Woah

You ever think you’re in one place mentally/emotionally and then realize, “woah, I’ve got some serious work to do!?” You’re walking around feeling all healed from some wounding or confident from some childhood abuse only to be confronted with a new level of depth and shifting that needs to happen.

Welp, that’s me right now.

I’ve mentioned it before so if you’ve been keeping up, you would know that I have a lot of past hurts related to self worth and body image. You may also know that I’m in a way better space with those issues now. In fact, I’m in the healthiest mindset I’ve ever been in concerning my appearance and weight and fitness level.

So why the heck do I find myself crying to my counselor, trying to work through some issues I thought were other people’s fault and I realize, “nope, it’s me!” I’ve been annoyed and judgmental only to see that my own insecurities and issues are the true source of my sadness.

Let me break this down more clearly cause I see I’m kinda speaking in code:

When I gave birth to my son, I was 320lbs. I ate everything I wanted with no discipline or regard for health. If I wanted a candy bar, I would eat 10. I ate fast food daily. I had no sense of fitness. I didn’t workout. I laid around and did basically nothing. I was in a relationship with someone who also did nothing. He played video games all hours of the day and night. He smoked pot and ate a diet of junk food and alcohol. Together, we were a really great pair of unhealthy people.

When our relationship ended, I began a path to wellness. Some of my motivations weren’t the greatest. Some of my methods weren’t the wisest but all in all, I was moving in a better physical direction.

Fast forward to January 2018. I was maxing out all my lifts at the gym. I was running and skating and rowing at paces I’d never seen before. I felt great. I was in the best physical shape I’d been in maybe ever. I had a good handle on my eating, tracking all my macros daily and being “good.”

My husband however, has less of an interest in working out and isn’t overly concerned with his eating habits. He’s honestly a fairly typical American. Some days he is more motivated and other times, not so much.

Lately, I’ve found myself annoyed a lot. I am constantly trying to not be mean or judgmental but my attempts fail. I know I want to be a kind and supportive wife but what ends up happening is just the opposite. My intentions are good but somehow, my actions are less than good. They are at times, downright awful. And I know I don’t like the way I’m feeling or behaving, yet I am unsure how to fix this situation. I keep thinking if he would just workout and eat differently, then I could feel differently.

Then comes the WOAH….

This is about me. This is because I see some parts of myself in him and it terrifies me. I want to believe that I’m so different and separated so far from that part of me that I become a mean girl. A conditionally loving wife. A borderline passive abusive human. I am all the people who made me feel less than growing up. I am the parts of my father that influenced my eating disorders. I am the words from my brother than caused years of pain and self hate. I am the very thing I have worked so hard to overcome. The change that’s missing is within my heart and it has to begin with grace and a deeper sense of love for myself.

Woah. Woah. Woah.

I spent a lot of yesterday crying. Full of shame. Sadness. Regret. How did this happen? Why would I treat this person whom I love so deeply in a way that doesn’t reflect adoration and unconditional love? And how was I somehow redeemed and accepting of some of the ugliest parts of my past, yet still hiding from this part?

Man, life is weird.

I know none of this current revelation negates my past growth. I do love and accept myself a million times more than I used to. I do not let the scale dictate my joy or value. And I do still believe that fitness and self care and health are important for myself and my husband. But my delivery and my heart in this matter are due for an overhaul. It feels somewhat paralyzing. How do I genuinely behave in a way that is supportive when I don’t have that within me right now? How can I be the person I aspire to be for him when I am struggling to be it for myself (and just now am recognizing it?)

Relationships are hard. Especially the one we have with ourselves. Growth is a never ending journey. Intimacy with ourselves is a continued process. What I love about this struggle though, is the surfacing of my thinking will only make me a better human and wife. This feels hard and sad and is unknown territory but I am walking into it confident of an extraordinary outcome. And I firmly believe that my marriage and life will only become stronger and become elevated higher as this plays out.

Praying for everyone who struggles with deeper layers of unconditional love. You are not alone. Keep peeling back the layers. Continue to tear down those walls. Keep becoming more and more intentional and dealing with the tough stuff. It’s always worth it and as you learn to love every tiny aspect of your being, you will surely be able to love everyone else better.

