H 🍎 P E

Uncategorized

H🍎P E

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Nearly 12 years ago, I looked at my final grades as a senior at Oral Roberts University and wept. I’m smiling now as I glance over the FIVE F marks that could’ve easily motivated me to end it all. God just reminded of FIVE: the number of GRACE.⁣⁣

I’m no longer shackled to shame. I’m delighted to share my failures with you in efforts to encourage you to press, endure, and simply trust in the Lord.

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If you would’ve told me that in 2003, when I took my journey to Tulsa to begin school at Oral Roberts University, that I would’ve been an EIGHTH year senior, I would’ve laughed and rolled my eyes.⁣⁣

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Little did I know that a stroke two weeks before graduation would derail it all. My speech was stripped, my limbs were limp, and my mind was far from at peace. But that mild derailing led me to the most glorious path of restoration I’d ever discover.⁣⁣

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2007 set off to be the year that would change everything; it sure did. In February I left for Ohio to visit my boyfriend at the time, not knowing that he’d sexually assault me while in his home. I felt guilty because my Mom clearly said, “Make sure you’re never alone with him at his house.”⁣⁣

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So when I returned back to campus in Tulsa, I stuffed it. When everyone asked how my trip went, I lied and told of how everything was just perfect.⁣⁣

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Fast forward to April 2007, when I worked desperately to wrap up the 22.5 credit hours that I foolishly attempted to complete in one semester. The goal: finish on time. Four years later, I’d finally finish.⁣⁣

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For four EXTRA years, colleagues, family, friends, and other curious minds asked, “So when are you going to finish?” Or said, “You can do it. Don’t give up.”⁣⁣

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Finally, I went to counseling because of my employment at Omaha Public Power District. Counseling at Best Care EAP was one of the perks in the benefits package at OPPD. I eventually went for help. I met a counselor named Trish. She broke something so significant down for me:⁣⁣

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“Break it down into smaller steps. You keep saying you need to finish your degree. Try saying, “I need to finish this class.” or “I need to finish this paper.” or “I need to finish this sentence.” or “What’s the next word?”⁣⁣

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When I learned to break my goal down to smaller steps, I was able to climb faster to taste that sweet victory.⁣⁣

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It might’ve taken me

four extra years of starting and stopping,⁣⁣

four extra years of defeat and disappointments,⁣⁣

four extra years of tears and torment,⁣⁣

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but it was also⁣⁣

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four extra years of learning and lifting up my head,⁣⁣

four extra years of forgiveness and maturing my faith,⁣⁣

four extra years of growth and discovery,⁣⁣

four extra years of humbling and reverence,⁣⁣

four extra years of refreshing and restarting,⁣⁣

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and⁣⁣

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four extra years of knowing that I simply can’t do it all on my own.⁣⁣

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It was my God—directing me to my army of accountability to push me further, cheer me on, and let me know that I’m never forsaken and never alone.⁣⁣

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For those of you who are starting this year off with the memories of last year’s failures, let me share this with you:⁣⁣

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For FOUR years on New Year’s Eve, a bit of my heart hung a low at our Watch Night Services. I was disappointed that yet again I hadn’t finished my degree. I allowed that weight to hang over my head and torment me. I’d later find that, I was simply being condemned by the enemy. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.”⁣⁣

I learned to enter each new year with a different posture in my heart. “My” goals couldn’t surround “me” any longer.

Whose problems can I help solve this year?

What can I invent?

What book should I write?

How can I empower others to solve their own problems?

How will God lead me regarding philanthropy this year?

Who can mentor me to become a better mentor?

What is my giving goal for the year?

How many students will no longer have student loans because of my responsible stewardship?

Whose mortgage can I pay off this year?

Who can I train for missions?

Who can train me even more in Christian apologetics so that I can teach it well?

When MY goals are centered around GOD’S Word,

I know

and have

HOPE

that I’m on the right track,

and I

definitely

won’t

FAIL.

ABOUT THE WRITER:

Karissa Denae Johnson failed five classes in her senior year in college at Oral Roberts University in 2007. In 2011 she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Community Development. Her concentrations are in Special Education and Teaching English as a Second Language. In 2009 Karissa and her three sisters (all under 30) earned their Church of God in Christ Evangelist Missionary licenses simultaneously in Omaha, NE. In 2011, this teacher with autism took her first trip abroad to Luton, England where she was welcomed by a host of strangers who became family. This life-changing group was the COGIC UK Jurisdiction.

Karissa Denae Johnson taught English in Hangzhou, China from 2012-2013. She also wrote for an expat magazine in China and made history as the first Black to model for a Chinese clothing company, Kawoxi. Miss Johnson taught freshmen women in college at the largest women’s university in the world, Princess Nora University. She also taught English at King Saud University.

Karissa is now the Executive Editor of the Voice of Missions Magazine—a Church of God in Christ publication with an impact in over 100 countries. Executive Pastor Karissa serves at Christ Cathedral COGIC under the leadership of her father, Supt. Kevin Johnson. During her free time, she polishes up her teaching skills as a substitute teacher for the Papillion-La Vista School District.

