Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I know the last couple of years have been hard. A global pandemic, sometimes isolation from the people we care about, and so much instability in the world. It’s hard to see the good things, at times – especially when that’s what fills our Facebook “newsfeeds,” social media, and what we see on the news.

But the Good News is, there is hope. This has been a hard few years for me. I’ve lost a child I believed I would raise, I lost in love, and I faced a toxic situation that has now contributed to my health facing new challenges. But there is hope. There is always hope. No season lasts. No trial endures forever. The Good News for me is in the form of Emmanuel – God With Us – Jesus.

I don’t care much for religion and the ways in which we’ve perverted His message and the reason He came. But I do know with complete certainty that I’d be lost without Jesus. And so, that is where, in spite of all of the ugliness, where my hope lies.

I wish you & yours a beautiful holiday season. And I hope your day today is filled with peace, joy, and all the good things.

Get to the Good Part

I haven’t shared a lot about my faith on this site or anywhere, in a long time. Mostly because I didn’t want to sound preachy when I’m not really some paragon of faith. I’m still figuring it out. But I watched this sermon earlier {While cleaning the kitchen by the way. I like this online church deal.} and I felt really compelled to share.

One of my favorite dudes in the Bible, even though his story is also super annoying {because God just does whatever He wants – against what we think should happen}, is that of Joseph. This guy. Man, did he ever go through some crap. Unlike other well-known stories, Joseph didn’t make tons of bad choices. Moses did stuff he shouldn’t have done. So did Jacob. Jonah literally ran away from what God told him to do. I could go down a long list. Joseph, as a teenager, immaturely told his brothers about his prophetic dream {that they would one day bow down to him}. Now, that was a pretty big problem for them (haha) and they literally sold him into slavery because of how they viewed this. But he was a dumb kid. He was immature. But unlike David, he didn’t murder the husband of his mistress. I mean, Joseph kind of suffered for more than two decades from an immature decision. But the truth is, it was all part of this huge plan. We want to get to the good part. And we usually don’t like the wait. We definitely don’t like going through dark, bad things to get to the good part.

Joseph’s story was dark. He was accused of rape, wrongly imprisoned, ignored by men he helped save and wasn’t paid back for his excellent work ethic and service. He was left to rot in a prison for heaven’s sake. But at the end of the day, the good part was coming. It just took way longer than what we think it should have been. Ultimately, it took two decades before his dream became a reality. When it did, it saved his family and he lived a long, prosperous life with children and grandchildren, after that.

I have been following some of Steven Furtick’s sermons {Elevation Church}, recently. There’s been a common theme for me in what he’s been teaching – that also fits into other things I seem to reading and seeing come across my path. I think God is trying to tell me something. Today’s message was good and as I mentioned above, I felt compelled to share. If you are going through a dark time – particularly if you are delayed in seeing those good things coming your way, consider watching. My words for the year are hope & faith. This was a little reminder not to give up – to press forward with hope and faith. The good part is coming.

Through the Fog

In the evenings, along the coast of Southern California, the marine layer rolls in part of the year and covers wide swaths of the southland. It’s what makes for blazing hot days – but cool evenings that require sweatshirts or jackets. The marine layer is also what makes cities like Temecula, perfect for growing grapes & making wine. I spent the first twenty-three years of my life watching this layer of cloud and fog roll in from the coast and over mountains. I spent my summers on OC beaches, with the “June Gloom” making our blue skies dark & grey (but not enough to keep us from the beach). The low hanging grey is as home as the Santa Ana winds, real Mexican food, and those places and people that I treasure and miss the most.

Along the central and northern coast, thick blankets of fog roll out from the sea toward land. San Francisco is one of my favorite places. Roaming around the city as a kid or teen, in the middle of a summer day – the temp could turn to chilly and the sky suddenly darker – as the fog blanketed the city. There’s something deeply comforting to me about the way it settles in. Maybe it’s the melancholy that follows writers around, that makes this comforting to me?

Except for right now. Right now, I’m in the midst of a fog that’s disorienting. It’s like the most socked-in fog I’ve ever experienced, except there’s not actually any fog in sight. I’m not intimidated by hard feelings, stressful circumstances, complicated relationships, dark nights of the soul, greys and shades of truth. We can suck the marrow out of life in these dark moments, in a way we can’t, when the sky is blue and everything is light and airy. But right now, I am dizzy and lost – as the dark settles in lower and lower. I can’t see past my own hand. After summers camping at San Clemente or in the Redwoods, or wandering through my favorite city, or watching the marine layer roll in over the “Ortegas” from my Grandma’s backyard, the fog, as it turned a bright day, dark – is comfort and home. It was the best kind of feeling and attached to so many of my favorite memories.

But right now, I can’t see clearly. It’s dark. Dark in a way I’m not comfortable with. And I’m not afraid of dark feelings and greying lines. I’m not afraid of wild things. But now? I can’t see through. I can’t see around. And I’m no closer to knowing what to do next, than I was the day the fog settled in.

