2017: Year End Reflections

Earlier this year, I asked the Lord for a spirit of love. I needed to learn how to love with no limits and no expectations from others. I also wanted to learn how to experience a love that is present in every moment. I wanted this year to embody the kind of love that God has for me. The type of love I was asking the Lord for was one of accountability; I needed the Spirit of Love to keep me grounded—by humbling me and keeping me teachable and authentic to my core. This year, I desired to rise higher in my interactions and dealings with others. I longed to have grace and view the best in ALL things, even in challenging circumstances. As I reflect on the year 2017, I realize that my character has been strengthened through the beautiful art of love, grace, and humility.

Korean Earthquakes: The Workplace

In 2016, my husband and I took a leap of faith and moved halfway across the world to teach English abroad in South Korea. Our move was bold and adventurous, especially coming from the smallest state in the United States, Rhode Island. We had this dream to travel the world, live, thrive, and be exposed to different cultures- be one with the natives of the land. Our time in Korea has been dynamic and outstanding; a season in my life I will treasure forever.

However, my exposure in the workplace has often left me feeling like I’ve been placed in the epicenter of an earthquake; an earthquake that would come suddenly with no warning or time for preparation. This year, my request for ‘A Spirit of Love’ has been tested with the ground shaking viciously from underneath me. I could blame it on the Korean hierarchy system, unruly colleagues, or the challenges of living and working in a foreign country- but I won’t. The Korean Earthquakes I have experienced stem from the lessons I needed to learn to sustain and endure the heart of love I asked for at the beginning of the year.

These Earthquakes chastised me to no end. I’ve been placed in situations where I had every right to defend my case or either accept my fate by exuberating love and mercy. Usually, I did not have a long time to thoroughly think about my response or reaction to any given situation. My only option was to make a choice whether I would forgive the seemingly unforgivable and demonstrate love with grace and humility, or live up to the foolish preconceived notions about Western foreigners. It was never easy!  Just like escaping an earthquake, I often felt like running from the wreckage. But in order for growth to happen, I had to confront the nonsense head on instead of running from it.

I must admit my life in the Korean workplace hasn’t been all bad. I loved my country school. My colleagues, administrative staff, and students welcomed me into their school community with open arms. I never felt like an outsider there. When the headmaster and assistant principal heard the news about my pregnancy they offered their congratulations and constantly checked in with me every week to see how I was doing. My last day there was bittersweet. I will genuinely miss my country school. They were the calm away from the quakes at my main school. So in the end, Korean Earthquakes have taught me lessons about love, grace, and humility.

Foreign Pregnancy: Tough Skin

Being a pregnant black woman, living outside of Seoul, is very rare. I would walk down the street with piercing stares that would make me feel as if I was a freak of nature. I would counter these experiences with the thought, “Okay, I’m probably the first foreign pregnant woman these people ever have seen.” But after a while, the stares started to hurt, and the joy of pregnancy began to fade. I was gracefully broken throughout my whole pregnancy in so many capacities. I’ve learned endless lessons of endurance, steadfastness, and turning of the other cheek. I got a more in-depth understanding and revelation of my process by relinquishing my control; allowing life to open my eyes and reveal to me my inner identity; my deep-rooted divinity.

Eventually, I stopped trying to define happiness through others; and started to see the seed growing inside of me as one of the greatest treasures ever to behold. Soon after, stares did not bother me. I embraced them by flaunting my massive belly. Personal joy was the lesson I had to learn on my own. Joy had to be defined by me. I had to find purpose and the beauty of creation in it. My foreign pregnancy produced within me tougher skin, and I am forever grateful for it.

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My Joy: Micah Isaiah

My son’s story was already being written way before my husband and I were even cognizant of him. Even in the womb, he taught us what it really meant to fight to live. His warrior-like spirit arose first out of a fertilized egg, transpiring into many cells. He then trekked a traverse journey into my fallopian tubes; entering the darkness of my womb; attaching himself to my uterine wall; while radiating his marvelous light. It’s a love untold until fully experienced.

My little Isaiah does this thing where he stares intently at his mama during feedings. He knows when my attention is focused on him or elsewhere. Through his little eyes, he sees the reflection of the images I’m watching. His innocence is a direct reflection of what my husband and I expose him to. The way in which he sees the world around him, his surroundings, and the sounds that consume him; references back to his father and me. The tone of our voice, the beating of our hearts, our interactions with each other and others– is a mirror of who we are in him and who he is in us.