Presently, Karissa mentors and coaches executives, Ivy League graduates, pastors, entrepreneurs, social media influencers, and athletes. Miss Johnson speaks at businesses, schools, and organizations primarily. Rarely is she recruited to speak at churches. She is grateful for every platform to share biblical principles. She is the founder of the International Prayer, Fasting, and Healing Center which will be housed within Christ Cathedral in 2019. She is the author of 7 Steps to the 7th Continent: How I Planned for Antarctica and What Really Went Down.

As an explorer, Karissa visited all seven continents before the age of 30. She took her first trip abroad at 26 and made it to Antarctica at 29. Karissa made it her goal to share Christ on all seven continents through conversational evangelism. She reached her goal at 29. Her ultimate aim is to glorify God and “Live your life for what matters in eternity.”

Visit sevenby30.com to learn more, book her to speak, and purchase her books. To support Karissa’s efforts for Children’s Heaven in Addis Ababa give at PayPal.me/GIVEBIGETHIOPIA. Karissa gives $50 a month to sponsor a young girl whose family is impacted by HIV/AIDS.

Karissa is the daughter of Kevin Lee Johnson and the late Tina Roberta Thuston Johnson. She is the sister of four, Kinesha Johnson-Roach, Kristina Ward, KaDar Johnson, and Karieta Walker.

P. S. Getting ready to go to the beach. I’m being hosted by fellow ORU grad, Ludwina Fulford. Been spoiled since I got here yesterday! Glory to God! 🙌🏿♥️💫

#LetsGoDoBe

A Single Thought

adventure, Africa, Antarctica, Anxiety, Art, beauty, Big Chop, courage, Depression, Education, explore, faith, family, Foreign Language, Hair, Health, Health, wellness,, Uncategorized

“I’m so lonely. You just don’t understand.”

I read this quite often online. And of course I hear it in person.

I hear ya.

I also understand now, even more, why scripture encourages singles to be concerned about the needs of the church. There are countless needs in the church that need the support of those who don’t have the obligations of a spouse or even children.

If I were not single, what I’m currently doing would potentially be drastically limited. Being single allows you the opportunity to focus on all of the gifts that God gave you and maximize your time.

Are all of your dreams fulfilled that God placed in you? Surely busyness isn’t the cure for loneliness, but meditating on lack doesn’t bring glory to God.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly appreciate the company and physical presence of a man. Lord knows! But even since Ma’s passing, I’ve gotten to go back to my normal pace/cadence/rhythm. It’s been a joy to activate so many of the visions and dreams I’ve been building up during the last two years of caring for her.

Take one SINGLE minute and celebrate this time and ask God to breathe on it like never before and to teach you how to responsibly steward your time as a single individual.

Questions to ask:

How can I serve a married couple today?

How can I serve a single person today?

What elderly person needs help?

Is there a child I should be mentoring?

Who can I train with my skills?

Is there anyone who could benefit from my strength or wisdom today?

Does someone need help moving?

Can I help someone with their end of the year tasks?

Does someone need help with holiday shopping?

Who can I be poured into today?

Am I legalistic?

Am I judgmental?

Am I full of grace and seasoned with salt?

Do I know how to talk to people?

Am I a good listener?

Are there any widows who need company?

Have I visited cancer waiting rooms lately and passed out hats for those losing their hair?

Do I know anyone in the hospital who needs to be visited?

Is anyone hungry?

Can I host a cooking class?

Is there another single person who needs company this holiday?

How can I host events to bring more singles together?

Should I consider hosting a Bible study or movie night in my home?

Do I frequent coffee shops or universities with lots of traffic and new people?

Do I visit the same places and keep the same routines?

Have I finished writing my first book or blog?

What keeps me humble?

What makes me feel haughty?

Do I think that I’ve arrived?

Who am I helping?

Am I getting counseling regularly?

Am I physically fit?

Am I emotionally fit?

Am I spiritually fit?

Is my soul well?

Is my home clean?

Am I a hoarder?

Am I being mentored and coached?

Do I work out regularly?

Who do I meet at the gym?

How is my appetite?

Am I overweight or underweight?

Do I regularly talk to people online and in person?

Am I am extrovert? How can I use my gifts as an extrovert?

Am I an introvert? How can I use my gifts as an introvert?

Is there anyone grieving who just needs to talk?

How many languages do I know?

Am I fluent in at least three languages?

Do I have a passport?

When will I use my passport again?

Do I use all modes of transportation at least once annually?

Does a girl need help taking out her braids?

Does a guy need his hair cut?

Am I good with my hands?

Can I fix cars?

And I good with computers?

Can I do makeup?

Can I make jewelry?

What I can do with my hands that will bring me more income?

When you’ve addressed a few of these questions, you’ll find plenty of things to take your mind off of the absence of a mate. Again, these elements are not to DISTRACT you from that fact that you are single, but to ATTRACT you to fulfilling your purpose and responsibly stewarding your time.

