Life as a Wind Rider

Hopes I Lived in 2017 {Part Two}

I write lists of things to look forward to as a way of keeping hope and a spirit of anticipation strong in me. This year alone, I got to live in ninety-two of those things. I shared the first half last week; here’s the second.

Celebrating graduationsgraduated children!!!

My freshman class from college graduated in May. Although it did feel strange to know I wasn’t sharing in the experience, my pride in the growth and accomplishments of my dear friends was the most overwhelming part of it all. I was bursting for them.

Writing about some of the big things | Finding new things to write about | Writing poems that express what I want them to

A lot of my writing this year has stayed private, more than it has in many years. Things were confusing and tumultuous, and often I didn’t feel like I had the authority to speak even if I did possibly have something to share. But I still wrote often in my journals and to my close friends. I write a poem every evening, too, which helps me exercise the muscle as well as express feelings or thoughts still lingering at the end of the day, and that was so good for me this year.

On the blog it was a bit quiet apart from my monthly media roundups, but I did talk about Jesus’ heart for refugeesthe role of generosity in lovethe nature of submission being about choicethe mixed feelings that come with being in recoverythe importance of an awake church, and the difficult but vital work of discerning God’s voice from others.

Seeing friendships grow deeper | Meeting people who will be significant parts of my story | Becoming friends with people I didn’t expect to | Rekindling friendships that became distant | Hugging people I love | Having conversations that make me laugh every time I remember them later

I love my people. I spent much of this year slightly isolated, so I’ve learned to treasure time with them even more than I did already and to seek out more of it. You all hopefully know who you are; I love you. Thank you for holding me up when it felt like I couldn’t stand anymore.

Playing with puppies | Holding adorable little animals

I got to meet (and be lavishly kissed by) my Uncle Terry’s puppy earlier this year. I also got to hold a bunch of tiny Siamese kittens at Kandy’s house, which was an absolute dream. And of course I held my own sweet animals, too. And (consensually) pet various dogs and cats I came across.

Driving in tree-filled areas during the fallpark trees (1)

I tried a new counseling office this year, and while that definitely did not work out, it was in the heart of a beautiful campus and I went in the middle of autumn. The drives ended up being better for me than the sessions I was driving to, and eventually I realized maybe that was a clue to what I actually needed.

Running into people randomly at the store | Randomly running into my professors

I love unplanned reunions and how they automatically become the highlight of the day for me.

Giving and receiving words of love on our message board

My mom writes a little note every morning before leaving for work. I love her.

Watching it snowwith snow tree

We started the year with a few inches of snow in Oregon. I’m not the biggest fan of winter so seeing snow is a redeeming quality.

Watching sunrises and sunsetsBeFunky Collage

A beautiful sky can genuinely turn a hard day around for me. One particular memory of a sunrise this year was in the winter, when my grandma and I were driving along the coast and the sky was full of color even after nine in the morning

Smelling roses and other wonderful smells | Having scents for my candle warmer that don’t make me feel sick

I can be sensitive to smell sometimes because of my anxiety disorder, so pleasant smells are a nice mood-lifter. I found a few wax melts with scents that don’t overwhelm me and now I can make my room smell nice any time I need to.

Attending the weddings of dear friendsBeFunky Collage

Two of my close friends got married this year! Katie got married in March (I got to see her at her home-state reception a month later, which was such a gift), and Cooper got married in September, both of them to wonderful and sweet people. Seeing people I love so much find their people is wildly uplifting.

Feeling noticed in the best way

Jesus romanced me so well this year, even when I was afraid and closed off. His love is so good. Dream-like.

Starting an Etsy shop | Making more quote signs | Giving my art to more people | Making greeting cards for friendslogo

I opened Tessa Maye Makes Things this year! Was it successful? To be frank: no. I didn’t make any sales through Etsy. But did it teach me to focus on what I like to make versus what I think I have to make? And did I learn a few new skills in starting a business? And did my mom and my grandma commission me more than once to support me? And did I make an effort to do the work my hands found to do? Yes. A hearty yes. For the time being, my art is best spread freely to the people in my life. Maybe someday, it will be the right time to spread it further.

Drinking hot cocoa | Drinking strawberry lemonade | Having mango flavored things

Some of my favorite beverages across the seasons (though I drink them all year round).

Praying with people

The isolation I lived in this year led me to pray with (and, more accurately, ask for prayer from) my family much more than I used to, and that’s a way God has already redeemed it before my eyes.

