Living your dreams

Author: Christa Baca 

You’ve got dreams and you’ve got ideas, but you have no clue where to begin. Don’t worry, you are not alone. If you are like most of us, getting started on something as important as “living your dream” can be a daunting task. It’s kind of like staring at a blank canvas. Where do you start? What do you paint? What colors should you use? If you are honest, it’s hard to not be intimated by the void of  “what could be.”

The ominous, “What ifs" race through our mind as we struggle on where to begin....

What if you make a mistake?

What if you fail?

What if no one likes what you make?

Well, what if?

Let’s just be real for a second:

Chances are you will probably make a mistake.

You may fail.

You may also succeed.

And what of the critics? They seem to circle like vultures the second that a dreamer chooses to begin. They are there to kindly remind you to keep your head on straight, don’t get your hopes up, pull your head out of the clouds, and tell you numerous stories of how they too tried and failed. I submit to you this thought: we are not to live a life dictated by our critics. Like the composer Jean Sibelius said, “Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic.”

In your life there will ALWAYS be people who will tell you that you can’t, that it is impossible, that you are not smart enough, old enough, you don’t have enough money, you’re not from the right family, and on and on and on…. They will tell you these things because this is what they see as truth and this truth has become their reality. The good news is this doesn’t have to become YOUR reality.

You have been given unique talents and gifts, you are unlike anyone else and yet, as a society, we struggle with the dichotomy of wanting to stand out and embrace our uniqueness and wanting to blend in and be accepted by society. The Bible puts it like this in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” There is a pattern of life that most people follow. They line up single file, marching along through life never lifting their head up, simply trudging along in the well-worn paths that others have carved out for them; only pausing at brief moments to ask themselves, “Is this the life I really wanted?”

The beautiful thing is YOU are in charge of your life. You are not a victim to your circumstances or surroundings. We must stop blaming other people for the way that we think our life should be and start making it what we want it to be. To do this it takes boldness. It takes courage; it takes standing out from among the masses and doing things different.

Most people let fear stop them. There are so many “What ifs” when it comes to living your dream. Most people let these things paralyze their dreams into a life of restrictive confinement. You’ve felt it before: passion stirring in your soul, excitement about an idea, a feeling as though you were born to do this. Then the fears settle in, looming overhead. Then you rationalize away your dream, you worry what people would think of you if you tried and you failed before you even began...and the worst part is that only you know the failure. You suffer in silence, in solitude and great loneliness, for only you know the great fear and the timid soul that lives inside which does not dare to venture.

As the years go on, most people become efficient at talking themselves out of doing their dreams. They know all the reasons why they can’t. They’ve rehearsed them all a million times, and somewhere along the way they lose that sparkle in their eyes, that life in their step and they become so absorbed in themselves that they can’t even see that the world had great need for them. The world was waiting for them and they didn’t even realize it.

If you are looking for a different way to live, then we invite you to Submerge. At Submerge we are all about making the dreams in your heart become a reality. Not in a lofty, unrealistic way, but by arming you with the practical tools you need to make your dreams happen. If you would like to hear more then we invite you to fill out the form below and one of our reps will get back to you. 


6 Ways to Maximize Living in a Foreign Country

Author: Zach Lantelme

As I packed for my 5 month stay in Ecuador, I was so excited. Not only would I have another stamp in my passport (this marks 12 countries), I would also have a Visa, indicating that I was not just passing through, but also living abroad! (Again!) My friends at work knew that my routine was about to radically change and they asked, "What are you going to do?". 

I described all the things I would do through Submerge. Ministering at the soup kitchen we partner with, taking classes, attending art campaigns. These are all true... but now that I’m here and settled in, I want to peer through the fence in a side alley to see graffiti or order "cuy" (ginnea pig) because it’s available. I want to ride the bus with the locals or go bike riding for ten miles on the train tracks. Basically, I want to live and be present.  Here’s how you can live in the moment:    


This goes out with saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. I step out of my normal routines with food in a different city because you experience part of another culture through food.

Quito is a metropolitan city with many of the trappings of home: McDonald’s, Tony Roma’s Burger King, Papa John’s... the list goes on. But if I stayed with what I knew, I would have missed out on Cevichocho, a recipe which uses “chocho” beans in place of white fish or tuna for a twist on the classic ceviche dish. It has a sour front, rounded out with ketchup and orange juice, a real sassy flavor. And Ecuadorians put roasted corn on top of this dish, adding a crunchiness that pairs well with the softer beans.

However, often in a foreign country figuring out where to eat can be easy and hard at the same time. There might be restaurants lining the streets beckoning you to come in, and you have no one to guide you. TripAdvisor (a website that has reviews of many tours, hotels, and restaurants) might be one option, but often these reviews are written by people passing through. Not to say their opinions aren’t valid, but the local who drives these streets by days and goes to the hidden food cart later in the evening might point you towards a hole-in-the-wall restaurant serving handmade empanadas.

Making local friends

Photo taken at  ONEUIO

Photo taken at ONEUIO

My friend Rachel has done a great job of becoming friends with Ecuadorians.  She says this,

Most of my good friends come from being part of an organization and the ministries we do and/or the translators we use. Otherwise they're just people we meet here and there, living our normal lives. This city is big and people are everywhere, so you can literally make a friend anywhere you are, you just have to talk to them.

Making friends in another country will make your experience far richer. To being in the know about things only local would know about to having a larger network hang out and do life with--becoming friends with locals will give you more depth to your stay. And if your local friends have a car, that can help with the next point.  