P. S. Visit sevenby30.com/books to snag my eBook on how I planned for Antarctica called, “7 Steps to the 7th Continent.” It’s available in English and Arabic. 💋

#LetsGoDoBe

P. S. S. God’s design for us doesn’t always include a significant other, but God’s design always includes a significant purpose. 💫

Because of YOUR Giving: #LetsGoDoBe ETHIOPIA

adventure, Africa, Antarctica, Art, courage, explore, faith, Foreign Language, Uncategorized
A view of streets and high rise apartment buildings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Panos/Sven Torfinn

A view of streets and high rise apartment buildings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Panos/Sven Torfinn (Photo selected for use on sevenby30.com by Mesenbet, a lovely receptionist at my guest house.) Photo reference: un.org

Ethiopia is Africa’s fastest growing economy.

According to the World Economic Forum, “Ethiopia has an image problem. For decades, mere mention of the country has conjured up images of famine and conflict.”

Image result for addis ababa skyline

Addis Ababa skyline via Knowledge Resources LLC

According to sevenby30.com, the media has an image problem.  Unfortunately, the mainstream media constantly paint with the same brush. The major media outlets sing with the same tone. Their monotonous melodies distort the vibrant reality of thriving, modern, and diverse countries such as Ethiopia.

One of my greatest passions involves telling NEW stories. While a story may be new to me, it may be old to someone else. While a story may be old to someone else, it may be new to their neighbor.

Presently, I’m typing alongside the receptionist at my guest house. It’s 2 am here on November 30th. (I started this blog post at 10 pm. We’re laughing now as I just updated the time for the fourth time.) We were up until 2 am the other night as she showed me video after video of stellar artists in the region. I continue to pause as she stops my writing to ask if I know certain things about Ethiopia, such as “genfo” a porridge type dish or if I’ve heard of Yared Negu, a brilliant musician and singer from Addis Ababa. I’m getting an earful and I am just getting started. It’s only day 3.

Mesenbet is the one over my shoulder as I type. She is helping me remember everything as I post this. Her name means RAPTURE in Amharic. I believe she’s ready. She has a heart of GOLD!

And on this day, because of YOUR generosity and because of YOUR giving, I’ve been able to #giveBIGethiopia. Their economy is the fastest growing one in Africa. Yes, this is true. What is also true is that some future entrepreneurs need funding to get started. What’s true is some kids just simply need a burger and a shower. What’s also true is that there’s a seamstress just a few doors away who is deaf and needs a sewing machine to generate more income for her family. She’s the friend of the housekeeper who washed my clothes yesterday.

What’s sobering is that the hospital, just a seven minute walk away, cares for a man without enough funds to pay his rent upon leaving.

Because of your giving, I am able to meet these needs in less than two days.

Today, I walked outside and noticed a tailor right across from our guest house. My purple wrap from my great-grandma who passed at 103 appeared a bit tattered at the neck. I trekked a few paces and exchanged smiles with him and the security guard in his tent. I showed him the torn part. He took the garment, attached to the machine, and swapped the other garment out for mine. In about a minute, he finished sewing it back into place.

This wrap belonged to my Great-Grandma Maudlean Brown. My sister Karieta saw it in Grandma’s house when we were cleaning after she passed. She said, “This is so you.” Grandma was 103 and a loyal missionary. Although she never rode on an airplane, her prayers and work reached the nations.

I then asked him how much it would cost for every garment in the tent to be paid for. He replied, about 50 birr for the day. I then gave him 50. And then 50 more. I asked him to make sure that everyone who already brought garments didn’t have to pay for the tailoring today. Fifty birr amounts to about $2.

Skills! No power needed for this machine. I can’t wait to buy three tomorrow–I mean later today. I’m excited to meet the new businesswomen.

Snipping away excess thread. Before I leave, I’ll receive lessons from either him or Welde, the manager at our guest house. Welde said it’ll be easy for me to make my own clothes. That’s my goal!

I took off my butterfly pin from my Mom so that he could repair my tear. So glad to be adorned with garments from my family’s matriarchs. Tina Roberta Thuston Johnson 12-7-56—7-17-2018

Such a bright spirit and a happy heart! We laughed when I said, “Oh my gosh!” He then said, “Oh my Gaaawd!”

Unspeakable JOY!

Because of your giving.

Later I also got my shoes cleaned for 5 birr, which amounts to about $0.18. I gave him 50 birr. He said in a day he might make 50 birr. He also showed me an incredible way to double bow tie my shoes!

He said, “Before and after.” in English. We both cracked up! #Isa52v7 #Rom10v14_15

I’m seeing him again tomorrow if he’s there because my shoes got dirty all over again. My new sister Mesenbet just told me that his shirt says “Jesus.”

Before cleaning my shoes, he had a friend run and buy a plastic bag so that my socks wouldn’t get wet. His friend taught me 1-10 in Amharic although I still haven’t nailed it. Practice makes perfect!

