MY STORY

WHO AM I?

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I don't know about you, but I've wrestled with the very idea of "Who am I?", and "What's my purpose in this world?" I have memories as a kid where I would stare strangely at my arms, as I moved it around, and wiggled my fingers back and forth. I've wondered how is it that with an inhale and exhale, I'm alive. I didn't know that every bad thing that I experienced as child, was going to try to stop me from achieving my full potential....or become all that God had designed me to be.

You see, I've been on this journey of healing....not the physical kind of healing....well, kind of. But more the emotional kind of healing. I've been chatting with a professional for over a year, and through her I'm experiencing such freedom in my thoughts, and in who I've believed I am.

I'm learning that my dad leaving our family before I was born played a greater part in my emotional health than I thought. Abandonment has a way of rewiring the brain to think, believe, and process life in ways that was not originally intended for us. Friends, don't miss this. God's original intent was not for us to experience disease, pain, suffering, absent parents, abuse and more.

Now allow me to clarify, I've had an amazing healing process of reconciliation with my dad. My dad is present in my life now. But friends, the long term of effects of abandonment are in fact still present. I'm talking about my core beliefs. What I believe to be true about myself. Which was hard for me to admit, but after my first session with my therapist, she said," Well, I think it's best that we dig deeper into your abandonment." I looked at her confused, as I didn't understand how that was an ongoing issue. Now 18 months later, I do.

So how does one find healing?

Well, for me I've been doing what's called inner child healing! I'm learning to connect with my little girl, and see how she's feeling, and with someone who has used dissociation as a way to cope with life is no easy task.

Here's the 3 steps I use when I'm having all the feels, also known as triggers.

 

Step 1. What am I feeling?

When I'm triggered (having all the feels), I take a moment to pause and ask myself, "What am I feeling?" This is when I take the time to connect with my inner self, my little girl. At first, she didn't feel really safe to share herself with me. But now, it's almost instant that I can know what is actually going on with me. Why? Because the more I get healed, the more she gets developed and can process things in a way that's much healthier. When your inner self helps you to see what you're feeling....

Step 2. Identify the lie!

It's going to reveal a lie.

For example, yesterday we found out our budget for the firehouse has doubled, with all the extra work that needs to get done in order to get the building up to code. This overwhelming feeling of being suffocated overcame me, and I immediately began to feel anxiety. I asked myself, "What's going on. What am I feeling?" You see, in the past I would have binged on food, which I'm not going to lie, I wanted to do that last night. But now I'm learning how to cope with my real feelings. So, I stopped what I was doing, and immediately connected with myself to identify the lies, I"m always going to be broke. Our finances will never be enough. I'm always going to be in debt." flooded my mind. You see at my core, I believe that I will never amount to anything. I won't be successful, that all of my peers will but me. This is called "Failure to Achieve" according to Schema Therapy.

Step 3. Ask Jesus, "Is this lie true? Is this what you have for me, or how you see me?"

Friends, this next part is so crucial, because it's not just identifying the lie that's going to bring healing, it's asking Jesus to come into the lie, where He can reveal the truth for and over you. Scripture describes the enemy as the Father of Liars. And if he's the father of liars, then God is the father of truth.

For example, when I was able to identify my lie, I asked him is this lie true? And immediately he spoke John 10:10 to me, "A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of."

I may have cried a little.

Why? What does this mean?

Well, I'm able to now see that my broken childhood was the way the enemy tried to destroy all of who God made me to be, and all that he put inside of me when I was being formed in my mother's womb. The enemy tried to kill my identity, and my dreams by feeding me so many lies that I believe are truth, but really aren't.

My worth, and success isn't tied to my bank account, it's not based on where I fall on the economic social ladder. And God is definitely not out to get me or make my life more difficult. He wants nothing but good for me, and for all of us. He wants nothing more than to give us every single dream of ours and make it a reality, more than we can ever have imagined or dreamed of. Friends, this is the truth!!!

I pray that in the moments where you find yourself triggered, or having all the feels, that you would connect with yourself on a deeper level, find the lie, and let the truth flood in such a way that you sense nothing but love from our heavenly father.

 I pray that you would be wrecked by His perfect love. That you would walk through your own emotional healing journey in whatever way that looks, and know that every piece of your story can be turned around, and reformatted for something good. Your past does not dictate your future. Your mistakes doesn't make you a failure. Your brokenness does not make you unworthy!