Having solid interactions with kind strangers | Observing the quirks of others

Genuinely some of my favorite things about life! I love making friends, even if it’s only for a day and we have one conversation. People are just amazing. I am blown away by how different yet akin we all are the more I keep looking at us and learning.

Exploring quirky shops

In the fall I had an hour long gap between meetings, so I’d walk through a shop in the neighborhood that had the weirdest, most random and creative things for sale. I never bought anything, but it was always fun to peruse and see what they had that week.

Having spontaneous dance parties

This is basically every day for me. But to be honest, what I’m really looking forward to is having a family that does things like dance around in the kitchen while we’re making dinner.

Having a cat that likes being a sweet companionsweet dusty headrub

I’ve had my cat for over thirteen years, but in most of that time she’s been aloof and mean. This has been such a good year for her personality softening and opening up to more to us; she’s been wanting to come in the house and take naps, and she lets me hold her and cuddle her for a few minutes at a time. I just love feeling her soft little body rest against mine.

Baking and decorating a lovely cake | Making food for people | Getting food with people in the middle of the night18034120_10208373454325638_5784276408660015306_n

I made a carrot cake this spring and it turned out great– apart from the buttercream flowers I attempted to make with my scratch frosting that was truly just colorful butter. I happened to mention the cake to Rachel when we ran into each other at an event, and in less than a minute we decided she was coming over that night to help me eat it.

Having a simple breakfast with people I love

For some reason sharing breakfast just feels more intimate to me than the other meals. I got to have many little breakfasts with my grandma during our back-and-forth visits as she works on moving into the neighborhood. I’m so excited to have her closer.

Happening upon street artSierra's art day

This is always a fun little surprise and it did happen to me this year, but one time it took an especially unique form: Sierra was creating street art and I, Johnny, and Jenessa got to keep her company as she did it. So many laughs, oh my goodness.

Owning sweatpants

It might seem like a small thing, but I’m telling you: game changer.

Reaching one year porn-free

I’m currently eighteen months porn-free. Recovery is such a weird process to be in, but I am so grateful to be in it and to be walking in this freedom. The temptation hasn’t gone away and neither have some of the effects; sometimes I’m still shocked by nightmares and impulses that show up. But my heart is healed and I know that. And I am fully loved, just as I always have been. I know that, too.


If you want to read or use the lists where I recorded these hopes (among others), you can find them here, here, and here. Coming up with them helps me, but I’m finding that doing intakes like this yearly might be an even more helpful exercise. It’s the dose of perspective and optimism I need walking into a new year. I encourage you to start your own lists if this was any form of comfort to you today.

Your life is so big, and your Father gives good gifts. Be ready to welcome them.

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Life as a Wind Rider

Hopes I Lived in 2017 {Part One}

I started writing a list of things to look forward to when I was nineteen. I was a year through college, realizing that I didn’t like what my life looked like, and battling the terrible thought that maybe my life wasn’t going to be worth living if it couldn’t hold my hopes and see them through into reality.

But I became determined to keep living, and to believe that God had true life in store for me. Instead of fearing that my hopes would never come to pass, I started writing them down under the title: “Things to Look Forward To.”

A lot has changed since then; a bit hasn’t. But hopes keep existing in me. And I keep doing my best to give audience to them rather than to my fears. And the list? It’s grown to be over three hundred items long, and I got to live ninety-two of those items this year alone.

Dreams are for life. For my life and yours.

We get to keep living. We get to see that God really does give good gifts, even when we don’t yet understand how they’ll arrive.

I do these intakes yearly as a reminder for myself, and for you if you need it. Without further ado: here is the first half of the hopes I got to live this year.

Developing photos and scrapbooking them | Filling more journalsDSC00457

I’m notoriously bad at printing out my photos (in other words: I’ve had the same camera for nine years and haven’t developed anything, ever). But this year I took up a more creative approach to my daily journal and started recording the highlights/main events of every month, and it felt natural to add photos to those pages. Now I just print out a few favorites at the end of the month and stick them in as a more relaxed scrapbook; it works well for me, since my journal already hosts everything else.

Watching fireworks

My family lives on a lake and we get to watch the fireworks show every Fourth of July from our backyard barbeque. My grandma was with us this year, so that was extra special.