Submerge Alumni: Taylor Smith

Submerge Alumni: Taylor Smith

When you are in a foreign city, sometimes it might feel like you’ve gone far enough away from your home that you don’t need to travel more. That may be true, but there is never a better time to travel to places that are a few hours away than when they are only a few hours away. For example, in Quito, it can be easy to stay in the city and feel submerged. Quito is also only two hours away from the largest outdoor market in South America, or only three hours away from Baños, a city named for its waterfalls and hotsprings.

These famous destinations and getaways will allow you to have vacations from your life, which even in a foreign country will begin to normalize with its own routines. Departing from the city gives you fresh perspective. These trips will also cement a desire to do similar adventures when you return home. To go visit the mountains near your home or go to lake in a neighboring state will not seem abnormal to you.


Packing smart

When I packed to come down here, I didn’t know all that I needed. So I brought as much as I could think of. Toothpaste, underwear, books, long underwear, Peanut butter…. The list goes on. But whether you're packing for a five-month trip or a two-day adventure there is one thing that helps immensely: Having a list.

In my suitcase, I have a list written out and zipped into a Ziploc bag. This list documents things I would want on every single short-term adventure I might go on. And since I leave it in a waterproof bag (that’s relatively durable), I only need to consult it when I’m packing to know I got what I must have. That way, whether I have a week to pack or 30 minutes, I get the same results every time and do not forget something that would really put a damper on my travel (like head phones… I would forget those often until I put it on my list).

Also, it turns out the long underwear I brought from Denver did not need to make it down here as I’ve been here for three months and haven’t used them yet.


Talking to strangers

If you go to a foreign country with a language different than your native tongue, and you want to get better at speaking, then speak! Ask for directions, Consult with people about food (“How is your food?” is a simple question) or negotiate buying something in the “tiendas”. Also, get in cabs and talk with the drivers. Cabbies will talk about pretty much anything if you ask. You get to practice asking and listening. Many people who want to learn a language will not practice for the fear of looking stupid. When you practice and make mistakes in the cab, you just get out of the cab at the end of your ride.


Which brings me to my final point.

Get lost on purpose, in a safe way. With some friends, go to an area of town that you are familiar with and get off the main streets. Go through the (safe) alleys, take a right here, and zag a left there. You will find beauty in the shadows as local churches with graceful architecture greet you at a corner, or hand painted murals of yellows, purples, and greens adorn the walls of small buildings reveal themselves .

In life, there is no substitute for experience. Do yourself a favor and go get it by traveling smart.

Ready to Travel?  
Get outside of your normal and have the travel experience of a lifetime. If you find yourself in a season of life where you are ready to shake things up; if the 9-5 grind and the expectations of the status-quo aren’t doing it for you anymore; then we invite you to Submerge, a semester overseas, designed to awaken your creative heart and soul. Fill out the form below and one of our Submerge Reps will contact you. 

In the midst of mess

ABOUT THE AUTHOR    Kristen Tideman, (A.K.A. Ktide) is the Admissions Director of Kristen is passionate sharing people’s stories. She has a degree in Nonfiction English Writing with minors in History and Spanish. She currently makes her home in Quito, Ecuador and loves exploring, reading and speaking Spanglish.

Kristen Tideman, (A.K.A. Ktide) is the Admissions Director of Kristen is passionate sharing people’s stories. She has a degree in Nonfiction English Writing with minors in History and Spanish. She currently makes her home in Quito, Ecuador and loves exploring, reading and speaking Spanglish.

When talk about my time in Ecuador--as I often do having lived there for some time--I inevitably end up talking about the boys’ juvenile detention center.

I first went to juvenile detention center over three years ago. Before our first visit, I remember our leader prepping us a bit, letting us know that while these young boys had been through a lot, but that this was a time to just be there for them--to listen and encourage. Not so hard, I hoped, and in that way it wasn't.

When we arrived the kids turned out to be just that—kids: goofy, soccer-loving and occasionally immature teenagers. They cracked jokes with one another, and liked rap and dancing salsa and, probably 95% of them wanted to be famous fútbolistas (soccer players).

We began going every Thursday. Most days we would play a game and then have a short message pertaining to God’s love and forgiveness as well as our purpose and the importance of vision. Afterwards, we would break into small groups and talk more about the message. We would talk about dreams and hopes for the future. Although initially quiet during group time, the boys began opening up a bit more as we saw them week after week. While we never ask the boys, “So why are you here?” it became clear that these boys weren't just carefree teenagers. They were young men with incredibly heavy burdens and life stories that we could not fully imagine.

Some had been abused. Some were heavily dependent on drugs. Others had sold drugs or stolen out of perceived necessity. Some had killed at an inconceivably young age. Some had people out looking for them. Almost all had difficult family situations and some, at only 16 or 17 years old, had families and children of their own that they could not take care of on the outside.

But they also had dreams.

Some wanted to be pilots or travel the world. Others wanted to be writers or architects or (as I said) famous soccer players.

One time, a boy told us he had wanted to be a goalie when he was younger. He showed us his hand, which had been broken and hadn’t healed correctly. He said there was no way he would be able to be a goalie due to the injury, and he would probably have to resort to the “family business” as a hit man.

It was hard to hear the stories and feel that what we were doing was actually helping. I one day wondered out loud if there was anything more we could do. I wanted to go more often to the prison or to do more--anything that produced evidence that we were helping to change lives. A friend gave me some great advice:

He said, frankly, it didn’t necessarily matter what we said; these kids were already adults in their own minds, and they didn’t think they need to listen to anything we say. After all, what did we know? We hadn’t lived what they had. We didn’t know what it meant to feel what they felt. Even the everyday hardship of living apart from family and friends was a foreign reality. What did matter, my friend said, was that we continued to go. That we showed consistency. That was what would speak louder than anything else.

