Episode 39: Pursuing Relationship After Estrangement with Dave Koll After Estrangement with Dave Koll

Dave will never cease in his desire to shine in a way that helps others find their way. He is a mesmerizing storyteller and author of Letters to William. Dave sees this book as not an end to the story, but just the beginning of reconnecting many relationships locked in a struggle to find their way back together. 
His passion is teaching and developing others to become better versions both personally and professionally. When you meet Dave you’ll be drawn to his energy and spontaneity. 

10 Basics For A Fulfilling Life

Nobody wants to look back on their life with regrets. You might have some regrets about the mistakes you have made or things you have done or opportunities you lost. But you can make a conscious decision to minimize your regrets by leading a more fulfilling life. Below, you will find 10 basic rules for leading a fulfilling life.

Episode 38: Pursuing Strength, Sobriety, and Success at the Gym with Kathryn Bennet

As a world-record-holding strongwoman, personal growth expert Kathryn Bennett is an 40 under 40 award winner, celebrated speaker and advocate for developing mental toughness. With a background in change management and Lean Six Sigma process improvement, Kathryn's professional career spans industries including tech, healthcare, and engineering/construction. Kathryn used the mental fortitude and tenacity she learned in the gym to more than quintuple her income in a five-year span, working from an entry-level process improvement role into a director position. Kathryn is a Certified Professional Services Marketer and is nationally ranked as a strongwoman competitor. She is passionate about helping her clients develop the mental tenacity and internal strength they need to succeed, no matter the adversity they're facing.

How to Love and Accept Yourself

Everybody has quirks. There is something “different” about every human on this planet. We aren’t robots with predictable programming. What a boring world that would be! Instead, we all have a distinct set of characteristics with boundless capabilities!

Episode 37: Pursuing Good Enough with NICU doc Dr. Susan Landers

Dr. Susan Landers is a neonatologist who worked full-time in the NICU for over thirty years and raised three children to young adulthood. She achieved many academic and professional accomplishments, and she encountered challenges along the way, both in her career and in her mothering. She supports mothers with her social media posts and her blog. She also cautions physicians and nurses - who might be experiencing serious burnout – about the ways in which it affects their lives and their relationships, and the many ways to treat and recover from burnout. Her new book is “So Many Babies: My Life Balancing a Busy Medical Career and Motherhood.”

Adaptability Is a Skill That Comes From Trying New Things

When you are willing to try new things and push the boundaries of your comfort zone, you develop the skills and the mental muscle to tackle obstacles and adapt quickly. In these instances, your body doesn't go into fight or flight mode and you are able to stay present to what you are doing and think clearly to problem solve. 

Episode 36: Pursuing Open Conversations With Teens with Cai Graham

Hey friends. If there was a simple technique to build trust and open communications with your teens, would you be interested in knowing it? That is what Cai Graham is speaking with us today about on this episode of the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast. She has raised her own kids and worked with many other parents and teens over the years and has developed a simple method to stay connected during these years where kids are seeking their independence, but still need their parents' guidance.

How To Leverage Mini-Habits to Grow Your Spiritual Health

Think, for example, of what would happen if you prayed/meditated for 10 minutes everyday? Did 10m minutes of cardio every day? Practiced gratitude for 3 minutes? Before you know it, these would begin to add up and you would be experiencing improvements in your body, mind, and spirit. Mini-habits don’t stop there though. Not only can your mini-habit change how you get things done, but they impact you in other ways as well. Read on to discover the powerful benefits of mini-habits.

Episode 35: Pursuing Mental Toughness with Clifford Starks

Clifford Starks is a Coach and Consulting looking to help entrepreneurs get their time back by focusing on what they love and delegating out what they don’t. So that they can live in their greatest truth and create impact that changes the world. Clifford says Greatness starts with a vision and then turning that vision into a reality.

6 Benefits Of Praying/Meditating For 10 Minutes Daily

When we pray or meditate for 10 minutes a day, it is going to change our life in huge ways. In fact, it's going to have some profound effects on our bodies. We are connected physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and enacting something in one realm of that affects all the others. If we do something in our physical bodies, it's going to affect us mentally, emotionally, spiritually. And if we do something spiritually is going to affect us in those other ways as well. We are accustomed to thinking of these as separate entities, but they are all manifestations of us. In other words, they are one and the same. 

