Heart Check: Keeping your emotional heart healthy

Heart disease is a huge problem in America. According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 4 deaths are due to heart disease in the US. That is a lot of people dying from a relatively preventative disease. The majority of heart disease is caused by stress, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity. I also think people never have their heart health checked until they’re extremely ill and need to be put on medication or have extensive surgery. Now, I’m not a physical heart health specialist (I know a lot more about infectious diseases), but I do know a thing or two about the emotional heart. The Bible writes in Proverbs 4:23 (NLT): “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life”.

I quote Proverbs 4:23 all the time, and it’s a reminder for me to check my heart, and continuously making sure I’m guarding it from “disease” (aka negativity). The status of our hearts determines how we interact and treat people. For example, if we carry a lot of bitterness from our past, we can automatically look at the bad in people before we ever see the good. If we carry past hurts from abandonment in our hearts, we may assume everyone is going to leave us, so we either sabotage relationships or keep people at an arm’s length away. On the other side of the coin, a heart full of joy and love tends to poor out joy and love to others in most circumstances (joyous people do have bad days, but it never steals our inner joy). So as I’m preparing to leave for Mozambique, I’m going through an extensive heart check and cleaning out a lot of emotional cobwebs. I want to enter this new season of life a healthy, joyful, loving person.

I’m currently having some major heart surgery in the forgiveness department. I didn’t realize that I was holding unforgiveness over certain people in my past. Biblical forgiveness is technically canceling out someone’s emotional debt to me. In better terms, this means when someone hurts me, I’m holding on to this “hurt debt” that you owe me, and I’m not letting go of this debt until you pay for it (usually through an apology, or me returning the hurt). I realized that there were people in my life I thought I had fully forgiven, but it turned out I only forgave 20% of the hurt that they caused me instead of 100%. You can usually tell if you fully forgive someone by the way you emotionally react to when you see them (on Facebook or in person), when they come up in conversation, or even when you think about them. Does the mere mention of their name make you automatically think of the offense that they caused? Or do you think about them with a clear conscious? When I realized this, it blew my mind. I know I’m not giving the topic enough credit, so to know more I highly advise listening to my friend Brandon’s message on forgiveness (it’s long but good). I could write a whole post on forgiveness, but Brandon says it a lot better!

With this being said, how’s your heart doing? Do you have parts of anger, bitterness, sadness, disappointments, or forgiveness that you need to work on? Leave a comment below. The best part about dealing with it now, is the freedom that comes from a healthy heart. Now that I’m forgiving people 100%, I have more space to love people (this is all I want to do… I know, it sounds a little hippyish, but it’s me).

With love,

Tifa

Bearing fruit: Reaping what you sow in life

AH! Spring is here, and for us mid-atlanticers this means the start of our local fruit season (there is way more fruit in the summer, and we at least get tomatoes during this time). I love being able to eat local fruits and veggies that are picked when their ripe, that aren’t flown in from thousands of miles away. How much nutrients does a fruit have when it is picked off the vine prematurely? I have no idea, but it’s worth asking. I have one friend who enjoyed reminding me that avocados eaten in California (where they grow) taste way better and are a lot less stringy (I didn’t even know avocados were stringy) than those consumed in DC (we can’t grow avocados). This had me thinking, what does the fruit of our lives say about us?

Most people have heard the expression you reap what you sow, and I can attest that this is so true (for the most part). If you sow in the time and energy to cultivate an authentic and balanced friendship, you usually reap the benefits of a trustworthy lifetime friend. Another example would be if I sow in the time to study for a big test, I should reap the benefits of a good grade on that test. I will warn you, like the stringy avocados eaten in DC by a Californian, not all fruit are good. If you sow negativity and hate, you’ll reap negativity and hate. The “reap and sow” can be used in so much, and I’ll give you a personal example.

Last week I posted a blog about obedience and walking out your calling. This is still striking true today. I am currently walking through a season of trust and obedience with The Lord, and walking out what He’s calling me to do (big and small). This includes humbling myself and apologizing to people whom The Lord convicts me that I have done wrong to, forgiving people 100% for things I felt they have been done wrong to me, and spending time with/reaching out to people He’s laid on my heart, etc. This all may sound easy written down, but it’s not. Admitting you’re wrong and facing that person? Not always the easiest. And forgiving someone who truly hurt you? Some events and feelings we don’t want to relive. But I will say, I feel light, free, joyful, and chock-full of LOVE!!!!! Not only is this improving how I feel, but I have closer and genuine relationships with those around me. All in all, it feels good.