And he was right. I remember one day in particular when one of the guys told our group that--although it was nice of us to come--a lot of the boys in the center would return on repeat offenses because at the center they had food, a place to sleep, and safety from anyone outside who might be looking for them. 

Initially, we were a little taken aback. But should we have been? I think we still wanted to be the people to swoop in and make everyone's lives better or maybe bring the gospel and BOOM! Make everything just hunky-dorey. But regardless of how often we would go, the boys we visit in the center were not going to get out the day after we shared with them a moving message. Some of them had years to wait before they are free again, but even when they were, a whole new series of questions would arise, like how will they get jobs when all they know is a life inside prison? How will they return to a family after years of being away? And to tell them everything is going to be okay was not necessarily the answer they need.

My friend was right. What we said didn’t matter: we couldn’t fix them. 

But he was also right that even with the lack of answers and the “unfixable-ness”, there remained a deep value in going to the center. In reality, if we are unable to see the people right in front of us as a complex human, as more than a problem, then we were missing the point anyway. We were helping them for our sake, not for theirs. However, to be consistently present for someone--even if we never see expected “results”--means we will not have failed. Sometimes that’s all we can--and maybe should--do.

To refuse to be deterred by someone else’s mess--to be able to see them through the midst of it--allows for a real relationship instead of controlling and fixing-focused one. And it gives us the opportunity to trust that God’s plan is always good and oriented towards an eventual and total restoration. And while I don’t know if the boys in the prison will remember what we said, I hope that they will carry at least some recollection that we saw them as people, not as their past. 

After all, the more we accept the imperfectness of our human relationships, the more we can see what our Father, in his patient love, has done to reach the messy group of humans that is all of us. 

And so I guess I’ll say, if life has become more complex than you thought it would be, don’t be discouraged. Press on. And if you’ve come to the point that I did, where you want to live this in a new way, in a risky way, check out Submerge. I’d love to tell you more about it! Just fill out the form below.

Digital Download


Most people think it’s reserved for artists and dancers, but we believe it’s a necessity for anyone who wants to be successful in life. You’ll receive training on creative thinking and brainstorming and you’ll be able to put it into practice on a daily basis. Sure you’ll get to try your hand at the artistic stuff, master the basics of Photoshop and web design, but what we are talking about here is more than just art, it’s a lifestyle.

You were created to create. Next time you need a reminder, download this free screen saver and phone background. 

Right click to save. 

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At Submerge, we are all about giving you what you need to thrive. We focus on the practical stuff you can reach out and touch. It’s personal finance. It’s setting goals for yourself and having people around you help you achieve them. It’s stepping out in big ways towards your dream. Submerge is where education meets hands-on experience. If you would like more information on how you can be part of the Submerge community take a moment and fill out the information below. 


Creativity: Make Ideas Come Alive

AUTHOR: Zach Lantelme

Have you ever said to yourself, “Someone should make a…..(fill in the bank)”? Well, if you have, you are exhibiting the first signs of creativity and entrepreneurship.

Consider the following:  

+ Uber was created out of Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp complaining that cabs were impossible to hail.

+ Airbnb (Air Bed & Breakfast) was created after Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky came up with the idea of renting out three airbeds on their living-room floor and cooking their guests breakfast because all the hotels in the area were full.

+ Knix Wear’s Evolution Bra was the Kickstarter's most funded fashion project after Joanna Griffiths realized that no one had aimed at innovation in sports bra technology.

What do all of these companies have in common?

Besides being founded in the last ten years, these companies' founders pay attention: they have seen problems and designed solutions. The initial thought in each case was not to become rich, but for Uber & Airbnb, the the market now values them in the billions. KnixWear has also hit a sore spot with women as money poured in, and in 30 days $1.1M was raised on Kickstarter.

And here’s another thing: None of the folks who ultimately launched these businesses were in that “industry” when they started.

+ The Uber founders were in web development.

+ Brian Chesky of Airbnb was in design, while Joe Gebbia was dabbling in helping those who suffered in back pain.

+ Joanna was about to be employed by Youtube before turning to underwear.

So, what does this mean for us?

You might think to yourself, “I’m not creative like that”.

And I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong.

How do I know this? Because we are image-bearers of a creative God. In the Bible, Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

So what does that mean for us? God creates mankind in His own image. And we have the attributes of God. We are therefore creators. We have it written on our hearts to create. He has also differentiated our abilities among humanity. We are not all blessed with the same styles of creativity. This means creativity is not just limited to the artists, poets, and designers. It is meant for everyone, but will show up differently. Creation of business is different than creating of the arts, just as much as creating specialty food is different than creating military strategy.

Regardless of how our creativity comes out, the world needs our ideas because ultimately these ideas comfort and bring joy to others.    

If you are looking for a community that can help you discover the creativity that is inside you, we invite you to Submerge. If you would like more information about Submerge then fill out the form below and one of our reps will contact you. 


Digital Download: Embrace the mess

Let's face it.
We all know life can be messy. 

This weeks digital download is all about loving your life, even the messy parts.  When you acknowledge that "mess" exists, you can own them and then being making making the positive changes you want to see in your life. 

At Submerge we are all about living an authentic life and surrounding ourselves in a community that embraces us while challenging us to be the best we can be.  Right click these and save to download for a reminder on your computer or smart phone. 

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Mosaic: broken can be beautiful

Author: Taylor Smith
Original post:

In general, I struggle with vulnerability. I have a hard time talking about my feelings and opening myself up to criticism. It’s something that I’m working on, and to celebrate that, I’m going to take a moment to be a little vulnerable with you and share something that the Lord recently shared with me. It has to do with healing.