Until next time,

Jasmine

I USE TO THINK I DIDN'T NEED A DAD

A special note to any single parent reading this: Hey friends, it's Jasmine here. This is an extremely vulnerable post for me, but first I want to speak to every single parent who is reading this, please know that my heart is not to shame, or make you feel like your love is not enough, but rather give you some support in how you can start the conversation with your child(ren) about their feelings. Also know that I'm writing from a place in where my dad left our family before I was born. But this is for any single parent, where the dad, or mom has chosen to leave.

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learning to feel

I've spent the majority of my life dissociated from what's happening around me, in other words, I wasn't fully present enjoying all that life had to bring. I didn't even become aware of this until I had my very first therapy session in May 2017. Let's call my therapist, "Judy." After Judy learned my story, and past history, she said, "Well, there is definitely PTSD, disassociation/depersonalization, and abandonment issues." If I was honest, I was shocked to hear about the abandonment as I had walked through a forgiveness journey with my dad when I was 17. You can learn more about that part of my story here. Needless to say, I thought I was healed from that part of my story.

As the months passed and we continued to meet, I quickly learned that in order to cope with my true feelings, I had disassociated. I coasted through my childhood and teenage years, just waiting to be an adult so I could move on with life, because the only way it would be good was by own means.

I'm now 34, and learning to "feel" has been extremely hard and vulnerable for me. I want to learn how to be connected with myself, so I can live the life I was intended to have. Most importantly, so I can also be the mom I long to be with my kids.

For all of these years, I thought I didn't need a dad, that I was fine, and my mom did an amazing job (which she did). But I've learned that not having my dad for the first half of my life greatly impacted my identity, and my world views. I'm now working on breaking so many mindsets and lies that I've believed to be true about myself. So my hope is to help you open the dialogue and help walk your child(ren) through a healing journey while they are young.

 

Here are 6 ways you can begin to help

your child(ren) HEAL.

 

1. Start Therapy.

There are so many different stigmas when it comes to mental health, whether it be culturally, generational, etc. Or there's a sense of pride, that you got this, you can do this alone. But friend, you have the power to normalize what mental health is, by first recognizing it's not healthy to suppress your feelings. Now just because I'm recommending it doesn't mean you are ready to start therapy and that's okay. There also isn't a one size fits all with therapy. There are so many different types of that you can do, but only begin therapy if you want to for yourself. It has to be your choice and decision.  When you are ready to start going to therapy, it begins to normalize it for your kids. It's so beneficial to begin walking through your own hurt, and feelings first. The more healed you can become, the more you can help your kid(s) walk through a healing journey. Kids are very smart, and they understand the world in a different way that as parents we could never understand. So to bring in an outside perspective in with someone who is a professional could be very helpful in bringing healing to your child's feelings.

 

2. Make your home a safe place.

Now I get this is hard! I don't know what led to you to becoming a single parent. But if it was divorce/seperation, then when the kids are old enough to process what it means to not have a parent living with them, begin to open the dialogue. Help them to connect with themselves. This isn't about who's the better parent. Who is right or wrong. Or even how you sacrificed everything to provide for them. This is about a piece of their identity being confused and missing. Now I'm not saying go into detail about what happened, but rather ask them questions like "How does it feel to not see daddy/mommy as much as you'd like to?" or "How's your heart feeling today?" It will them to be connected and present with their feelings.

 

3. Speak into their identity.

Tell them how much they are loved, wanted, accepted, created with purpose and a destiny. Begin to make it a habit to flood them with truths. Abandonment has a way of changing how the brain processes and thinks. It changes their worldview on life and experiences.

 

4. Don't say things like, "You don't need him/her, you have me."

This is even harder than number 1, but know that their feelings aren't about you. In reality it's about how a piece of them is missing and they are trying to understand what it all means. Instead, validate their feelings, do your best to listen, and not fix. Also comparison is so destructive. So saying things like "But, you have me", won't ever take away the void they may feel. Which is why walking through your own healing journey is so important.

