Mondays at the Mission Four Year Anniversary–A Celebration to Remember

About six years ago I had the pleasure of meeting entrepreneur and author Christopher Kai, who became my friend and inspired me to continue writing and working with young people.  Christopher Kai founded the wonderful program Mondays at the Mission at Union Rescue Mission, and on September 8, 2014, I had the privilege of celebrating the four year anniversary with the mentors, staff, and inspirational young people. Christopher works incredibly hard to uplift and instill worth and value in others, and that is life-changing for countless young people that go in and out of those doors at the Mission every year.

My tumultuous past gave me a sense of a connection with Christopher, the team, and the children. In June, I told my life story, and taught a B.E.A.U.T.Y. art class, where I had the students paint a picture that reflected what inner beauty meant to them. After that day, I couldn’t stop coming! I felt privileged to be able to give of myself every Monday night to young people, to help them grow and to see in themselves what was already there. I have so much respect for everyone at Mondays at the Mission and at Union Rescue Mission, and will never be the same because of their dedication and support to helping others transform their lives. I thank you all for letting me be apart of such a phenomenal program with devoted volunteers. You guys are remarkable in every sense of the word!

Thank you to Andy Bales, Matthew Bennett, Christopher Kai, Kiersten Brown, Jason Kwon, Darin Leach, Ariel Yarrish, Kelly Gluckman, Vani Murthy, Antonio Spears, Justine Sophia-Rabia, Lisa Nola, Adam Marks, Marco Curreli, Cindy Ghali, Kevin Lee, Tim Mudd, Cheri Hodge, Rozzi Crane, all of the inspirational mentors, speakers, staff, and of course, the reason why I kept coming back and will live a life of passion–the leaders of NOW–the young people at Mondays at the Mission!! You all are more talented than you will ever know.

Here are some highlights and a video from the night, made by Darin Leach, one of the Mission’s motivating mentors! Also I would like to share some memories at MATM and with my mentor friends 🙂

 

Mondays at the Mission 4 Year Anniversary Photo :)
Mondays at the Mission 4 Year Anniversary Photo 🙂
MATM 4 Year Anniversary Banner I made, and everyone signed :)
MATM 4 Year Anniversary Banner I made, and everyone signed 🙂
A Poem I wrote for the students :)
A Poem I wrote for the students 🙂 Thank you to the team for all of your help in putting the composition books together 🙂
Most of the students at the 4 Year Anniversary Party with Christopher Kai :)
Most of the students at the 4 Year Anniversary Party with Christopher Kai 🙂
With Vani Murthy, fellow mentor and talented writer, see my resources page :)
With Vani Murthy, fellow mentor and talented writer, see my resources page 🙂
Receiving the biggest hug at my inner beauty art class :)
Receiving the biggest hug at my inner beauty art class 🙂
inspiring students creating inner beauty art :)
inspiring students creating inner beauty art 🙂
Students working on the Inner Beauty Art Project for B.E.A.U.T.Y :)
Students working on the Inner Beauty Art Project for B.E.A.U.T.Y 🙂
with Maggie and our precious students, on a class discussing how to develop their life's passions :)
with Maggie and our precious students, on a class discussing how to develop their life’s passions taught by Kiersten Brown 🙂
Kiersten Brown, the fabulous Associate Director of MATM :)
Kiersten Brown, the fabulous Associate Director of MATM 🙂
Lisa Nola teaching a fascinating class at MATM. Lisa and Adam not only mentor at the Mission, but they took a family into their own home and helped them get back on their feet, and helped the children through school. I just can't say enough about Lisa and Adam! :)
Lisa Nola teaching a fascinating class at MATM. Lisa and Adam not only mentor at the Mission, but they took a family into their own home and helped them get back on their feet, and helped the children through school. I just can’t say enough about Lisa and Adam! 🙂
Dance skills with Adam, one of the awesome mentors :)
Dance skills with Adam, one of the awesome mentors 🙂
Nikki DuBose and Antonio Spears for the Young Literati Social with the Library Foundation of Los Angeles
With Antonio Spears for the Young Literati Social with the Library Foundation of Los Angeles
Antonio Spears is one amazing person. He is a true friend, and dedicates his time to inspiring and helping others. I am proud to know you, Antonio! Christopher Kai is the founder of MATM, and has a heart full of compassion to see others succeed. Thank you Christopher for being my friend all of these years!
Antonio Spears is one amazing person. He is a true friend, and dedicates his time to inspiring and helping others. I am proud to know you, Antonio! Christopher Kai is the founder of MATM, and has a heart full of compassion to see others succeed. Thank you Christopher for being my friend all of these years!
With singer Rozzi Crane!
With singer Rozzi Crane!
Kelly Gluckman and Darin Leach, two of MATM's dedicated mentors :)
Kelly Gluckman and Darin Leach, two of MATM’s dedicated mentors 🙂
Inner beauty art by Sanivvia for the B.E.A.U.T.Y Project :)
Inner beauty art by Sanivvia for the B.E.A.U.T.Y Project 🙂
Max and Damien, two leaders in the making :)
Max and Damien, two leaders in the making 🙂
A funny bunch, with Pascal from France! :)
A funny bunch, with Pascal from France! 🙂
with Vani Murthy and leaders of today :)
with Vani Murthy and leaders of today 🙂
With Justine Rabia and Anastasia from Russia. Justine and I mentored at MATM, and Justine and Anastasia are both talented ballet dancers! :)
With Justine Rabia and Anastasia from Russia. Justine and I mentored at MATM, and Justine and Anastasia are both talented ballet dancers! 🙂

Black Bean Brownies with Sweet Avocado Frosting

Generally everyone like brownies, and never does this theory hold true more than with young people, right? While it is important for kids to enjoy dessert, I like to bake treats that are healthy and delicious!