Mainly, that healing looks different than I thought it did. Mostly because it hurts. A lot.

I used to think that pain came from brokenness, and comfort came from healing. I didn’t realize until recently that the exact opposite can be just as true.

Real healing hurts.

Ironically, just a couple of months before one of the most painful weeks of my (short, 19-year-old) life, I had given my first “real sermon” on healing. I spoke to the youth of my church about seeking the lasting joy of spiritual healing at the cost of temporary discomfort, versus seeking temporary comfort in the pleasures of sin that ultimately lead to lasting pain.

The Lord gave me a wake-up call shortly after that sermon that I will not forget, and I may never teach again for fear of having to practice what I preach. (Just kidding… kind of…)

In all seriousness though, seemingly everything and everyone I loved was being broken in that season, and it broke me. Not only were new wounds being cut, but old wounds were being opened. I needed something to fill the empty spaces, and I needed it fast. I would like to say that I handled every situation as a “good Christian” should, but I did not. Sure, sometimes I blasted YouTube playlists from Bethel and prayed through it… But sometimes I did not.

Sometimes I cried in my dreams, and then woke up in the middle of the night with real tears running down my face. Sometimes I secluded myself and lashed out at anyone who tried to breach the solitary fortress of my bedroom. Sometimes I just kept myself busy, or spent more time with friends, or tried to cover up my issues with a few hours of whatever I considered “fun”.

My heart was broken in so many places, and all I wanted to do was bury the pieces.

It became a familiar cycle and there seemed to be no escape. Don’t get me wrong, it worked for a little while, just as it always had. Every day I felt my heart grow more callous around all the jagged edges, old and new, that tried to cut their way through to the surface.

But then one day (or one weekend really), it was just too much. All of the emotional band-aids I had plastered over gaping emotional and spiritual wounds started to peel away, and the oozing pus of my own filthiness was what came forth. Infection, putrid as sin itself, had rotted my wounds from the inside out: the bi-product of neglecting to have them examined, cleaned, and stitched by the proper Physician.

And then my season of healing began.

As you may already know, when your heart breaks, your pride is broken too. So when you are shattered, humility becomes uncomfortably familiar… At least that’s what happened to me. This removal of (some of) my pride made it easier for me to submit to the healing process I had been actively avoiding, and that’s when things really started to hurt. My heart softened again, and I was no longer numb to the jagged pieces that were cutting deeper every moment. But my softened exterior let the Lord in, and He removed each piece one by one: all the way down to the darkest corners of my heart.

At this point, I anticipated that He would just put me back together. After all, healing is defined as “the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again”, as in: returning to a previous state of health. But my Lord surprised me, as He often does.

He took all my broken bits, (old and new, big and small, sharp and dull), carefully glued them together with the grace that only sticks to imperfections, and then made something beautiful. He made something new. 

My colorful past of mistakes – stories glossed to a blinding sheen with fabrications, calloused scars as hard as stones, and words as sharp as broken glass that had been driven into me and left long ago – were extracted from my heart and made into a beautiful picture.

My Lord made a mosaic out of me.

He did not make my past disappear. He did not remove the words and actions of others from my memory. He did not make me into a perfect, sinless human when He was done healing me. He did not even return me back to my previous, less-broken state.

Instead, He looked at one of His 19-year-old daughters, saw the mess she had created of herself, and skillfully separated her from the things that were causing her hurt, as only the Great Physician and a Good Father could do.

But He is not only a Father and Physician, He is also an Artist, and He made a beautiful picture from the things He took out of my life and out of my heart. He healed me, and held me, and helped me look back over my life with His eyes:

"Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness’… So God created mankind in his own image… And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." (Genesis 1)

"The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust." (Psalms 103:13-14)

The Lord knows us because He created us, and He doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but He still calls us “good“. The same word He used to describe the towering mountainscapes, the trillions of twinkling stars in the sky, and the breath-taking wonders of the deepest ocean depths.

That is the beauty of what Jesus does for us. He loves us where we are at, and yet never lets us stay the same. Even when we are broken, He sees us in our brokenness, yet calls us “good”, and that is what we are.

So maybe healing doesn’t mean we become as if we were never broken. Maybe healing means He makes our brokenness beautiful. He makes us into a testimony. And like a mosaic, we are being made more beautiful with every broken piece.

If you are longing for God to take the broken pieces of your life and make them beautiful, then we invite you to Submerge.   Take the first step and fill out the form below and one of our Submerge representatives will contact you. 

Digital Download: ADVENTURE Wallpapers

Do you have adventure coursing through your veins? We created this digital download for those bold souls who are longing for their next great adventure. Be sure to check out the blog written by Submerge co-founder Christa Baca which inspired this download. 

Computer Screen Saver Directions: Right click image and choose "save as" to download. 

Computer Screen Saver Directions: Right click image and choose "save as" to download. 

Smart Phone Wallpaper directions: Right click image and choose "save as" to download. 

Smart Phone Wallpaper directions: Right click image and choose "save as" to download. 



Longing for a life out of the ordinary? Take five months of your life to travel and make a difference.  Your adventure is waiting... fill out the form at the bottom of the page to learn more. 


To Know

AUTHOR: Zach Lantelme

In Spanish, there are two words for “to know”.  Saber and Conocer.   

Saber equates with knowing facts.

Conocer translates to being familiar with something.

And there is the rub: The “know”.    

When I came down to Submerge in Ecuador, I would put myself in the first category.  I know a lot of information. In fact, in the first few days of the course, we met with Greg Baca, who would be leading the program and teaching many of the classes. He started talking about books that we will go through. Books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad and The E-Myth Revisited.

Truth be told, I freaked out internally because I already “knew” what he was talking about.  I already read those books.