Episode 34: Pursuing Justice with Rachel Bruno

Rachel is a Nashville based author, and advocate for parents that have been falsely accused in the child welfare system. Her book Fractured Hope: A Mother's Fight for Justice has been featured in top podcasts such as the Jesse Kelly Show, The Highwire with Del Bigtree, and the Freedom Network. Rachel's personal experience of having her children illegally removed makes her the perfect spokeswoman for issues on Parental Rights and child advocacy. After being awarded 7 figures in a civil suit, she knows the ins and outs of the court system and is ready to help families with her knowledge. Her mission is to expose, educate and encourage.

Free Yourself From Negative Thoughts

We can make bold declarations about ourselves. We can be people who prioritize our spiritual lives, we can be people who prioritize our physical health. We can make bold declarations about ourselves, and then make it a habit. Write a note if you have to, or write out an affirmation to make these declarations throughout your day so that they become a habit. They will become hardwired into your mind and into the choices you make for your life.

Episode 33: Pursuing Soul Care - Developing The Eyes To See with Kelly Skinner

Kelly Skinner is the founder of Soul Care, a day retreat center in Urbana, Illinois that provides resources to nurture the soul, space for stillness, and a community to support spiritual growth for people of all faiths and no particular faith. She is passionate about working with others to cultivate love, co-creating a more just and whole world, and accompanying one another into deeper communion with the Divine and with one another.

The ONE THING That Transforms Your Life

When we have feelings that control us from past hurts, then we know that there's some forgiveness work that's necessary. Forgiveness is not letting telling the other person that they get a 'get out of jail free card,' it is not saying, 'hey, everything is fine.' It's a freeing of yourself from that emotional prison that you've locked yourself into.

Episode 32: Pursuing Health In The Real World with Chris Janke

Chris Janke has a fitness trainer and founder of the Health In The Real World Podcast. He's the author of five books. He's the father of four kids under age 10, and lives in San Jose, California.

Episode 31: Pursuing Healthy Foster-Parenting and Step-Parenting with Debbie Ausburn

A social worker turned lawyer, Debbie Ausburn has spent decades raising other people’s children as a foster parent and stepparent. Her children have taught her that, even though she was their Plan B parent, she could forge strong and rich relationships with them.

Episode 30: Pursuing A Miracle with Kaj Smit

Kaj Smit is a 19 year-old guy from the Netherlands. This is the story of how he went from a fit young man to a vegetable in mere hours. He shares his incredible story and the lessons he learned along the way.

Why Discipline Is Better Than Motivation

It's easy to give into the temptation of giving in when we "don't feel like it," but that doesn't provide us the life we want. To build a life we look forward to living involves putting in the work to create it. I'm not an advocate of all work and no play, life is about finding that healthy balance after all, and being able to enjoy the fruits of our labor. But the life we want isn't going to come and find us; it's something we build. In the building of it, we clarify what's important to us and what we can let go of. 

Episode 29: Pursuing An Examined Life with Dr. Gwendolyn Dolske

Gwendolyn Dolske PhD is a professor in the Philosophy Department at Cal Poly Pomona. She is the author of academic essays and the book Tips From The Professor A Guide to College Success. She teaches Philosophy of Sex and Love and Moral Theory. She produces and co-hosts the educational podcast Good Is In The Details.

Episode 28: Pursuing Humor In Mid-Life and When Your Kid Goes To College with Sharon Brecher

Sharon L. Brecher is a mom-blogger, writer, illustrator, wife, and Miserable Mom. Her first book, Miserable Mom: The Do’s and Don’ts of Sending Your Kid to College, calls out the absurdities of this stage of motherhood with a wry sense of humor and a self-deprecating wink to her own place in the emotional merry-go-round. Sharon is a born and bred New Yorker, living in Southern California. She has raised two young adults (one in college and one recently out) and has an MA in Education. Sharon was the Educational Director of Futurekids and spent several years working as a consultant for companies like Disney Interactive and Disney Online, where she created educational content for kids and guides for parents

Episode 27: Thriving After Cancer with Amor Traceski

Amor Traceski is a two-time cancer survivor, motivational speaker, life coach, and author of The Cancer Patient's Reference Manual: Been There, Done That: Practical Tips and Wisdom From Cancer Survivors For Cancer Patients. When Amor was first diagnosed with breast cancer, she thought that her life was over and fear of death led her decisions. Fortunately, she experienced some 'a-ha moments' that made her realize that she was stronger than she thought. The ovarian cancer battle, that she experienced three years later, was fiercer than she could imagine. Through her struggles, however, she discovered yet more strength and now proudly says that cancer was not able to “beat“ her. She “beat“ cancer!