Love At Every Turn: Saeronam EM

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.”~Matthew 5: 7~

My husband and I have been fortunate to be a part of an amazing faith-based community, Saeronam English Ministry. There were a lot of women from the church that helped me tremendously after giving birth to Isaiah. Their love, presence, and kindness towards my family have meant the world to me. My transition back home from the hospital with a newborn was very smooth because of them.

God looked out for me by allowing me to be pregnant at the same time with one of my dear sister-friends from church, Jane. She was five weeks ahead of me. She had a girl. We both were first-time moms experiencing the highs and lows of pregnancy in a foreign country. I genuinely appreciate Jane and her husband, Paul. Anyone who knows me knows I ask an endless amount of questions. Thankfully Jane has always been patient enough to answer them to the best of her ability. It was great to have someone to talk to that understood the season I was undergoing, because they, too were going through it themselves. Post-Korea, I’m sure we will all still be connected with each other because of our shared experience here.

Then there is my Chinese-Jamaican-Canadian Mama, Joanne who went above and beyond to make sure The Thompsons were situated well at home. One of the most significant lessons I learned from Joanne, W’lynn don’t be afraid to ask for help there are plenty of people here willing to help you.” Her sound advice was what made me adjust to motherhood so quickly.

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I can’t forget my Jamaican Queen Heather and my Bajan beauty Tisha who traveled about two hours to assist me at home throughout this month. Heather — in the midst of preparing for her final exams, graduation, exit out of Korea, and just the overall chaos of transitions — made time for me and my growing family. My Bajan beauty Tisha was committed to helping me. She always gifted me with endless laughter and joy.  A rare gift for a first-time mom that’s often sleep deprived. These two women made me feel at peace as I adjusted to my new role as a mother.

I cannot forget the elders that serve at EM: Lovely Sue, Grace, Heather and countless others that kept on checking in and sending meals our way- the love was remarkable and unprecedented.

Although 2017 has had its ups and downs, it will always be my most memorable year. Out of the challenges, there were always endless blessings of love waiting for me to acknowledge its existence. Life lessons I will cherish forever. As the dawn of 2018 approaches, I look forward to my family’s transition back to the United States but more on that another time. Happy New Year Everybody!

Signing Out,

~Esther Lynn~

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

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The Shattered Pieces of Womanhood

I always felt jaded growing up female. I would often hear mixed messages from adults that were supposed to love, encourage, and teach me about care. Love manifested itself in short phrases like, “don’t cluck, cluck like a chicken.” “You’ll follow the footsteps of ‘her’ and never amount to anything.” “You’re a failure and a disgraceful child.” I grew up female thinking; perhaps I am unworthy. Maybe I am just shattered pieces that can’t be made whole. My future means nothing because I am nothing.
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As a young girl, I learned early on how to devalue my being. A truth that penetrated and hunted me throughout my process into womanhood. Neglect was the ‘N’ word that no adult in my care circle was bold enough to confront. Instead, image took its place, and I was taught to lie without speaking words. I was taught to embrace my silence, masked in this unspoken concept of beauty. Externally I looked good, but internally my heart was devasted, shattered into a million broken pieces as if I was a million piece puzzle. As a young girl, I tried so hard to find the matching pieces but had such a hard time getting it right.

As a teenager, womanhood was known to me as a projection of harsh words. I no longer was living in silence. I became loud, obnoxious, with an extremely ‘off the cuff’ attitude. I cut people with my words. I hurt them with my eyes. I demolished them with my actions. After all, that is what hurt people do to other hurt people. I projected the ‘neglected child’ to others in hopes of healing a piece of me. This way of living, thinking, and acting taught me a lot of harsh life lessons. I used to think I was above certain situations. I would look at other young girls and say, “How did they get there? I’ll NEVER get to that point.” Never say never; that was the beginning of my ‘house fire‘ phase. My life as a teenager started with a spark, and by the time I was nineteen, I became engulfed in flames of pain. The pain of feeling like I was never enough. The rage of anger against my community at the time. The failure I felt within myself and the darkness that kept on sweeping me under; deeper into my ashes, as the house that I once thought would protect me came crashing down on top of me.

