All Is Forgiven

 

Below is the email I had sent my ex-fiance who I had been waiting for our wedding night to sleep with.  He had other ideas and the week before my birthday, 11 years ago, he raped me.

A side note: There are a few things underlined, that I only noticed after having written this. I saw God through the writing of this email and I will share those insights with you, as to why certain things are underlined. His name is James and his initials are JC. His bday is Oct 10th, as in 10:10.

As you read this email of forgiveness and Christ’s love, it might seem hard to believe that I am responding to his past violence in a Christ-like way, which for some may be hard to understand. Please know that I could never respond this way on my own. The words and peace to write this, came from Christ alone.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jimmy,

Sept 19, 2019, marked a decade, this year marks 11 years since you raped me! The aftermath of the rape I experienced over a decade ago had left me reeling as I tried to process what I endured.  The nightmares and triggers crippled me, leading me further into a downward spiral of hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, and depression. This has caused me to push others away, not to know who trust, and has kept me from forming lasting relationships, healthy relationships. You broke me! This broke me! But, nothing is ever broken beyond repair or redemption, with God! Thankfully, this also led me on a journey of healing that God has redeemed and continues to restore.

Though I carried the pain, bitterness, and anger towards you and God with me over the years. You need to know that I no longer harbor anger, bitterness, or resentment towards you and haven’t for a very long time now. In fact, I forgave you a long time ago, actually on Nov 2, 2009. Now, as the anniversary of when my life changed approaches, as well as my birthday (Sept 26) the following week. I want to tell you that I Forgive You, Jimmy! You’re Forgiven! I’ve even prayed for you over the years! I used to think you were a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but I truly believe now that you were just a lost sheep, whom satan used for his evil scheme – to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). For the longest time, it worked! My world had been turned upside down. I felt the pain deep within the depths of my soul, my life was destroyed! At least that’s how it felt! My joy had been stolen. Any dreams I had for the future seemed to die that day, as our engagement ended the day you harmed me! All hope seemed lost. Except, God had other plans. Genesis 50:20, “What satan intended to harm me, God intended for my good. The saving of many lives.”  

See, there are things I couldn’t understand over a decade ago, that I do now! I knew that as followers of Christ, that God had never promised us a life without trials or trauma. I just never thought life could be this hard, this sad, filled with so much pain, and with so much evilness. A life where there is more injustice than there is justice.  I just wasn’t prepared for the crosses of violence I’d have to carry since I was 4 yrs old. You allowed satan to use you, to add to my crosses. But, God tries to prepare us, He has told us through scripture, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). Suffering is not a curse or punishment, but a gift and a blessing because through it God will redeem it for His greater glory, to further His kingdom. I understand that now!

Though this is not the life, the story I would have EVER chosen for myself. Knowing what I know now. If I had been given a choice. I would choose to walk this valley of hell again because I’ve witnessed how much good has come out of it. God has used my testimony, this part of my story to help so many! Though these years have not been easy! With each passing day, I’m becoming the woman God created me to be, a Proverbs 31 woman! As I look back on these last eleven years, it’s hard to believe that there was actually a time when I had thought these years were just a loss. I had even been told by Christians that God couldn’t use me because of what you had done to me! Boy, were they wrong!! With God, everything has a purpose and I’ve gained more these last eleven years than I had ever lost. Through it all, I’ve grown, come out of it stronger, I’m thriving, and have found acceptance and unconditional love with my Heavenly Father that I had never experienced before.

Thank you, Jimmy, for being part of my story! You might have brought me to my knees! But, every tear, nightmare, trigger, and painful memory only drew me closer to Christ! Out of rape came a relationship with Jesus Christ that was worth it ALL! I pray that you experience the same acceptance, forgiveness, and unconditional love with our Heavenly Father that I have. He desires to have that with you, His beloved son.

I forgive you. He forgives you. I only hope that you can forgive yourself.

All is forgiven, Jimmy!

 

 

 

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Beyond Freedom

Interview with Jennelle Gordon a sex trafficking survivor and Founder of Beyond Freedom. To learn more about that organization or how you can help go to BeyondFreedomInternational.org #freedom #healing #entrepreneur #sextrafficking #makingadifference #empowerwomen https://ourrescue.org/ #rescue #transformation #trafficking #hope #sexindustry #abuse #rape #tonyrobbins #timballardhttps://m.facebook.com/TonyRobbins/https://m.facebook.com/officialtimballard/

Posted by Witlee Ethan on Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Interview with Sex Trafficking Survivor, Jennelle Gordon. She is the founder of Beyond Freedom.

Jennelle Gordon is an inspiration for women as a leader, speaker, and educator. She studied tantra and yoga extensively with masters in Thailand after leaving her traumatic past behind for a brighter future. Having been the product of rape and then the system, her fate would have been sealed by statistics to either death or a life of addiction. But rather than sit in the passenger seat of her own life and live in compliance with societal programming, she took the wheel and created her own destiny.

Born from violence to a troubled single mother in Pittsburgh, she quickly became a ward of the state and placed in a foster home of religious extremists. Her new family brought her on a missionary trip to Thailand where she was kept from receiving a proper education or medical treatment for her most critical formative years. They continued neglecting her health long after their return to America, and as she grew they would also keep her in isolation and secluded from the outside world in an effort to control her body and mind. However, her strength of self overcame their attempts at brainwashing and she left home on her eighteenth birthday. Unsure of her options without a formal education or any work experience, she enrolled in the army in hopes of building a better life for herself. Unfortunately, they didn’t do their due diligence and sent her to training without a medical examination. Had they done so, they would have discovered she was medically unfit due to years of neglect and she wouldn’t have suffered so needlessly by the physical stress of boot camp. As a result of their error, she was hospitalized whereby she accumulated medical debt she couldn’t pay and would become increasingly desperate for stability and security. This newfound vulnerability attracted predators who would sexually exploit her over the course of a decade through coercion and manipulation. She fell into the same cycle of victimization from her childhood and finally broke free when she faked her death in order to escape certain death. It was then that she would return to Thailand and study tantra; fully liberating her body, mind, and spirit.

Through her spiritual studies and yogic practices, she healed herself holistically from unresolved trauma and developed Dance Om; an integrative form of dance therapy designed to relinquish women from societal constraints on their sexuality and sense of self. Soon after completion of her spiritual training, she became pregnant with her son and returned to America. After giving birth to Amadi, she moved to California to teach yoga, but still couldn’t make ends meet. Living with her infant in a friend’s garage for some time, she decided on being a better provider and signed up for classes at Orange Coast College. There she was given an assignment to write a speech on any topic of her choosing, little did she know the research she would conduct for this assignment would completely change her life and the lives of countless other women. The topic she chose was human trafficking and upon reading the definition given by the United Nations, she realized that she was being trafficked for years unknowingly in plain sight.

One horrific realization led to a movement that started as a school club and grew into a nonprofit organization known as Beyond Freedom. It was only after she went to several organizations that were supposedly dedicated to helping survivors that she realized none of them provided what she felt survivors truly need. Her mission from then on became helping survivors heal from their trauma holistically and psychologically, as well as rebuild their lives by offering sanctuary, education, and career paths. She saw a pattern of victimization in survivors that stemmed from a slave mentality forced on them by their traffickers, and how they kept falling into the same cycle after breaking free. Her organization is the only survivor run operation dedicated to helping women liberate themselves spiritually and mentally so that they may sustain their freedom.

Her online momentum through social media caught the attention of world-renowned practical psychologist and motivational speaker, Tony Robbins. She was then flown to a retreat where they met and discussed how he could help her organization. This surge of support coupled with her overall experience at the retreat, inspired her creation of a holistic system of spiritual and sensual empowerment whereby she merges all her passions and teachings into one powerful modality known as the “O” Factors.

Jennelle’s quest for freedom has paved a path towards enlightenment that others can follow. She is a voice for the vulnerable and exploited and is unashamed of her identity. Her fearless commitment and determination in empowering women and educating the public about the truth of human trafficking in America today have been met with criticism and praise due to her boldness. While others who’ve experienced that same trauma would use it as an excuse for their failures, she transformed that thinking into fuel for success. Now, her life is dedicated to teaching people how they can tend the flame of divinity that shines within all of us.

Connect with Jennelle through FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

To learn more about her organization, ways that you can get involved, and about her yet to be released book,  go to Beyond Freedom.

 

 

Beyond Freedom’s “Seven F’s to Thriving”:

Faith: With this survivors are encouraged to choose their faith. Through faith, survivors work through having their faith in humanity restored.