Nursing Is Hard. Nursing During COVID Is Crushing Part 2

Be a part of giving life back to these burdened saints who have given so much. Click here and show YOUR nurse they are loved and appreciated. 

Episode 26: Pursuing Vitality When Your Body Hurts with Terry Tucker

Terry Tucker is an international podcast guest on the topics of motivation, self-development, and mental health. He has been a college basketball player, a marketing executive, a hospital administrator, a SWAT Team Hostage Negotiator, a high school basketball coach, a business owner, a motivational speaker, and most recently, a cancer warrior. He is the author of Sustainable Excellence, Ten Principles To Leading Your Uncommon and Extraordinary Life. Terry has also been featured in Authority, Global Thrive, and Human Capital Leadership magazines. He and his wife have lived all over the United States and currently reside in Colorado with their Wheaten Terrier, Maggie. Terry started the website, Motivational Check to help others find and lead their uncommon and extraordinary lives.

Nursing Is Hard. Nursing During COVID Is Crushing Part I

Nursing is a gut-wrenching profession. In non-COVID times nurses experience a lot that the rest of us don't. In the next blog I will share how we can be a part of giving back to these wounded saints and help them heal from the trauma they've experienced. 

Episode 25: Pursuing Finding Your Voice with Joyfully Cricket

Joyfully Cricket began her journey of transformation at the age of 20 when she experienced a personal tragedy. She made the choice to allow this tragedy to propel her into a life of spiritual and personal growth, to make meaning of the loss. Through her grieving, Cricket used songwriting as a way to process her pain. After 15 years of self-healing, using her songwriting and spiritual tools, Cricket started to channel her transformation into her songs and began writing and performing inspirational folk music. Her new style of music carried themes of joy, life purpose, manifestation, and transformation. This new writing style and mission to uplift and inspire people with her music led to her becoming a Life Coach in 2018. Cricket now blends the gift of her music with her passion for personal and spiritual growth as a Spiritual Life Coach, by helping her clients transform their lives and live their Joyful Purpose.

Nurses Are Rock Stars

In the best of times, nurses are the overworked, under-appreciated backbone of our healthcare system. When I have been in the hospital as a patient, a family member, a pastor, or a friend nurses kept the ball rolling. RNs, LPNs, CNAs - we would be hopeless without their contributions. And when a pandemic comes...  they show their commitment and dedication for caring for us in heroic ways.

Episode 24: Pursuing Mental Health with Jonny McCoy

In October 2009, I witnessed a suicide while being unlawfully detained in a jail cell in Columbia, S.C. Although my case garnered national attention and I won the lawsuit against my wrongdoers, my mental health plummeted. As a practicing attorney, I constantly feared that my peers and the State Bar Association would discover that I had become heavily dependent on Xanax, which was prescribed for my unrelenting PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Nightmares, panic attacks, and despair nearly ended my life — and afraid of the stigma, I attempted suicide before I ever told anyone that I needed help.

Bonus Episode: Jonny McCoy's Story (Accompanies Episode 24)

My time in the treatment facility taught me that connecting with others who are suffering is when the real healing begins. I learned that when you connect with someone who truly understands, you feel safe. Within this safe space, I was able to be honest, accepting, humble, open, and vulnerable — the things I needed to be to start my healing journey. I created WhiteFlag for others to find that connection, too. I want you to find the right people who can hear what you’re not able to say. No matter what day or time, someone will always be there. A person — unpaid and untrained — that you would meet in any support group. Welcome to the WhiteFlag movement.

Episode #23: Pursuing Calm When You Feel Anxiety

Jenna has been a therapist specializing in OCD and anxiety + related conditions since 2008. She's always been an anxious child and adult but knew from an early age that challenging herself was better than giving in to fear. She works specifically on teaching people Exposure and Response Prevention, the gold standard treatment for OCD and anxiety, and she's passionate about helping everyone learn the value of doing hard things for their mental health.

What Is Guilt And How Does It Affect Us?

Feeling guilt is a heavy burden. Walking through life with the weight of the world on your shoulders is no way to live. Feeling guilty causes people to operate out of shame or undue obligation. Guilt-based actions are not always genuine and deplete people of their confidence and right standing. If you are operating under the weight of guilt, you may not be doing things because you want to. You may also be suffering needlessly, and resolution may be the only thing standing in your way.

Episode 22: Pursuing Peace While Parenting (or any other time)

Mariel is sharing her story of bouncing back from depression, raising challenging teenagers as a single mom, and how it forced her to do life differently. She has learned some unique skills that can be very helpful in helping anyone, especially parents deal with anxiety and stress.

