When all you see, Is who you don’t wanna be

If I’m honest, I balled my eyes out watching this. Buckets.

 

I did’t expect to be knees deep in tears on a sunday morning…

Sure I’m hormonal but that’s hardly the point.

The reality is, I can fake it ’till I make it and I’ve been doing it since I was a child.

 

LexmarkAIOScan50LexmarkAIOScan68 IMG_1109 UntitledLexmarkAIOScan78 LexmarkAIOScan81 IMG_1759

In everything from my work, my dreams, my hobbies, my fears, to my battles and demons and the ugly in-between.

I can lie to the person in the mirror, when I hate everything it reflects. I speak truth over it – try and counter it with the mind- but does my heart know it to be true? No.

It doubts it.

 

Days will come when you don’t have the strength
And all you hear is you’re not worth anything
Wondering if you ever could be loved

Before you ever took a breath
Long before the world began
Of all the wonders He possessed
There was one more precious
Of all the earth and skies above
You’re the one He madly loves
Enough to die

You’re beautiful
In His eyes

-Beautiful | Mercy Me

 

More than how I demand perfection from myself,  I wage war with everyone else’s idea of perfect. Trying to be and please everyone but my Father, first.

Every under eye circle, every pimple, every wrinkle, every bloated tummy, every less than awesome outfit…. they taunt me.

Sure when I’m wrapped up pretty and “ready” for the day, I feel great and faking it comes easy. It’s the paint;  it masks my insecurity – how I’m truly feeling deep down inside.

Like it’s all a sham. It’s all a lie.

Because underneath, I hate what I see. When I unmask from the charade I pick myself apart and I will it to be different.

IMG_0711.JPG IMG_0978.JPGphoto4 IMG_1134
 

I skald uniqueness, rather than treasure my sculptor’s signature on me.

I hide my flaws of character, rather than wear my story with pride.

I compete with every impossibility, rather than love where I’ve been blessed.

 

photo3photo1DSC_0017 photo2

 

And yet I know that I am made in his image. Every curve, every freckle, intentional and with purpose.

 

When I cry in despair, He weeps from my rejection.

When I damn my imperfections, he makes beauty from my ashes.

When I hide in self hate torment, he dances over me in heaven.

 

Lord, let me see me from your eyes. Remind me who I am.

 

In the mirror when all I see Is who I don’t wanna be

In the loneliest places when I cant remember what grace is

When I cant receive Your love afraid I’ll never be enough

If I’m Your beloved can You help me believe it

I’m the one You love and That will be enough.

-Remind me who I am | Jason Gray

 

 

 

She wore no Shame

As she frolicked through the woods with her two older siblings, fighting to keep up, she wore no shame.

DSC_0164DSC_0240 DSC_0239 DSC_0183DSC_0242

As she hiked up the trail in her big bowed headband and her pink tutu, she wore no shame.

DSC_0232 DSC_0234DSC_0218

As she tried new adventures, fell and got back up again, she wore no shame.

DSC_0174DSC_0175DSC_0176DSC_0186

As she wore her crown of femininity, she knew she was special, loved and perfectly lovely to her daddy.

DSC_0098DSC_0099DSC_0100DSC_0101DSC_0104

As the played in the water, facing fears and getting tossed back by the waves, she wore no shame.

As she wiggled her little hiney, prancing in her swimsuit, she wore no shame.

DSC_0258DSC_0259

As she cried for her daddy to come and comfort her in her sorrow, she wore no shame.

“Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child, will never enter into it.” Mark 10:16

As I sat and watched her, I was mesmerized by intriqgue. When is it that we loose all sense of wonder…. in ourselves. In life. In everyone around us.

When is it that we start apologizing for who we are and hiding ourselves from the world?…. our bodies, our mistakes, our weaknesses, our dreams, our fears, our insecurities, our failures.

When is that we allow the lie of shame to cloak us from our innocence and steal the whimsy from our inner child. Are we not, even as adults, made in his image, forever a child in the eyes of our father and eternally in need of a saviour?

DSC_0187DSC_0255 DSC_0169

With every new gift of whimsy my eyes bore witness to, I called out to my Father.

“Lord, Help me to be like this here wee one. Confident and free to simply be. Whole, innocent and joyful, full of whimsy and excitement. Let me run to you with reckless abondon, even in my pride and childish weakness. Let me trust you with my life, with my purpose and my heart. Amen”

Perfection is Possible

For years, I chased perfection. And to be honest, I still struggle.

