cutest little lady following behind this even cuter dog, I asked if it was hers and she said yes. So I leaned in to pet my new little dog friend Suzy. Too bad Suzy was not at all friendly. She was too scared of this super smiley New Yorker chasing after her to pet her than anything else. So I settled with not petting her & began to speak with her owner whose name is Maria.

After a few introductions, Maria asked us what we were doing in Cuba & I shared we were working with the church just up the street. Because it is still illegal to have or build churches in Cuba, the Cuban people turn a portion of their homes into a church. So I pointed her in that direction & she wanted to know more. One thing led to the next & I asked her if she had ever heard of Jesus Christ. As she leaned in closer, her eyes full of questions, she shook her head no.

Without hesitation, I told her how Jesus died on the cross and three days later he rose again to show her that not even death could invade the love he has for her. I told her how Jesus wants to have a relationship with her. As she listened intently, I knew how much God loved this woman. He loved her so much that he sent his only son Jesus to die for her that she may have eternal life. In that moment, Maria was famous in the kingdom of God! She was famous because Christ died specifically for her. And not only her but for you too.

It was in that moment, I knew God strategically placed me on that road, on that day, in that hour, that Maria might know Jesus’ love for her. He set up a divine appointment that Jesus would divinely intercede from the throne through me. I was so humbled to know the truth of Romans 10: 14-15 which says, ““How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”” God sent me so Maria would know Him. That is the good news of the gospel; the faith of Maria in that moment activated the power of the gospel.

When I asked Maria if she wanted a bible, she eagerly said yes. I asked my leader Mark for a bible & helped her understand it a bit. With my leaders suggestion, I told her to start reading in the book of John & she said okay.


As she was getting ready to leave, she made me promise her I would come back to her home for coffee.  And so I promised her knowing God would bring me back. And thank God, two days later I walked up to her little home who’s walls were made of wood & called out, “Mariaaaaa”. Surely enough, she called back & as I made my way in, Maria’s bible was on the sofa because she had been reading it.

Maria nestled into my heart in such a profound way that I understood the power of Gods love for you, for me, and for the entire world. 

In the heart of Cuba

“I said, “Here I am. Send me.”” – ‭Isaiah‬ ‭6:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

An entire week later & I am officially back from Cuba. I think it’s safe to say I didn’t want to be back, I wanted to be caught in the whirlwind of Cuba & it’s love. But sadly, I have to face reality. Although I’ll be sharing a more in depth post, I want to share a little journal entry I wrote from my second day in Cuba along with a gazillion photos!


August 7th, 2016

It is now my second day in Cuba and it’s nothing like I thought it would be. Although I tried to come with zero expectations, a thought of “what if” always creeps in. I came with a belief that poverty ruled this country but what I have found is a people rich with humility, simplicity, and love. I have found a country rich in culture and wealthy in personality. In the U.S., there is a huge market for entertainment in the churches. Although that’s amazing, there is something so profound and yet so pure in the churches here. I see the gospel in its purest form that even if words are not spoken, the gospel speaks on its own. It speaks volumes through its makeshift “home” churches and tattered hymn books. Before coming to Cuba, I believed I needed to change my church to attract more people but in doing so, the mission of God was lost in translation. The gospel need not be made attractive, it stands on its own; we are simply vessels God has chosen to translate that message in the form of love. This is what I have found in the heart of Cuba; to love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, and to love people as yourself. 

This was right across the street from my hostel . The houses were so colorful!

This was the church my team and I served at for about 3-4 of the 7 days we were there. 

Visiting different homes


One of the homes we visited.



This was in the pastors home.

 




This is definitely not the end of my Cuba posts lol so stay tuned! 🙂

If you’d like to watch a little video I put together , click here  !

Thank You

I want to take this time to extend my heart felt thank you’s to everyone who donated to my Cuba missions trip that I will be leaving for this Saturday. And also to everyone that has prayed and is praying. I am so blown away by everyone’s kindness and generosity. Because of my family, friends, and even strangers, I went over my $950 goal so thank you so much. I’ve learned many things during these past few months but there are three I’d love to share with you in this newsletter.

