Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ready. Set. Go.

Aloha y’all!

In true Jessica fashion, I have something BIG to share and I’m announcing it via social media. And as usual, I’m nervous as heck.

I’ve had a lot going on the past few years. Many of you followed my story of heartbreak when I lost my best friend. And then again when I lost Duke. Then you followed me back to Hawaii, where I began my redemption story.

The incredible network of people that I’ve built around me during the past 29 years of life has truly been a huge part of what has pulled me through these trying times. And I’m hoping that network comes through for me again, because I have no doubt that everything that has happened to me, every single person that I’ve met, is what’s lead me to this exact place. A place that is about to rock my entire world.

Let’s take a step back to the summer of 2015. At Church one Sunday, our pastor asked us to think about a time that we felt fulfilled, a time that we felt like we were living out our purpose. And then he asked us to pray about that time and ask ourselves why we aren’t living that way every day. It took me no time at all to point my thoughts towards my experiences in Uganda. I spent a month there in 2005 doing mission work with my youth group. Everyone close to me said I came back as a different person. It changed me. It moved me. And I’ve dreamt of going back to Africa, of travel, and especially of mission work ever since. I know it sounds cliché, but I really feel so much joy in helping others. And the more life I live, the more I feel like that is what I’m called to do. But there I was, 10 years later, asking myself why I hadn’t chased after those dreams. And more importantly, why I hadn’t pursued what I felt was my calling.

Before leaving Church that night, I introduced myself to a girl I hadn’t seen there before. Within a few seconds of conversation, she told me she would be leaving Hawaii the following month. She had joined the World Race – A Christian-based mission trip that takes you to 11 countries in 11 months. My eyes grew big and watered up. I had just prayed about this! We spent nearly an hour after that talking and she excitedly answered the millions of questions I had. We exchanged contact information and I spent the next several months following her journey.

Now fast forward to August 2016, about a year later. I was at a crossroads in my life (more on that later) and felt an overwhelming desire for more. But more of what?

As I was scrolling through facebook, I saw a recent post from the same girl I met that night in 2015. She was back home in Hawaii! I read through her post feeling joy for her and then I sat back and thought – holy moly. This meant that a year had passed. A year of me watching her live a life that I admired. A life that I felt called to live. Yet I was still here, not living it. Why? After a lot of prayer, I realized there was only one reason. Fear. And I am so dang tired of living a fearful life. Interestingly enough, many of you view me as a strong, adventurous, fearless person. But man, I sure don’t feel that way. My great friend and mentor described it in a way that really stuck with me. She said I’m like a person who was once very overweight, then lost the weight, but when I look into a mirror, I still see all of it. All of the weight. All of the baggage. All of the brokenness. All of the stuff weighing me down. I don’t see myself the way others do. I don’t see myself the way God does.

It's time to change that.

I applied to the World Race that day. And as of a few days ago, I was officially accepted.

What does this mean? It means in January 2017, I will embark on an adventure of a lifetime. I will visit 11 countries in 11 months, serving others while serving God.

I am TERRIFIED. But man I am so excited.

Where will I go? Official route is below!
Month 1/ January – Colombia
Month 2/ February – Ecuador
Month 3/ March – Peru
Month 4/ April – Cote d’Ivoire
Month 5/ May – Ghana
Month 6/ June – Burkina Faso
Month 7/ July – Montenegro
Month 8/ August – Romania
Month 9/ September – Cambodia
Month 10/ October – Thailand
Month 11/ November – Malaysia

What will I do? Missions in each country will vary based on the needs of each place. I could be doing anything from building houses, to teaching English, to working at an orphanage. Oh, and part of my responsibility as a world racer is to blog about my experiences and share via social media (I mean really, this was made for me).

How can you help? Glad you asked, because I need your help big time!

I need to raise $16,617 to fund this trip! This includes travel, lodging, food, and medical insurance for the entire trip. (breakdown of details coming in a later blog post) I will cry if you donate $1982017837 and I will cry just as much if you donate $5. Seriously, I can’t put in words how much everyone’s support means to me. Every single penny counts.
You can donate by clicking the donate button at or at

I’m selling pretty much everything before I leave in January. Holler at me if you’re in need of household goods, furniture, cool random stuff, and cute clothes.

Y’all, I don’t know a darn thing about camping or outdoor life. So this next year should be interesting to say the least. Have any extra gear laying around? Or just wanna give me tips? Please do!