While in my mind, I know better than to think perfection is king, [rather than the thief of everything] in my actions, I still strive….

  • to earn my salvation
  • to make it in this world
  • to achieve my dreams, success and influence
  • to be accepted and liked by others
  • to be loved, even by God

If I look closely at what I’m chasing, I see clearly that what my head knows, my heart still doubts most days.

But, as I’ve come to know his grace and mercy, my pursuit of perfection has slowed. Instead I chase after him, his heart, his love and his relationship. To know him, grow in him and be like him.

DSC_0319 DSC_0104 DSC_0193

As I see his face more clearly, I see my sin in right alignment.  The word “perfection” became tainted. I despised it. It was my frienemy now, arch nemesis.

Then I read it…

Be perfect therefor, as your Heavenly Father is perfect. Matt 5:48

For months I struggled with it. How can I possibly be perfect as God, without achieving perfection?

In divine fashion and “perfect” timing, he opened my eyes and heart to see.

Perfection, my child is IN ME. Through ME, it is possible. In fact, it’s advisable and a worthy pursuit, it just looks different than you think!

DSC_0192DSC_0641

The Three Stages of Perfection

1. Perfect Relationship

We are perfect because of our eternal relationship with Jesus Christ. When we become God’s children, we are washed clean and declared “not guilty.”  He now considers us Holy, blameless and righteous because of his Son’s sacrifice on our behalf.

This perfect relationship, despite how badly we screw up (and we will, daily) is unchangeable and gurantees that we will one day be made completely perfect.

In Christ you have been brought to fullness. ~ Colossians 2:10

It’s not a contract, but a covenant that God has made with us!

 

2. Perfect Progress

As we grow closer in our relationship with Christ, we mature spiritually,  not just in learning from Christ but in learning to obey him.

As we press on, living and serving in love, we progress closer to complete perfection.

It is not however our service that perfects us, rather, as God perfects us, we do good deeds in response to what he’s done for us….  It is an overflow of love in gratitude for Christ.

Unlike the previous, this stage of perfection fluctuates, dependfing on the stage of life we’re in and our daily walk with God.

 

3. Completely Perfect

There will come a day when Christ returns for his bride and will bring us with him to his eternal kingdom. There, we will be glorified and made completely new and perfect.

But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him. Philippians 3:20-21

DSC_0083DSC_0261DSC_0163IMG_3599_2

So while perfection is possible, it is grounded solely in the faith that saves us! There is nothing, not a morsel of good that will earn or achieve us this status. It is only by the blood of Jesus that cloaks us in regal garnments and wipes our shame and guilt right clean.

While on most days it feels like he’s failing me, he promises to carry me through to completion.

 Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:6

So I press on,  standing firm on his promises.

Finding “Your People” and building community

For years I felt alone. Like I didn’t have “my people” or any true friends. Not to mention my roster of female friendships was lacking.

I could never quite put my finger on it, but was quick to say girls were simply judgemental and critical of each other.

It wasn’t until my twenties that God would bring me two fold into the most beautiful of communities and teach me what it takes to allow genuine friendship to blossom.

The key, I soon discovered, was vulnerability.

Like a marriage of it’s own, the bond of friendship is birthed through trial and brokenness.

In laying your ugly on the table, knowing she’ll still love you (and accept you) when the masks are removed.

207411_10150256483283275_1438532_n249466_10150326240043275_6727507_nALPhoto - Kailey - -0040DSC_0084Picture 1

Truthfully, this was hard for me. I had spent my whole life trying to portray an image of having everything in my life, including me, wrapped up pretty and perfect. The last thing I cared for people to see, especially another women, was my weakness. The dark within myself that even I had tried to hide from.

It first took being able to look at myself in the mirror and own the junk I’d brushed beneath the rug and the pain I’d stuffed down deep… out loud and not pretend it wasn’t ugly. Then laying it at the feet of the only true healer, asking for forgiveness and begging that He would make me clean.

‘Cause when we experience grace for ourselves and come to know His mercy in brokeness, we’re able to extend that love and acceptance to others, just as he has done for us.

Slowly, I was able to start embracing my imperfections and living in the truth of my brokeness, without it defining me. And when I saw myself as He saw me, I could go to friends in honestly. I didn’t have to paint a pretty picture in fear of being rejected. I could rise above my circumstance and seek community in my suffering.

And the most beautiful thing happened….

As Marianne Williamson said,
As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Standing on his promises and living in the freedom and forgiveness he gives me- despite how far I have to go or rotten I am on the worst day-  I give others permission to do the same.