Fitness: Bodybuilding and weight lifting is a modality mechanism to help the survivors heal, including yoga dance movement therapy. The various forms of fitness are a huge aspect of healing for survivors.

Family: A lot of survivors do not have family or they do, but they’ve been estranged from them. Survivors are shown how to create a new family within their community. Whether that is through Church, Fitness Centers, or within other community groups.

Finances: When survivors come out of being trafficked, a lot of them may not even know how to open a bank account. Along with the help of many CPAs, survivors get help with taxes and even setting up life insurance policies to plan for their future.

Femininity: Healthy empowered connected sensuality is imperative to re-programming survivors from the impact that sex trafficking had on their bodies. These survivors have survived unspeakable crimes and that trauma has to be addressed. There are a lot of organizations that do not address the sexuality part and yet it’s a big part of their healing.

Freedom: Survivors are given back their power through higher education for going into a trade or from starting their own business. The survivors are paired with donors and individuals that work closely with Beyond Freedom to give them jobs, training, or internships. Providing them with opportunities for careers they can work from the comfort of their own home.

Fun: Healing through fun activities while cultivating a community of support.

 

 

 

 

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Why Waiting Works

Why Waiting Works with Rob Kowalski

As promised here is Rob Kowalski YouTube Channel link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsH6GoxXrJqBVunRimdxN2gAlso, here is the link to buy his book, "Why Waiting Works."https://whywaitingworks.net/squeeze-page-389417311589121326806*Warning: explicit language

Posted by Witlee Ethan on Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Warning: Explicit Language (in Video Interview)

Rob Kowalski, author of Why Waiting Works and Founder of CityFam, a Maryland-based non-profit organization whose mission is, Changing lives through the power of community.

Rob is a self-proclaimed reformed bad boy. Once the biggest stripper and nightclub promoter in his hometown of Baltimore, he had a radical life-changing encounter with Jesus that transformed him forever. His testimony from a life of excess to redemption has inspired countless numbers of people from around the world already. His mess has become his message. He has been featured on: GodTV, Trinitas Television, Chat Magazine, Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, Great Day Houston, BeMore LifeStyle on Fox45, The Bob Paff Show, The Fan 105.7, Baltimore Sun’s 2019 Readers Choice “Best Book” Winner, and Dozens of Podcasts.

Throughout our interview, I found Rob to be unapologetically honest. He will tell you like it is and will change your perspective on sex. Within the pages of his book is the “sex talk” you never got but needed. His book is practical taking things we’ve heard over the years and telling it in a way that will captivate the reader.  A light bulb will go off and you’ll wish you had this book back when you were a teenager. His transparency is raw but the more you read the more you want to know.  This book is a must-read. Get ready to have your eyes opened!

Rob B. Kowalski’s Quotes from the Interview:

 “A lot of times you feel you might be disqualified for something that you’ve done, well God can’t use me because I did that and a lot of times that’s the very thing He’ll use.”

“There are very few men out there talking about purity but I believe it’s because they don’t get it, they don’t understand as I did.  I just did not understand the concept. To me two mutual consenting adults making each other feel good, why would we wait? What’s the point? I can explain it practically, why, it’s still not easy but it’s 100 percent the right way to do it.”

 “If I met a girl who had my past history and she was abstinent for 15 of the last 20 years, I would think that girl deserves a parade. Because it’s freaking hard. I wouldn’t hold that against her, at all. But,  if it was someone just coming out of that lifestyle or currently engaged in it, that’s not someone I’d want to date.”

“The old me, when I was sleeping around, and I was a scumbag. If a girl told me she was waiting, I’d be like deuces I’m out. Good for her she did herself a big favor. If a girl tells me she’s waiting now, I’m intrigued. I’m like wow, there’s a unicorn.”

Click on the video above to watch the interview with Rob and to get the down-low on everything he said about, “Why Waiting Works.

 To connect with him, learn more about his book, and organization, click on the links below.

► Get a FREE copy of my book 👉 https://whywaitingworks.net/   ►► Subscribe to my YouTube channel here 👉 https://bit.ly/2W3BToc
►►► “Join the Fam” and be part of a social revolution 👉 https://www.cityfam.com

Become a member of the “Why Waiting Works Community” on FB 👉http://bit.ly/WWWcommunity

Connect with Rob:                                                                                                            Email 👉 rob@cityfam.com                                                                                Instagram 👉 https://www.instagram.com/robbkowalski/                          Facebook 👉 https://www.facebook.com/robbkowalski                              Twitter 👉 https://www.twitter.com/rbkowalski1
Listen to Podcast 👉 https://robbkowalski.com/podcasts
Merch👉https://teespring.com/stores/nobodys-fool

Connect with CityFam:                                                                                                       Support CityFam 👉 http://www.cityfam.com/give                                               Start Your Own Chapter 👉 https://www.cityfam.com/start                          LMK When You Come To My City 👉 https://www.cityfam.com/lmk     Instagram 👉 https://www.instagram.com/thecityfam                      Facebook 👉 https://www.facebook.com/thecityfam                              Twitter 👉 https://www.twitter.com/thecityfam

Connect with Why Waiting Works:                                                          
Facebook 👉
http://www.facebook.com/whywaitingworks                            Instagram 👉 http://www.instagram.com/whywaitingworks           Twitter 👉 http://www.twitter.com/whywaitingworks

 

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Faith In The EndZone

 

Photo Credit: NFL

Scott Hanson serves as host of NFL RedZone, as well as co-host of NFL Network’s NFL Total Access along with Lindsay Rhodes. In addition to his responsibilities for NFL RedZone and NFL Total Access, Hanson also serves as a host for NFL Network’s on-location coverage of such events as Super Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine, NFL Draft, free agency and more.

Hanson joined NFL Media in 2006 as a national reporter covering all 32 teams. He transitioned into studio hosting in 2008, and was named the host of NFL RedZone during its inaugural season in 2009.

Produced by NFL Network, NFL RedZone whips around every NFL game on Sunday afternoons delivering the touchdowns and most exciting moments live and in high definition. NFL RedZone and Hanson are widely praised by the fans and media.

Hanson graduated Cum Laude from the prestigious Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University while playing football for the Orangemen. Hanson and his teammates were a combined 20-4 during his Junior & Senior years.

His other broadcasting stops included Comcast SportsNet in Philadelphia, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, WFTS-TV (ABC) in Tampa, WICS-TV (NBC) in Springfield, Illinois and WPBN-TV (NBC) in Traverse City, Michigan.

Outside of his broadcast career, Hanson is passionate about world travel, adventure and serving those in need.

He has run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain… Climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa… Hiked the Great Wall of China… Gone great white shark cage diving in Australia and Mexico… and visited 6 of the 7 continents (with only Antarctica remaining).

He considers these adventures perfect “training” for the heart-pumping action of an NFL RedZone Sunday afternoon!

His involvement with various, worldwide Christian charities has seen him serve the needy in Africa, India, Russia, the Amazon jungle, Haiti, the Philippines, Mexico and domestic locations in the USA.

You can keep up to date with his travel and sports, play by plays by going to NFL Redzone and following him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.  

 

Photo Credit: NFL

How did you come to faith and what is your testimony?
I was raised in a religious home. We were at church every Sunday and was raised that faith was important. But it wasn’t a personal relationship. It was more religion and what my parents did. When I went to college, I wanted to live the college life and turned away from the faith when it became my own decision. Whether that was with worship, what I was going to think, or how I was going to live my life. So, I kind of turned away from everything. I thought God wasn’t real, I thought the Bible was fake. I pretty much was living in the world and wanted to do my own thing. I went into my television career and TV was everything to me. You could say TV was my God. TV was going to give me what I thought was going to be my joy, fulfillment, happiness, and purpose in life. But living that way, my life spiraled down and led to the lowest point in my life, when I was about two years out of college. Which was from a breakup over a relationship. I had been seeing a girl, we had gotten serious, and broke up. It was a bad break up and nothing made sense in my life. I came across a movie called the King of Kings. It’s one of the Hollywood accounts of the life of Jesus, from the 1960s. I rented this movie and watched it, though I had no reason to rent this movie. I just knew from my childhood upbringing that this Jesus guy preaches about love, peace, forgiveness, and how he came to change people’s lives. Yet, all of that is missing in my life at this miserable circumstance that I was in. I watched this movie and when the actor portraying Jesus came to the Sermon on the Mount, the words spoke right into my heart. They just made sense to me, became alive to me, and I was like wow, I’ve never looked at this Jesus guy this way before. Keep in mind I’m not a believer at this time, I’m not someone who would profess faith. But these words seemed to make sense, there seemed to be truth to this. So, I started reading the Bible and I began to think He’s real. I ultimately said, ” Ok God, if you can take a life the way these people say, the way this book says, the way Jesus said and change it, redeem it, then here’s mine! I prayed a simple prayer and asked God to come into my life, asked Jesus to be number one in my life, and my life has never been the same! My attitude towards my own life changed, my attitudes about God, and the truth of His Word changed. My life has been on a different trajectory ever since. It has been the greatest thing that could have ever happened to me.