The double bow tie!

Because of your giving.

Manager Welde was kind enough to be my guide as he took me from place to place. He does work for Red Cross and this was nothing new to him, but he stated that it was very different. His spirit and heart warmed mine deeply. Please say a special prayer for Welde! He helped me immensely with translations and deepening my understanding of the culture. He was a patient teacher too because I struggled with Amharic all afternoon.

As I spoke with the manager of my guest house, Welde, he helped answer some questions for me and suggested that I take a walk to the hospital. As I made my way to the hospital, a 5th grader stopped me and began asking for money to buy food. I told him to walk with me, but stopped to ask if he had any friends who needed food too.

Long story short, four boys took us up to the second floor of a restaurant nearby. They ordered specialty pizzas, burgers, and juice. Their joy could be felt all the way in La Vista, Nebraska. Unbelievable! The manager of the restaurant expressed his gratitude along with the staff, family, and friends in the neighborhood.

All of the boys insisted that they fed me a bite. Each fed me something. I insisted that the meals were just for them. They wouldn’t let me leave until I ate some. Ever tried tuna pizza?

I asked if I could pay for the boys to shower somewhere and Manager Welde said that they could use the guest house. Incredible. It was Welde’s idea to capture this moment. I’m so glad that I did.

Now, what kind is that?

Digging in with my future football, music, and dance instructors.

I’ll feed myself this time, thank you!

Who doesn’t love pizza and burgers? Oh my gosh. I just realized that I ate cheese today and didn’t get sick. Thank the Lord. I can’t eat dairy.

“Try this.” I think that’s what he said in Amharic.

Because of your giving.

The young businessmen who sold me plenty of napkins, gum, and wash cloths. Welde and I appreciated the help with carrying the heavy bags downstairs.

While I prepared to leave, I saw two boys selling tissues, cigarettes, gum, and candy. I bought 100 birr of items. I skipped on the cigarettes. They later helped the guest house manager and I carry juices downstairs.

Welde and I walked to the hospital and noticed a man selling bananas. He stopped us to ask if we wanted to buy some. I bought all of his bananas. The man then walked with us to the hospital where we went door to door with the doctor and staff delivering mango juice and bananas. I walked in on a Muslim man praying while his roommate received the food and drink.

Ahmed helped carry the bananas I purchased from him to the government hospital. The doctor walked door to door with us to direct us on our giving.

Such an honor to work with people with such big hearts! Especially on the fly!

No clue what I was saying here!

The doctor took me to the person who had the least amount of money and the least amount of visitors. I wanted to know about the greatest need. It was there that I met Addis. Addis Ababa means “new flower.” Mr. Addis sat with speckled gray, white, and black hair–donning a bright smile upon our entrance. With only one daughter, a divorce on record, and a grateful heart, Welde translated back and forth as I asked the man of his monetary needs–specifically for housing. I asked if all of his bills were covered. He stressed that he owed much in rent. I asked the cost of rent for one month. He said about 400-500 birr. It amounts to approximately $14-$18 USD. I let him know that because of my friends and family around the world, I would pay for his rent for a full year. Earlier he cried over the bananas and juice. Let’s just say he did a bit more upon discovering the news about his rent being covered for a year. The doctor had to walk me out of the room because I was so overwhelmed on so many levels. My tears of joy wouldn’t stop flowing. I was in awe of how such a small amount money in the US can take care of someone’s accommodations in another land for an entire year.

Here he wrote a word of thanks and a way for me to visit him at another time. I look forward to returning to see him and prayerfully meet his only daughter.

Tomorrow, God willing, I’ll meet with those four boys as they teach me a song, a dance, and some soccer/football techniques. (They don’t know they’ll be teaching me about the football yet. They’ll find out at 9 am.) I already looked at their clothes and shoes and conjured up a plan, but the most vocal boy pointed at his clothes before leaving–gesturing that he was due for a new wardrobe. I said, “Tomorrow. God willing. Tomorrow.”

Tomorrow, God willing, I’ll buy three sewing machines for three future business owners. One being the mother who is deaf. I’ll also plan to take two of the sewing machines to the Mother Teresa Missionaries of Charity. I look forward to purchasing enough to clothe the dozens of babies and children that I saw two days ago at the charity. I have enough donations to buy over 100 pairs of shoes to give at the charity.

Tomorrow, God willing, I’ll meet with Pastor Buta, a Church of God in Christ pastor and meet the student who will receive a $500 USD “7×30 InstaFam/FacebookFam Scholarship.” Five hundred dollars is enough to cover one full year of tuition, books, etc. at many colleges and universities in Addis Ababa.

For those who are unable to give financially, will you consider fasting until 6 pm daily and believe God with me for lives to be miraculously transformed?