DSC_0239DSC_0126 DSC_0200

Permission to believe God even when we doubt him.

…..When we feel pathetically unlovable and beyond hope.

…..When we think we’ve butchered the gospel or strangled the light that was within us.

…..When we think we can’t be Christians because our actions and tongue pierce hearts with hatred.

…..To know that when we seek him we will find him and when we confess, we are forgiven.

…..That we are washed completely clean and that are sins are removed as far as the east is from the west.

…..That because of Christ, not by anything we can or cannot do, we are Holy, blameless and beautiful in the eyes of God. Treasured, celebrared and passionately danced over. .. because of the gift Jesus gave us on the cross.
DSC_0083 DSC_0674DSC_0134 DSC_0192 DSC_0261

 

How can this not move us to worship and dancing?!

How glorious and loving is our Father, slow to anger and quick to forgive. The ultimate and perfect example of love.

So, if you’re sitting there like I once was, longing for community, I dare you to do the impossible which is possible only with God.

Go before him and confess your darkness; The battles and scarlet wounds you’d rather hide.  Receive forgiveness from your Saviour, allowing his love and mercy in. And then live in that freedom.Walk in confidence of his love and share the power of his testimony.

DSC_0161

Praying for you, my friend, that God would bring the right women who can speak into your life, and also women who need you and could use a your friendship.

 

The Good Girl Complex

For years, I hated the word sin.

I cringed at the sound of it, hated the way it looked, despised how often Christians used it and doubted what it meant – or what I thought it meant, anyway.

Like many of us, I truly believed I was a good person. I wasn’t a murderer. I didn’t steal. I believed in God. I wanted to leave the world a better place. I tried to do the right thing. I encouraged and loved others. The list goes on.

But I didn’t truly understand my need for Jesus or why he had to die on a cross for me, personally.

God first began to open my eyes, when in preaching, my Pastor explained the word sin in a way I’d never heard before. He shared that sin is another way of saying “missed the mark” or “falling short of expectations.” He explained that just as children disobey their parents or do things they know they shouldn’t, we do the same to God, ultimately disappointing him.

It hit me. I remembered “the disappointment face” from my mother growing up. I would have rather made her angry than have her disappointed in me! I’d feel guilty immediately and most times, find myself begging for forgiveness. More than when she dawned the angry face, I knew I’d messed up when she would look at me and say, “I’m dissapointed in you.” What she really meant was, I had let her down.

LexmarkAIOScan51100_1830_2LexmarkAIOScan48

Our sin and the manner in which God deals with us is no different. He loves us as our Father! He wants to see us succeed in life, walk boldly in the path he’s set before us, be joyful and ultimately, know we are deeply loved. And whether we like it or not, protest or embrace it, he knows better! His ways are higher.

DSC_0121DSC_0101DSC_0091DSC_0109DSC_0126

I had it all backwards. I had allowed my childhood view of God, as a domineering, scary head in the sky,  to cloud my understanding of sin and my need for repentance. Sin did not make me unworthy of knowing God’s. [He can't help himself from loving us!]  It didn’t lessen me to some filthy disgrace beyond embracing. [By God's grace alone we are accepted, right where we are.] But it does put me in right alignment with God and others!

To often, we compare ourselves to other people.  We think that if we study God’s word longer each morning than Sally, if we pray more eloquently and louder than Barb publicly and we help the homeless every other sunday, than we’re good people. We deceive ourselves into thinking our “works” outweigh our “sin” and so long as we’re doing better than those around us, we’re A-OK.

For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. [Romans 3:23]

None of us is exempt and no sin is weightier than the other. Despite our varieties of sin, we’re all equal. Our sin is all equal. I’m no better than the gentlemen in the recovery house or the women selling herself for money. I’m equal to the business man who forgets he has a family and the teenager who steals cars for kicks.

You will have no other gods, only me.No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them.

No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won’t put up with the irreverent use of his name.

Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.

Honor your father and mother

No murder.

No adultery.

No stealing.

No lies about your neighbor.

No lusting after your neighbor’s house—or wife or servant or maid or ox or donkey. Don’t set your heart on anything that is your neighbor’s. [Exodus 20 MSG | The Ten Commandments]

Despite how “good” of people we are, when we honestly look and measure ourselves against God’s loving and perfect standards, we see that not one of us is better than the other. Because If God see’s ALL sin as bad and will one day judge us according to our misses, then we ALL fall miserably short of his glory and ideal. Even our best is filthy rags.