But whatever, I might know in book knowledge. I only “sé” and do not “conozco”.  I “know” Spanish on paper, but it does not flow out of me when I speak. I “know” how to have passive income, but right now, I could not design my life to depend on that revenue because it doesn’t exist.

But in this program, I’ve watched Greg walk out the principles of The E-Myth Revisited in the structure of Submerge. I’ve seen my friend Lindsey (who works for herself) employ strategies of goal setting that I’ve read countless times, but hardly implemented. I’ve seen Ashley learn web design and then a week later set up a web page calling for donations to assist in disaster relief from the recent earthquake that rocked the country we currently call home.  

I mean, what good is knowledge if it sits in your head? What good is knowing the ins and outs of Photoshop if you never create? What good is knowing the theory of website design if you never choose to lay it out and press “Go Live”.  

To have knowledge without application is trivial.  

But if you do apply it, fellow journeyer,  you can design your very dreams. This could look like

  • Signing up for Spanish lessons to start learning Spanish, and then actually talking in Spanish.

  • Putting $10 per paycheck aside so you have a travel fund, and then buying the plane ticket at the end of the year.

  • Setting aside 30 minutes a day to write, and then writing in that time.

  • Listening to aPodcast, and then implementing one thing you heard.

The list would go on and on. Whatever is personal to you, you must act. Make a plan and follow the steps. And when you act and continue to act, you will learn to live your dreams.  

If you are ready to act, then take the first step and fill out the form below.  One of our Submerge representatives will contact you on how spending a semester overseas can help propel you towards living the life of your dreams. 



Zach Lantelme is a member of the Production team for Submerge.  He and his wife, Anna, currently live in Quito, Ecuador,  but call Denver, Colorado their home.     He cut his teeth writing common-sense personal finance blogs, and has moved on to travel writing and goal setting.  He and his wife love doing outdoorsy activities, like snowboarding and rock climbing, but his favorite pastime is reading suspense-thrillers while drinking hot chocolate.     

Zach Lantelme is a member of the Production team for Submerge.  He and his wife, Anna, currently live in Quito, Ecuador,  but call Denver, Colorado their home.     He cut his teeth writing common-sense personal finance blogs, and has moved on to travel writing and goal setting.  He and his wife love doing outdoorsy activities, like snowboarding and rock climbing, but his favorite pastime is reading suspense-thrillers while drinking hot chocolate.     


Running Towards the Uncomfortable

"INSIDE SUBMERGE" are blogs originally posted on the personal blogs of Submerge team members. 

"INSIDE SUBMERGE" are blogs originally posted on the personal blogs of Submerge team members. 

Author: Valerie Tejada
Original Post:

Valerie Tejada is a writer from Southern California. She is currently living in Ecuador to learn about different cultures, serve the locals, and grow in her writing. She is passionate about inviting women to embrace their beautiful and unique identities. Valerie has certificates in Counseling and Global Ministry. She is working on obtaining her English degree at California Baptist University. Wherever life takes her - Valerie desires to use the power of words to heal hearts.

Valerie Tejada is a writer from Southern California. She is currently living in Ecuador to learn about different cultures, serve the locals, and grow in her writing. She is passionate about inviting women to embrace their beautiful and unique identities. Valerie has certificates in Counseling and Global Ministry. She is working on obtaining her English degree at California Baptist University. Wherever life takes her - Valerie desires to use the power of words to heal hearts.

“It’s five months, out of your whole life. And if you think about your whole life, five months is really not that many.”

A friend reminded me of this truth while I was preparing to leave the States for a life in Ecuador. I decided to do a little math. Let’s say I live until I am 85 years old. At age 22, that leaves me 63 years of life which gives me 756 months more of life. When I look at 5 months out of 756, it is extremely small. 5 months will fly by. For 5 months I was deciding to leave the comfortable for the uncomfortable. Before leaving home I felt that five months was a long time to be gone. However, I am five weeks into this adventure and I feel like it was only minutes ago that I was watching LAX disappear in my airplane window. If I am being transparent, I didn’t imagine that leaving Los Angeles would open me up to realizing that I hadn’t been owning who I’ve been created to be. There is a need in our world to fully embrace our titles and that is a one piece of the foundation for this blog. I invite you to embrace your title as I embrace mine.

Honestly, I was scared to leave the faces and the streets of my comfort zone. It wasn’t easy to think about packing up for 5 months. I had my ministry, my routine, and my yoga classes - the Starbucks baristas knew my name and order, seriously. Yet, I gave up that comfort to be obedient. When you think about it, we really aren’t designed to be comfortable are we? We are not designed to let ourselves be defiled by the lures of the world. We are designed to run towards the uncomfortable. That is where I was stuck - in comfortable - so I had to run. I ran toward the scary, the unknown, and the uncomfortable.

I wouldn’t be here unless I was confident that I needed to land in Ecuador on February 8, 2016. God didn’t send me dreams or tell me audibly that I needed to move to South America. Nevertheless, I got on that plane because I knew I that I was too comfortable in SoCal. As the plane descended I couldn’t help but be surprised because I wasn’t even thinking about moving to Ecuador three months before. I was comfortable at home; I had just had a major life change and wasn’t really considering another one anytime soon. Then my mentor asked me if I had thought about doing the semester abroad in Ecuador. I had been told about the program in the summer. I remember telling my mentor, “I think it would be a great fit for Clorissa! It sounds so incredible.” Back then I wasn’t even thinking about it for myself. I guess that is where God works – when you least expect it – he sends you. He tells you to run toward the uncomfortable. Now, months later, sipping on a latte frío in one of my favorite coffee hangs, I have no doubt that this is where I am meant to be.