Now I won’t say that I’m walking in 100% obedience, I’m still a very stubborn girl at heart, but it’s something I’m working through (example: The Lord wanting me to chat it up with a complete stranger on the street, sometimes I’d rather keep it moving). As I’m seeing the fruit of all this obedience to His nudging, I’m trying to listen for His promptings more and truly practicing what I preach.

Is there an aspect of your life where you are seeing/reaping the fruit of what you’ve been sowing? Have you been sowing into something for a while and not seen the fruit yet? Let me know in the comments below.

With love,

Tifa

Obedience: Walking into your calling

I know it’s been a while, and I have big news (YAY!). This summer I’ll be heading out to Pemba, Mozambique from May to August with Iris Ministries’ Harvest School. This is huge because the one thing I thought was lacking in my work was being able to serve the poor. I went into international development wanting to make a difference in the lives of people who are affected by the HIV epidemic. Once I started working, I was so far removed from the “frontline” that I felt that I wasn’t making a big difference, and I wasn’t forming personal relationships with the people that God has called me to love.

With this being said, I’m excited to finally get back to basics, loving on people, and hopefully taking you all on this journey. I do what I do because I just can’t stop loving people; SO, as of May, I’ll be blogging about my experience in Mozambique (please pray for decent internet)!

Now to the main point of this post; walking out your calling through obedience. Getting to this place where I’m off to Mozambique took a lot of internal wrestling with God, a ton of faith and trust, and of course obedience. The Lord had dropped going to Pemba in my heart about a year ago, but I wanted to ignore it because I had a career, comfortable living, and I love the people I surround myself with here in the DC area. I believe the hardest part for me was walking away from my career. This includes all the time I spent in graduate school AND the amount of loans I have accrued (trust me… I owe enough to make 5 grown men cry).  I know I could have continued in my career, moving up the development ladder writing proposals and putting out “fire drills”, but my heart wasn’t in it and I didn’t have peace about it. I know to the outside world, it may look completely insane, and it won’t necessarily be easy, but everything is falling into place in the way that only God can do it!

Now here I am, finally being obedient to what God is calling me to do next, and I have amazing peace about it. Walking in obedience is not easy, and there are times I want to turn to God and say “I got this” or “I think my plans and what I want to do is better”.  I’ve tried doing “my own thing” in the past, and it’s never turned out the way I thought, but when I face my fears and do what He’s calling me to do, everything falls into place, and it’s always better than I could imagine (never the way I thought it would). As I prepare to go, He’s taking me a journey of trust and faith. Because I’m not working, I’m fundraising for my trip (I’ve never fundraised for a trip in my life). Instead of trusting in my own finances, I legit have to trust God in paying my way.

God has a calling and a purpose for everyone, but we have a choice if we want to walk in it, or try and figure out our own path. Has there ever been a time when God has called you into something, and when you finally took the first step, you realize it’s AMAZING!!!! Or has he put something on your heart, and the vision seems so overwhelming, you don’t know where to start. Comment below and let me hear your experiences, or if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at admin@teawithtifa.com.

With love,

Tifa

Rest: Taking time to refuel

I think one of the hardest activities for us as humans is just to rest. Yoga instructors say the hardest pose for students is usually Savasana, you just lay on your back not moving, with minimal thinking. How hard can it be? It’s really hard! I challenge you just to lie on your back without moving/getting distracted for 10 minutes; if you succeed, let me know. Back to the point of this blog, why is it so hard for us to just rest?

I remember when I was still working full-time, some co-workers would talk about how they hadn’t gone on vacation in years. One co-worker would brag about how she hadn’t gone on vacation in five years… FIVE YEARS!!!!! Like why? You looked stressed all the time, this is why you get vacation, I hope she’s taken a vacation! And then there are those who go on vacation and are still checking/replying to emails… just enjoy your time of rest. Delete the email app off your phone and sleep, read, go hiking, dance, shower, I don’t know… anything but work. And to those who get sick leave, if you are sick, use it and get better. I don’t want to be on a conference call with your sick self… REST! I beg you, stop working and rest. There is a time to work, and there is a time to rest; even The Lord rested on the seventh day… shouldn’t you?