DSC_0084DSC_0125

And while this reality may seem hopeless, God loved us enough to make a way. He sent a perfect example for us to follow, Jesus;  a man who was fully human, so he could relate and understand the things we go through here on earth, and fully God, showing us how to walk holy and blameless each step of the way.

Then, as the ultimate sacrifice and demonstration of his love for us, he placed the judgement [ramification for misbehaving] of the worlds sin, in it’s entirety- past, present and future, including ours- on his only son Jesus. He hung on a cross in yours and my place, taking the hit for what we’ve done. He died in our place, before we even knew him! He was a stranger to us and still, he took the bullet.

He jumped in front of the bus for you and me!

DSC_0213DSC_0131

You see, the law was not given to condemn us, but simply show us our need for God! ‘Cause when we see our sin for what it is and the weight of what it costs, Jesus’ face becomes more clear. We see our need for him like the light of day and the Crucifixion becomes personal.

Friends, it should bring us to our knees in thanksgiving for what God has done and repentance for the ways in which we’ve hurt him. That’s all confession [saying we’re sorry to God] and repentance [truly meaning it and being determined to turn from it] really is. It’s not a demeaning religious act that we should proudly walk away from. It’s not Gods opportunity to throw mud in our face and shame us for all we’ve done.

He said his burden is easy and his yoke is light. Repentance is the place which we should daily come, humbling ourselves before a loving father and ask forgiveness for what we’ve done. And as we kneel there before him, he bends down to embrace us, hugs us and says “It’s all going to be ok. I forgive you. Don’t give it another thought.”

He removes our guilt as far as the East is from the West.

DSC_0108DSC_0131DSC_0124DSC_0159

Because you see friends, it’s not about what we can do or how good of a person we can prove of ourselves. It’s what’s already been done for us! We need simply to accept this gift.

In Him we are new creations and the old has gone. Our every sin has been forgiven.. and forgotten!

16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. 2 Corinthians 5:17 MSG

DSC_0080 DSC_0193 DSC_0197

It’s time we rise up as a generation and nail the “good girl complex” to the cross!

Clinging to the Grace that Saves

Comparison is the thief of everything.

I know this and yet I spend hours scrolling feeds wishing I was where she was and God would start using me to my fullest potential.

DSC_0202DSC_0117DSC_0020DSC_0114women's small group vancouver

I weigh all the ways I’ve tried against her apparent ones and bang my head asking why….

 

Why he’s given me passions for purpose, yet I can’t seem to find my way with them.

Why I’ve created the same thing that she has, yet mine sits abandoned on my computer for eons.

Why I’ve had the same stirrings as so and so- yet theirs has launched a movement that inspires thousands.

Why everyone seems to be running together, while I sit on the sidelines unnoticed.

Why i still struggle to find “my people” or and a community of fellow professionals.

Why she is friends with her so fast, yet I’ve been following for ages.

Why I can’t align the puzzle pieces of a thousand steps of obedience.

 

Still… I’m wandering in the dessert of waiting. It feels more akin to rushing waters of struggle.

DSC_0135DSC_0138DSC_0144DSC_0148

In my Influence Network small group last night, we talked about success and how we define it as Christian entrepreneurs. Because if we’re honest with ourselves, most days we make it about ourselves and achieving our dreams… The expectations we have for our lives, not necessarily what God has planned for us.

Because success in Christ’s eyes is measured in service and he is more concerned with our hearts condition than our comfort.

He calls us to love as he has and put others before ourselves. Nowhere does his word say we’re called to make a sparkly little life where we have no need to rely on God, fight to make a name for yourself or keep striving till you’re flat on the floor in defeat.

But I’m still dying to my ego. My flesh still wages war and remnants of my pride and a desire for influence still linger. If I’m honest, I’m still trying to make a name for myself. Still trying to please God with all “my good.”

God gives each one of us unlimited resources in Christ to rise above earthbound dreams and live lives that reflect eternity in our hearts. But it’s hard, even heart breaking sometimes.  Whether a man arrives or does not arrive at his own destiny depends on whether or not he finds the Kingdom within and hears the call to wholeness – holiness. He does not have to scramble for a place in the scheme of things. He knows that there is a place which is his and life becomes his vocation.

 

I read it at night in the pages of Honestly, Sheila Walsh‘s dark yet beautiful journey to recovery after being submitted to a pychiatric ward.

DSC_0151DSC_0088DSC_0131

Old habits die hard and yet I face the truth with openness.