As a young adult, womanhood meant independence. I was determined to rise higher than my burnt house and my pain. I set goals for myself and worked tirelessly to achieve them. I found love and solace in dance, writing, and acting. Again, in the midst of my independence, I found myself lost in this patriotic duty to perform perfection to a society that once taught me I am nothing. My whirlwind of pain increased and the pieces of me that I did have a hold of were once again shattering before me.

As an adult, I surrendered it all to THE VINE, the creator of my soul. I just had enough of my darkness, and the inflictions I placed on others, the feeling of neglect that hunted me throughout my life; and the haunting lie that I wasn’t good enough to be made whole. I had to get to a low point before calling on MY VINE for help.

You see, womanhood has taught me two things. It showed me the importance of healing and wholeness. My surrender to THE VINE has elevated me to the woman I am today. At times, I still sometimes feel like I’m a bunch of scattered pieces. But, just today, I woke up and heard MY VINE’S voice so clearly. He whispered so softly the one phrase that birthed this story, which is my history into conception, “Scattered pieces are fragile pieces made whole.”

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As a result, of HIS ultimate love, I am made whole and set free from the bondages that tried to beset me. Today, I define my womanhood as the process of becoming whole and speaking out loud my truths. I hope my authenticity can set other lost souls free from their house fires. I desire to guide them to the SOURCE of complete surrender and wholeness, for that was how I found my peace. After all, “Scattered pieces are fragile pieces made whole.”

I’m just speaking out loud in my process of becoming.

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Signing Out,

Esther Lynn

Achievement or Well-Being?

This morning I read a short article about how parents in the Netherlands raise their children to value education for their well being, rather than for achievement. The Netherlands has one of the top education systems in the world. Naturally, I was intrigued as to what makes it the top-ranked country in the world and what are they doing differently compared to my upbringing in the education field. One aspect that the article highlighted was students are encouraged to see themselves as they are without the pressure of performance, competing with their peers, and grades.

I grew up in a household where education was everything. You go to school to apply yourself, be the best student, and bring home only the best grades. My parent’s always reminded my siblings and me of the opportunities that were easily given to us. In Haiti, they had to pay for school, prepare their own lunch, and travel far to get to the school building. In America, the school system provided school bus transportation, free education, and depending on your home situation, free lunch. My parents would say we were privileged compared to other students across the world and they were right. Sometimes I miss those days when my only responsibility was to be a student.

However, as I think about my son and have discussions with my husband about how we want to raise him, I can’t help but wonder, is that all there is to education– going to school, getting good grades, and being the best? How about the wholesomeness of the child and how will we make sure, as parents, that our children feel a sense of completeness within themselves, despite the pressures to conform, and perform in an educational world saturated with the need to prove self-worth by achievement and accolades from others?

I must give my parents credit because they raised me up to be a passionate, inquisitive, and curious young woman. I understand I was raised and brought up in a different time period. My parents projected upon my siblings and me, what their parents always wanted from them, or what they wished they could’ve had for themselves when they were my age. So it’s not a surprise that in elementary and junior high school, my parents expected me to apply myself. In high school, I had to remain focus to be qualified for the university level. During university, the expectation was to do well so I can get a good paying job. The problem is at these crucial stages of my educational journey; I lost my sense of purpose because I was too busy competing with my peers. I saw myself in who ‘they‘ were and not in who ‘I‘ was–I think that’s something many young people can connect with.

Competition.jpgAs a young teen, I maintained a mindset of always being the best and working hard. By the time I entered high school the value of education had become a source of achievement, rather than the awakening of my mind. At Mount Pleasant High, I was not only in competition in the classroom, (that’s if I was even interested in the content matter) image also became a defining factor of who I was and how others saw me. What I wore, the style of my hair, my friends, and overall demeanor. My intellect took a backburner, and if I was in good terms with the teacher, grades were not a problem. High school was all about graduating and getting into university.

My college years were a whirlwind of emotions. I entered a different world, with student peers that had a broader perspective on life and wasn’t afraid to share their opinions and worldview in the classroom. I felt like the invisible man occupying space. I thought college was just about doing well, earning a degree, and at the end of all your efforts, getting a good paying job. The reality of it all is college was a time in my life where I recognized my achievement gaps. It was no longer about competition or image–it was about proving myself worthy of the opportunity placed in front of me. For so many years, my mindset was all about being the best and achieving good grades to be successful. It never occurred to me, till then, the importance of communication, working collaboratively with different people that are entirely different from me and the importance of learning to appreciate and utilize my voice as well as life experiences to contribute to what should’ve been my real educational journey from the beginning.