Personally I am in a season of rest, and I’m not going to lie… it’s hard. And I believe the reason it’s hard is because as adults, we feel guilty for resting. Granted, we are called to work, no matter what that looks like; from being a homemaker, a student, or even the CEO of a Fortune 500 business. I know I mention this in a few blogs, but I resigned from my job in November, and it is February (#Funemployed). Part of me wants to hit the pavement running, but I know during this time I just need to rest, because when the next season hits, I will look back and regret the day I didn’t take advantage of this time. So I’m working on resting in Him, without feeling guilty, as I prepare for the next super busy season!

Now rest looks different for everyone; some just need to sleep, while others shop, rearrange their homes, or need to be out in nature taking a walk, sitting on a beach, kayaking… you name it. So whatever your rest looks like, don’t forget to do it! Personally, I’m enjoying this time having moments with God, reading, running, blogging, and hanging with family and friends. My guilty pleasure during this season is being able to enjoy Gossip Girl (I’m on season 5, almost done)!

Please let me know if you’ve gone through a season of rest (be it a few days or maybe a few years), and let me know you did during that time. If you are in a busy season, let me know what you do to refuel (how do you find rest in the chaos).

With love,

Tifa

Unconditional Love

I hope you all loved the post from last week from a good friend of mine. I personally want to thank my friend for being so open about her life and her struggles with walking through losing her dad and having an eating disorder. If you haven’t read it, you can find it here.

For those of you who don’t know me very well, I have a dog and her name is Bella. She is a tiny and tenacious 5lbs mutt who loves me to the moon and back. I moved to California for grad school and I was feeling pretty lonely because I was away from my family, friends and community (I’m East Coast all day err’ day). I adopted Bella from a kill shelter in San Bernadino, CA and it was love at first site, and I love this crazy ball of fluff unconditionally (and in my mind, you should too). Being a dog owner, I’ve noticed that dogs truly love their owners unconditionally, despite everything we do to them (I love annoying her and waking her up when she sleeps… SHE’S SOOO CUTE). And this had me thinking, if I can love my four legged friend unconditionally, why is it so hard to love people?

This is a question I ask myself pretty often and am still working through. I think as humans we are more apt to holding a grudge and making people pay for the hurt they cause, than just forgiving and moving on. Let me say, forgiveness doesn’t mean I’ll let you back in the inner quarters of my heart, it just means I’m letting go of the offense you have caused (this is a daily practice). I also think the majority of times that people who hurt do not do it out of a place of malice, it’s usually a miscommunication of some sorts.

I also think another reason it is hard to love people is because we confuse disagreement with unloving or hate. I’m a person who loves loving people. I usually (key word is usually) see the best in people and try and make a connection there. I don’t agree with everyone’s lifestyles or viewpoints, but that doesn’t mean I love you any less; it means I have to love you even harder. I’m not saying this is easy, but it’s a work in progress.

Story time! I was a party girl in college; I went out, I lived it up, I pumped my fists, and went to Mexico for one spring break (how I still have a liver, and that I haven’t been arrested, no one knows but Jesus… Thank you Jesus!!!!). Sometimes I sit and wonder how I’m still alive, but that’s a story for another time. I have friends who still party like they’re still in college. Personally, this isn’t my scene anymore, I like to be in my bed by 10pm and I want to live on a farm raising goats and make my own cheese. In other words, I am super simple (not to be confused with basic… I’m not basic). I personally don’t agree with the party lifestyle at this age (I’m in my 30’s), but I don’t love this group of friends any less. I just pick and choose what activities I do and do not partake in (that’s all). If you want to go out and party, knock yourself out, I probably won’t join; but if you want to go out, eat and have a glass of wine, I’m all about it. So this is a simple example of “I don’t agree with your lifestyle choices, but I still love you”.

The question here is: are there people in your life that you need to give a little more grace to? I know there are people in my life who don’t necessarily agree with my lifestyle choices, but they still love me (yes mother, I’m thinking about getting another tattoo… LOVE YOU)!

Let me know how you work through this, I can always take other tips and tricks. And if you want to talk more or want advise, please do not hesitate to contact me (admin@teawithtifa.com).

With love,

Tifa

One Step at a Time

There is still time to enter the GIVEAWAY from last week, the deadline to enter is February 20th.