  1. The first thing I’ve learned is: God is faithful  – More than a few months ago, when this trip was just a small thought on my heart, I had a God given dream. In that dream, my father was giving me a $700 bill in my right hand. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a $700 bill. As the weeks went on, I thought maybe my dad would be generous and give me some money but I was thinking far too small. When I decided to make the gofundme account, I was extremely humbled because I don’t ever ask for money. On the contrary, I’m usually the one paying for friends when we’re out to dinner or the movies. So taking that leap of faith was difficult. Nonetheless I did it and one night after prayer my sister texts me and says to check my gofundme account. Faithfully enough, my donations went up to a total of $755. I’ve learned what the bible says is true; Gods word never returns to him void. Whatever God says will always be accomplished. God was and is still faithful.
  2. The second thing I’ve learned is: You have to be in need for God to provide – I’ve realized being in a position of need sets the atmosphere for God to provide and fill that need. If you don’t have a need larger than yourself, you don’t need God’s intervention. It isn’t a fun place to be but how else will you see God move unless you need a miracle to be performed in your life? There needs to be a lack of something in order for it to be supplied in abundance.
  3. The third thing I’ve learned is: The center does not mean comfort – I used to think the moment I got everything I wanted, I’d be the happiest girl in the world without any cares. But I was very wrong. I’ve learned being in the center of God’s will does not mean comfort-ability. You may be exactly where God wants you but that means you are filling a need greater than yourself. Being in the center of God’s will means being stretched, refined, and poured out for others to be built up. The moment I entered the center of Gods will meant achieving the purpose of Gods intentions for my life.

When I asked God if He really called me to this missions trip, I was reminded of Isaiah 43:1. It says, “I have called you by name; you are mine.” Just as God called me to Cuba, I know God has called you to do that thing you’ve been putting off. It may be to start school again, to accept that proposal, to take that trip, to leave your current job, say yes to starting that organization; whatever it is, God has called you by name. And the moment you say yes, it won’t be easy because anything worth doing will be difficult, but you are Gods and He will lead you and teach you along the way. . .

37570ff5-232c-4c3c-b5d6-e5305bb28a14

Step Out


A few months ago, I was faced with a really tough decision. I had applied to be a sociotherapist in a foster care agency for behaviorally challenged children and teens. More often than not, these kids are on psychiatric medications so it’s a really demanding position. But it was one of my dream jobs. My parents had been foster parents growing up so I knew the challenges these children faced in the system. I wanted to help them, to be a support system for them, & to motivate their families into positive change and growth. I prayed for these kids even before I got the job. I prayed for their freedom & their growth. I even prayed for their families & their futures. And I got the job! But now I was faced with the decision if I should take the position. . .

Here I was, newly graduated from college with a bachelors degree in psychology, in school for my masters in mental health counseling, with a job that didn’t pay all that well, & I was struggling to decide whether or not to jump on this amazing  opportunity. I wrestled in prayer but for some reason I knew I couldn’t take it.

So one day as I was waiting for the bus, I saw a pamphlet on the floor. It was a windy day & oddly enough that piece of paper did not fly away. So I walked over to it & I saw these verses on the paper:

“Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters, They see the works of the LORD, And His wonders in the deep.” – Psalms‬ ‭107:23-24‬ ‭NKJV

Immediately I thought about the job. But that’s not all I thought about. My heart welled up & I thought of that missions trip I had been researching for months. & now I was torn. What did God want me to do?

I wish I could say I took the job but I didn’t. I declined the position & started to pray over the missions trip. And amazingly enough, God opened a door & now I know what those verses meant. God was speaking His promise into existence. God was saying, “I know you’re scared. I know you’ve never done this. I know you’ve never even taken a flight alone. And I know this would be stepping out of your comfort zone but it’s only in stepping out that you will see my glory.”

When we step out in faith, we choose to say that we don’t know what will happen but because God does, you’re gonna do it. When you step out in faith you choose to go down where there is no light & be the light. When you step out in faith, you might not know who you need to speak to but God does, so you rest in that. When you step out in faith, you walk through the open door to see Gods miracles first hand.

I am so excited to say I’ll be going on my first missions trip to Cuba in August! I won’t know anyone but I choose to step out into the middle of the ocean & let Jesus be my lifejacket. So I ask that you’d all keep me in prayer! 🙂

As always, be encouraged , be empowered, and be blessed!