Today, Taira speaks to us about being spiritually accountable for those we influence, her new BFF and business, a book on anger and emotions that you will want to add to your list, the dream check she wants to give to the church and lessons on trying to fill a void with the wrong people and things. So much wisdom! Thank you, Taira.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I was born in Havana, Cuba. My parents won the Cuban lottery (which was to come to the USA legally). We actually came on Christmas Day of 1999. We lived at my grandmother’s house until my parents were able to afford a place to stay. I have to say the hustle is in my blood. My parents are hustlers and they worked really hard. Eventually, they were able to begin a medical clinic (my mom was a doctor in Cuba), and I was able to enjoy the finer things in life, really. However, my parents are non-believers and so I never grew up in church. Then for middle school they placed me in a Christian school and that is where I learned about Jesus. My parents intentions were for me to have a better education not to find salvation. So from there, I would sneak to youth group with my best friends (I had my mom’s permission, of course). Eventually, I went to a public school for Junior and Senior year, and God became someone I knew of, but not someone I had a relationship with.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: Psalm 13. I suffered from depression back in middle and high school, and even in college. About a year ago, my husband randomly opened his Bible and ended up reading this chapter to me. My only reaction was to burst into tears because it spoke directly to me. I had always felt like “How long Lord?” and it’s truly amazing what it has done for me emotionally and spiritually. Particularly, at the end (verses 5 and 6) bring me so much hope because God truly has been good to me. How could I not sing the Lord’s praises?!
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Patience and self-control are two of the hardest fruits of the Spirit for me. However, I do have to say that God answers prayers, and I have found that He has given me the strength to have way more self-control than I have ever had before. Patience, however, is not something that I lack, but rather I get anxiety from waiting. I know God’s timing is perfect, and I have made it clear that I don’t want anything that doesn’t come from Him. I truly just ask that He works on my patience.
“I know God’s timing is perfect, and I have made it clear that I don’t want anything that doesn’t come from Him.”
Profession: I am a Middle School English + History Teacher, I am a Psychology Professor at a University, and I have my own Sea Moss and Nontoxic Products business.
Tell us about Salt Light Tribe and your mission behind that: Funny story. I had been looking for a photographer to take one-year anniversary pictures of my husband and I. I found one, but hadn’t followed up with her! Next thing I know, I go to my husband’s BFF’s wedding, and she is the photographer! I spoke to her there and then scheduled our photo session. At the session, we immediately became BFFs, and I mean literally. She is now my BFF, and we talk every day. Love her to death. She has edified me so much and has helped me through so many ups and downs. But anyways, she introduced me to essential oils at the session to help us relax. A month goes by and I continue to have this prompting to start sellings oils. I ignored it, but it persisted. Eventually, I called her up and told her to give me the details. From then on, it was history as we say! I began selling oils and nontoxic products and sea moss as well. Now, Salt Light Essentials came about from this story. I knew it was God prompting me, and I knew it had to be for Him and His glory. As I mentioned before, I want nothing that doesn’t come from Him. I focused on making the tribe a place where women could come together and talk about Jesus and wellness. Now, recently I began to write devotionals and sell them at my Etsy shop, too. Needless to say, God’s favor has been upon my business, my team, and our mission. We’ve helped almost 300 families ditch their toxic products and invest in their wellness. It’s been a blessing. I pray that God continues to solidify the Salt Light Tribe and that it becomes whatever HE wants.
“We’ve helped almost 300 families ditch their toxic products and invest in their wellness. It’s been a blessing.”
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? Redeemed By Grace.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I previously added a glimpse of it. It was during middle school at a Christian school when I first learned about Him. I was obsessed with Jesus because when I look back at my school notes and binder covers (I keep everything) I have Jesus written all over! However, the first time I remember feeling the presence of God was the day I tried to commit suicide. I had sat in my shower asking him to let me die after taking a handful of pills. By His grace alone, I woke up in my bed, and I remember the feeling of gratefulness to be alive.