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The beauty of different seasons and stages I have encountered throughout my academic journey is the growth and progress that it has made in my well-being. My parents were right by teaching me the value of education at a young age. Although I got lost along the way, it was the many lessons I allowed myself to learn throughout my process that has shaped me into the woman I am today.

So, as I think about my children and how I hope to raise them up, I pray my husband and I will be parents that teach them how to be confident individuals. I hope our children will welcome different opinions and have the courage to stand in their convictions in what they believe to be real and authentic, while also being receptive to what others can teach them. I have no desire to move to the Netherlands, but I sure can learn from their model and apply it to my household.

Signing Out,

~Esther Lynn~

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

A Fight to the Finish

This morning I am reminded of Apostle Paul’s famous words, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” (2 Timothy 4:7) I’m reminiscent of these words because lately, it feels like I’m fighting to finish strong during my last several days at work. As of this week, I have only 30 days left until my maternity leave starts. Remaining focused in the present moment is a challenge. My son consumes my mind and the upcoming transition back to the United States keeps me distracted and staring off into space.

The difference between Apostle Paul and me is he was actually at the end of the finish line. He lived a gruesome but fulfilling life. He endured the greatest storms and not once did he recant his trust in God. He walked into situations where the result was often unknown. It’s almost like he never had his own set of expectations as to how things would turn out. He only expected God to take over and guide his path through the dark valleys of uncertainty. He had hope that God will attend to his needs as he climbed up the troublesome mountains of this world. Paul was never sure of the end result here on earth. But he knew what awaited him in glory. For him, the fight to the finish to see the greater glory of what awaited him was worth far more in comparison to the precariousness of this passing world.

I glean on Paul’s perseverance. I read his words and allow them to uplift me; as I take hold of what my present moment has to offer me. An old Haitian proverb seeps its way through my pores and penetrates my heart, “Deye mon gen mon.” (Translated in English, “Beyond the mountains, there are more mountains.”) An idiom most Americans could relate to is, “The grass isn’t greener on the other side.” As I go through this waiting period towards the finish, I must remember to keep my head focused in all situations and live in the present because that’s what dictates the outcome of my future. Endure hardships by not easily being distracted by fears of what’s to come or what currently is–I must remember to trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, and love extravagantly.

I believe what Apostle Paul was trying to convey to Timothy is a persistent pace forward is needed when running a race that feels everlasting. Emotions are misleading if one allows them to take over. His words serve as a reminder, a forecast of what can happen if one allows the anxieties of tomorrow to cloud their judgment about today. Therefore, I must keep my head above the torrent of negative thoughts and strive to finish strong. I must fight the good fight, finish the race, and remain faithful till the very end.

We are all in the process of becoming. I just live to speak mine out loud.

Signing Out,

~Esther Lynn~

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

Inklub

My husband, Micah and I started a new YouTube channel called, the Inklub. Below is a description of what the Inklub is all about. I hope all my readers will check out our new channel and subscribe.

Inklub is a channel where we will share our writings to inspire, encourage, and sometimes even challenge our viewers to think differently. Most of our videos will be spoken word pieces, but we also plan to share songs, stories, and various other creative presentations.

Our writings are inspired by the world around us; whether it be our experiences or others. As we observe, we listen, we write and then speak out our perspectives.

We believe there is something undeniably therapeutic about words–the right words. That is why we are so adamant about sharing what we’ve written. We hope you enjoy this channel. Feel free to subscribe and connect with us.

Till Next time Friends,

Esther Lynn

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Life and Heart

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my process of becoming, where I have grown and areas where I am still stagnant. My life experiences have taught me the importance of reflection and awareness. So, let’s have a conversation about life and heart. How do we find a balance between the two? Balance is such a critical word, yet it is so hard to discover and do. Jesus is a perfect example of balance. He sees in us what we fail to see in ourselves. Even in our selfishness and brokenness, he loves us still the same. At times I find myself struggling greatly with God’s love. I don’t always understand it. For God to love me despite my flaws, setbacks, lack of obedience, and selfishness completely blow my mind.