Photo Credit: NFL

What is your favorite scripture verse and why?
Well, it’s all highlights but I think it would be one that your readers are familiar with and that’s Proverbs 3:5,6. Which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” To me that means a lot of things, to trust in the Lord with all your heart, means He is real, and He is worthy of 100% of our attention, devotion, and obedience. Then it says, “lean not on your own understanding.” That was something I had to come to terms with when I came to faith. I’ve been gifted with many blessings, but, I’m stubborn and pig-headed a lot of times and can easily go my own way. Then it says, “in all your ways acknowledge Him,” meaning acknowledge Him, live your life as if He is real as if His word is real. Acknowledge Him privately, acknowledge Him publicly, and He will make your paths straight. He will show you the direction and ways that otherwise I don’t believe would be available to us. I don’t mean riches, prosperity, or anything else like that. I mean peace, fulfillment, and a purpose in life that we didn’t have before. So, that’s my favorite verse.

Photo Credit: NFL

Can you share your experience on your mission trip last summer?
I served with two different ministries, Kenya Children’s Fund and Orphan Outreach. We visited four different schools where I spoke to hundreds of students. The students are all African kids born and raised in Nairobi and the surrounding areas. They love it when a mzungu comes to visit because I look much different from them. Mzungu is the Swahili word for white man, it’s not a prejudicial term but a descriptive term. The fact that I got a chance to tell these kids that I came thousands of miles, not because I would profit from it but because God loves me, I love Him, and He loves these kids. I wanted to share that with them, and you could see that with certain kids it would just click, it meant something special. There were other kids who I’m sure were children of faith who probably thought, “Wow the same God that I worship, the same God that loves me, and that I love. This guy, that came all the way from Los Angeles, CA, loves that same God too.” That shared faith connected us. Now, in terms of a long-term impact, I did some work while I was there and ultimately made a financial contribution that I think will last longer than what was my simple time there.

Phot Credit: NFL

What are some of the things you take on your mission trip for the children?
What I try to do when I travel internationally and go on a mission trip is to bring an entire suitcase full of toys for the kids as well as leave the suitcase behind. I see hundreds of kids throughout my trip and pack small little items where I can give something to everyone. Some of the things I take are balloons, superballs, glow rings, and snap bracelets. In terms of what kids get at school, their provided with food which is one of their foremost needs. The only food they have access to is food that has been disposed of by Nairobi citizens that they get from a garbage dump. In the morning, at school, they get a kind of oatmeal type substance that can be put in a coffee cup and they drink it. It’s a food that can be mass-produced very easily by the school and they have a big supply of it that they cook every morning. They also get a uniform which the kids are very proud of. If you go on my social media accounts, you’ll see pictures of the kids. They love coming to school where they can see their friends, be safe, have shelter, and get a meal. In terms of material possessions like blankets and stuffed animals, I don’t know what type of material possessions they have. I’d be surprised if it is very much. I only went into a couple of homes and those I saw have very little, what they have is very basic. They don’t have electricity and most of them don’t have running water.

Photo Credit: NFL

How does your faith impact your life, both professionally and personally?
One of my favorite authors is CS Lewis and he wrote this, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it but because by it, I see everything else.” That quote encapsulates how I look at my faith. God is not only someone that I look to and turn to, but, by Him and through Him, I experience everything else in the world. My life makes so much more sense when I have my eyes focused on God. So yes, it informs every area of my life, including my television sportscasting which is a very secular career. I believe in being excellent at what I do and being a Christian who talks openly about his faith. A lot of people think Christians are crazy, that their bible thumpers, that they’re this or that and other notions. I think if you do a job in the world and work with people who are at any level or anywhere on the faith spectrum. Yet, you are excellent at what you do, that might give you some credibility. Others may look to your example and say if he or she is a Christian maybe it’s something I should check out, maybe there’s something more to that Christian faith. Because, you may be someone they look up to, admire, work well with, or someone they respect. So, my Christian faith impacts every area of my life.

Photo Credit: NFL

Can faith and football, sports in general co-exist? If so, how?
I think faith and football can and do co-exist. Football is about challenges, about winning and losing. It’s about battles that are inside of a game with rules and context. A life of faith is a life where you have challenges, hurdles, questions, doubts, and moments of joy and moments of awe. I think that a life of faith gives context, perspective, and a foundation for any walk of life. Whether it’s a football player, sportscaster, doctor, lawyer, teacher, mom, whatever you do. A life of faith can be and is beneficial to understanding everything else that is going on in the world. It helps you to deal with the ups and downs and put them in perspective.

 

Photo Credit: NFL

Can you tell me about the Discipleship Playbook?
This was something a couple of years ago, that I was approached about by Paul David Tripp, who is a Pastor, Author, and Speaker. He is friends with many of the Philadelphia Eagles players and has become a spiritual leader to some of them. He approached them wanting to start a men’s outreach seeing a great need for the church within sports, especially with male athletes. An outreach that would talk about faith, football, and what it means to be a man in today’s society. So, when setting this up with the Philadelphia Eagles, they expressed interest but wanted to wait until after the season, which was in the summer before 3 football seasons ago. That season they went on to win the super bowl. So, there was a lot of interest in people wanting to be in, around, and involved with the Philadelphia Eagles. Tripp gets a call from the Eagles to proceed forward and I get a call from Tripp. He said, “Hey Scott, we know that you’re a sportscaster and you’re a believer. We’ve seen your posts on social media, would you come on board and MC the event?” So, I came in and kind of helped direct traffic as speakers like Nick Foles, Carson Wentz, and some of these big-time football players spoke about a life of faith within the context of a football career. It was an awesome experience and the Discipleship Playbook is now available online to churches and individuals all around the world.

Photo Credit: NFL

In the next 5-10 years, what do you hope to accomplish for God’s Kingdom? What impact do you hope to have?
To be honest, I don’t know if the timeframe really matters to me as much. I would say my same goal ten years from now is the same as one week from now or one month from now. Which, is to be obedient, living a life of faith that I know God would have me live, and be the man God wants me to be. However, that impacts His kingdom or how He uses me to bring glory to His Kingdom is ultimately His work. I just hope to be as Abraham Lincoln was when he responded to one of his advisors on God’s involvement during the Civil War, when said, “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

Photo Credit: NFL

What do you want your legacy to be?
This might sound kind of churchy but the moment of my last breath on earth and my first breath in eternity, I hope to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.” If I can yield my life to God’s plan and His purpose and if He chooses to use that to impact other people. Then, my life would have been a success whether it ends when I’m one-hundred or whether it ends in a week. I don’t think it’s the years that matter as much as the impact!

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Preparing Your Heart For God’s Best

This is the much anticipated Part two of the Valentine’s post. Click on the link to read Part one, Galentine’s Day Heart to Heart. For all the Gals and Guys out there, I hope these posts will be encouraging and inspiring to all of you currently in the season of singleness or whom Valentine’s Day may have been hard for. I know that Holiday’s like that can be a difficult reminder of one’s single status and can cause one to have feelings of loneliness. I understand, especially with 2018 being a year of heartache for me. I spent this Valentine’s Day single, but I was not lonely! In fact I was filled with joy! Which I will share with you in another upcoming post…so stay tuned for that!

For now, I want to introduce you to these three men of God who have encouraged me with their faith and love for their wives, families, and especially their daughters. Between the three of them, they are raising more than half a dozen Girls of Grace/Women of Faith. Which is amazing! Check out below the interview, bios, and their pictures with their beautiful Proverbs 31 wives.

 


Ronnie Olstad 
is Vice President for 98 Food Co., Husband to Jessica, and Father to three (Swayzie, Lewiston, and baby on the way). Ronnie, along with his family founded the Love for Lewiston Foundation in their son’s honour, to raise awareness in Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Their family was previously featured in another post, “Life After Loss“. To learn more about the incredible work the Foundation is doing,  please click on their Foundation’s link here:  loveforlewiston.ca .