I am here because there was a time when I let people define me by the words they spoke. I would allow people to tell me who to be…Be funnier. Be sweeter. Be louder. Be this. Be that. Not any more. I am Val. I am enough. Part of this blog is learning how to own my title. My title as a daughter of the King. My title as I run toward the uncomfortable. My title as a beautiful piece of art. If I believe that I am not enough then I act like I am not enough. Then I sit down in a room full of equally incredible women and believe that I need to be sarcastic in order to be noticed. But I don’t. All I need to be is to be me. 


If you are ready to run towards the uncomfortable, then take the first step and fill out the form below and one of our Submerge representatives will contact you. 

I live in search of a great adventure

Written by: Submerge Co-founder Christa Baca

Christa Baca co-founded with her husband Greg.  She makes her home in Quito, Ecuador with her two children Zion and Lucianna.  She is passionate about helping people discover and fully experience the life they were created to live.  She has a penchant for cute cafes and cappuccino and when she is writing or designing, you can usually find her enjoying both.   

Christa Baca co-founded with her husband Greg.  She makes her home in Quito, Ecuador with her two children Zion and Lucianna.  She is passionate about helping people discover and fully experience the life they were created to live.  She has a penchant for cute cafes and cappuccino and when she is writing or designing, you can usually find her enjoying both.   

There’s more.

If you’re anything like me, then you believe that there is more to life than falling monotonically into the daily grind, surviving the 9-5, and becoming stereotypes that so often leave us feeling like our lives are a commonplace cliché.   

In different seasons of life I would find myself stuck. I mean, let’s be honest,  life was “fine”. Work was “fine”, school was “fine, my friends were "fine"… but I want my life to be more than a long line of “fine”.

I’ve found that the journey of life is often encountered by different cross-roads. Moments, that if we don’t seize them or risk to grasp them will fleetingly pass us by.  And that’s the thing, once they pass us we can’t always get them back.

They’re gone.

I have so many of these cross-road moments in my life. I feel like I am a collector of them.  

The first time I went overseas at age 14 to Thailand.

Climbing the Great Wall of China two summers later.

The time I left my successful career to go back to school.

The first time I kissed my husband Greg. (Ahem, yes, I kissed him first!) And I wouldn’t change that daring move for the world. It was a world-class romantic moment and I am so glad that I leaned in and made the first move.

I guess that’s the thing, you can’t be afraid to lean into life. Many times we shy away from these moments of risk, and yet adventure is calling out to us. It’s begging us to leave the safe shores of the familiar and go into uncharted waters.

I am lucky enough to live among the risk-takers. The Submerge community is filled with the dreamers and doers. People who have risked jobs, security and relationships to venture out into the unknown in search of a great adventure. I am profoundly impacted every day by their courage and their ability to go and search for their great adventure.

The world needs more people like that. People who venture out in hope. Maybe you find yourself in that place that I am talking about. That longing to step out of the ordinary. To do more than just dream, to discover.  

Hang onto that.

If you feel stuck then I implore you to lean in.

Lean into risk.

Lean into hope.

Lean into adventure.

Most of all lean into God.

Only you and God know what that means to lean in. As a fellow journeyer myself I can only tell you that the times I have stepped out of my ordinary and leaned into risk I’ve never regretted. I would venture to say that you won’t regret it either.

If you have ever thought about taking a season of life and spending it overseas then I want to encourage you to take the first step.  First steps are easy.  They don’t require a lot. Just fill out the form below and one of our staff members will contact you and tell you a little bit more about the program.  




Free to Fly: A New Art Campaign

How 400 origami birds can create a meaningful dialogue. 

At Submerge we are passionate about sharing God's love in a relevant and non-religious way. Through the use of creative campaigns and innovative outreaches we strive to bridge cultures, build community, spark conversations, and create meaningful dialogue .

The Quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala. This exotic bird is unlike any other in that if the bird is held captive, even within the most beautiful of cages, it will soon die. It was this majestic bird which inspired the concept for our latest campaign "Free to Fly".

We believe that just like the Quetzal, you were created to live freely. 

During the campaign we asked participants to take an origami bird and write on it one thing from which they wished to be free. The conversations went deep with participants as they shared with our Submerge team what was holding them back.  

The birds were then used to combined to create an art display. By the end, 400+ origami birds streamed from an open cage, being set free. Below are some images from the campaign: 

Every week our Submerge team comes together to dream about creative ways to reach our city. Together, we create and implement these outreaches and creative campaigns. If you have ever wanted to spend a season of your life inspiring and helping others, then we invite you to Submerge, a multi-month overseas experience designed to give you the tools you need to make your dreams a reality. If you would like more information on how you can take part, then please fill out the form at the bottom of the page. 



Painting in yellow

Author: Christa Baca

The events that are told in this story are completely true.

Sick. But true.

So, one day I am waiting. Totally bored out of my mind and I start fiddling with the zipper on my purse. I’m zipping it back and forth to the tune of “jingle bells”- when I notice there is something in the pocket. I hadn’t used this purse in over a year. Now, most girls know that finding something hidden in the bottomless pockets of your purse can be very exhilarating. (Kind of like finding buried treasure.) We stuff all kinds of things in our purses and every once in awhile; you find something you haven’t seen in a really long time.

So that day, I reached deep inside my purse pocket and pulled out… a taco.

Yes, a taco.

Please don’t ask how it made it’s way into my purse. What was I thinking? “Oh, I have nowhere to put my taco. I know! (unzip). I’ll put it in my purse.” Honestly, I don’t know which is scarier, that I knowingly put a taco in my purse or that I have no memory of how it got there.