Last night for Mondays at the Mission, I made these black bean brownies with a sweet avocado sauce for the youth! No sooner had I placed them on the table than they were gone 😀

I couldn’t believe they were made out of BEANS because of how scrumptious they were! I am curious to see if you agree with me 🙂

I made two batches of these and both came out fluffy yet moist because of the baking powder. If the idea of the avocado frosting turns you off, I understand, but just think of all of the health benefits balanced with the sweet taste! It’s a win-win 🙂

God Bless,

You will need:

Black Bean Brownies

1 (15 oz). can of low sodium black beans, drained
3 eggs
3 TBS coconut oil
1/2 cup of wondercocoa powder
3 TSP of bourbon vanilla extract
1 TSP baking powder
equ. of 1/2 cup of monk fruit in the raw/stevia/agave

Sweet Avocado Frosting

1 avocado, ripe
1 TBS canola/coconut oil
1/2 TSP bourbon vanilla extract
4 packets of Stevia
1 cup of arrowroot
1 cup of powdered milk

To make:

First, let’s make the brownies. Preheat the oven to 350°. Blend the black beans, eggs, coconut oil, wondercocoa powder, vanilla extract, baking powder, and sweetener of choice until smooth in a blender. Spray an 8×8 baking pan with fat-free cooking spray and pour the brownie mix into the pan. Bake in the oven for about twenty-five minutes. Let the brownies cool in the pan before cutting into even squares, which will make about twelve.

Now for the avocado frosting! With a high-powered whisk, beat together the oil and avocado until smooth. Then carefully add the vanilla. Blend the stevia, arrowroot, and powdered milk in a blender well to imitate powdered sugar, then mix that in with the avocado until everything is properly combined.

Now here’s the best part! You can and the kids can sit down and take quality time to enjoy the incredible brownies you have spent making. What better way to bond than over a meal as a family?

B.E.A.U.T.Y Art Project by Justine Sophia

Beauty Project by Justine SophiaJustine Sohpia, one of the dedicated mentors at Mondays at the Mission, created this drawing for the Beauty Project. She said that the “fingers in the picture are the engergy points where we reach out to all the things in the world, and in that way there is a lot of power in the hand. The hand of action, which allows us to search out beauty, earn beauty and create beauty. The pictures are just examples of things inside the universe that are unbelievable. Yet here we are. And we exist.”

Thank you, Justine, for your powerful perception on inner beauty!

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

Pineapple Pancakes

These are the ultimate treat for me!  Pancakes are something that terrified me for years because of my struggles.  I am grateful for eating pancakes as it is a marker of overcoming and letting go.

This recipe uses two kinds of flour: almond and organic whole wheat.  I like to combine the two because it gives the pancakes a more consistent feeling rather than a cakey turnout.

I hope you enjoy my pineapple pancakes!

God Bless,

Nikki DuBose

You will need: 

1 cup of almond meal/flour

1 cup of organic whole wheat flour

2 TBS stevia/monk fruit/agave/organic raw cane sugar

1 TBS baking powder

1/4 TSP baking soda

2 eggs, beaten

1 can of freshly crushed pineapple (I bought a package of fresh pineapple and crushed them myself)

3/4 cup of coconut almond milk

1/4 cup of canola oil

Light whip cream and sugar-free caramel syrup to top (or top with apple butter)

To make: 

In a large mixing bowl combine the almond and whole wheat flour together. Next, add the stevia, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl mix well the eggs, freshly crushed pineapple, almond milk, and canola oil.  Now pour the pineapple mixture in with the flour, and stir until everything is slightly lumpy, but smooth.

Place a pancake skillet or pan on the stove and raise the heat to about medium.  Cook about 1/4 of a cup of batter at a time, and let it sit for about three minutes on each side, turning when the bubbles form and the edges start to dry. The pancake should be golden and crispy on each side…but if you “mess up”…don’t worry, it’s all about progress, not perfection right?

Serve immediately and place a dollop of light whip cream on top. Pour  caramel syrup over the top (I got mine from Starbucks!), or get more creative and make your own delicious sauce 🙂

 

 

 

B.E.A.U.T.Y Project Art by Orlando

Beauty Project by OrlandoOrlando drew a peace sign, an angel heart with wings, and a happy/sad mask for the Beauty Project!

Orlando’s artwork is a fine example of the emotions in life we all go through.  Emotions should be welcomed and felt, as they help us experience life in a greater way! 🙂

Thank you, Orlando, for your positive drawing on inner beauty!