 

5. Spend as much time as you can with your kids.

I get it, you have to work and provide, especially since you live on one income, but try everything you can to not let work consume you to where all you do is work. Because a story will be written: "That everyone I love doesn't really love me." Be intentional in creating time to be fully present with your kids. Whether it be on Saturdays, or in the evenings after school. Just do your best to give them your full undivided attention. Ask them about their day, etc. Play with them, laugh with them. Don't let the need of money take away from having intentional quality time.

 

6. Make time for self-care.

Parents this is so hard, but you need time for yourself. You need some time to reset, focus on your own health/well being. Find something that rejuvenates you. Whether it be exercising, dancing, art, or something that brings you life. Just whatever it is, allow yourself to have fun with it, and be fully present in it. Your to-do list can be put off to the side for a few hours. Because a healthy mommy/daddy makes for a happy home.

MY NAME IS JASMINE AND I'M A LOPEZ

This blog post was originally shared on Click For Hope on Sept. 19, 2016.

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I recently confessed to my small group that I struggle with being Hispanic. And while some may have not fully understood what I meant or how that could be. I must admit that I felt free.....like a caged bird who had just been released. It has been something I've struggled with my entire life.

You see, I'm a 2nd generation Latina American and I don't speak Spanish fluently. I struggled with learning it as a child and often got confused, so I asked my mom for "English only" (which I regret as an adult), but could totally understand why my little heart would ask for that. I grew up not sure where I fit in. My skin was too tan for white girls and I wasn't "authentic" enough for the Latinos. I also dealt with a constant assumption that Puerto Ricans are the same as Mexicans. There became this distinction that being Puerto Rican was in some way better than being Mexican. So there came a point where I was clarifying how WE ARE NOT THE SAME, all the while denying my very own Mexican heritage.

As an adult I've done everything I could by my own power to prove my worth, and break the negative stereotypes that are often thought of consciously or subconsciously towards someone who is Hispanic. Negative stereotypes such as: when you want to hire a landscaper who is cheap, you hire a Mexican, when you need a mechanic for cheap, you hire a Mexican,....see the pattern here?!? When I first became a portrait and wedding photographer, I began seeing this stereotype be applied to me. Now I admit I could have very well written this story for myself, and allowed something that was not truth to become truth. But the feelings it brought me sucked! Comment after comment, I wondered, "Am I being judged by my last name?" To be even more transparent, I stopped writing by last name on my website, business cards, and email signature. I began to question my own worth as a creative entrepreneur.

The industry also very much so, taught me that I must only show what I want to shoot. That this "type of person" is what is wealthy looked like, which was who could afford me. This marketing strategy left me feeling even more lost and unsure of myself as an artist. Is this what I really dreamed of for my brand?  Did I really want to be that exclusive?!? I'm at a place where I'm now asking, how can I create a brand that is inclusive, and where all economic statuses could have an opportunity to be photographed by me and have beautiful photographs of them while valuing my work and time.

As I opened my heart, and began having conversations with others about my struggles, I'm learning to embrace who I am. I'm in a season where I long to be my TRUE self. The person who God created me to be. I'm still journeying through it all, and dismantling the lies I've believed to be true. I recently went to a women's conference and heard a speaker say, "Your culture is not a curse, it's a blessing," she said, "it's time to start having these hard conversations and stop acting like race doesn't matter. It does matter! And ignoring it doesn't change it."

That spoke volumes to me, and I began to allow the Lord to speak and transform my heart. He began to remind me of His word. How I'm His masterpiece, fearfully and wonderfully made. He knows me by name, and knows the numbers of hair on my head. He is with me and for me.

I began asking myself what's my identity, who is she now at 32yrs old? How does she see herself? And while I'm still very much in the process still of answering all these questions, I do know that I have something to say.

There's only ONE me.

I have a voice.

I was created with a purpose and destiny that only I can fulfill.

Because I HAVE A NAME and it matters!

What have been your cultural and racial struggles? Comment below and share your thoughts with me!!!

Update: 3/21/18

It's so amazing to see all that God has done in a year and a half. He's been healing me big time. Starting Authentic Adventure Co. was a defining moment where it has allowed me to bring my full self to this blog, which is all of who we are as a latino family, in our faith, and through our creativity. :)

MUSIC VIDEO | RECKLESS LOVE

I resonate so deeply with this song, and I had no idea how influential it would be over my healing process this past year. In May 2017, I started going to therapy to process through my childhood. This song became a cornerstone during my healing. I couldn't believe that in the midst of my pain, and the broken pieces of my story, God's love for me is so reckless that he would leave everyone and anyone for me. That he would light up all the dark areas of my past, he would tear down every lie I've believed, and that I AM STILL WANTED. I have wept over this song, as I have allowed it to become a song of truth, in turn allowing it to tear down the lies and mindsets that I've believed over myself for so long.