This evening I met with two fellow Oral Roberts University graduates who live and serve in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Their children brought so much laughter and joy to our table as we ate traditional, delectable Ethiopian cuisine. (Saniya was a brilliant Amharic teacher. She even wrote some English/Amharic lessons in my journal that I’ll always treasure.) My favorite dish, gomen, tastes similar to collard greens. Confession:  I finished the last of it.

Cuisine at Kategna Restaurant at Laphto Mall

We ate at the Laphto Mall at the Kategna Restaurant. Richard and Amanda are friends with the man who co-owns the mall with his brother. The co-owner provided our fish for free since I’m not eating meat on this trip and am gradually cancelling it out entirely from my diet. I consider myself a convegan–I’m a vegan when it’s convenient. Pray for me, y’all. And to think, I thought I made up “convegan.” Urban Dictionary already had it locked and loaded.

Image may contain: 2 people

Back to Richard and Amanda Coleman. They walk to a unique beat. Christian News Wire featured Richard where he stated, “Knowing that African Americans made up less than 0.6 percent of the full-time sending force from America, I felt like maybe my calling was to stay behind and help change that reality,” he said. “But over the years I began to feel I was fulfilling a role that others could now fulfill.”

If you read his resume alone, you’ll be challenged to go further, do more, and be more. If you watch Amanda’s methods of teaching, questioning, and leading, you’ll be challenged to level up. Before we left their home–where their children were wildly anxious to show me their rooms, stuffed animals, and prayer journal–Amanda blessed me with a traditional Ethiopian netla (scarf). As it is my custom, I wept. I’ve been eyeing them since I arrived and simply whispered a prayer that I would receive one as a gift.

We all have a part to play.

All parts are not the same; all parts are needed. One plants, one waters, but God gives the increase. #ICor3v6_9

There is still plenty of time to give. Although I flew here to begin work with the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. Although the Assistant Pastor Bronson Elliott Woods, another minister, Pastor Lonzell Blackmon and I did a walk through at the Mother Teresa Missionaries of Charity two days ago, our medical missions trip work will not officially begin until 5:30 PM tomorrow, November 30. I’ll render Lift Every Voice and Sing at the Ethiopia Graduate School of Theology before Ebenezer’s Assistant Pastor speaks.

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Assistant Pastor Woods of Ebenezer in Atlanta, GA and Pastor Blackmon of Little Rock, AR.

My father, who is the Senior Pastor of Christ Cathedral Church of God in Christ, paid for my flight to Ethiopia. My church, Christ Cathedral, covered my $150 flight from Omaha to Atlanta. I’ll cover my lodging, which amounts to about $20 daily. I have a sneaky suspicion that I may not even have to pay that full amount. I think the guest house staff has taken a liking to me. I know I like them! I’m using the computer right now as Mesenbet jusssst brought out some tea for me for a quick break. God is so good.

Christ Cathedral Cogic - Bellevue, NE

Christ Cathedral COGIC “To support the preaching and the teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to open our HEARTS and HANDS to one another first and then to the WORLD.”

As the Executive Pastor of Christ Cathedral, I am not on salary, but I receive limited support for efforts such as this trip to Ethiopia. I am incredibly grateful. The work that I do outside of the church funds so much of my passion. Whether through substitute teaching, speaking, editing, or coaching, I am able to live as I am called.

I forgot to mention that today, because of your giving, I received the honor of blessing 11 people with two-three days worth of wages. Twenty-five days worth of wages were covered because of you. $63 USD covered 11 people’s wages for a total of 25 days of wages.

This is what #LetsGoDoBe is all about. Thank you for being part of this world-changing, life-giving tribe. I’m honored to march with you.

#LetGoDoBe

100% of all donations I receive–including book sales–go toward inland purchases, scholarships, and sustainability. My food, tourist experiences, etc. come from my wages and the funds of dear friends who have intentionally given directly to me.  A special thanks to ALL who gave! No amount is too small. $5 goes a long way in this land.

3 Ways to Give:

1. Buy my eBook exclusively on sevenby30.com about planning for Antarctica–or any other trip for that matter. I increased the price from $0.99 to $7.99 (English) and $4.99 (Moroccan Arabic) to raise more money to give in Ethiopia. The price sat at a about buck for about two years.

2. PayPal.me/givebigethiopia

3. CashApp $karissadenae Memo:  GIVE BIG ETHIOPIA

“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men…” #Gal6v10

His haircut was too fresh. I couldn’t pass him without a photo.

Freshness!

I saw two guys with a similar cut on the street, but I was getting my shoes cleaned and couldn’t get their attention for a closer look. Well, I just had to wait a few hours to see another fresh cut in person.

The dress that I’m wearing is from diyanu.com. A fellow Oral Roberts University Addie Olutola graduate owns the company and invited me to be a brand ambassador. To receive 10% off of any purchase, use the coupon code KARISSA10.  Please support the work of this phenomenal Nigerian businesswoman.