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

B.E.A.U.T.Y Project Art by Jordan

Jordan sees beauty as being outside and playing in the fresh air, surrounded by nature and a dog, too! I think that that’s not a bad way to see life, what about you?

Beauty Project Art By Jordan
Beauty Project Art By Jordan

How about getting back to nature and reconnecting with the simplicity of what God has created?  Life is naturally beautiful; sometimes we just need to stop and pay attention.

Thank you Jordan, for your art and zest for creation!

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

B.E.A.U.T.Y Project Art by Saunvvia

Saunvvia drew a big, happy heart surrounded by a rainbow and colorful dots!

Inside of the heart were positive words such as “love” and “harmony.” I suppose Saunvvia was trying to tell us that inner beauty is a reflection of all of the wonderful emotions we should focus on, right? 🙂 BeautyProject_Saunvvia

It’s not that we don’t experience the negative feelings, it’s just that the more we magnify the positive, the more the positive emotions will grow, and that makes us stronger!

Thank you Saunvvia for your deep insight and excellent addition to our Beauty Project!

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

B.E.A.U.T.Y Art by Damien

Damien believes that “Beauty” is Without Words! I have to agree! What do you think? Perhaps the most meaningful things in life are only felt, and not seen?

Thank you, Damien, for your insight and creativity!

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

B.E.A.U.T.Y Project Art by Elijah

Elijah lent his creative eye to the Beauty Project and drew Sonic the Hedgehog!BEAUTYPROJECT_ART_Elijah

Beauty can be expressed through art and however we choose to see it. Thank you Elijah for this incredible drawing of Sonic the Hedgehog, it’s fantastic!

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

B.E.A.U.T.Y Art by James

Today’s Beauty Project is brought to us by the veryBeauty_Project_James_Nikki_DuBose bright James!

James believes that beauty represents love above all! Love seems to be an ongoing theme here so far on the B.E.A.U.T.Y project, what do you think about that? The love allows the flowers to grow, sun to shine, the clouds to float and the love ties everything together 😀

Thank you, James for your creative artwork, and your super smile 😀

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

B.E.A.U.T.Y Art by William

Here is William’s interpretation of B.E.A.U.T.Y!

Pretty amazing, huh? When you have love inside your heart, it

Beauty Project Art by the very talented William :D
Beauty Project Art by the very talented William 😀

spreads, and that is the most powerful tool that you can ever have, right?

Thank you William for your inspiring art, it is special, just like you 😀

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

Mondays at the Mission B.E.A.U.T.Y Art

I was Blessed to be asked to speak to a very talented and special group of students at a Mondays at the Mission class which is held at Union Rescue Mission here i10557387_696745177065814_9206829365795818469_nn Los Angeles. Each and every student greeted me with open arms and warm smiles, and they taught me just as much as I had to tell them!

I opened up the class with my story about how when I was a little girl my dream was to be a supermodel because I thought that that was the greatest thing in the world! I imagined that a glamorous life filled with clothes, hair, makeup, and outer beauty would cover up all of the pain that I was experiencing in my home life.

I went on to explain to the10514750_696745340399131_4614670960225177032_nm that sometimes in life we are drawn to superficial standards of beauty and happiness because we are deeply unhappy with circumstances on the inside of us and around us. I told them that as a child I was sexually, physically, and emotionally abused by a couple of people close to me and that as a result I often felt afraid. I also isolated myse10478176_696745303732468_9223166261376901884_nlf as a child and young adult and never felt that I connected well with too many people. My mother died a couple of year’s ago from alcoholism so I felt detached from her growing up as well. On top of everything I was also hiding a big secret for more than seventeen years: I had an eating disorder that spiraled deeply out of control.

I grew away from God for many years of my life because I felt angry as a result of all of the things that were happening to me that were out of my control. I was often suicidal and I made many poor choices. I then explained to them that when I became a model, I had all of the material things that I thought that I wanted that would have made me happy, however all of the people who were around me only wanted to be with me because of my job and because of the way that I looked.

I learned throughout everything and all of my struggles that God always was there with me, even when I didn’t feel His presence, and that I could always rely on Him. 10524340_696745250399140_8240041549169040004_nI learned that true beauty came from the inside and that it was more important for me to share my hard times and be a role model for other people, than to place so much importance on my outer appearance alone. I now am determined to help others with their difficulties in life because I went through so many in mine.

The class went so well, and the students responded tremendously to the message that it is really what is inside that matters. They disc10517452_696745470399118_4765589994542415532_nussed all of the qualities that a role model should have such as believing in God, the abiltity to persevere, confidence, humility, helping others, and more! The students broke into several groups and each person drew a picture of what they thought inner beauty meant to them. I will be displaying their artwork right here on the B.E.A.U.T.Y section!

I think today we can get lost more than ever with all of the social media, television and hate in the world that we really need to just be still and…quiet. In the secret, private places of our hearts, we will find the answers to what really matters. Have we as a world complicated ourselves with too much? Does the answer to life really remain…love, inner beauty, and God, above all? I believe it does.

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

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