When someone offends me, I hold on to it. It takes me a while to let it go. I ask God for help along my process of forgiveness towards others, but my evil mind will contort negative responses to give when the opportunity arrives. My rationale is to hurt them just as much as they hurt me; to cut their wounds deeper, so that they can experience my pain. Now, I know, this thought process is not right. Fighting fire with fire doesn’t calm the fiery flames; it only ignites the spark.

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However, knowing something doesn’t necessarily mean you automatically put it into action. Sometimes it takes a breaking point, a time of deep introspection to turn away from the dangers of unforgiveness. Every time I get to the point of lacking grace, God reminds me what can happen to me internally when I choose to hold on to strife. I rob myself of the ability to be forgiven from him and by others. This is why God’s love often blows my mind. His love is so deep that the moment I think I am justified in my emotions/ actions he causes me to look at myself. Once I let go of the offense and look at me first, before scrutinizing the offending party, I realize I, too,  need grace. I, too, need love and I, too, am in search of balance that is hard to discover but necessary to go in search after.

One day I will have children. I often think of them when I’m struggling with loving others. As I look forward to one day becoming a mother, I consider my thought life and heart. I think about their characteristics. I imagine the way they will interact with people. I ask myself, do I want them to lack grace or do I want them always to have a heart of love? I realized who they become completely depends on who I am now. It’s important I see people the way God sees me, flawed but loved. My emotions and actions may at times be unpredictable and out of place, but I am loved by God still the same. Just as they are loved by God in the same way. Letting go is not easy but it’s necessary for my past, present, and future.

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It’s human nature to be broken by something or someone that hurts us. It’s not unusual to feel disconnected from others and their personal views, especially when the pain runs deep. But, to find balance, we must turn away from our judgments and the wounds that hurt us. We cast it aside by not being so dependent on what once was or should’ve been. We let go of our expectations and allow life to reveal itself on its own. Harvesting strife against others is refusing to grow. Harvesting love despite its hurt contents and brokenness is to accept people as they are without hurting yourself or those that are looking up to you or coming up after you. I call this, Periods of Waiting: Periods of Trusting.

Truth is we can become something or someone our hearts allow us to become. Change is not something the environment fosters. It’s rather an internal part of what our hearts desire. Become or un-become; your heart is the only organ with the real answer.

I’m just Speaking Out Loud in my Process of Becoming…

Signing Out,
Esther Lynn

Monday, May 29th, 2017

To The Runners

To The Runners: (Spoken Word Version)

If God was to tell you everything that is to come, would you be able to bear it, handle it or would you run from it? Chances are you would run. This is to the runners. The young soul that allows fear to grip them. The women that tend to say yes, but need to say no; the men that struggle with consistency. This is to you, the runners that numb their senses, to distract themselves from experiencing reality. My message to you, stop running aimlessly!

To the runners: you’re capable of achieving great exploits. You have the power to go above and beyond where you stand now. The problem is your motivation. You get caught up in the expectations and opinions of mere man. Don’t you know what they say about you, they struggle with too? Or are you so blind to their manipulative words that you fail to see the hidden truth?

To the runners: you’re better than you think. Your mind can easily twist a mere occurrence and make it bigger in your imagination. Your body lies to you too. Truth is you’re not feeling lazy,  what’s really happening is the distance you feel from what is and what potential can be.

To the runners: your heart is desperately wicked. You must protect it from the lies that loom over it. If not careful, we too can be master manipulators, dictators, and crazy control freaks. You think, as long as you can control a situation, it won’t get out of hand. But, Usually, the very things we try to control, are the very things that spiral uncontrollably. Let it go! It’s important to allow things and people to find their way. After all, everyone has their journey and their own process of becoming.

To the runner: you’re beautiful, you’re enough, and your value is far beyond any worldly thing that you use to define your beauty. Real beauty is from within. Take the time necessary to learn the treasure that awaits you deep within your soul. It’s in your heart’s treasure box you will find the tools you need to confront the very things you run from.

To the runners: stop running aimlessly, run with purpose, run with a direction already set in mind? After all, all messengers are runners so be aware of your story.

I’m just speaking out loud in my process of becoming…

 

Signing Out,

~Esther Lynn~