It’s been a while

I haven’t really posted in while. I’ve had a lot of things that have come up and wanted to share. I guess some thoughts in my mind about the value of my words kept me from writing anything.

Lately there have been two main themes that keep reoccurring in my life.

One: God ALWAYS fulfills his promises

Two: I can do ANYTHING with him and I can do NOTHING without him.

These two ideas have shown up consistently in Bible studies and devotionals and my reading and sermons. I think it’s extremely relevant to my whole life but it’s in the forefront of my mind for our life in the last year for sure. I think about all that my family has endured since November 25, 2017. I go back to all the big things that happened; the car driving through the house, my husband’s grandfather passing away, living at my husband’s grandma’s house and having the basement flood, moving our home, moving my business location and culminating with me breaking my ankle on March 5 of 2018.

And in all those large moments, God showed up, and made promises, and He fulfilled them all. But there’s all these small things that nobody knows about that He has also shown up for. My tire totally blew out while driving on the highway on our way home from Wyoming. We were going almost 70 miles an hour, hit a bump and within seconds, my tire was completely deflated. It was so hot and we don’t have AAA (well, we do now but didn’t back then). How is it that we were one exit from someone who could fix the tire and it cost less than $20. And not for one second was I worried or stressed.

I think about someone trying to get into the house when my son Matthew was home alone and how he was protected. How this crazy person who was apparently on drugs or drunk was banging on the door and threatening to break in yet Matthew stayed safe.

Honestly, every day is filled with frustration, disappointment, financial concern. And every day is an opportunity to freak out or remain calm. Every day is a chance to step aside and let God do what only He can do or try to take over and make a potential mess.

Most of my life has been spent in that really messy space. Let me restate that: most of my life has been spent in the dirtiest, lowest, most humiliating and disgusting spaces. My attempts to find love typically were full of abuse and unhealthy self sacrifice. My pursuit of joy resulted in years of drug use. My desires to fit in caused me to do and be a human who was deceitful and lost. I made tornado size messes and wondered where they came from. I was full an anxiety and fear and attempted to control every aspect of my surroundings while simultaneously being completely and utterly out of control.

Sometimes, it’s easy to believe that success comes from within. From some space of gumption. Some deep drive that we muster on our own. That our “luck” is not supernatural.

I remember laying in the emergency room with my broken ankle and God clearly told me that in this experience, my husband would be elevated to a stronger and more confident husband and leader of our household and photographer. If we take our life back three years prior, when my husband broke his ankle, I remember God clearly telling me that this was now the time for my husband to pursue his dreams. And I have seen all those things come true. Our life has changed in all the best ways because of these circumstances. We have become different people. Our marriage has strengthened. Our family has grown closer.

I have been reflecting on the confidence that God instilled in me about the outcome of those situations. How I was immediately able to speak truth over my healing and how I was able to see that be fulfilled. How our tangible lives have been blessed but also how our faith and hope has increased. We are not people who read bibles and attend church and pray but feel empty inside. We have become a family who walks in the truth of our destiny. We believe wholeheartedly in the goodness of our Heavenly Father because we know Him so intimately.

I watched a sermon last night from Elevation Church. It was titled “Everything Must Go.” It was about how stores have sales and get rid of things that are old and not profitable anymore so they can make room for new things that are better, more desirable and of course, profitable. It was equating that to life and how as we grow and change, the old things have to go and new things need space. I was looking back at all the things that haven’t been profitable in my life. How I created space and gave energy to things that had no real value or had value for a moment and then it was gone. I see clearly that my husband breaking his ankle and me breaking mine and the car driving to the house and all these things big and small, how they created space and shifted things towards a better place, A more emotionally profitable place, and more lifelong satisfying space. A space that has greater impact.

And this testimony has become a voice of truth in other peoples lives. I can take what God has shown me and speak that over someone else’s tough situation and because of my beliefs and my words, maybe someone will have a small amount of belief in their own situation. I believe God is using our family and these tragic experiences to show just how good He is. How His reassurance and love can create people full of grace and expectant for goodness even in the face of scary things. How our previously hardened hearts are soft and patient in the struggles. How we can walk into a space and regardless of what it looks like, we can know that what we see is not reality. Gods truth is the only reality we need and rely on.