What Is Emotional Wellness?

Emotional wellness plays a significant role in our lives. It provides us with a sense of self-empathy and allows us to have an awareness of feelings. This awareness of feelings extends not only to others in our lives, but it starts with self-appreciation. Emotional well-being can serve as a boost to our self-esteem and enables us to be resilient. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), well-being is a vital component of mental health. Emotional wellness motivates us to feel happy, take an interest in life, and gives us an extraordinary sense of satisfaction (NIH, 2015). We are productive, and we are positive beings.

Episode 21: Pursuing Your Story with Perry Power

Perry Power is a storyteller, author, coach, and charity co-founder. Ranking up 2.3M likes and 125k followers on TikTok, Perry's message of helping sexually abused survivors break their silence speaks to the hearts of many all over the world. His activism work, coaching, and storytelling have been featured in The Sun, MTV, Sky, and TEDx.

Why Compassion Is Important

Compassion boosts your health and well-being. There are many benefits to taking on being compassionate both for yourself and, equally as important, for others.

Episode 20: Pursuing Healthier Habits with Jason Harwood

Jason Harwood has worked with hundreds of small businesses around the world. His input on happier habits has helped many achieve not only a higher level of productivity but a greater sense of happiness in their lives. With his wife, Brooke, Jason lives in Idaho with their 7 children. It is the habits of happiness that he will share today that keep him sane and as cheerful as possible through it all.

Small Steps Lead To Big Wins

The hero you need in your life stares back at you in the mirror every day. You have it in you to be the hero you need in your life and to build the life you want and love. I'm going to be straight with you - it's not easy work. It's simple, but it isn't easy. It requires you take a step each day. Many of the steps you take will be shaky, but they will lead you to a life you want to wake up and jump into each day. 

Episode 19: Pursuing a LEGACY with Mark Smith

“Curator of a Bigger Vision Within,” Mark Smith specializes in speaking from his personal experience of trials and tribulations in life. His desire to chronicle CHOICES and share the “journey” of his life, resonates with everyone at our core personally and professionally. With his podcast “The Process,” he outlines and breaks down SITUATIONS we all go through, and offers insight on methods to weather the storms in life. Known for his clever use of acronyms within his messages, Smith gives listeners a way to remember key points as we GROW FORWARD. Mark’s vision statement of “Your Why is Greater Than Your Situation Which is Part of Your PROCESS,” gives us the perspective that we are always GROWING.

You Are a Gift

You are remarkable and have gifts that make you stand out among everyone else. Though there may be other people who do what you do or have a similar gifting, no one can do things the way you do them. This alone makes you valuable to others. Sharing your gifts and giving back is a wonderful way to leave your mark on the world, and to glorify God. 

Episode 18: Pursuing Health When It Seems Too Hard with David Hernandez

David Hernandez is passionate, inspiring, and motivated. He believes that each of us was designed to live a life of purpose. He truly cares about people and wants them to get results, so that they can live the life they want to live. David’s mission is to help people learn HOW to live a healthy, fun, engaging life, without resorting to diets, emotional eating, restrictive meal plans, or depriving themselves of the foods they love.

The Difference 2 Weeks Can Make

There have been other times in my life when two weeks have made a world of difference. After delivering my son, I wondered how my body could ever recover. After a knee surgery, the same... Two weeks make a huge difference! When I went to Basic Training down in Ft. Jackson, South Carolina and Advanced Individual Training in Ft. Rucker, Alabama, the first days in those trainings were eye-opening to put it mildly. But after two weeks, there was a level of confidence, an understanding of rhythm, and a knowledge that this little engine would make it up that hill.

Behind the Scenes

Still learning as I go! Note to self - be sure to block out my calendar when I plan to be out of town. I send out a link to my calendar for folks to schedule a time that works for them. Any appointments I have in my calendar will be shown as unavailable.  I hadn’t done this for our vacation and someone scheduled their podcast interview while I was going to be gone. I didn’t want to reschedule, so I packed the mic and “soundproofed” my space. I’m more diligent...

Ash Wednesday-Why I Take Ashes

Therefore, I will receive ashes this Wednesday. And I will give thanks for this life, this very precious life. And I will give thanks to God, who alone can love so many that I don’t want to. And I will confess this and many other shortcomings. And I will leave knowing that I am loved into redemption and my life, my very precious life, will be more deeply rooted and grounded in something - in SOMEONE - that will transcend all that I now see and know and understand.