How would you describe Jesus? My Redeemer. My Wonderful Counselor. My best friend. All I ever need. He is such a gentleman. He doesn’t force Himself into our hearts. He just waits patiently for us.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? I was the pretty girl that craved the attention of men. I wanted to fill in my daddy issues with love and lust. I thought dressing sexy made me powerful and wanted. I craved the attention of this world. Now, I think twice or three times about everything. I am a middle school teacher and a youth leader for the 10th grade girls. They are watching my every move. I am responsible for them, and I would never want to do something that would stray them away from God.
“I am responsible for them, and I would never want to do something that would stray them away from God.”
What has been the darkest time in your life, and how did you see God in it? My suicide attempt. I was dating a terrible guy, and he was manipulative to another extent. He was emotionally, physically, mentally, and verbally abusive. God allowed me to live through it. That’s all I can truly say. It was God that carried me through that storm.
“It was God that carried me through that storm.”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Like Elijah in the wilderness of Cherith. Isolation (but the good type). I still lead three connect groups every week, but it’s just when I get home disconnecting and sitting outside with my chickens and cats and dog. It’s been finding rest during this busy season.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): Be Angry, But Don’t Blow It by Lisa Bevere! It’s outstanding. I grew up being an angry child, and I’ve learned to manage those emotions and to understand why I have felt a certain way and how to react. Also, I am actually reading the Elijah Bible Study by Priscilla Shirer, and it’s teaching me why God does the things He does in my life and why isolation has been a big part of it. Truly recommend!
Top three essentials: My Bible. My essential oils (they’ve been a blessing!) My husband. He keeps me grounded. LOL
How did God speak to you recently? He told me the righteous live by faith. Hallelujah.
Hobby: I have 4 chickens! 3 Hens and a rooster! I love gardening and planting veggies! Also, I love creating. I’ve been writing up devotionals, and I enjoy it because my creative juices get to flow.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Read your Bible daily. Confess your sins to your sisters in Christ. Accept constructive criticism.
Favorite person in scripture? Esther. I love boldness. I love that she walked up to the king despite what would happen to her. I love her passion for love and justice.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? Redemption and grace is available to all who believe in Jesus Christ. I want them to see how God didn’t give up on me even though I had. I want them to see a girl who searched for the love of this world and yet found true love in Christ.
“I want them to see how God didn’t give up on me even though I had. I want them to see a girl who searched for the love of this world and yet found true love in Christ.”
How do you engage with your community? I co-lead two all women’s connect groups Monday and Tuesday, and I lead a 10th grade youth group on Fridays! Also, my husband and I serve at church on Sundays!
Favorite holiday? Thanksgiving and Christmas. The season makes my heart warm, and I just want to love everyone a little extra. Grateful is at its fullest.
A goal you have? Don’t laugh! I have always said I will write a $1 million check to a church. It may be a church I build or my own church now. My husband is studying to be a pastor and his desire and love to spread the gospel is so great that how could I not work to do this for him and Jesus!
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Sadly, we never really have had traditions, so I started making my own. For example, since we don’t celebrate Halloween, I put up the Christmas tree the weekend before! Allows us to enjoy Christmas longer!
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? THIS IS SO HARD! I have so many questions!!
Things you want to raise awareness about: Mental health. Overall health. The redeeming love of Christ. How to be a godly woman in this culture!
What does your morning routine consist of? Total trick question because I know what I should be doing, but sleep is vital for my existence so I snooze an entire 40 minutes before waking up. I sleep all up until I have to run and get dressed! It’s just I can’t function otherwise. Then, I listen to Christian podcasts on the way to work. I do my devotional while the students are in Bible or after I’ve dismissed them for the day!
What is on your nightstand? My Bible. A ton of Christian books. The essential oils I use for sleep. A picture frame of my husband and I. Nontoxic body lotion. A bottle of TRS (heavy metal detox). A bottle of magnesium (so beneficial).
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity is having a relationship with Christ.
For more Taira:
Until next time, keep witnessing!