The Road Trips In Life

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018
It’s funny, isn’t it? The road trips we take through life. The people we meet and the conversations we have along the way. It’s usually when we’re close to our destination that’s when we have panic attacks. I often see this displayed through my son.

The greatest lessons we’ll ever learn as parents are the essential ones taught by our children. At such a young age, he teaches us about road trips. The journey we undergo and take on throughout our lifetime. It took us 11.5 hours to arrive at our destination, with four short breaks. As a family, we laughed endlessly, danced uncontrollably, and practiced how to say, “hello” and “bye bye” with our hands. When the car was parked, Micah Isaiah (MIT), drove us away, with his little roaring laugh thrilled that he was upfront with Daddy, he turned (at least tried to) the stirring wheel with  so much excitement. He made our hearts burst with joy because he was so happy.

Thirty minutes to our destination, MIT grows impatient. If he could talk, what would be his sentiments? “Are you guys serious? I’m still in my car seat! It’s been two hours already! It’s time for a break! Get me out of here Mama! I’m over this road trip!” My little boy would let me have it. I chuckled to myself, as I thought about his words to us, as he cried this painful screeching sound. It didn’t matter what I said. He wanted out now and fast. About five minutes to our destination he finally calms down. He just sighes a defeated breath; “Mama’s not taking me out of my car seat, and Dada’s still driving.”

~Arrival~

We arrive, and MIT bounces up full of life. “Yessss!” Eyes wide open. “Freedom!” As he takes in his new surroundings, I watch him, while taking in us, his parents. At that moment, it dawns on me; we are a reflection of this child. We act out differently, but our feelings are the same.

~Destination~

It’s always when you’re close to a destination; a blessing that remains unmarked, anxiety kicks in. We become disoriented with our emotions, uncertain in ourselves, and the ONE in charge of us. The wait to what’s next is never easy. It’s more daunting than anything. But when we trust in the ONE who knows and wills all things; we realize our fear is only about things that are imaginary, not fixed reality. When we consume ourselves in fear we lose sight of our present peace. We miss the importance of what we have in front of us. We disregard who we are and all we possess within ourselves. The wait does two things it could mold us by making us better people to ourselves and others, or it could make us turn away from our morality.

Road trips are fascinating and filled with adventure in the planning stage. The preparation for it is the nonexistent phase. But, when it’s time to ‘hit the road’ life has a way of coming at you fast. Perspective keeps you focused; while distractions causes unbelievable accidents. Embrace the road trips in life. Allow them to teach you the beauty of waiting, trusting, and believing in your future destination.

Signing Out,

W.S.Thompson

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The Search for ME

Two years ago, my husband, Micah and I ventured off on an unknown adventure to South Korea. We knew no one. All we had was each other. We left the United States with the endless tears of our worrisome parents and siblings. The excitement and encouragement from close friends and the skepticism of associates. We left our small state, Rhode Island, with a desire to follow our dreams and to see the world in a different light. As we get ready to transition back to the United States, I sit with my morning coffee, reflecting on all the lessons, experiences, and revelations I have discovered while living in a foreign land. I come to realize we are ALL pilgrims on a journey. The moment we make a decision, we set out on an unknown path, hoping and praying the result will be rewarding. Sometimes the reward is far greater than we could have ever imagined. And there are other times when the end result is deafening. But as I come to the end of this journey, I wonder if it’s really the end result that matters the most or is it the small intricate details of all the experiences that helped uncover the stages in life and the beautiful treasures residing deep inside of me.

Adventure of A Lifetime

In 2016 when the decision was made to live and work in the Land of the Morning Calm, I viewed it as an adventure of a lifetime. I was curious and excited to be doing something new, out of the box, not mundane or ordinary. Living abroad used to be a dream and my dream was finally being fulfilled. It was no longer something I imagined. It was my reality. I was blown away at my life. Many times I thought I was in a deep coma and at any moment I would be jolted out of my unconscious state. When I first moved to Korea, I had a mixture of emotions. There were times when I thought I didn’t deserve to be here. I felt so small living in a big world with nothing familiar to call home, except my husband. I struggled with the oceans between my closest friends and I. At the beginning of our time here, there was no one for me to call on at any given moment to just hang out. As much as I love my husband, I desperately missed my girlfriends immensely. It took some time for me to step out of my shell and meet new people. But before I could even introduce myself to others, I had to be reintroduced to myself.