President's Day Edition

These are a few of the qualities found in effective leaders. It's important for anyone in a leadership position to remember the responsibilities s/he bears and to honestly evaluate one's effectiveness. How are you articulating your vision to others? Are you a clear and effective communicator? Do you inspire others to grow beyond their own expectations? Are you grounded spiritually and emotionally so that you can lead effectively? Good leaders have coaches to help them in their growth and development. And good coaches have coaches, too. I can help you. At Light Life and Love Ministries, we have the tools to help you understand and build upon your strengths. Give us a call! 

5 Exercises To Build Faithful Habits

We aspire to build a life that reflects our faith. We want to be like the 'spiritual giants' that inspire us. But, all too often, we find it difficult to to commit to the spiritual disciplines we set for ourselves. This is frustrating. Here are 5 strategies that will help you find what works for you and incorporate them into your routines. After you find how you connect best with God, and how you naturally pray, things will begin to fall into place. Once you uncover these tendencies within yourself, they will become as natural as breathing. Soon, you will have a rich and nourishing spiritual life! If you would like help in discovering your spiritual personality, click here and take the quiz.

Self-Belief: 7 Tips To Get Your Mind On Your Side

Self-belief isn’t about becoming arrogant or turning a blind-eye to one’s flaws. The belief you have in yourself needs to be focused on what you wish to become. You can have weaknesses. Everyone does. But there is value in being relaxed about your weaknesses and working to strengthen them. A strong belief in yourself is a sure ticket to reaching great success. Build your self-belief and seemingly impossible tasks can become routine.

Successful People Deal With Adversity

Did you know that successful people deal with adversity? It’s true. If you read the stories or profiles of most successful people, you will be surprised at just how adverse their situations were. They often tell the stories for others to learn and use to overcome adversity.

I broke Up With an Old Version Of Myself

Gloria Gaynor was referencing an old flame when she coined these words. To me, they represent a version of myself I broke up with a long time ago. A version of myself that wanted others to solve my problems, to take care of me, to be responsible for my success. I finally learned that that version of myself didn’t love me nor did it want success for me – it wanted company. It was the misery within me, all that was afraid, not enough, less than, and it was terrified to suffer alone. That misery begged for my company and was clever in keeping me close. The best decision I made was to break up with that person. 

How Our Thoughts Affect Our Experience

The food we put into our bodies is critical to the function of our bodies. In the same manner, what we allow into our thoughts is critical to the function of our minds. Neurologists are beginning to understand how our brains clean up after themselves. What they’ve learned is that glial cells, cells that hold our brains together, also take out the garbage and clean up while we sleep.

4 Reasons People Leave Church

Unfortunately, sometimes the church casts out the misfits, leaving them to find their own Island For Misfits. In this new year, that's what I'm seeking to do: create a safe space for misfits to explore and discover the love God has for them. Especially for them.     I've always believed that God loves ALL the people and that church was a place for ALL the people. Life tries to say that church is for those who have their "stuff" together and live a Godly life. Can't it be both? Is that not the message of redemption? We are ridiculously loved and valued by God! ALL of us - just as we are. My mission in this next year is to make sure people know how much God loves them.

3 Steps To Find Peace In the Midst Of Grief

Finding peace in the midst of grief will be difficult at the beginning, and there are really no rules for how long you should take to heal. However, remember that there’s a season for everything. Your feelings of hurt and pain will evolve over time. They will always be with you, but will not always feel suffocating. As you practice these strategies and begin to heal, you’ll be able to grow and evolve with your grief so you can find peace and experience joy again.


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Hello Friends!

Hi, my name is Melissa Ebken, and I'm so glad you found your way here. 

I am at home in the difficult spaces of peoples’ lives, willing to listen and to support those who work to grow themselves. I am a trained coach and have consulted with churches in conflict. Not your stereotypical minister, I embrace the Gospel with joy and laughter as I seek to help those around me grow in faith and understanding, always striving to leave people better than they came. An agent of wholeness, I create a safe space for people, especially those who have been marginalized, where they can understand how ridiculously loved and valued they are by God/Higher Power/Spirit, and to experience the difference that makes in life. 

I started the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast to share the stories of people who have faced life's most difficult challenges, to inspire you to lean into and overcome your own. It's helpful to know that you're not alone in your struggles and to see how others have navigated similar circumstances. You can listen to it here.

Here's what I can do for and with you.


  • Coaching - this is a one-time or ongoing supportive relationship focused on you and your goals and hopes for the future




  • Spirit Strong Courses
  • Forgiveness Courses and Challenges
  • Free Resources for Spiritual Growth

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