Nathan Kinzinger is a well-respected entrepreneur and member of the Chicago business community. Nathan also serves his community through his involvement in leading fundraising initiatives for organizations as well as serving on the board of Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS).  Nathan is the happy husband to Gina and together they’re raising four powerful kids and two crazy dogs!  You can connect with Nathan via Instagram or his Website.

 

Seborn Yancy is Husband to Meghan JoyFather to six, an Educator, and  RE/MAX Realtor in Minnesota. He loves hard, plays hard, and works hard. His family and faith being his top priority. He is involved in numerous endeavors with his wife, including their YouTube channel, Living the Yancy Life. The Yancy family has been featured in two previous posts, “Hearts Full At CHRISTmas” and “How To Balance It All“. You can connect with Seborn via Facebook and Instagram.

 

What are character qualities men and women of faith should be looking for in a future mate?

Ronnie: Very, Very critical to have the same faith and beliefs. Life is going to throw devastation your way, and if you don’t have a strong foundation and the same perspective on how to handle challenges, it just makes it that much harder. They need to have a sense of loyalty and have loyalty as a part of their core values. You have to be on the same team. You don’t have to agree on everything, but you have to be loyal and have each others back. Argue and debate in private, but always be in each others corners. Look for a girl who values loyalty.

Before you marry someone, ensure they want to be apart of something bigger than themselves. Marriage and relationships is about sacrifice. If everyone involved in the relationship is being selfless, the love and giving comes back around. The wife has a responsibility to give her all to the husband and also to her kids. If she’s not okay with this, stay away. However, the man is just as responsible to reciprocate. If both of you understand this, this is how you will make it to your 50thwedding anniversary with a relationship that is so rich, nothing can break it apart. You will change the world if it isn’t just about you. Find a girl that doesn’t just make it about her.

Sense of humour. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laughing makes good times better and hard times easier. Also what’s the point of marrying someone that wont be around that long? Find a girl that eats right, exercises, works on her mental health, and spiritual health. Very important they don’t drink excessively, smoke, are obese, etc… otherwise you will not enjoy all the things life has to offer together. Pick a girl that inspires you. Personally I like farm girls, with blonde hair, and a nice tan ; )

Nathan: God made us in His image – and so in dating and marriage this can get tricky. A man can look like God to a woman and vice versa. But what my wife and I found to be fundamental to our ability to love each other – is to expect only God to be God. Over our 12 years of dating and married life, Queen G (that’s what I call her) has trained herself to go to God for her love, for her joy and for her peace. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t soak up my love of her, my friendship, and my affection for it. It just means she does not require me to walk perfectly in her presence for her to have a good day.

Seborn: Purpose before Type.. After only dating Meghan for 4 months, I knew she was the one because she fit my purpose in life. I wanted to be a good father, husband, friend, brother, man of God, etc. Meghan was a woman of God, joyful, encouraging, caring, patient, kind, etc.  She was a better person than I was and she stretched me and helped me become a better person. While a person’s type may be important when looking for a significant other, the most important aspect to finding the person you will do forever with, is finding someone that will best fit your purpose in life.

What are some misconceptions that women believe about men? What advice would you give your daughters about relationships? 

Ronnie:   Obviously all the points above. Ensure you find someone that puts God first and you second, kids third, and everything else fourth…Find someone you can have fun with, without doing anything. Ensure he understands you are not responsible for his happiness and vice versa. Know his opinion on kids and how you will grow your family together. If you are unable to have kids, are you both willing and open to adopt? Ensure he is okay with saving 10% and tithing 10%. The man’s responsibility is to manage the families finances. He needs to be okay with this. Doesn’t need to be an expert, but has to be willing to learn. Choose a man with a heart you love.

Nathan: For me, the freedom to love her and be an imperfect husband – has nourished me as a man and given me the freedom and confidence to love her well. That’s a big reason why she’s my Queen!”

Seborn: I’ve mostly heard that men don’t express their feelings. While there are guys that struggle with this area, it’s not the norm and shouldn’t be seen as such. I would stress to my daughters that communication is so important in a relationship. Having someone that is emotionally available to you is so important to sustaining a healthy and thriving relationship. Men have emotions and men can communicate their feelings as good as any woman, if they are willing.

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Galentine’s Day Heart to Heart

 

For Valentine’s Day, I’m posting a two-part post made up of female perspectives on finding love and what to look for in a future husband. While part two will consist of a few men  giving their perspective of what men of character and faith are looking for in a potential mate, as well as debunking some myths women believe about men and advice they’d give their own daughters. The men’s post will post on Monday, Feb 18, so stay tuned.

Now let me introduce you to these three amazing women who have inspired me. They are women of faith whom are not only beautiful on the outside but even more beautiful on the inside.

Jessica Janzen Olstad  is the founder of the Love for Lewiston Olstad Foundation, based out of Calgary, AB. The Foundation was established after Jessica suffered the loss of her infant son, Lewiston to Spinal Muscle Atrophy  – Type 1 (SMA). Jessica, with her husband, Ronnie, and their daughter, Swayzie have created their Foundation to carry on Lewiston’s legacy by raising awareness and working towards finding  a cure to fight SMA. Jessica was previously featured in another post, “Life After Loss“. To learn more about the incredible work the Foundation is doing,  please click on their Foundation’s link here:  loveforlewiston.ca .

Olivia Louise Stear is a wife, mother, and Catholic missionary. Currently living in Southern California with her husband and four children.  Her and her family’s mission is to share life with the ones they love and invite them on a journey toward heaven. Life is full of twists and turns. If you want to see more of what life looks like making disciples in a Catholic Parish with a missionary mom, you can connect with her at oliviastear.com.

Meghan Joy Yancy lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota with her husband and their 6 kids. Meghan Joy homeschools their children while running a few businesses from home and keeping up with her Blog. They love family dinners, lazy Sundays after church, and random dance parties. She is passionate  about healthy living, essential oils, family, homeschooling, and her faith. She has been featured in two previous posts, “Hearts Full At CHRISTmas” and “How To Balance It All“. You can connect with Meghan Joy via her social media accounts either through her Website, Instagram, and Blog.

 

How did you know your husband was the right one?

Jessica: My heart just knew. There was a nudge from God saying this is your guy. I just knew I couldn’t give up on him. I had never met anyone like him – who had as big a heart as he did, loved Jesus like he did, and truly cared for me. There was a peace that I had with him that I had never had with any other relationship.

Olivia Louise:  In one of my earliest conversations with my husband, God said to my heart, this is your husband.  It was so strange but over the course of the next 6 months the biggest indicator that this was true was the initiative my husband took to court me.

Meghan Joy: I didn’t. I mean, at the time I thought I did. I was 21 years old and it just felt right with him. (But… feelings.) And then, the first 3 years of our marriage were HARD and I honestly just wanted to give up. But he didn’t. And God is greater. And here we are, 10 years in with 6 kids and now I know he is the right one. And I also know that we wake up every day and chose eachother. Choose to love one another and put eachother first.

What are some character qualities your husband has that other women should look for in the right guy, a potential mate?

Jessica: He is driven, kind, and focuses on growth and one of his key values is family. Look to see where they spend their time, their money – what is important to them. It truly tells a lot about a person.

Olivia Louise: He was marriage minded and didn’t waste time.  He was from a loving family and prayed daily.

Meghan Joy: He is a provider at heart. He yearns to work hard, constantly better himself and provide for his family. He spends time with God and leaves his Bible all over the house because he wants the kids to see as an example of time spent with God. He is willing to be goofy with me. He loves making me laugh. He is a really hard worker. Isn’t afraid to get a little sweaty and dirty. He is super honest with me and that may have been harder to swallow at first but through the years, I have come to really appreciate his honesty. I know that if I come to him, I will get the real deal.

During the waiting period of singleness for women, what’s the most important thing you’d like women to remember or focus on?

Jessica: I was single for over 5 and half years with only a handful of dates. It was down right depressing at times and totally took a hit on my confidence. I questioned what was wrong with me. Nothing was wrong with me God was just preparing me to be the best I could for the most important relationship. Use that time wisely and trust that the right partner will come along. Enjoy your singleness and freedom – marriage is a game changer in the best way possible but appreciate what you have now. Focus on your personal growth, be open to dates and that meeting your spouse might not look the way you dreamt it and also be open to heart ache – it is how you find the one. My 5 year single streak was worth every moment. I could not ask for a better partner.