And I believe that if that is true for us, it is surely available to everyone else. That our situation is not unique. We are not hand picked for this growth or love. I encourage anyone reading this believe, even in the smallest capacity, that there hard time is for good. That the struggle is only going to make them stronger get and is a valuable process or renewing and restoration. And if you do not believe in God, that’s ok, because He is still there, rooting for you and rearranging things to have the best outcome.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Living for the first time

I’ve had a bit over a week to reflect on my time in Daytona Beach and I’ve come to one major conclusion: I needed this more than I realized.

In preparation for a week long camp with 86 high schoolers (actually 5500 high schoolers nationwide) I thought of all the things I was worried about. I felt nervous to have to share a space with teenagers. I was concerned how I would handle the lack of sleep. I had literally no interest in an 18 hour bus ride EACH WAY…

I made a list and gathered all my required snacks, packed my GoPro ready to capture all the amazing moments and got my mind ready for hearts to shift.

I soon came to see that my life was also going to change.

The first night was full of worship and a moving message from Loui Giglio. We quickly found our way out of our seats and onto the floor, jumping up and down, singing at the top of our lungs. Our eyes began to swell and tears started pouring down. I took a moment to look around, to breathe in the atmosphere. I saw a room full of teenagers who were falling deeply in love with Jesus. I felt a sense of overwhelming gratitude that God had put me in this place, honored me with this responsibility. As the evening ended, all my lack of sleep was overcome by excitement and joy.

I promptly awoke at 6am without an alarm set. In that moment, I wanted so badly to go back to sleep. I hadn’t slept but five hours and I was coming off of a painfully long bus ride. Little did I know that I had been awakened for a specific reason. I found my way quietly out of the room, down the elevator and onto the beach. I watched the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean and began to cry. In the silence of the morning, I was surrounded by students journaling and praying. There were groups of teenagers without their leaders or adults, who woke up early to praise God and pray over each other. Students gathered with bibles and journals and sat alone, feet in the sand, and just existed in His presence. I imagine that everyone on that beach shared the same emotions I was feeling; indebtedness, awe, delight. I found myself full of expectation for our future, hope for a generation many say are too entitled, selfish, unfocused, lazy etc.

And then came the evening session…. our group had found seats three rows back from the stage. The energy was electric, on fire, lit… all the words you can imagine to describe a volcano about to explode, a rocket about to lift off. The music was blaring, 5500 students were belting out all the emotion and heart ache and praise they could muster. Lights were flashing, we all were jumping up and down, hands raised, completely undone, no restraints, unaware of potential judgements, fully immersed in the moment.

And I looked up. I paused for a minute to breathe it all in and I realized that I was there just as much for myself as I was for my students. I was experiencing life change, freedom, bliss, youth. I wasn’t getting back something I lost. I wasn’t reliving something from my younger years.

I WAS LIVING THIS WAY FOR THE FIRST TIME.

This moment, the laughter, the abandonment, the friendships were all things I had never experienced, not in this way. I was enjoying parts of life and myself that I thought were long gone missed opportunities.

Everyone has them, things they didn’t get growing up. Maybe your parents got a divorce or they traveled too much. Possibly a father who was overly harsh or a mother who critiques everything. A school mate who bullied you or a horribly embarrassing, unforgettable moment that scarred you for life. All situations that can make a person question themselves or create marks on a soul.

Whatever it is, that thing can create a longing for resolution, a desire to feel complete, loved, valued. Some people work their whole life to prove worth to their parents. We enter into relationships hoping to heal some hurt from a past relationship. We can literally choose to live a past life forever.

I had long ago accepted that some of the missed emotions and experiences were just that: lost. I am an adult. If I feel like my parents didn’t love me enough, I wasn’t going to revert back to being five and somehow obtain that love. I have a child of my own and it’s my turn to be the parent. The freedom of my youth that I felt I was missing was never going to be mine. I had found freedom as an adult but I had forced myself to forget any longings from my childhood.