Do you want to know the really sick thing about the whole deal? Remember how I said that I hadn’t used the purse in over a year? The taco had been unknowingly nestled in my purse and was completely unscathed, like I had just ordered it an hour ago. No mold, no nasty stench- nothing. Just a greasy taco. In my purse. For over a year. (Can you say preservatives?)

Now, I’m not writing a diatribe about the inherent dangers of fast food (Although I think my story may cause you to wonder if it really is “more bueno” to grab a taco on the run.) What I really want to talk about is all the stuff we have deep inside our hearts that sits unused.

Let me explain.

Ever feel like your life doesn’t make much sense, like the things you want to do in life are kind of random? I know I have.

Recently I have been talking with a lot of young people who feel the same way. Their life just doesn’t fit into a neat package. “I want to be a painter and a missionary.” or “I feel a call to business and ministry.” They look at me in confusion and embarrassment as they share their hearts, their expressions revealing the turmoil within. They think it can’t possibly be right to do both.

Personally, I have always tried to embrace the season that God has me in. I simply do what I feel like He tells me to do. If He tells me to leave my job as a children’s pastor and take a job as a youth secretary halfway across the United States, I do it. My life may seem random to most. (Graphic artist, youth pastor, mission’s director, children’s pastor, youth secretary, drama instructor, painter, schoolteacher, fashion designer, writer, and wife are a few random titles I’ve held.) But now as I get older, life is finally starting to make sense to me. What seemed disjointed is finally beginning to come together.

(If you are wondering when I was going to explain about what the taco has to do with all this- keep reading. It’s coming. )

In the midst of daily mundane living, the uniqueness of where God has us can be lost. I’ve thought about it lately like this: imagine a huge blank canvas. You pick up a tube of yellow paint and start painting away. Then you pick up a green tube, a little orange, and some purple and continue on with your masterpiece. No one thinks it’s weird to use different colors to paint. All the colors together make something beautiful in the end. It’s kind of like life. You may be painting in yellow right now and wondering what God is doing, maybe even feeling a little like He’s forgotten about the big dreams He told you about. Maybe you feel like you’ve been stuck in a holding pattern, a big merry-go-round of routine. Maybe you feel like you are doing a little of this and a little of that- and everything is pretty half hazard. Take a step back, Make sure you are still painting on the canvas (doing what God has spoken for this season) and see the big picture. God is doing something amazing with the details of your life. When you commit to obey the voice of God in each new season, you will one day look back and see the master design God has been painting all along.

“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (New International Version)

You may feel like you’re all alone out there, living this segmented life of desires that God has placed in your heart. Well, you’re not alone. In fact, I have met a whole bunch of young people just like you. It seems that God is doing something new with this generation.

And it’s needed.

If you’re like me, there is something inside of you that wants to throw off labels and titles. Something that doesn’t want to be placed in a box. This new generation cries out to be recognized as a follower of Christ, void of titles and stigmas, to be assimilated into society. Kind of like Paul, who was a tentmaker, missionary, apostle, and servant. (Acts 18:3, Titus 1:1) This young generation is a group of creative people. They are multi-skilled. They are diverse. They are different- and they are not ashamed. There is a stirring in the hearts of this generation. A cry to be real. To embrace the call of God for their life- however different it may look.

So if you are wondering why you have been painting in yellow in this season, it is for the divine call that God has placed on this generation. You have a new task ahead of you and it is a call that only you can answer yourself. Will you rise up and embrace the call that God has on your life? Will you stand up and be different? Will you pave the way for generations to come? Don’t shrink back from who God has called you to be because you’ve never seen it modeled before. Unzip your potential and discover the treasure that has been locked deep within your heart…no, it’s not a taco. It’s you.


At Submerge we are passionate about training people to achieve the dreams that are inside their hearts. Combined with passionate teaching and practical application, Submerge will give you the tools that you need to cause the dreams in your heart to become a reality. Fill out the form below and one of our reps will contact you and answer any questions that you may have. 

7 Reasons Why Traveling Can Jumpstart Your Career

Not all who wander are lost.  

How traveling in your 20s may just unlock the career you've been dreaming of. 

For college gradsFOR YOUNG JOB SEEKERS, INCLUDING COLLEGE GRADS, finding a job can be a daunting task. As more and more young people flood the job market with diplomas in hand, having the courage to do something "out of the ordinary" will immediately set you apart from other job applicants. Check out our seven reasons why traveling in your twenties could help jump-start your career.


1. Travel with Purpose


While jetting off to "see the world" might seem irresponsible, including service-oriented projects in your plans and traveling with purpose shows potential employers your heart to give back.

2. Adaptability

Cross-cultural experiences teach you how to navigate through uncharted territories. Daily interactions with a foreign language, navigating unfamiliar places, and interacting with another culture will cause you to be quick on your feet and learn how to open your eyes to see other options.  


3. Gain Experience

Many employers are looking for people who have experience. This is always a bit tricky to maneuver since you need actual experience to have “experience.” One way to gain the interview edge you are looking for is to volunteer with an international non-profit organization. If you partner with an organization that also seeks to train you--helping you grow--then you will mutually benefit from the experience.



4. Learn a new language

Being immersed in a foreign language is the fastest and most effective way to learn. As business continues to bend towards a more interconnected and global economy, those proficient in a foreign language will have the upper hand.  


5.  Broaden your global perspective

Saint Augustine said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page.” By leaving behind the comfort of what is familiar, you will open up your mind to see a new broadened perspective of the world.  As international trade, technology and business increase, those who have a wide global lens will naturally rise to the top.