In Omaha at Emery’s Cafe, sporting the dress by D’Iyanu. Hair by Christopher Brookins. Earrings from my church mother, Mother Gloria Burnett. Jeggins from my sister Kinesha. Shoes from Becca Starks. Photo by Midland wrestler, Shay Young

A view of streets and high rise apartment buildings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Panos/Sven Torfinn

Urban League of Nebraska Young Professional Awards – VOTE NOW

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✅ PLEASE VOTE for me by NOON tomorrow, November 4th.

(Disclaimer: Social media/Video supported by Nelson Mandela administration.)

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/commawards

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Urban League of Nebraska Young Professional Awards

I made the top 5 for:

•Young Professional of the Year

•Educator of the Year

It is an HONOR to be considered for this auspicious award. Below you will find some of this year’s highlights. Although my Mom, Missionary Tina Roberta Thuston Johnson passed in July, our conversations during chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and even in her final hours FUELED me to continue the WORK. She believed in me and reminded me constantly to “Go, be a good little missionary.”

This was my year. My 33rd. My Jesus year. Here we go!

Executive Editor of the Voice of Missions Magazine – a publication that reaches 100 countries.

Executive Pastor of Christ Cathedral – an 18,500 sq ft facility which houses three ministries

Executive Editor of the Women of Power Newsletter

Main Stage Speaker at the Leadership Africa Summit

Creative Mornings

You Go Girl Omaha

Commencement Speak at the Queenship Academy

ICAN Women’s Leadership Conference Volunteer

BMEC AV Tech and volunteer for Vincent Taylor

Brand Ambassador for

Moduvated, Fashun Freak Boutique, D’Iyanu

International AIM Convention News Anchor and Correspondent for the live stream for the COGIC

Substitute Teacher for Papillion-La Vista Schools and Nelson Mandela Elementary School

Homecoming Makeup Artist

Hired and Employed two new paid interns for my company sevenby30

eBook consultant

Consultant to Fortune 500 company managers

Consultant to Ivy League Graduates

Student of EVERYONE.

This my year. This was my Go. Do. Be.

And now I ask you, to join me and vote for the Urban League of Nebraska Young Professionals Community Awards.

Let’s Go. Do. Be. Together.

Below, you’ll find the transcription for the video. I want to work to have subtitles on all videos going forward. This was a substitute teaching segment yesterday at Nelson Mandela Elementary.

Student: Good! I’ll make sure it you’re able to (inaudible)

Teacher: Good! Thank you! I wanted to make sure that the class was absolutely showing me their best skills. Thank you for sitting attentively—ready with your markers and the board. Waterfall! Waterfall!

Class: Shhh!

Teacher: Thank you. One more time. Waterfall. Waterfall.

Class: Shhh!

Teacher: Beautiful!

Principal Tooey: (Laughs) I just walked into the wrong class.

Teacher: (Laughs) (inaudible) Absolutely! We are so glad to welcome everyone back into our community today.

Class: Wow!

Teacher: And we’ll need be absolutely quiet—ready to learn, ready to receive new information. Everyone repeat after me. Everyone repeat after me. Are you ready?

Class: Are you ready?

Teacher: (Hums impromptu tune.)

Class: (Hums tune back.)

Teacher: (Hums tune.)

Class: (Hums tune back.)

Teacher: (Sings) MATH is when you ADD!

Class: (Sings) MATH is when you ADD!

Teacher: (Sings) MATH’S when you SUBTRACT!

Class: (Sings) MATH’S when you SUBTRACT!

Teacher: (Sings) MATH is when you ADD!

Class: (Sings) MATH is when you ADD!

Teacher: (Sings) MATH’S when you SUBTRACT!

Class: (Sings) MATH’S when you SUBTRACT!

Teacher: (Speaking voice returns.) So today! Now you’re done. So today we’re introducing (truly reviewing) which one? Math with adding or subtracting?

Class: (Sings) Sub-tra-cting!

Teacher: How did you know that?

Student: Because we seen the sign!

Teacher: You saw—(sings) I saw the sign!

Student: Woo!

Teacher: You saw the sign? She said because saw the sign. Which sign?

Class: (Screams) The subtraction sign!

Teacher: (Sings) The subtraction sign. (Speaking again.) This is subtraction. Okay? When you see this—this means you’re getting less: subtraction. When you see this—(dances) that’s when you’re adding. So which is—which has more movement? Subtraction or—which one has more movement?

Class: ADDING!

Teacher: So when you’re adding, you’re moving MORE!

Student: Hey, that was cool!

Teacher: Okay? So we’re doing subtraction. Let’s look. What do we have here?

Class: NINE!

Teacher: And here?

Class: ZERO!

Teacher: So what do we have if we’re subtraction?

Class: NINE!

Teacher: Who said that?

Student: You can’t—you can’t take away nine from (inaudible)zero, so you (inaudible)

Teacher: Nine—

Paraprofessional: That’s why everybody supposed to use their hands.

Teacher: Nine minus zero is?

Class: NINE!

Student: But um—we gotta—you gotta show your WORK!

Student: We gotta—we gotta cross it out! (Student sings) We gotta cross it out!