And so I hope and pray that I’ll understand soon – why I’m here and how to find my way through the fog. Because right now, it’s too heavy and I long for clarity.

Live well. Be well.

I don’t like to wonder about the “what-ifs” in life. I have made it my goal to not reach the end of my days with more regrets piled up, than chances taken. While the road hasn’t been straight & I’ve crashed and burned a few times, I would rather live fully & dream big, then to wonder what might have been {even if I crash & burn}.

I left a job in December. That decision was one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself in recent history. The time I’ve spent since that day has been renewing, restful, peaceful, and a little scary too.

But, if the road ahead doesn’t freak you out a little, are you really living? In my case, the answer is no.

The last month has given me time to rest, create, & hope again. It also gave me time to figure out what my word for 2020 is.

It’s . . . wellness. Wellness is such an all encompassing word. As I’ve read about that word and what wellness really means, I’ve grown more & more excited that this word has settled in & will stick around.

Wellness for me also means not looking back with regret. So though it’s February 10th and not January 1st, this is my 2020 kick-off to living well, being well, and running my race without regrets.

Do you have a word for 2020? How do you choose your word {or does it choose you}?

New Year. Not New You?


“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Matthew 11:28-30 The Message (MSG)

It’s that time of year. You know . . . the time of year that causes you to think about all you didn’t do the past eleven months. You may contemplating the new you, for the New Year, right this very minute.

A Washington Post, article from January 1st 2018, stated that 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. But how many more of us don’t formalize resolutions but make inner promises to be better, to do better, or to try harder?

This is the year I’ll go back to church. This is the year I’ll finish my degree. I’m going to work out and lose weight. I’m going to drink less and eat better.

May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.

I think the number who don’t finalize resolutions, but still long for change, is quite high. There are many of us out there who silently long to change those things about our character, appearance, or circumstances that we wish were different.

But when the newness of the year wears off, where do we stand with all of those things we wanted to change about our lives? If you’re anything like I used to be, I found myself defeated, frustrated, and overwhelmed when I couldn’t keep up with my own demands {on myself!}.

How exactly does one go about making changes that are lasting and significant?

The article mentioned above has a couple of good tips – like “piggybacking” your goals or resolutions to something you really love. The example was to tie going to the gym to your Game of Thrones binge watching {i.e., only watch Game of Thrones while working out}. There’s some validity there.

Perhaps that might make those new goals stick around longer – if you had a tangible way to tie the “exercise” of working on your new goal, to something you already love.

Be stubborn about your goals, but flexible about your methods.

But, I found another way quite a few years ago now. When I really examined what my year had been like and where I had “failed” to meet my own standard, there was a common thread woven throughout my failures. There was also something in common with my successes.

Nine times out of ten – it was ONE single thing that kept me going to find success. And still other times, it was ONE single thing that kept me from meeting my goals.

Which brings me to how I started transforming my life, my goals, and chasing dreams. One word. That’s it. Not a list of resolutions that I’d never keep – a word.

It came about in a weird set of circumstances – this one word thing. All at once I felt this discomfort with my resolutions and thought I need to focus in. I heard about people using a word to live by in the new year. I liked the idea! Shortly thereafter, I heard from an online writer friend that used one word, too. The rest is history – it has been at least 10 years that this one word thing has touched my life in a profound way.

Friends – these words over the years have absolutely been right on. I may sketch out things I’d like to see happen in my life in the coming year. But what remains the theme throughout is always, always, always tied to this word. It’s in the living out and practicing of the word, I find myself meeting some of those standards I’d sketched out at the beginning of the year.

I find ways to act – ensuring my word is a verb. Other times, I find myself forced to live out the word because of circumstances beyond my control. Still other times, God shows me, much to my chagrin, when I’m not meeting the intent of the word.

This year, my word was fearless. In 2017 it was hope. There were never two more perfect words for the last couple of years. I have the evidence to prove it. This year, I did live fearlessly in all the ways it counts. I was fearful – but I pressed forward. And that’s what this is all about.

Resolutions stifle me. They hold me back and hold me down because I can’t meet the list of standards. But one word? It has changed me – every year, for the better. Even the year that I failed at being intentional – until December – when I learned a hard lesson through my lack of intention. But dude . . . did that word ever change me!

Guess what? I’m more intentional about everything now – including my one word for each year.

So here I am . . . in the final day of 2018 with a new word already being tested. My word is rest. I fail at rest. I fail at it in the deepest sense of the word.

OneWord365, OneWord, Rest, Abide, Faith, Elaina Avalos, Elaina M. Avalos, Chasing Dreams

Even now, I feel the pressure, strain, and tension beating at the door. But it is clear that rest is the word for 2019. Choosing a word over a list of resolutions isn’t easier. But it is easier to manage bite-size pieces of life – particularly when it’s areas of your life you want to change.

Rest. This might be my hardest word, yet.

So how about you, friends? Are you a resolution person? Or are you open to trying one word? I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you want to try the one word experience, check out, this website where you can register your word and find others with the same one.