I never was in a position where I knew no one. I come from a small state and city; everyone knew everybody. It was here in Korea; I had to ask myself the questions no one really asked me before. ( Such as, who am I? What do I do for fun? Why do I like doing those things? What is Rhode Island like? Why did I move to Korea?) In the states, my friends already knew who I was, what I liked to do, and why I did those things. Rhode Island was nothing exciting for us because we lived there most of our lives. Moving to Korea, was bold and completely left field; but considered courageous. Among other foreigners in Korea, there was a deeper reasoning for moving halfway across the world. It wasn’t about working with international students and traveling. Truth be told anyone could have those skill sets in their home country.

Why leave familiarity?

So, why? — Why Did I move 7,000 miles away from comfort, familiarity, family, and friends? I had to force myself to sit in the truth of my reasoning for being out here instead of there, in the life I already knew. In 2016, I did not realize I was searching. I was desperately in pursuit of discovering me. I knew I had a story worth telling but was taught from a young age to suppress it. I knew I had a voice worth hearing but instead of speaking up, I mumbled. I did not think my words had value. I knew deep down inside I was enough, but I somehow convinced myself otherwise. Moving to Korea was a decision I needed to make to fully uncover my true identity.

The Freedom of Choice

With each new day, I had choices to make. I had to let go of my past. A past I recognized but never dealt with. Each new experience helped me unravel the lies that I was sold over the years. The great adventure of a lifetime I thought I was embarking on when I decided to move to Korea, was me. I had to climb up the steep mountains to peer over the beautiful landscapes I was overlooking. I had to dare myself to raise my voice in triumph, instead of cowering in defeat. I had to accept my process instead of running away from it. It was hard to stand outside of my box and see the state of my life and accept change as a diagnosis. Thinking differently and changing my narrative was a decision I had to make on my own. I could proudly say I recognize and understand where I came from, I know where I am, and I’m prepared to walk into where I’m going.

The Process of Becoming

Many may say, “Did you really have to move halfway across the world to discover these things?” Not necessarily, however, to get to a place where discovery, purpose, and revelation resides within; one must step out of what’s familiar and step into what’s not to find who they are in their process of becoming.

I’ll remember this venture because of my learned experiences. I’ll cherish this time away because of the endless people that left a lasting impression on me. Life has a way of rotating in cycles; past lessons that were not learned rise up in new seasons. Each shift brings a new level of challenge and growth. These past two years have been my growing pains.

As my time in Korea slowly comes to an end, my process of becoming continues and exposes itself to each new day. There is a famous quote from Katharine Hepburn, “It’s not what you start in life, it’s what you finish.” Life was given to me as a gift, the freedom of choice was never silenced but always mine, how I go about exercising and applying my decisions and voice determines my journey. I’m determined to live a life that welcomes discovery, and change. Because at the end of it all, it’s those beautiful treasures that transcend growth in me, my community, and the world at large.

I AM PROCESS

I am process. I am on to something but not entirely there yet. My process reflects my journey. It represents my past and forces me to be present in my ‘right now’ moment. My process helps me look forward to my future. It gives me hope without worry, love without envy, joy without sorrow.

I am process. At times completely stained with mistakes; things I said that I shouldn’t have spoken, actions I’ve done that I wish would be forgotten, decisions I’ve made that could never be rewritten. I am a percentage on route to wholesomeness. I’m on to something but not entirely there yet.

I am process. I wrestle with who I am and who I am becoming. Complex in nature but not at all complicated. Straightforward on my approach and practical in my execution. Unwavering in my focus, and sometimes way too ambitious. I’m on to something but not entirely there yet.

I am process a life light that is radiant but at times dim. Cautiously encouraged by my highs and disenchanted by my lows. I am process. Ascending to the high hills filled with its perilous twists and turns. I’m on to something but not entirely there yet.

What is process? Process is persistence. Process is an investment. Process is being intentional. Process is integrity. Process is time-consuming. Process is bravery. I am process. I’m on to something but not entirely there yet.

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

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