Reading more books | Reading more fairytales | Becoming a good bookworm again

I used to think that I was a slow reader– then I started reading books I actually enjoyed. Giving myself permission to stop reading books I wasn’t getting anything from was a great decision and allowed me to read some fantastic stories this year. Goodreads kept track of them all for me if you’re interested in seeing more of my thoughts on them; the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness and Eve by Wm. Paul Young were powerful favorites.

Writing lyrics again | Learning an instrument | Putting my lyrics to music | Feeling more skilled in things I currently feel like an amateur inrandom piano

Music is the thing for me, even if I don’t always act like it; I think knowing how important a role it plays for me has made it feel almost too pure to pursue, if that makes sense. I’m really going to work on pushing through that hesitancy in 2018. However, I’m not going to let what I haven’t done keep me from being in awe of what I have done. Watching clips I’ve taken of my piano practice from early in the year and comparing them to what I can do now gives me a rush of happiness. I started to add very simple piano backing to some of my lyrics, too; I can’t wait for my skill in that to grow. I know I’ll get there. It’s the thing for me.

Going to more concerts | Seeing Colony House | Owning more band merchandiseDSC09748

I got to my see my absolute favorite band this year, and it’s hard to explain how that feels; when they started playing the first song, a sound came out of me that was half laughter and half sobbing. If you ever get a chance to see Colony House (or whoever your favorite artist might be), do it. Huge thank you to my mom for making the trip with me and to Karen for letting us stay with her while we were in town.

I also got to see Switchfoot, Relient K, Andy Mineo, MercyMe, Jordan Feliz, and Matthew West this year. Mostly old favorites, which was unplanned but nice.

Seeing meaningful new movies | Seeing my favorite actors in great new movies | Seeing new Marvel moviesspiderman with rachel

My interest in film has grown quite a bit and I’ve stretched myself in terms of the kinds of movies I see, which has been overall very rewarding! I finally watched Interstellar (so good, wow!), Arrival (surprising; I might need to rewatch it), The Sixth Sense (fantastic), and Guardians of The Galaxy (I felt like a fake Marvel fan for waiting this long to see it), among other films I’d somehow avoided. As far as new ones go…

La La Land was wonderful and so was my beloved Emma Stone; Hidden Figures was delightful, inspiring, and important; Hacksaw Ridge was one of the most powerful films I’ve watched in my lifetime and made me so proud of Andrew Garfield; War for The Planet of The Apes was incredible (as is the whole trilogy) and Andy Serkis is a powerhouse of an actor; Doctor Strange was such an awesome, interesting piece of the Marvel universe; Wonder Woman was cool, and reminded me that femininity and strength are not mutually exclusive but rather are intertwined; the fifth installment of Pirates of The Caribbean was engaging and introduced me to the wonderful Brenton Thwaites; Collateral Beauty wrecked me; Thor: Ragnarok was super fun; and, yes– Spider-Man: Homecoming made me so ridiculously giddy (I saw it in the theater more than once, which is not something I ever do) and Tom Holland is one of my favorite people.

Watching movies with dear friends | Receiving a bouquet of flowers | Having flowers in the houseflowers from brandon and meigan

Meigan, Brandon, and Josh came over to watch a movie over the summer and brought flowers for me; my friends are the best and love me so well. Josh and Rachel have come over for movies a few other times, too, and Sierra and I spent a lovely evening together watching La La Land for the first time.

Getting better at painting | Learning new ways to make things | Making art that gets me excited when I finish it | Spending more time in my sketchbookrandom art

Discovering through practice is one of my favorite ways to grow. I really enjoy creating without pressure, and having a random sketchbook that I’m not afraid to mess up in or throw random scraps into has helped me do that a bit more.

Going to more baby showers

My sweet friend Kayla is having her second little boy soon and I loved being able to celebrate and anticipate with her.

Going on a road trip | Seeing a real castle | Taking walks in new places | Sitting by the lake in the summer | Dangling my feet over a dock for a calm while | Staying in hotelsBeFunky Collage

This summer I got to visit Port Townsend, Washington with my family. Such a fun trip, featuring my first ferry ride, walks in town and inside the Manresa castle, game nights with cry-laughs, a giant stairway leading to nowhere, street cats, chats on the docks, and a lot of beautiful things to see.

Hiking a calm little forest trailhiking with mom

My mom and I went to a local butte she’d never hiked before. A lovely summer morning.

Visiting the coast againfamily trail walk

My grandma lives on the coast right now so I got to see it a few times with her, including Easter weekend when we stayed with her. We often walk a particular trail and I feel a strange partial ownership of it now.