Something that’s not included in the total cost are my flights to and from training camp (in Georgia), my flight to launch, and my flight back home after our final destination.

Did I mention that I’m terrified? Hike with me. Walk with me. Talk with me. Pray with me. Send me that stupid funny text (you know I’ll laugh at it) and random words of encouragement. I need you now more than ever.

Seriously, tell anyone and everyone.

Last but most definitely not least, please pray hard.

Guys, I’m meant to do this. I know it in my heart down to my bones.

Ready. Set. Go.

P.S. You can follow me every step of the way.
Instagram: @jayemmtee
Twitter: @jayemmtee

Saturday, October 31, 2015

What's Worth Finding

jessica who

What's Worth Finding

I understand why we get stuck sometimes.
Hearts are stubborn.
They sink their hooks into bad habits that look like beautiful people
and dreams.
But look at how much we give of ourselves.
Our most precious gifts handed over to another
who may or may not
value them as much as we do.

Have you ever heard someone fall asleep?
Or watched someone break down?
There's so few people in this world with whom you can share
breakfast at midnight,
and who can forgive you completely.
The people that get you to believe it's actually all worth it,
and don't flinch when you look them in the eyes.
They never waver,
and make you feel comfortable in your own bed.

So in a way,
when you find them,
you find yourself.
And in a way,
when you lose them,
you lose yourself.

But know this:
You will always be too much for someone not enough for another.
Somewhere out there
is one who will bring pieces of you home.
And you'll realize that losing everything
is the only way to figure out what's worth finding.

J. Raymond

hawaii blogger

jessica who blog

hawaii blog

stylemint dress


stylemint clothes

Dress: StyleMint
Photography: Eun Hae Salanoa
Location: Kaena Point, Oahu, Hawaii

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Let Her Run #9

jessica who hawaii

Let Her Run #9

Somewhere between what she survived
and who she was becoming
was exactly where she was meant to be.
She was beginning to love the journey
and find comfort
in the quietest corners
of her wildest dreams.

They say people don't change.
she wasn't always this way.
Even if she didn't change the entire world,
she would change her part of it.
And she would affect those she shared it with.

A butterfly
whose wings have been touched
can indeed still fly.
Whether something was meant to be
or meant to leave
no longer mattered as so much.

She would soak up the sun,
kiss the breeze,
and she would fly

J. Raymond

yireh pareo

yireh clothing

yireh hawaii

yireh clothes

yireh shop

pareo hawaii

yireh pareo

Swimsuit: c/o AMI Clubwear
Pareo: Yireh
Photography: Sarah Henry
Location: Nanakuli Beach, Oahu, Hawaii

Monday, September 28, 2015

Pitches Be Crazy

pitch perfect 2

Disclaimer: This post's title isn't exactly the most relevant but I wanted so badly to use it.

- - -

So it's officially "fall" and in Hawaii that basically means it rains a little more than usual, it's windier, and MAYBE the temperature drops a degree or two. To battle the "I miss seasons" stage, I try to recreate fall moments. Cozy movie nights in with tasty treats and fall-scented candles is one of them.

When I heard that Pitch Perfect 2 was finally out on Blu-Ray, I ran to Walmart to snag a copy, duh. Then I got really excited when I saw the combo pack that includes the soundtrack!

And I don't know about you but I MUST have a snack while watching a movie. A local movie-snack favorite in Hawaii is hurricane popcorn. Hurricane popcorn is a mix of buttered popcorn, rice crackers (little crackers, kinda salty, and tastes like they're seasoned with soy sauce), and sprinkled with nori (seaweed, like the stuff you wrap around sushi).

To mainlanders - I know this doesn't sound too appetizing. It's an acquired taste for sure. I don't like the overwhelming taste of nori so I usually pop another bag or two of traditional buttered popcorn to mix in with the hurricane stuff.