Music has a way of freeing us. There's such beauty, love and grace in it. I pray that this song blesses you! I hope that you would allow yourself to experience the overwhelming never ending reckless love of God!

Wishing you a very Happy Valentine's Day!

-Jasmine

FORGIVING MY DAD

I shared this story on my Click For Hope website back in August of 2016. I'm resharing it here, one because, I feel like you need to know this part of my story, before I could share my other blog posts.

Why?

Well because I believe our stories matter. I believe the things we experienced as children have affect on who we become when we get older. Our experiences create stories, that then create "mindsets" or "lies" that we believe to be true. Even now, as I reread this story, I'm learning that God is still healing me. While I forgave my father, and our relationship is reconciled, I still have mindsets that shaped me when I was little, that I'm now beginning to break down with truth.

So here it is friends! My forgiveness journey....

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I was born into the world rejected by my father, who made a new life with a new family. So all I knew was our little family: my mom, my older brother and me. I don't have many memories of my childhood. If I'm honest, I've suppressed so much of it, that I can only recall a memory here and there, and they aren't all good.

I do remember my mom doing her best trying to juggle it all. She was determined to figure out how to make it work with no assistance from anyone including the government.  A few of my fondest memories together was having a sock fight and making cheesecake for bake sales at church because I always got to lick the spoon with that delicious cream cheese filling. Other than that I don't remember much.

As a teenager, I was very cold, angry, bitter and didn't really know what I believed about "love". In fact "love" was distorted to me. I hadn't seen a positive example of it as well as marriage because all I was surrounded by was divorce. I don't think I realized it then nor could I even communicate that I had daddy issues. I just knew that when he'd come to pick us up I'd find an excuse to not go to his house. I wanted nothing to do with him. I didn't care if he ever got to be a part of my life again. I felt he had lost his chance.

Summer of junior year I was reacquainted with a childhood friend. It was through her a series of events happened where I found myself going to a youth retreat. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, and my motives in going were totally wrong too! But God had a different plan for me. After a fun day full of competitive games and teaching, there was a worship experience that I will never forget. It changed my life forever!

I remember being in a room full of other high school and college aged kids, but somehow the room felt empty with just me and God. I was sitting on the floor in a fetal position and I heard a voice say, "I've missed you!" Tears began to stream down my face, as a LOVE no words could describe consumed my broken heart, and filled the room. I wanted this LOVE. It felt so warm, inviting and perfect.....and all I could say was, "I've missed you too!" As more tears streamed down my face I heard a voice tell me, "If you're going to follow me you're going to have to forgive your father." A simple nod was my response.

That Labor Day weekend was the weekend I decided to surrender my life and follow Jesus. What I didn't know how to do was forgive. My mom worked nights so we had opposite schedules and my brother was off at college, so I began having beautiful moments with Jesus as I studied and read the Word every night on my bed. I was intrigued by the simplicity but yet complexity of who Jesus was. The miracles He performed was something I wanted to see one day. The stories of Paul and how he was redeemed and used to do a amazing things was only evidence for me in how I could have a similar story.

Three months later, my mom called my dad and told him to call me. A part of me felt so betrayed, but knew deep downside she only did what I didn't have the courage to do. Over the phone I began sharing my Jesus story with him, and said, "Dad, I just want to let you know that I forgive you!"

I cried. He cried.

I can't say that instantly we began a relationship and everything was just peachy, but what I can say is that when I said those words, I literally felt bitterness, hatred, unforgiveness and so much more lift off my shoulders. I was instantly a different person. I began to learn what love was according to 1 Corinthians 13. I began to let the walls down that I built up towards my dad, and in turn, other people.