Getting letters from people I love | Writing letters | Getting packages in the mail

My dear sweet Katie still sends me letters, no matter where she is. I love having that correspondence with her and knowing we’re still touching the same things even when we’re on opposite sides of the country. She even sent me a Christmas package!

Discovering more musicians I’ll cherish forever | Unexpectedly hearing songs that bring me to the most beautiful place of nostalgiawith only the lonely

So many wonderful musicians out there creating such meaningful things. I’ve been compiling a playlist all year long, and ended up listening to it probably almost daily. Notable new finds for me this year were Kina Grannis, Phangs, Ed Sheeran (definitely not new, but new to me), John Mayer (ditto), Knox Hamilton, Isla Roe, Francis and The Lights, LANY, and Post Animal. Plus, old favorites like Colony House, Pen Pals, Good Old War, Nick Voelker, and Andrew Belle released new work!

Exploring art galleries | Seeing my best friend again and going on a random adventure with her | Drinking bubble teabirthday museum visit with Sierra

Sierra gifted me one of the best afternoons of the year for my birthday. She took me to the art museum on her university campus, taught me about the Barberini tapestries we saw there, led me on an autumn walk, bought me bubble tea, and was the listening ear I needed. Such a good time.

Being reunited with college family | Wearing more pretty dresses | Wearing red lipstick | Taking adorable and/or dorky photos in a photo booth with loved onessenior banquet all 3

Some of my best friends were seniors in college this year, and Meigan invited me to her senior banquet. Brandon was nice enough to share his date with me (haha) and I had a lovely time with them and the other friends I got to catch up with there.

Also, I’d never worn red lipstick before this year and I think it’s so fun!

Flying in a plane | Traveling to places different from where I liveDSC01408

I definitely did not expect to embark on my first ever flight this year, but my Aunt Cheri invited my grandma and I to visit her this summer, so we did! I can’t tell you how many times I googled “can I pack _______ in a carry on” before we left. I was nervous, but it ended up being relatively painless. And being up in the sky… insane. The world is so big and I forget that sometimes; it’s such a comfort.

My aunt lives in a city unlike the ones I’m used to, and I was grateful she took us exploring during our stay. But I have to say: our backyard meals and movie marathons and laughs were just as fun as the “bigger” adventures.

Having painting parties | Having craft days with friends | Painting/carving pumpkinsDSC02225

Meigan, Ariel, and Rachel came over near my birthday to paint mini pumpkins with me. I so enjoyed the company and seeing everyone’s unique brand of creativity.


Next week I will share the second half of the hopes I lived in 2017. If you want to read or use my “looking forward to” lists, you can find them here, here, and here. I encourage you to write your own if you think there’s any possibility it might bring some hope into your life.

Your dreams? They’re made for you to touch.

Take heart, and enter the next year with hope.

Recovery · Testimonies

Thoughts from Being 10 Months Porn-Free

I didn’t plan on this today; I thought maybe I’d write something about how I was doing once I reached the one-year mark. But today is my ten-month mark of being pornography-free, and I have a lot of thoughts about it. I spent some time in my journal last night, wrestling. I would like to share that journal entry.

This month was probably the hardest temptation-wise out of all ten so far. I’m not sure why, but I’ve had to be extra proactive and cautious with myself lately. I fought for this month.

Here’s what gets me: in ten months of freedom, you’d think I would know what was working, would know why I’m doing well and what got me here. But I really don’t. And people ask me, and it feels weird to not have any answers.

I don’t want to invalidate my addiction story; I truly did do things I didn’t want to do, repeatedly/routinely, and I still face repercussions. It was real. But I also don’t want to tell people that grace, candor, and hard work will cure their addiction. I know it is not that simple. It’s just all I can pinpoint that has contributed to my own recovery. I really do not know how I got here.

Though I am so grateful for the way things have worked for me, I understand not everyone who does the same things I’m doing fares the way I somehow have. I don’t have the explanation for that. I fully believe God heals and restores all who come to Him, that He is strength in our weakness, that He shows absolutely no partiality. I trust His timing for everyone. I just don’t know why some of us find visible healing sooner than others, why the timing varies from person to person. Or why I get to be one of those who is seeing my healing already.

Not that I don’t still face temptation, as this month especially has proven (though I can’t exclude the other nine, either). I do face temptation, often. I don’t have it “easy.” But I know I have it easier than many. Maybe I caught my addiction in earlier stages than most who enter recovery.

tiny buds and bloomsI think that’s what I want to stress most: recovery doesn’t stop.