Olivia Louise: In the waiting I focused on inviting Jesus into my longing heart.  Any desire I had for marriage was always directed at Jesus and he fulfilled my heart.  I surrounded myself with friends, work and service so I kept a very full schedule.  I focused on God’s calling for me instead of who I was going to date.  I actually stopped dating and it gave me time to rest and heal from the hook up culture.  After six years of prayer and rest I met my husband.

Meghan Joy: Surrender. I think so often we try to control our situations into what we want it to look like and God might have a completely different path for us. And also in that surrender, putting yourself out there for new possibilities and adventures. Being open to that different path, and what it may look like. When I first met my husband, I wasn’t very interested in him. After a few “dates,” I was like, “nah…. I’m good.” But he continued to pursue me and in round 2, I fell in love and am now happily married to quite the incredible man. I could have checked him off and missed out on this beautiful journey with him. You never know what God has in store.

 

 

 

 

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But I Love Him

Michelle Jewsbury is an author, actress, speaker, and humanitarian.  She is passionate about using her natural talents to make the world a better place by combating domestic violence worldwide. May 2014, she took her first humanitarian trip to Guatemala and has been to many countries since, helping underprivileged youth and women.  In 2015, she embarked in a career as Vice President for Young Vision Africa (YVA), a non-profit organization doing humanitarian work in Sierra Leone.  She stayed with YVA until August 2016 when she decided to leave the organization to focus her efforts on ending domestic violence.

July 2017, Michelle founded Unsilenced Voices, a nonprofit focused on inspiring change in communities around the world by encouraging victims to break free and survivors to speak up about domestic violence and sexual assault.  The organization is developing shelters for women and children internationally and has created sensitization programs to educate communities around the globe.

In the entertainment industry, she has worked in casting, as an agent, producer, and actress in television, film, and on the stage.  She is known for her acclaimed one-person play But I Love Him, loosely based on her past experience in an abusive relationship.  Her memoir was recently published of the same title. You can check out her website for updates on her book launch party and purchase details.

She has also had numerous appearances on talk shows and stages throughout the world. Michelle’s hope is that through her bravery and boldness she will inspire others to take charge and participate in ending domestic violence and sexual assault. Through her book, she hopes to tell the truth of what happened to her and show others it’s ok for them to tell their truth.  Readers will recognize themselves throughout the pages of her book, which is why it’s essential and needs to be out there.

To learn more about the work her organization is doing or to connect with Michelle you can visit the following social media accounts: LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.

1) Tell me about your story and what brought you to start your organization, Unsilenced Voices?

From a young age I had dreams of myself surrounded by African children though I never knew the meaning of the dreams. Years later in 2012 was when I found myself in an abusive relationship, it was during that time that I expressed wanting to help people. Around that time was when I began my humanitarian trips to Guatemala and Kenya, Africa. Upon leaving my abusive relationship I had become vice president of a non-profit organization called Young Vision Africa (YVA), their mission work was based in Sierra Leone, where I spoke with groups of women and shared my story for the first time of what I had gone through and about the domestic and sexual violence that takes place within their community.

After returning from my trip, I started working for another organization while volunteering at a women’s shelter on skid row. It was during a trip to San Francisco to interview for the organization Art and Abolition, that I felt God’s presence and received a sign from Him by ways of a complete stranger who I shared my story with and he told me to start my own organization. That was not the first time I’d heard that, but this time I was listening. With previously establishing roots in Sierra Leone, I was drawn back there. God also opened the door for me to also spend time in Ghana as I had met a Ghanaian man in LA by the name of Dr. Bennett whose family lives in Ghana. He told me I could stay at his family home which opened the door for me to do work there as well.

2) What difference are you making in Ghana and Sierra Leone?

Within the community we hold open forum sensitization meetings, where we invite both male and female community members to attend. During the meetings we teach them what is legally and morally wrong with domestic and sexual violence. What’s surprised me with these communities was the taboo aspect where women are in a position to have to appease their husbands and be submissive to them in all ways. These women are often raped, and the husbands strongly encouraged to marry numerous times if their first wife does not sexually satisfy them. These women often lack a voice. So, encouraging them that they don’t have to take this treatment and stay in this marriage, gives these women their voice back.  By sharing my own story of staying with an abuser who beat and raped me, it helped them to look at spousal rape as the violent act it is, no longer the norm that they have grown up being exposed to and witnessing. In fact, they didn’t even realize what they were doing was wrong, because it’s all they’ve ever know.

In these cultures, often, times rape is used to weaken the women, it’s a taboo subject that is rarely if ever broached. So, these meetings are not only eye opening but also a learning lesson for them. We usually have anywhere from between 35-125 community members attending these educational meetings. In Sierra Leone we’ve also partnered with a vocational training center where to date, we’ve helped four young girls who worked as sex workers also known as prostitution. These four girls are no longer on the street and are now going through the vocational training center to learn a skill, like creating the beautiful skirts we buy from them and sell on our website.  The reason most women become sex workers is because they are starving. Even children as young as six and seven years old are selling themselves for as little as fifty cents for a bag of rice.

3) How at such a young age do these children even know what they are selling themselves for?

In America a lot of us get to grow up as children. Yet if you grew up in the foster care system or the slums of America or had a harder life, you understand at a very young age how you have to take care of yourself. So, in the US you see children joining gangs because there is a need within their home within their selves and they know that the gang is going to support them. Overseas when parents are starving, a family member is dying from AIDS, grandparents can’t see or walk these children sell themselves on the street to help their family.

4) Are there future plans to expand the products these girls can create and make something like jewelry?
Yes, of course. Every non-profit organization has a shop section.  Some organizations may outsource the products they sell in their shops. Unsilenced Voices not only does the work but is now also in the fashion industry, though we really want to be known as an industry that helps people.


5) A hot topic within society has been submission within marriage. There seems to be a lot of opinions and misunderstandings as to what the biblical definition is and different cultural interpretations. With being a woman of faith can you explain the biblical truth behind submitting to your husband and why it’s important?          

In the Bible it says in Ephesians 5:22-24, 
“That women must submit to their husbands and that husbands need to love their wives as Jesus loved the church”.  Unfortunately, that last verse is usually negated and ignored, which has hurt the church and is the problem. That’s where people get confused. The verse asking men to love their wives like Christ loves the church is about love and respect. The church was the most important thing to Jesus and that’s how women are to be to their husbands – the most important thing. The husband is to protect his wife and not hurt her. Men and women are to co-exist and help each other, being the other’s helpmate. A relationship of mutual respect and submission. Husbands are to submit to their wives as well. Men will still be leaders of the household. The Biblical meaning of submission does not take anything away from a man still being able to be a man.

Though submission is not entirely the problem, people these days are stuck in the old ways and old mindset of how things should still be the way, they were decades ago. Yet we’re supposed to be advanced as a nation, but places like Sierra Leone are 100-150 years still behind the United States.  The culture and mindset are as backwards as in the 1900’s. We really need to take a stand. To me, what’s upsetting is when women lie about what happened to them. It takes away from the horrible epidemic that real survivors and victims have been through, lessening the severity of the violence they endured.
 
6) What strides are you making within the domestic violence movement.
Before the Me Too movement and politics got involved, I went through the process of pressing charges against my abuser. What Me Too has done for us and this movement is bringing more awareness to this. What we are doing as an organization is riding that wave, speaking up, and encouraging other women to speak up. We are going to be having a Speak Up campaign, asking women survivors nationwide to tell their story and send it into us for the campaign. Their stories will bring more awareness to this mainstream topic that Me Too has shined a light on and made more prevalent.

7) Was reporting your abuser an easy or hard decision?

 Very difficult! Even after I left that relationship, we were still in communication and during that time he was still emotionally and financially abusing me. That is when I started to document what had happened to me. After documenting everything, that is when I realized how bad my situation was. I used to sit in the back of church, crying because I didn’t want him to do this again to someone else. I wanted to do something, but I also didn’t want to hurt him. I had a very difficult time processing what it was I was supposed to do. I wanted to press charges, but I heard God tell me no, so I listened. At the end of 2015 I received a Facebook message from his current girlfriend whose head he had put through a glass wall, she was pressing criminal charges. At that point I felt more secure moving forward with the process of pressing charges. Though my statute of limitations ran out criminally, I was able to sue him civilly. That statute is something that we need to change because most women are not able to speak up or even process what has happened until years later after that short two-year statute of limitations run outs.