It's now been 16 years since that beautiful exchange took place. My dad has been in my life for as long as he was out of it. To me it was worth walking down the path of forgiveness, not just for our relationship, but for me to become the person I am today. My dad and I have a fully restored relationship. He walked me down the aisle when I got married 10 years ago, he's been at the hospital for the birth of each of my daughters. My girls know their grandpa and love him very much. We talk on the phone about marriage, faith, and life. When I look at my dad, I don't see him as the man that abandoned me... I see him as forgiven. All those feelings of hatred no longer reside in my mind or heart. I live my life free, knowing I'm forgiven and loved by my Heavenly Father.

So I end with this! If there is someone in your life that you want to forgive, my hope is that you would begin to walk down that path. It's not easy, and everyone's forgiveness story is different. What I do know is, when we choose to forgive it frees us up to love. It humanizes your pain. It allows you to feel versus numbing it all away. I pray that you would open your heart! Please feel free to email me at connect@authenticadventure.co if you'd like more information on how I walked through that journey or if you are looking for help/advice on how to forgive someone who hurt or abandoned you.

Until next time friends,

Jasmine

WHY I STARTED CLICK FOR HOPE

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I often get asked, "Why did you start Click for Hope? Why do it for free? How do you find your stories?" Well before I can answer those questions, I have to share Sally with you! She was my very first CLICK FOR HOPE story back in 2011 before it ever existed. While at church one day, she shared her story with us and I was so moved by it. This crazy idea came to my head....what would it look like if I partnered with a makeup artist, photographed her, and shared her story on my website?!? So after the gathering, I approached her and shared this idea, in which she said yes! A few months later, she was sitting in my studio and as she was getting makeup done...she just started talking. The more she shared, the more she glistened. She saw her #cancer as a way to start fresh and to restore relationships. At the end of the session, I asked her if she would be willing to take off her head scarf. She paused for a moment, and then softly nodded. I knew this was a moment of freedom for her and I had to capture it in the most authentic way possible. You see she had never publicly showed her bare head. It was an area of insecurity for her. But by the end of the session she had a fearless confidence. I left that day knowing THIS is exactly what I wanted to be doing. That everyone who gets in front of my camera would know their story matters, that they would know they are beautiful, and that they aren't alone!

Why did you start CLICK FOR HOPE?

After Sally's shoot, I continued to focus on my photography business called Jazi Photo. But the Lord kept pressing my heart, asking me, "Why do stories matter." You see, then, Jazi Photo's tag line was, "What will be Your Story?" but I wasn't doing anything to actually know my clients on a deeper level. I felt empty as I didn't feel I was living to my fullest potential. I walked through a journey with the Lord searching and gaining understanding on what scripture says about our stories! In which, the Bible says a lot about why our stories matter, but James 5:16-17 stuck out the most to me! As I dug deeper into this verse here's 4 things I discovered:
1. Make it your common practice to confess to one another- We are called to share with one another. There's a vulnerability that comes in sharing pieces of who we are with someone we trust!
2. So we can live together Whole and Healed.- God doesn't want for us to walk in brokenness. The more we share, the more we allow Him to make us whole and healed from the inside out!
3. The prayers of a righteous person is powerful...- You guys it doesn't just end at sharing. When we share our struggles, all that we are going through with someone who also loves Jesus, it creates accountability. This person will now check in with you, see how your doing and will also pray for you!!!

4. And effective.- there's power in our prayers. When we pray, it creates opportunities for God to be who He says he is, and then brings us back to being made whole and healed.

Isn't this beautiful?!? I could go on and on about these 2 verses, but I'll do that another day!

Why do I do it for free?
As I studied scripture on the power of our stories, I also quickly learned He has a lot to say about how we run our businesses. I long to live the God Dream versus the American Dream. My bottom line is not what fuels me, but rather living in my purpose and calling! I have seen God move and has always been faithful. The more I focus on giving back, the more He has blessed the works of my hands and expanded my territory. Our bookings, whether it be photography, film, or our photo booth, it gives and help support CLICK FOR HOPE.

How do I find the stories?
Believe it or not it's all been through word of mouth. Also social media has been wonderful too! It's been amazing meeting and sharing the stories of those all over the country!
What's been really helpful has been having the topics I want to share ready ahead of time. That way I schedule all the storytellers in one day! We've turned them into these amazing events where makeup artists, stylists and more partner with me in creating a beautiful experience. It's amazing what happens when you gather a group of women who share a similar story.