“Porn addict” is in no way part of my identity, and never was. But it’s something that has been/is part of my life. And recovering from being a porn addict and remaining in that recovery? It is an almost guaranteed lifelong process. This is something that will probably always be part of my life. I believe it gets better. But as long as I live in this skin, I have potential to act out of it and I have a lot of choices to make.

I truly do believe in full recovery. I am just not naïve enough to tell anyone, including myself, that there’s a point of arrival. God heals, and He also doesn’t take away our freedom of choice. It’s constant; it’s maintenance; it’s abiding. And I am also not so privileged as to believe people who do what I’ve been doing are guaranteed to see the same outcome I’m seeing. It is different for everyone. Honestly, I really wrestle with that sometimes. Timing is so beyond us, and I don’t understand it.

I think finding the balance of celebrating where I am while commiserating with those in an overwhelming place in the struggle is something I will have to work through for a while. Today, I don’t feel like celebrating, though I know it would be okay for me to. I know the highs and lows of this process, and I want to honor everyone in every stage of it. I am still learning how.

I’m so grateful for these ten months. I don’t take it for granted. I know it’s a gift I don’t deserve, one that puzzles me to be in possession of sometimes.

To my brothers and sisters who are in recovery– be it day one, month ten, or year five– you are in the midst of something holy. He is proud of you. He is working in you. He is there in the mess of the process with you, day by day. And if you have to start over again? Nothing about this changes. There is nothing you can do to change the love He has for every bit of you. Lean into that.


[This video on recovery/sobriety is so eloquent and echoes a lot of my feelings, and also carries some solid encouragement. I highly recommend it.]

Poetry

A Peek at My Daily Poems

journals on deskI write a free-verse poem every night as a way to express and process, as well as to have some kind of creative discipline. For the past month, my poems have often ended up putting words to what the Holy Spirit is teaching me. I don’t normally consider sharing these little poems because they are such vulnerable, exposed pieces of me. But nearly every day last month, I had a desire to let others read what I had just written. That’s what I’m doing today. I hope you hear something in them like I heard as I wrote them, at least in some measure.

December 22, 2015–
On the bad days,
I hope your remember me.
I hope when you feel your holes, sore and gaping,
You remember I carry healing in my own.
I hope when you are restless from isolation,
You remember I choose you and seek you.
I hope when you host the burden of your questions,
You remember my arms are the answer, period.
I’m sorry you have bad days.
But I hope you remember me when you do.

January 1, 2016–
Not every day will be easy to live;
You’re a human, and humans hurt.
But you also know God.
And God heals.
Not every day will be easy to live;
But He’ll be with you in all of them.

January 6, 2016–
Today was a hard one.
It slowly wrung you out, in the same motion as suffocation;
You struggled to breathe.
I’m so glad you kept trying.
Rest tonight.
And know I am with you for all of it.
I will never leave you to ache alone:
I will do it, too.

January 7, 2016–
Let the happiness bubble out of you.
You don’t have to ask why He gave the gift;
It’s enough to Him that you loved it so much.

January 10, 2016–
We get to share this life with so many,
And I’m wildly in love with that.
But this life belongs to us alone.
You get to decide what we do with it,
And I’ll follow you in love.
And we’ll hope as many as possible still want to share in it.

January 14, 2016–
Sometimes we hold so tight
To our hurts, our ticking bombs,
Because they remind us of what we need.
Sometimes we are so afraid to let go
Of the hopes placed on our burdens,
Because the only part we choose to see is hope.
Sometimes, our fingers must be pried
Off the weights keeping us from life–
Because we are far too loved to be held down.

January 17, 2016–
I am cruel; you are kind.
I pray your thoughts invade my mind.
I am broken; you will heal.
You are here with me and you are real.

January 23, 2016–
You are always growing,
Always becoming.
And I am always in love with you,
Every stage.

January 26, 2016–
It’s in the pieces.
It’s there you can get stuck in the mess–
Or you can find joy in the beauty of
Every
Little
Thing.

January 27, 2016–
I forgive you.
For this, and this, and this, and this.
Every day I will write these lists on my heart,
Will remember you did what you could.
I cannot stop forgiving you,
Or you will never stop hurting me.
Yes, I forgive you.

January 30, 2016–
The voice of fear is loud and close–
But it is cowardly.
Speak back to it, boldly.
It will run as fast as it wanted you to.