Head to Walmart to grab the exclusive Pitch Perfect 2 Blu-Ray/Soundtrack combo pack. Soundtrack includes some of your favorite songs from Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2 (while supplies last). And if you're in Hawaii, grab a bag of hurricane popcorn while you're there too!

pitch perfect 2

hurricane popcorn

hurricane popcorn

movie night

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #ThePitchesatWMT

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


A few weeks ago I had a string of bad days. I was sick. I was emotional. I was alone. It was the first time that I realized how alone I really am.
And I'm not trying to get all depressing on you. I know that I have great friends and family (and readers!) who care. I know that I'm not alone in that sense. I mean physically. Literally.
There were things that I had to do that week that seem so minuscule now but were huge daunting tasks to conquer then.
But I did it. I survived. And I survived on my own!
I'm learning (or trying) to appreciate and grow in these times of solitude.
In previous moves, I spent so much energy resenting the fact that I had left my family and friends, my place of comfort.
I don't want to waste another second doing that.
And as I sit here, alone, writing at the beach, listening to the waves crash, I remember that this place, this crazy island that I live on, is truly magical.
Yes, I would prefer to share my moments here with an awesome person or amazing people. But until then, I can't let this magic pass me by.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring in Texas

Most people that live away from "home" reach the peak of their homesickness during the holiday season.
All of their family and friends are gathering in their hometown. They want to be there, surrounded by their loved ones and all of that holiday cheer stuff.
I get that.
But for me, I miss Texas the most in the springtime.
The rodeos and music festivals. The patio weather, cook-offs, and crawfish boils.
The bluebonnets and the quest to find the perfect spot for a picture.
These are just some of the things that I crave when spring hits.
These are just some of the things that I love about Texas.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Where I'm Supposed To Be

It's been almost 3 months since my last post! So much has happened and I'm back to finally spill the beans. 

I know that many of you have followed my story through losing my husband and losing Duke. I want to make sure to not only share my losses with you, but also my gains. Because the lows seem to be validated once you get to a high. And I want you all to know that it does get easier and it does get better.

Hawaii has such a special place in my heart. It watched me grow into a woman, into a wife, into a mom to Duke. It has taught me about living simply, that there is more to life than work and earthly things. And it watched me fall down onto my knees in the midst of my toughest season thus far. So much has happened here. Yes, I said here. :)

A few months ago I got a Facebook message that read "JT! Do you still want to come back? I'm hiring. The job is yours if you want it." The message came from a friend I had met at a conference in Maui in 2011. I'm notorious for keeping in touch with people and this relationship was no different except that he was equally involved in staying in touch. He never knew the details of what was going on in my life but he would often send me words of encouragement and lots of positive vibes. I hadn't mentioned moving back to Hawaii to him but recently he told me that he "could just tell" from my posts that my heart was on the island. So back to the message --- as you can imagine, I was about to explode with emotions. I was excited, scared, and had so many questions. Hawaii had definitely been on my heart but I had no plans of moving back so soon. I had built a new life in Texas. It seemed like it was just beginning. I had just started feeling whole again. Was I ready to start over.. again?

Without risks there are no rewards. Everything after that message fell into place so perfectly that it was impossible for me to deny that it was being handed to me for a reason. My marriage is what brought me to Hawaii in the first place. And if Duke was still alive, I don't know that I would have been able to come back. The flight to Texas had traumatized him and I don't know that he (or I) could have handled the months of quarantine that animals have to go through when entering the island. The way this all so effortlessly worked out is still blowing my mind. 

My friends and family are all very sad that I'm farther away now. But they are also so happy for me. They've been amazingly supportive since day one and I know that my healing has been fast tracked largely because of them. The other day I was telling a new friend my story. I kept saying how lucky I felt to have this opportunity. She looked at me very bluntly and said "I mean, maybe some of it is luck. But I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit. You obviously are doing something right if a company relocated you here. You should be very proud of yourself." It was kind of like a lightbulb went off in my head at that moment. I guess I hadn't really thought of it in that way. I am pretty dang proud.

And because I've received so many messages telling me how strong I am, I need to tell you this --- I am not perfect. I make mistakes. A lot of them. And I have many moments of weakness. The other night I had way too much to drink at a place near my old home. Where I lived with my husband and Duke. Where our little family seemed so happy for 3 years. I left the bar I was at by myself and walked to our old building. I sat in front of it and cried my eyes out for about an hour. I mean sobbing. Like an embarrassing cry. People were walking by and asking if I was ok. It's a little funny and incredibly dramatic when I think about it now. But it felt good. I've done fairly well keeping myself together so letting it go so intensely and so publicly and in such a meaningful place just felt.. good. Since the majority of my memories here involve him, I thought I'd spend a good amount of time, at least at the beginning, fighting tears and trying to forget. But it's not like that at all. Just like before, I often find myself smiling at the memories. Because they're good ones. And I refuse to let him take away the good parts.