Student: You gotta cross out your FOUR! (inaudible—multiple children talking simultaneously.)

Paraprofessional: (Sings) Oh, class!

Class: (Sings in response) Oh, yes?

Teacher: I like—I love—you know what I love? I love all of these ideas. You wanna know what else I love? I love that you’re helping me. And one more thing: I love when I get to share MY way of doing things. So let’s look at the board.

(I’ve stopped the transcription here. If there is someone who wants to assist me or redirect me to an easier way to transcribe the audio, I would be most grateful. I want to support those who hear differently.)

Full Audience, Where’s the Artist?

Art

CL🙈SE your EYES and picture this:

The seats in the auditorium are full.

It’s jam packed.

People are whispering and waiting—

in great anticipation for the show to

BEGIN.

There’s only one thing:

They’re waiting for YOU.

Each day, an audience sits

WAITING

to HEAR from YOU.

Waiting to read YOUR original work,

to SEE your paintings,

to HEAR your voice,

to WATCH you dance,

and choreograph,

and LEAP,

and LIFT weights,

and RUN fast,

and COOK diligently,

and TRAIN passionately.

They’re waiting.

They’re watching

to see

WHEN

you

will

GRACE

the stage.

NOW is the time to SHARE like never before.

What are YOU waiting for? We NEED you.

#LetsGoDoBe

#Isaiah43v19 #iWillDoANewThing

📸: Terrence Tryon

👘: Kinesha Johnson-Roach

PA: Karieta Walker

P. S. Before you were born, God knew the earth needed you. The earth NEEDED you and what YOU bring. Don’t ever discount WHAT you have and WHO you are. You were handpicked to make a difference in the EARTH.

I Cut My Hair

beauty, Big Chop, courage, Hair, natural hair, Uncategorized

Yes, I C✂️T my hair.

👉🏿FOUR years ago!

Sorry, y’all. But I did cut it!

Here’s the story: Four years ago it was Christmas 2014 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I began taking out my waist-length Beyoncé braids and finally had enough. I got my scissors and made a decision. This hair was about to be GONE.

In 2011 I did the same thing. I texted my sisters saying, “Y’all, I just took craft scissors and cut my hair.” They didn’t believe me. I sent them a pic and they all called me simultaneously.

Best. Decision. Ever. For my hair.

It gave me a clean slate. Fast forward to December 2014, Christmas Day. I clearly felt loaded with emotions of missing home and that I graded papers at King Saud University most of the day.

Needless to say, my spirit lacked JOY. In a non-emotionally-sober moment, I snipped. And snipped. And the next thing I knew, it was all gone. And I loved it. Then I hated it. It didn’t feel like the 2011 cut. The same woman in 2011 paled in comparison to who stood before me.

Worst. Decision. Ever. For my hair.

But I GREW from it. I learned:

When making long-term decisions, be sober.

Go through your little checklist, first.

Am I in the flesh?

What’s my motive?

What does God’s Word day about this?

What is God speaking to me?

Is this wise?

Who will be impacted if I make this choice?

How does this improve lives?

Will my conscience be clear?

Is this a selfish act?

That is my list for MAJOR decisions. Now, I don’t know if all of this really applies to hair, but it’s just a good guide.

Presently, my hair is safe and sound underneath some faux locs. It’s one of my favorite protective styles to get. My friend Chris Brookins did them this time in less than four hours. Still uncertain as to how he moves so quickly.

This is what I want to leave with you:

Be led by God. Be led by His voice. Move in His direction.

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shall go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” Psalm 32:8

Are you seeking instruction or guidance? Drop you prayer request below and I WILL pray FOR and WITH you!

#LetsGoDoBe

With Deep Love and Gratitude,

Karissa

Feeding a Giraffe—with My Mouth

adventure, Africa, explore, love, Mental Health, Mystery, Teaching, Wellness, worldview

✨BRE🦒KFAST, anyone?✨

🦒Is there anything that freaks you out? Anything that just the thought of it makes your stomach turn? Anything that you said you’d never do? Anything that makes YOU look crazy?

😛I never thought I’d feed a giraffe with my own mouth, but I never knew I’d be given the opportunity to either. There’s a host of things we say we’ll NEVER do, but when opportunity knocks, our tune may quite possibly change.

🦒Today, DISCARD some of those NEVERS and FEED into some new MYSTERY, some new ADVENTURE—some #WILDLIFE.

#LetsGoDoBe

😛Tag someone who needs to be shaken up this morning.

P. S. Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

P. S. S. Much love to my #InstaMom @travelingblackwidow. Before I went to bed last night, I screenshot my pic my giraffe feeding for this morning’s post. I logged on this morning and I saw her post and was like 😍. Go check her out! 🦒

P. S. S. The tongue of the giraffe felt like SANDPAPER!

Anxiety, Depression, faith, family, Health, Health, wellness,, love, Mental Health, Teaching, worldview

L🌍VE

Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Evening!