8) Society often looks at the victim reporting a crime, as a crime in and of itself. Often blaming and shaming the victim. Would you explain the importance of justice from an accoutability stand point, but also criminally why justice is so important?

This is a hard question. With my abuser it’s hard for me knowing that my testimony could have huge implications on the trajectory of his life and his livelihood. I do believe you need to forgive. Forgiveness is key to healing for yourself. The thing that I struggle with and what I talk with my therapist about is, at what point does your abuser need to have justice served? Your abuser should be accountable for what he did to you. It is not right what happened, it is wrong, it is evil, it is unhealthy, and potentially deadly. I believe moving forward and pressing charges brings accountability on your abuser. So, the most important thing is to make sure your abuser takes responsibility for his actions. My abuser went through therapy and said he was changing, and I believed him. We went almost a year without him assaulting me physically though he would still abuse me in other ways. When he did assault me again, at that point I knew it wasn’t ever going to change. Moving forward with the process is difficult. I recently sat across from him at the deposition. I was torn as I felt sympathy for him, but I also never want anyone to experience what I’ve gone through. If he gets sentenced and spends time in prison. I know what happens to men who beat on women. I know what happens to them and I don’t want that to happen to him, but it’s also not up to me. I’m just moving forward in the legal process and making sure he takes responsibility for his actions and that there is some type of consequence and repercussion. 

9) So, seeking justice doesn’t mean there isn’t forgiveness and forgiveness doesn’t mean that there can’t be justice, is that correct?
 Yes, that’s correct.

10) Would you further detail why  it’s not easy to leave your abuser? 

You really liked the person you’re with. He puts your head through a wall, spits on you, rapes you, then he looks at you, and tells you how sorry he is while he cries. There is a cycle, a pattern that begins to happen. It start’s from walking on egg shells to him blowing up either emotionally, mentally, physically, or sexually. After that is the apology stage, which is the reason why most victims stay in the relationship. He will vow he loves you and that he’s sorry and that he will never do it again. Because of your feelings toward him and the connection you share with him, you’ll believe him. You truly believe that he will become the man you always dreamed he could be or who he tells you he is. You believe his apologies and you believe that he won’t hurt you again. So, you believe his lies. Though in most cases he will do it again.

**Click on the links for resources on red flags and the pattern of abuse chart  that Michelle references when speaking. 

 

11) Take us through the process of pressing charges. 

At the end of 2015, I sought the help of an attorney. I thought the process would be quick but am still going through it three years later. This is not a short process, it’s very emotional and painful. I’ve had to retell my story many times during police interviews and court interrogations. I’ve had to remember dates, times, and even what I was wearing. You need to make sure you have everything documented and that you remember things correctly. It is a long process and a lot of times victims are not ready or even capable to go through the process. 

12) Where are you at in the process for your case?

We’re at the end. The whole process has taken about three years. Total in is eight years, because of four years in the relationship, about a year of doing nothing, and three years for the legal process. 

13)  Do you think there are any safety measures that could prevent domestic violence from ever happening? 

So, you could drive the speed limit, not text while driving, and pay attention while you drive. But that does not 100% guarantee you will not get into an accident. So, my perspective is you need to take care of yourself, take precautions, and look for red flags. If domestic violence is happening in your home, you need to find a safe way to get out. I don’t agree that staying in an abusive relationship is good for you or your children. However, I do understand how difficult it is to leave and why victims don’t. There are red flags to look for before you commit to a husband or an relationship. There are ways to prevent being assaulted, you can carry pepper spray, not walk to your car late at night by yourself, and if you meet a man who is too controlling, don’t stay with him.

 
14) Explain what is the aftermath of trauma.

I still have nightmares. After my abuser and I stopped communication I used to think that there would be someone waiting to shoot me as I walked out of the elevator in my building. My abuser has a lot of power and a lot of money. So, I definitely thought it was a possibility. Now I understand that I’m still going to have nightmares and be scared when I walk the streets alone. Even be nervous when there is a male passenger in my car because my abuser would scream profanities at me and be very critical of what I was doing wrong when driving. Eventually I wouldn’t drive with him in the car, he’d drive instead. I still get apprehensive regarding the situation but there is hope and healing. The nightmares aren’t as frequent. I’m able to move forward and have healthier relationships. Also, I’ve found that the more you speak the better it makes you feel, so be open and don’t hide things. It’s not your fault. It’s good to speak up because 1 in 4 women in the United States will experience this. 

15) What advice would you give to  someone whose abuser is in a position of power?
 Get out as soon as you can. Don’t stay just because he has power.  I had read a book that talked about elite women staying in relationships, because they don’t want people to think they don’t have it all together.  Regardless get out, you need to get out. You need to stand up for your rights and it can be difficult because you may love your husband who is a huge political figure or celebrity or has tons of power. If you stay they will think you’re condoning that kind of relationship even though you’re not and it will just continue. If you want to press charges against your abuser, know what you’re up against. Make sure you have all your ducks in a row. If you don’t have enough evidence do yourself a favor and just get out.

16) Has your story been well received within the church community.
Mine has but I know people whose stories have not been. A lot of people misuse the bible to justify their actions. But it’s very misconstrued. I’m very close to God, He is my best friend. I did not find him the conventional way. I abused drugs for many years and found him as I was lying on my back strung out from cocaine and talking to a ceiling fan. After that I started going to church and was baptized in 2011.
17) What has helped you the most in the healing process?
 I’m a huge advocate for writing therapy. If I hadn’t written my play I wouldn’t be able to openly discuss things that happened to me as much. I’m still a strong woman but rehearsing for that play brought a lot of healing. Write everything you’ve been through down on paper, just details and dates without an emotional attachment. Which can make it harder to go through when recounting the trauma. Also, being able to talk to a trusted therapist or counselor about what happened in a confidential and non-judgement environment. This is very important because often times girls will try to talk to their friends and those friends won’t understand or they’ll judge you.

18) Society’s perspective regarding therapy or 
counseling is that it’s for someone with issues or whose mentally sick. Do you agree?

Who doesn’t have issues. I think people who go to therapy do much better than those who don’t go to therapy. LA is pretty open and accepting where the south and other parts may be less open to talking about one’s feelings. I say screw it and talk about it anyways. If you’re worried about being judged, know that the person you’re speaking to is not the person who is going to judge you, God above is going to judge you. If you’re worried about getting judged for going to therapy, try to look at it from a different point of view. I’m going to therapy to deal with this, so I can have healthy relationships and move on with my life. Those people that come back and say you’re an idiot, or that you have issues do not need to be in your life. If those close to you think you’re crazy for going to therapy, just don’t talk to them about it. People can be very closed minded, especially in our country right now.

 19) Is it possible to thrive after trauma?                                                                  Oh yeah, 100%. So, I’ve decided that through my story, I’m going to help other people and just thrive in general.  I’ve written a book, I’ve started a successful non-profit, I have two jobs, I speak to other women who have experienced similar violence, and I coach women. I also have traveled all over the world. I’ve learned new things like scuba diving, which is now my favorite thing to do. I live in a lovely house with two great roommates. I laugh, I go out with my friends, and have cocktails. Yes, you can still thrive and there is hope.  This does not define you. Your experiences do not define you.

 

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The Blue Code of Silence Creates Systematic Injustice

(Here is the LINK   to my recent interview with Rehumanize Intl.)

 

If you have read my Bio, you know I’m a pioneer for the rights of women, children and even men when it comes to violence and injustice within our world and justice system, though not always so just!

What I often don’t speak on a lot or go into depth regarding is the fact that six years ago I had to flee in the middle of the night after I had been assaulted by my ex, a cop on June 5, 2013 and was thus subsequently targeted, retaliated against, threatened, and deemed an enemy of the police by the police all because I turned him in for domestic violence and abusing his power as a law enforcement agent.

The last six years of living in hiding have been difficult, isolating, terrifying – with lots of sleepless nights. My rights have been violated over and over again, and extra safety measures have needed to be taken to not only keep myself safe, but also my loved ones. It’s not the way to live, in fact I haven’t really been able to live and the things most people take for granted, I’ve not been able to experience because of living in hiding for my safety from a corrupt dangerous cop who continues to be protected by our government.

Can you even imagine what it’s like to go up against one of the biggest giants in our world, our government and know they see you as an enemy because you spoke up when one of their own assaulted you? Being told I was now an enemy of the police is a threat I expereinced and a reality I face every day.