So here I am. Back on this crazy little island. I don't know why God brought me back here but I can't wait to live out His plan. It's terrifying yet exhilerating. I have no doubt that this is where He wants me. Because for the first time, in a long time, I feel like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Centime Gifts

custom signature necklace

custom ring

custom handwriting necklace

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Ginny at Centime Gifts. She was incredibly sweet and after reading about some of the things I've been through within the past year, she asked me to send her a few handwriting samples. I sent her my signature and some of my favorite words. A few days later there was a gift in the mail from her. A ring that says "Duke" in memory of my sweet boy who went to doggy heaven in August, and a necklace that says "Jessica Stronger" in my handwriting. How cool is that?! My favorite quote is "What does not kill me will make me stronger."... because I truly believe it. I'm stronger because of the things that life has thrown my way. So the word "stronger" reminds me of this. It doesn't get much more personal than that! I was speechless. The necklace is stunning and the ring makes me smile. Both items immediately went to the top of my favorite jewelry list. And they are always conversation starters. I love them so much! 

Thank you, Ginny!

P.S. Check out her entire site at and use code FEARLESS20 for 20% off of your purchase from now until December 15th!

personalized ring

personalized signature necklace

Necklace: c/o Centime Gifts
Ring: c/o Centime Gifts

Use code FEARLESS20 for 20% off of your order at from now until December 15th!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


fearless tank top

I got a ton of feedback from my very personal post about my divorce. More than I could have ever imagined. And more positive than I could have ever hoped for. I've been so inspired and uplifted by the stories that I've heard about people in similar situations, the words of encouragement, the prayers, the kindness that has been shown to me. I've really just been blown away by it all. Sharing my story not only helped me, but helped readers too. And that means more to me than I can put into words.

Along with the countless comments, emails, messages, and phone calls, I received a gift too! Whitney (the hilarious writer behind I Wore Yoga Pants to Work) sent me a fun package that included the sweetest note, a fearless koozie, and a Fearless tank that she designed. Besides the fact that it's super comfy, it has a ton of meaning behind it for me. I'm so grateful for Whitney and the many people that I've met along this little journey of mine.

Thank you all.

IWYP clothing

i wore yoga pants

Today I will not look behind me. 
I will choose faith over fear.
I will use my energy not to worry but to believe.
I will not be afraid.
I will radiate positive vibes.
I will count my blessings.
I will choose joy.
Today I will be fearless.


iwyp clothing

iwyp by whitney ellen

Get the look ---
Top: c/o IWYP
Skirt: Express (similar)
Boots: Steve Madden
Bracelets: JewelMint, InPink, Wanderlust (similar)
Necklace: gift (similar - use code FEARLESS20 for 20% off until December 15, 2014)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


texas home tshirt

home t

home t

home tshirt

Home. It's a funny word, right? A tiny word that has a whole lot of meaning. I've had several "homes" but one always remains, wherever I am. TEXAS, y'all.

I was trying to describe what it was like to be a Texan to a friend from Pennsylvania. He said he was more of a Texan than I was because he's from the "country" in PA. Ummmm no no no. This obviously enraged me (my fellow Texans know what kind of pride we have) but as I began to explain what the difference was, I kind of hesitated. I didn't even know where to begin. Because being Texan is a feeling. It's hard to describe. It's country music and dance halls. It's beer. Lots of beer. It's BBQ and sweet tea. It's breakfast tacos and Tex-Mex. It's Spanglish, y'all, and ain't. It's jeans and cowboy boots, big hair and belt buckles. It's southern rap (hello H-town chopped and screwed!) and southern swag. It's southern accents, southern gentlemen, and my favorite - southern hospitality. It's a feeling deep in my bones.

And let's face it, no one retires and moves up north, right? (that was just a little stab at my PA friend ;))

I thank my lucky stars that I'm a Texan.

home texas t

Get the look ---
T-shirt: c/o The Home T
Denim: Nine West (similar)
Boots: Cavenders (similar)
Necklace: Ginger13
Bracelets: 31Bits, c/o Ettika, BCBG
Dog: Barnaby is available for adoption through SAPA! email jessicataylor(at)about(dot)me