And then camp happened. And I saw the things I had never felt be given to me. Moments I didn’t know I could ever have were mine, and not just hints of them BUT COMPLETE FULLNESS! I was a 38 year old child, experiencing the freedom of youth and it was so sweet. And in the following days, that healing grew greater, the insecurity and old messages became faint and my load became lighter.

I don’t think I will ever love the long bus ride but man, I can’t wait for next year!

What am I even doing?

Tonight I leave for a week long adventure to Daytona Beach. I will embark on an 18ish hour charter bus ride with roughly 85 high school students and 14 or so other leaders. I will forego sleep and alone time and comforts and routine. I will miss out on making money as I can’t work all week. I will be uncomfortable and stretched. Daytona Beach is slated to be hot and sunny and possibly have some thunderstorms which means most likely high humidity. I’m nervous because of my recent reaction to the sun. Will I break out in a rash? Will I be able to apply enough sunscreen to avoid burning myself? I will miss my bed and my husband and my dog. I won’t be able to make my daily frozen protein shake that’s like a coffee milkshake treat. I may not get to workout because no sleep and a pre determined schedule. I mean, really, why am I doing this???

I actually paid to attend this camp. I paid to not make money and to give up my life for a week. I wholeheartedly agreed to this journey. And I will do this four more times, every summer for the next four years.

Three years ago, I was asked to help lead sixth grade girls in my church’s youth program Boom. I felt honored and agreed. I wanted to give back. My son was involved in the youth program and I felt grateful for how it had impacted his life. In our church, you begin leading in sixth grade and as long as you’re willing, you stay with your group every year until they graduate (yes, seven potential years of youth group leadership)! And we’re not talking once a week events. This is daily texts, coffee dates, sleepovers (I’m almost 40 and sleepovers even with adults aren’t really my thing). This means investing money, time, emotion into the lives of teens who are not your own. This includes getting covered in cornstarch during a color war or allowing ice cream to be smeared all over your face during the annual biggest ice cream sundae event. This means being silly, eating baby food, dancing and playing games.

So again, why would I do this? I’m not a naturally selfless person. I’m fairly controlling and definitely an introvert. I get anxious when I anticipate large group settings. While I’m a well spoken person, I dislike all eyes on me. I have great leadership abilities but prefer solo projects.

So seriously, why would anyone do this????

I do this because I know that it matters. It’s important to give to others. My life is amazing even in the darkest moments. I’ve always been taken care of even when my bills aren’t paid and my outlook seems grim.

I show up because my girls matter. They are unique and amazing and beautiful humans and I have grown to love them with all my heart. They are talented and fun and intelligent and kind and I am honored they let me be a part of their life.

I sacrifice of myself because I know that I’m not the only person in this world and caring only about my comforts not only destroys my insides but the world around me suffers greatly.

I stay with my girls because I have watched my sons leaders care for him selflessly. I see how much he looks up to them, how they are some of his greatest friends and how he relies on them when he needs guidance. I have watched them give when it’s hard, drive him around, help him pay for things, mentor him and love him with all of their being.

But mostly, I commit to them because I serve a Creator who has strategically placed people in my life to love me, to listen to me, to lift me up and to pour into me. I see His hand in my life and want to honor Him with my life. I know that I gain so much more by giving than I ever will with the pursuit of personal increase.

And let’s just remove God from the equation for a moment because not everyone who reads this believes He even exists.

All of the reasons to serve or sacrifice are valid regardless of your belief in Jesus. Being a giving human matters. Putting yourself aside for a moment (or a week) is a good thing. Trying to understand where a teenager is coming from is important. They are our future you know? Telling them how much they matter, showing them that their voice deserves to be heard, that’s real. Walking beside them when they struggle and cheering them on through their greatness, it’s invaluable.

So tonight I will load myself on a bus and attempt to sleep (maybe). I will shift my mindset to that of a freshman in high school. I will be as goofy or vulnerable as my girls need. And I am certain I will come home tired but full of joy. I will long for my routine but miss the trip. I will grow and surely cry and create memories with my girls that will hopefully impact us all forever.

In a world full of clearly hurting people, where kids shoot up their school and the suicide rate is over 100 people per day, doesn’t it seem to just make sense to take time to be kind to someone?