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, remember this:

Worry is a NEGATIVE form of meditation. It’s like praying for the wrong thing to happen.

STOP. Redirect your thoughts toward the beauty that CAN and WILL happen. Reflect on PLEASANT memories. Refuse to RECYCLE pain.

PRESS forward and be RENEWED in your mind, daily by His Word.

You’re NOT forsaken. You’re NOT forgotten. You’re NEVER alone.

I heard The Nevels Sisters sing “I got COMPANY following me!”

Be comforted in knowing that you’re not walking this out alone. You’ve got COMPANY following you.

“Many things

about tomorrow,

I don’t seem

to understand,

but I know

Who holds my future,

and I know

Who holds my hand.”

#HeWasThereAllTheTime #HeIsWithYOU #YouAreNeverAlone

📸: @iamtryon

👘: @ladykroach

Students: What do you think of when you hear Africa?

Africa, Education, explore, faith, Teaching, travel, Uncategorized, worldview

L🌍VE.

I’m a substitute teacher. I bounce around from school to school around my district and have yet to see more than three TEACHERS who look like me. I absolutely LOVE opportunities to ask my students this question:

What do you think of when you hear Africa?

Sure, I could substitute for both Omaha Public Schools, however I was raised in Papillion-La Vista School District. When I graduated with a class of 569 students, there were approximately 15 African-Americans. I never sat in a class with a Black teacher during my entire time in the district.

Let’s get back to the question.

What do you think of when you hear Africa?

🍍I think of sick kids.

🥑Dirt roads.

🥥Poor people.

🍦Helpless.

Above are actual answers from elementary school kids about a month ago.

When the little girl said, “Helpless.” I stopped and said, “I’m so glad that you said that, because there are so many lies that are being told about Africa and I want you to hear from someone who’s not on a screen and who actually visited.”

I didn’t go to Africa on a missions trip. I went on vacation. First to Egypt and then to Kenya. Pictured here I’m in Malindi, Kenya.

It’s in Kenya where my newly adopted Baba Baha told me, “Tell them we have ice cream over here.” He said that as we stood there eating some. We laughed so hard!

It was in Nairobi where I (confession) smuggled avocados back to Saudi Arabia because they were massive and I simply couldn’t go back without them. I took two.

It was in Kenya where I went to the Del Monte pineapple farm and stared at the unending rows and rows of pineapples.

It was in Kenya where I sat at the beach in Mombasa and drank fresh coconut water from a man who picked and pierced the coconut just for me.

So when I ask, “What do you think of when you hear Africa?” and then I hear statements like the ones aforementioned, my eyes light up! I realize: This is a teaching moment.

I do a test. I show them a picture and ask them where is this? It’s usually a picture of a dirt road or slum.

They almost always say, “Africa.”

I reply, “It’s Nebraska.”

I do it with a vibrant picture or setting and they reply, “Europe or Australia!”

I tell them, “Actually, it’s in Africa!”

😱

I pull out the photos of me in Kenya and the children’s jaws are ALWAYS on the ground.

It’s true, there are desolate places everywhere. I just have this holy conviction of telling new stories. The dirt road, shoeless kid narrative rings in our ears constantly.

Who will tell them of the golf courses in between Malinda and Mombasa?

Who will talk about the multi-millionaires and billionaires in African countries?

Who will tell them about the rich resources that can ONLY be found in heaps and bounds in African countries?

Who will tell them about M-Pesa and other brilliant mobile-tech ideas from African geniuses?

Who will show them Kenyan shillings with leaders on the currency who are even darker than me?

Who will show them the scarf that I bought and wore on the beach in Malindi that I later wore at the National Museum of African American History and Culture?

If you want to leave it to a substitute teacher to disseminate the information, I don’t mind. But I’m so glad to know that others are convicted about telling NEW stories too.

I’m not alone. Neither are you. If you went to an African country on vacation, please drop your memories in the comments.

I love hearing NEW stories.

Ciao for now!

Karissa Denae

P. S. I met a man in Kenya named Karisa. Apparently it’s a name for a boy. Guess what it means?! SHEPHERD!

P. S. S. Most of these photos were captured by Evans Maina. We attended the same church in Hangzhou, China. I was in China teaching English. He came to China for college. I think he was getting his Masters in Art there. For my birthday, he gave me one of his paintings that I saw in a gallery.

A Stroke THEN 7 Continents BEFORE 30 PODCAST

Anxiety, Depression, Education, explore, faith, family, Foreign Language, Health, Health, wellness,, Lesson Planning, Mental Health, music, Podcast, stroke, Teaching, travel, Uncategorized, Wellness

So here’s the deal:

I got to meet this remarkable young man who I shared a stage with at the Leadership Africa Summit this summer. Tayo Rockson invited me to speak on his podcast called “As Told By Nomads” which is not only sweeping the nation, but the entire world.

Check out the 👉🏿 podcast 👈🏿 to hear how I had a stroke and then STRUCK back.

Ciao for now!

Karissa

sevenby30.com/books