In fact several weeks ago, a member of the DOJ sent a message to me through   a local official, that came after I tried to take steps to come out of hiding for my safety and to seek justice, which I have tirelessly been seeking for the last five years,but in vain. The DOJ official stated that if I try to seek justice or come out of hiding, my ex is going to come after me and come out swinging and what’s worse is my ex has the support of the DOJ. Once again my rights are violated! So my choices are either to remain silent and continue to live in hiding. Or fight to regain my rights, freedoms, my life back, and he will do me harm and possibly others. Yet those aren’t choices at all!

Do you know what it’s like to look fear dead in the eye?  Your life is on the line, but you keep moving forward, keep fighting for your rights, you get knocked down and find the strength to still be standing, but you do it because you don’t have any other choice.  I’m not going to lie, of all the things I’ve endured – this is probably the scariest! But this is my reality day in and day out. I am standing on the battlefield alone, facing the biggest giant of the free world -our entire governmental system and its agencies and officials.

If my ex comes after me, I can’t call the police because he is the police and “The Blue Code of Silence” will go into effect! I have no one to turn to, to keep me safe, all I have is my story, my voice, and my truth! Thats is my only weapon of self defense that I have and I’m using it.

Why am I speaking out? In hopes that one day I can fully break free from these chains that keep me held captive, so I don’t have to always look over my shoulder, so I can finally get a good nights rest without being haunted of nightmares that he’s found me, to spread awareness on this issue that often is ignored, to educate others who have become desensitized to this injustice, to let other victims & survivors know they are not alone, and to prove to myself that regardless of what we go through our hardships are not in vain and can make a difference!

Which is what I’m trying to do to facilitate worldly and judicial change by choosing to “Live Each Day With Purpose” and “Making a difference one day, one life at a time”. At the end of the day, my life is on the line and I am going to fight like hell to overcome this. To not just survive it, but overcome by thriving in the most direst  of circumstances. I want to be a example, a role model to so many out there who may be considering giving up or staying silent,  inspiring them to find the courage to come forward and tell their stories. But I can’t encourage or tell anyone to do that, unless I break my silence first!

To find out more about my interview with Rehumanize Intl. Please click on the bold link in parentheses up above. This aspect of my story is real, it’s raw, and it’s my current reality. I hope it promotes awareness regarding this police perpetrated injustice for much needed, life saving change!

 

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The Power Of Trust

 

www.wbtv.com
WBTV is the CBS TV station in Charlotte, North Carolina, with Charlotte news, Charlotte weather, sports, traffic, North Carolina and South Carolina news, Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, NASCAR

(Click on the “Motivational MVP: The Power of Trust”, link above. )

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Coach LaMonte on the Morning Break Show on WBTV, for the Motivational MVP segment. We focused on “The Power of Trust” and how trust is the foundation for every relationship!

I shared my personal stories of struggling with trusting others after my trust had been violated and betrayed, in some of the most unthinkable ways. I was able to shed light on how to overcome trust issues, while also expressing it’s a learning process that I’ve even had to work through recently with relationships. This interview was raw and real. I’m sharing from personal experiences and lessons learned in hopes that this message of “The Power of Trust” will help you to work towards having successful relationships going forward.

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Man with a Mission

Getting to know Mr. Michael Scanlon

       

  Photo Credit: @dmfphotoworks  & @latoya.shanell

Bio:

Michael’s resume is both multifaceted as well as impressive. He is a world traveler, photographer, speaker, fitness & fashion model, and has worked as a Behavioral Analyst in the field of Autism. Yet that does not even cover his volunteer work nor his Criminology and Psychology degrees from the University of Miami. Along with currently finishing up his MBA in Finance, from Governors State University, he’s also a contributor/writer for Seeking Alpha, an online financial and stock market publication. For the past fourteen years, he’s also played competitive rugby.

You were first introduced to him via his previous interview about Autism Awareness Month. Now through this in depth interview you will get to know Mr. Michael Scanlon on an entirely different level. To connect with him, see more of his pictures, or purchase his workouts or landscape photographs,  you can do so via his Instagram accounts @michaelscanlonfitness  and @Freedomfix.

       

 Photo Credit: @joembayawaphotography

You’re currently finishing up your MBA. What has been your educational focus and why?   I just finished my MBA with a Finance specialization. More precisely, I have geared my study towards working in the financial markets.

What do you hope to do with your degree?   Even though I can have a great impact as a Behavioral Analyst, it is a stressful job for which you do not make a lot of money. I knew when I returned back to the States from Australia, that I wanted to go back to school to get my MBA. By doing so, I could attain a job where I could make quite a bit more money and have the dispensable income and time to still help in my own way.

What kind of job are you looking for?  A position within a company that’s focus is around the stock market.  Probably something within equity or financial analysis like analyzing stocks, companies, their balance sheets, and their finances.  Where I can determine whether or not those companies’ stocks are properly valued. I currently do that stuff at the moment as I write for Seeking Alpha, as a paid contributor.

How did you get into modeling?  I randomly got asked to do one photo shoot last summer and it was for the LA Tan Ad campaign for the upcoming year. From there I put up a couple pictures online and was noticed and approached by photographer, Joem Bayawa. He suggested that I start an Instagram account and from there I got contacted by a couple of agencies. Since that everything has just taken off, all of a sudden people out of nowhere are asking me to work and I started to build a portfolio. Now I’ve been signed to five agencies and am getting paid shoots for different brands like Coors, Groupon, Met Life, and many others. With these doors opening I’ve been able to pay for my schooling, pay off my credit card, start an investment account, and even have money to do other things with.

                                                                                                               

 Photo Credit: @erik_ruiz_photography

What drives you?  It’s hard to pinpoint any one thing. I want to have a good mixture of being happy and helping other people. I was originally a Radio TV Broadcasting major my freshman year. Though I enjoyed it, after a year I didn’t feel it was meeting the need or desire to help others. For me helping others is my driving force, so I changed my major so I could help as many people as possible while also having the right balance of doing something that makes me happy. So, everything I do is either to help or be happy myself.

Tell us something about you, that has impacted you in a personal way, that you often don’t talk about.  Something I haven’t shared is, although I’ve never had cancer before, there was a time several years ago when for about three hours I was misdiagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma cancer, which is an extremely rare form. This all came about when I had previously injured my shoulder and still to this day have a separated shoulder. I went to the hospital to get it x-rayed and was told the x-ray revealed that I had a shadow in my upper arm that I needed to get checked out. So, I subsequently went and got an MRI which led to the misdiagnosis. Of course, it rocked my world and devastated my parents. I was sent to the same children’s hospital I now volunteer at to be seen by an oncologist. During all this all I could think about is all the things I wanted to do, wondering what was going to happen, what are things I’ve wished I’d done, and what does all this mean? I remember walking through the hospital hallway as we were sent to get more tests done and my hand was just shaking as I was holding the order for the additional tests. The doctor at the children’s hospital would reveal that it turned out that I didn’t have cancer but instead a very unusual kind of spiderweb type boney structure inside of my arm where the bone is actually supposed to be hollow. After that I went home and just kind of sat in a trance for a while thinking about what was going through my mind when I thought I was sick. The one thing I wished I had done was move abroad, so later that week I bought a visa to move to Australia and less than a year later, I did…In fact, my parents to this day do not know that the cancer scare is one of the reasons I moved away.

Why did you choose Australia for your big move?  I wanted to play rugby somewhere that was better than America because I’m always looking to better myself. I wanted somewhere warm that had good rugby and an overall better job market.  A friend had given me some positive feedback about Brisbane so that, with other factors, led to my move to Brisbane, Australia. When I moved there I didn’t have a job or a place to live, but I figured I’d make it happen and I did.

Let’s talk about your acting! You’ve shared some Instagram stories of current projects. So, what do you have that’s coming up? What do you enjoy about it?  I’ve actually never really considered myself an actor and wasn’t sure I could do it. I think that the part I recently got for the pilot I’m filming was typecast as the set is in a gym and I’m playing a gym rat. I’ve got a part in every episode and depending on where the storyline goes I may become a little more ingrained in some of the other parts of the show. But so far, I think what I’ve really enjoyed about it is when you work a regular job you work with people who are both positive and negative. Yet with this job, you are working with people who are funny, creative, and it’s just a fun atmosphere to be a part of.