6. Learn to live with less

Travel causes you to monitor budgets and navigate currency exchange, teaching you to be constantly aware of your finances. Packing up your life into a backpack or 50LB suitcase will cause you to think about what you really need in life. Exposure to other cultures where people live with less will cause you to become a more resourceful person. These qualities are invaluable as you begin your professional career, allowing you to maximize budgets, stretch resources, and get the most from your investments.

7.  Continued Education

Tom Freston, founder of MTV and Viacom said, “Travel is the best and probably cheapest graduate school you can buy.” Travel allows you to explore, learn new cultures, expand your knowledge base and open your mind up to new and innovative ideas.


Ready to travel? is designed to set you apart from the crowd and give you the tools you need to make the dreams in your heart become a reality. To find out how you can jump-start your career by spending a semester overseas, fill out the form below and one of our Submerge representatives will contact you with more information.








When your world shakes

When the earthquake began I was on the ninth floor of a large building with four friends. I was sitting on the couch with one of the other staff members here when we suddenly realized we were moving. Although I couldn’t tell you who it was now, someone in the apartment yelled, “It’s an earthquake!” After taking several seconds to accept that indeed, this was really happening, our Ecuadorian friend with us said we needed to get out.

As the building wobbled in a way I have never felt before (it’s still insane to me how much a building--made from cement and metal--can move) we ran down the stairs as the lights flickered on and off. I prayed, “God, please protect us” over and over. And then, somewhere around the second floor, the shaking stopped.

We continued down the stairs and outside, joining the people who had already flooded outside, all equally bewildered. As I looked around I realized we were fine. We were alive. Not only that, but all around us there weren’t any buildings falling down or cracks in the road. We were really really okay.

It’s strange: to feel the ground move beneath you, to wonder, “Could I die right now?” and yet to be fine. It brings a very immediate satisfaction of surviving. But not everyone was so fortunate.

Although we didn’t know it then, on the coast, hundreds died from the earthquake. Thousands of people have been injured. Buildings have crumbled with people trapped inside. Near the epicenter towns have been almost totally decimated.

It’s strange, too, that I can write about this from my almost completely undisturbed apartment in Quito. (There is one very tilted picture on the wall, but that’s it.) It’s odd to think I felt the same shaking that has totally altered so many lives. I don’t know what to do with it.

And perhaps, wherever you are, you are in the same boat. You are okay in spite of the terrible things that happen each day in our world. We are used to hearing bad news. We see people in plight and know it’s horrific, but sometimes--perhaps most times--we can’t actually comprehend the magnitude of these catastrophes.

So what do we do? How are we supposed to feel and act in these situations? How much sympathy can be extracted from us?

Well first of all--and this will require a change of tone in this article I suppose--it’s good to turn our compassion towards those who need it and not simply ignore all of the bad news. And while it’s possibly easier to feel guilty about not having anything bad happen to us than to actually do something to improve the situation, that guilt doesn’t help anyone.

So here are some ideas:

1. Pray

Someone once said, “Do what you can, not what you can’t.” This is not my original idea, but I think it makes a lot of sense. We can’t fly to every location in the world where they need help. We can’t give a million dollars. We can’t know every story of every person in pain. But, at a minimum, we CAN pray. And that matters. God knows what people need more than we do and sometimes this is the most important help we can give.

2. Donate

BUUUUTT.. most of us can also donate. You can donate food or time or money (and the nice thing is, you can pick!) I know it can feel like so many places are asking for money, and that’s probably because so many places are asking for money. But there is real need. And you may not be able to give much, but you can most likely give something. Heck, you can donate the money you would have spent on just one coffee to donate somewhere and it is still doing something. Even if it’s a little something.

I like how The Message words 1 John 3:17: “If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.” This is the time where people need to see God’s love more than ever.

3. Go

While donating and praying help immensely, we think sometimes it is also important to take action. Due to the impact this tragedy has had on the country, we feel it is only right to do all we can to help, and so this June we will be combining the efforts of the Submerge team with anyone who is willing to spend ten days in Ecuador helping to rebuild, restore and bring hope to those who have suffered from the effects of the earthquake. If you want to help us in our efforts, please CLICK HERE to join our relief team.

4. Be okay with not feeling okay

There are several problems that come with tragedy, but the biggest is that tragedies don’t make sense. I doubt they ever will. We live in a world full of problems with people hurting and sadness and, try as we might, we can’t stop it.

We ask in these times the questions people have asked for ages: Where is God? Why did these things happen? Why didn’t he stop them?

There’s a book’s-worth of thoughts I could write about this--as I’m sure many people already have--but it’s not going to make anyone instantly feel better. What I will say is that I do believe God is still good, even when these things happen. And if you feel you don’t understand why these things are happening, I only encourage you to talk with God about it. Regardless of the “Whys?” God sees far more than we can.

5. Live today.

This has been on my mind quite a bit recently, but I don’t think it can be said too much. Today, now, is the only time we have. We cannot live in the future, and to live in the past only ruins today. Jesus said tomorrow will worry about itself. Ask what you can do today.

And so, I’ll leave you with the words of Christian writer Frederick Buechner:

“Much as we wish, not one of us can bring back yesterday or shape tomorrow. Only today is ours, and it will not be ours for long, and once it is gone it will never in all time be ours again. Thou only knowest what it holds in store for us, yet even we know something of what it will hold. The chance to speak the truth, to show mercy, to ease another’s burden. The chance to resist evil, to remember all the good times and good people of our past, to be brave, to be strong, to be glad.”


Digital Download

Everybody loves free stuff. 
So here you go... 





Make your dreams happen.  


When you feel like quitting or like the dream in your heart is too big to accomplish, que up this free digital screen saver for your computer or phone and remind yourself that it is possible. 

Click the image below and "save as" to use.