Have you ever had a big grandiose vision, dream and/or idea? Something you can’t wait to hit the pavement running and get the creative juices flowing? And then, all of a sudden, you hit the wall of reality that smacks you with all the nuanced details and steps you need to follow to get there? Then in response you curl up in a ball and think “never mind, I’m just going to take a nap”? Well, this happens to me a lot because I’m a big picture person (I’m really type B), and all the details can be a bit overwhelming.

I started this blog in October 2016 to help encourage people with my stories of how The Lord is working on me. It’s a place where readers know they’re not the only ones who walk through difficult seasons, and enjoy the occasional ratchet song. I have a vision that my blog will be an open and safe community to have discussions with readers and to encourage each other. My page would be really pretty and my images would be on fleek!

WELL!!!!!! I didn’t realize there is more to blogging than just typing and coming up with a blog name. There have been many little steps taken to try and improve my site since it launched; from changing the way my blog page looks, to switching from photos to graphic design, and working on a logo (still in the process). I have a lot of amazing friends who have helped, and are currently helping me with creating what I see in my head (which is a cluster of randomness, epidemiology and gummy bears). There are times when I realize I’m still at the humble beginnings of a big vision, and it can be overwhelming when I have to see how much more I have to do. In these moments I need to learn to look back and see what I have already accomplished and keep moving forward. I love writing these posts, and as long as at least one person is enjoying them, I will continue to write.

I do need to be more consistent with posting, and writers block seems to come with the territory of being a content creator. If there is a week I don’t post, I’m so sorry, I probably have mushy brain from watching too much Gossip Girl (yes, I’m still Netflixing it). With all this said, YOU the readers make all the little steps bearable, and I will continue to try to give you the best that I can in the step that I am in. So stay tuned to the revamping of my website (I want it to be pretty and sparkly… who else out there loves gold polka dots), logo, incredible guest bloggers, and much much more!!!!!!!

If you are a type A person, I welcome all advice on how to map out big ideas better, and if you’re a type B person who is walking this or has figured it out, I’ll take your advice too.

With love,

Tifa

P.S. I need to thank my friend Kebah for taking risks in graphic design to see my vision to true!!! LOVE YOU!

STOP!

I hope you all enjoyed the blog post last week by my friend Mikkee. She is beautiful,  selfless, talented woman who loves people in whatever season they are in. If you didn’t have the opportunity to read it, you can find it here.

If you grew up in the 90’s then you may remember Susan Powter. If not, she was a fitness guru with platinum buzz cut hair who would yell “Stop the insanity”. I think her message was about stop treating your body bad (who knows, I was too young to know/care about what she was yelling about). As an adult, I think she has a point that it’s insane that we continue to do harm to oneself. I do believe this message goes beyond the food we ingest and I’ll explain how.

As some of you know one of my goals this year is to listen to my body more. This includes knowing what foods and products work for me. I will say, it is not easy to listen to your body after years of ignoring it, and it’s a work in progress. I do believe there is one thing more difficult than listening to ones body about food; it is listening to what our soul and spirit need for nourishment.  There are specific relationships, media, places, and situations that are toxic to our being, but insanely enough, we continue to allow it in.

A personal example would have to be the music I listen to while I drive. Now, I will begin with saying that living and commuting in the DC area will make anyone angry. Drivers here just have the special ability (especially on the 495 Beltway) to get on my laaaast nerve. As in the nerve that is holding the rest of me together, and these drivers are coming after it with a sharp pair of scissors, poking and cutting at it. THIS MY FRIENDS is what it is like driving in the DC region (even thinking about driving is irritating me). Anywho, back to my point! I used to listen to anything that was playing on the radio when I drove. I love music, and have to listen to it when I’m in the car. I began to notice that certain types of music were affecting my attitude and emotions while I drove (as a word of caution, listening to Ludacris’ Move song while driving is never a good idea). At first I ignored it because part of me has a love for super ratchet music (I don’t care who you are, there is a ratchet song that you love), but eventually I made the switch to listening to either WGTS 91.9 or the Christian music on my iPod (cause you can’t curse someone out while singing about Jesus… like, you can’t). I will not lie, this has changed my attitude towards DC and Maryland drivers (people from Virginia can’t drive, it’s a fact).

This only represents one example of how I’m trying to listen to my body and what it needs and doesn’t need. One positive lesson I’ve learned is when you take one thing out, you get to fill that space with something new and nourishing (goodbye cheddar, hello goat cheese).

Let me know if you’re on this journey too, and how you are listening to your body’s needs.

With love,

Tifa