 

  Photo Credit: @lshanelleevents

You had posted on Instagram asking your followers what they daydream about.  So, what do you daydream about?  I have weird daydreams about what I would do if I won the power ball when it was worth 500 million dollars. The answer I would always come to is I’d probably invest half of it. Just to be smart and make sure that I got consistent returns on my money, so I could always have cash flow. I’d take the rest and do what the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation does and give to as many charities as I can, because I think that too many people give themselves too much credit for where they are in life. I think a lot of where you are at in life is just luck and circumstance. I feel I didn’t do anything to garner the fact that I’m able to model, that had a lot to do with my parent’s genetics.  I also didn’t make myself intelligent, yes, I studied, and my parents pushed me to that, but it wasn’t anything that I specifically did. I believe that when a lot of people are in unfortunate situations, it’s not necessarily their fault either and I think we should do everything we can to help them.

On Instagram you had mentioned that you hoped to make it back out to Australia in March. Did you accomplish that?  I did! So, I do a lot of the investing in the stock market and I try to pick up on behavioral trends in the market.  At the end of November 2017, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange announced that they would be offering futures trading on bitcoin, which has never been traded on a major exchange before. It was still considered almost like a black-market kind of thing, a bit sketchy. Though when it was announced that they were going to start trading it I figured that would create a lot of hysterical trading and cause people to start buying it just to buy it. It seemed what the Chicago Exchanges were doing helped to legitimize it. So, I took some of the money I had made from modeling and bought bitcoin and litecoin. About a week later I sold it before the seasoned investors could get in and start shorting the bitcoin features and drive the price down, which has happened since. From that trade, I made enough money to not only fund the entire Australia trip but was also able to put even more than that into my investment account and invest that into the stock market.

Where are your top favorite travel spots?  I love the GlassHouse Mountains in the sunshine coast of Australia; I’ve actually climbed a couple of them. I scuba dived the Great Barrier Reef, which was incredible. I’ve driven all around Ireland and it’s so hard to just pick a single place there. I also really like San Diego. In fact, for the first time in my life I had made a decent amount of money while working in Australia. So, I was able to surprise my dad with a father-son trip to Ireland where we could explore our Irish heritage.

So, tell me about the children’s hospital that you work with? What is your involvement?  I work once a week for a few hours as a child life volunteer. I’m given a list with names of patients that are there that week, a description of their age, and anything else I need to know about them including their needs. The hospital is equipped with video game systems in the rooms for patients there for an extended stay.  Also, there is a closet full of donated toys for the children. There are two rooms where the children can hang out either in the play room or the teen room. One of my jobs is to check on the children and be a support to them as well as to the parents, even giving parents a much needed break.

 

 Photo Credit: @joembayawaphotography

How do you stay fit, what is your fitness regimen?  I write my own. Depending on whether or not I’m playing rugby will determine my fitness schedule for the week. When I play rugby, I lift four days a week plus four days of rugby training and a game. Tuesday and Thursdays are my club training. Wednesday and Sundays is when I train with CARFU(Chicago Area Rugby Football Union). Though this does not just include Chicago but the entire state. On Saturdays we have rugby games but when I am in the off season I work out six days a week. During those days, I break down the workouts to focus on one individual body part – chest, legs (twice a week), arms & abs, shoulders, and back, per each day.

What about diet?  Diet is interesting, so I am not one to just eat chicken and broccoli, for me that is boring. So, what I do instead is I make what I consider smart replacements. Every morning for breakfast I eat six eggs, but I only eat two actual eggs and supplement with 4 eggs worth of egg whites. When I scramble it you still have the yolk from the actual egg so to me it still tastes like regular scrambled eggs. Each egg has five grams of fat so by eating egg whites instead, you are removing 20 grams of fat. I also use wheat breads instead of white breads. Kraft makes fat free singles and I use 96% lean ground beef instead of regular. All those little things add up.

On your Instagram account you have four workouts for sale, tell me about that? I sell written workouts that target each part of the body on different days. The workouts come from years of experience with playing rugby and having my workouts written for me by doctors of kinesiology, and exercise strength and conditioning coaches. I learned from them about what works well and also through a lot of trial and error. I also have a personal training certificate though I haven’t studied it formally.

Even though you don’t model nude, you do show a lot of skin. Has that been an adjustment? How do you get comfortable with showing what you do show?  It’s hard. I think it depends on the photographer. You have to trust the photographer(s) you work with because they may accidentally see some thing when they are shooting, and you have to trust that they are never going to show anything that you don’t want to be seen. In terms of specifically and intentionally ever showing anything, that’s just not something I want to do. I show a fare bit of skin just because I’m trying to build up my following and I know that’s what people want to see. I know in isolation the pictures may look a little risqué, but it’s nothing more than what you’d probably see at the beach.

                 Photo Credit: Michael Scanlon@FreedomFix

On your Instagram account @FreedomFix  you have taken beautiful pictures that you have for sale. Tell me about your photography.   So, I started taking pictures just because I was traveling to all these new places. When I’d go out sightseeing, whether for leisure or through traveling for work because we had Autism centers all over, I was mostly traveling by myself. So, I wanted to have a way to share all my travels with everyone back home. With photography if you can have a decent eye and take a decent picture, it’s been a great way to document all the places you visit.

What is your advice for growing Instagram followers?   From all the things I’ve read you need to have a theme and keep to it. Know who your followers are and what they want to see. Also try to use as many relative hashtags and tags as you can. I make sure to know all of the pages that might share my pictures, just to increase the different possible groups of followers I can attract. So, when posting a picture if I tag those pages it grabs their attention and they repost the picture(s) that I posted, which gets me more followers.

Tell me about playing rugby? Why rugby and what do you love about it? While in High School our rugby team was the winning state championships every single year. My dad played football when he was HS as well as a year of college football, as quarterback. I had grown up swimming and playing baseball and decided that I wanted to start playing a contact sport. Back then I thought I was too old to start playing football, which now that I’m older I realize that was silly and that I could have easily done it. Not that I would have been a star or any good, but it wasn’t too late to get into it after all. But, I decided I was going to try rugby because most people didn’t start to play rugby before HS or even before college. I was lucky that my HS had a team. So, when the announcement was made to try out I did. For the last fourteen years I’ve been playing rugby in the States and four years in Australia. Rugby is a brotherhood and though we may be crazy on the field, for the most part we are pretty disciplined and respectful. I’ve been able to apply that discipline to other areas of my life.

Now let’s get personal on a whole new level. I wouldn’t be a good journalist if I didn’t touch on your dating life. So, give me all the juicy details. Are you single? What’s your type?  I don’t have a girlfriend, but I’ve been trying to date lately. I’ve even tried out some dating sites. In terms of the type of girl I’m looking for, I like smart girls. I’ve never understood the joke that you see on TV shows and movies about guys that like dumb girls, I don’t understand it! I like smart girls and I like girls to be pretty, I think everybody does. Though not necessarily, model pretty just pretty in their own way. I’m not going to be a model forever and I don’t know if I have much time left at this at all. None of us are going to be looking the same for any long duration in our lives. I think the biggest thing is just finding the right personality match, which is difficult to find. Someone you can just instantly click with. It’s one of those things that you can’t necessarily describe, but you’ll know it when you see it. I really don’t have any other specifics except have a good personality that matches mine, intelligence, witty, a bit sarcastic but in a positive way & in the right environment, and as long as we get along you could be anything, do anything.

  

 Photo Credit: @dmfphotoworks

 Is it difficult to meet and date girls because of being a model and a public figure or is it easier?  Maybe a little harder but not by much. I don’t think I’m a big enough public figure for it to matter. I think if they get to know me, they realize I’m a nice normal guy. I have had girls tell me they think they’re being catfished by me because they don’t think I’m real and because of that they refuse to meet me, but that’s rare.

What are your future goals in life, love, business, etc.? Pretty basic, I want to get married and have kids. Never really thought about how many kids, probably more than one. I wouldn’t want the one little one to be all lonely but maybe two or three.

So, what’s next for you after graduating this month with your MBA? I have quite a few paid gigs coming up. Currently I’m filming the first season of a TV pilot. Within the next month or two I have some voice over work I’m going to be doing in Las Vegas. I’m in the process of working with a Director out in LA on a potential miniseries/movie project.  Meeting with other agencies, I just signed with an agency out in Indiana and another in Iowa. I’m also going to be looking for jobs, though I’m going to be very selective about where I want to go and what I want to do because I can sustain myself for the time being with everything else I have going on.

What do you want to be the biggest take away for others from this interview? The most important thing to take away is that there are people out there with autism and in hospitals. They need help and we should do something to help them.

 

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