The refiners fire, binding the feet that used to run from anything that hurt to a steadfast stillness that abides in him…in defeat.

I raise my white flag of surrender.

Oh Lord, I need you to help me.  Create in me a new heart that wants to be known simply in/by/for your namesake and to rise above the prideful pursuit of earthbound dreams.

Knowing that I am sinful by nature and that no act of willpower or persistence can free me from it, my only hope is him, leaning in to his plans and ways of leading me.

While painful- the stripping away of flesh and daily dying of self- I feel victory in small stirrings – hope, my manna for the moment.

DSC_0115DSC_0131DSC_0275

And so I hold on. I lay out my soiled rags of pride before him, begging to be washed white as snow…

To be changed from the inside out, in ways only he can accomplish. To find purpose and fulfilment by living water alone. My identity stripped of idols, clinging to the grace that saves.

DSC_0167DSC_0172DSC_0213DSC_0193

 

Lord, I’m chasing after you.

 

In the cleft of the rock

“There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.”

What He feels is anything but near. Distance perhaps. Silent even. And if I’m honest with myself, deep down I worry He’s mad at me… left me to think about what I’ve done with a dunce cap on in the corner.

But I don’t know what.. what I’ve done.

It’s simply dark and eerily quiet.

I’ve called out and I’ve cried to Him. I’ve shared my worry, my fear and my frustration. I’ve even vented when I’m hurt and pleaded for heart change and desire to do His will. I’ve asked for wisdom and guidance – clarity for the next step.

But all purpose feels fleeting; all purpose that is, but waiting.

DSC_0098 DSC_0099DSC_0630

As I count my gifts, I scribble gratitude for the fact that I haven’t run. That I haven’t stopped praying, reading His word or counting all the ways He loves me- daily. #367, I counted this.

Because in truth, this baby Christian likes to feel and hear to know.

But if we’re honest with ourselves aren’t we all like that? Rather faith be akin to “seeing is believing” rather than a belief beyond what the eyes can see or the mind can comprehend.

My bible commentary reads, “We cannot comprehend God as He really is apart from Jesus Christ. We can only know Him by what he does and how he acts.”

Both of those present past.

Does. Acts.

Both require waiting.
DSC_0254DSC_0107DSC_0079

“When my Glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand…. until I have passed by.”

Until He acts. Until He does, it’s bound to be dark.

In the nook of a rock, with His hand of protection hedging me in, darkness will surround me. His hand will muffle His voice and keep me from seeing.

In this reality, that same darkness and the quiet now comforts. An act of love, not neglect or anger. 

“Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

And in that moment, light will break forth, His Glory will shine and warm my face from the damp and dew that lingered.

Like the first sun break after the clouds roll away; a glimpse of summer coming, in the teasing spring days….

DSC_0239DSC_0229DSC_0237

I will soon fully see and follow from behind, into the dawn of a new season gloriously full of beauty and riches beyond my winters comprehension.

DSC_0231DSC_0234DSC_0243DSC_0245 DSC_0246

But for now, I will wait, with summers taste on my tongue, trusting my Father [who loves me and knows what's best ahead] to do what only He can do.

To go before me, preparing the way. A way… for me; purposefully planned and orchestrated.

And so I wait.

 

Passage Reference: Exodus 33: 21-23

Putting People First

For years I chased success, striving this way and that to make it in this world.

My identity was my business and everything was an effort to better my brand. I burnt the midnight oil, I took on every opportunity that came my way, I paid way too much money to be in the in crowd. I worked everyday, all day, till my hands were shaking and my back was breaking. And thankfully, it seemed to be working!

My business was growing faster than I anticipated, people sought me for professional advice and media publications were graciously accepting.

By the standards of one on the outside looking in, I was really making it. I had everything I’d ever wanted and I was living my dream. But in reality, something felt wrong- off.

DSC_0154DSC_0211DSC_0095DSC_0081

I wanted desperately to quit everything and can remember on many occasions, telling my husband I wanted to run away. I’d day dream about working at Starbucks -something mindless that I didn’t take home with me or secretly hope that I was somehow pregnant so I could excuse myself from work all together for awhile. I was looking for an excuse, any excuse, to stop running without having to face the elephant in my house.

Achievement was loosing its luster. It wasn’t “it” anymore – the be all and end all of my life. I would’ve gladly traded it in to have my life back; to have date nights with my sweety and weekends with my friends and family again.

DSC_0369 IMG_9986 DSC_0076 DSC_0183

In 2013, I took a long hard look in the mirror and owned the monster I’d created. I took steps that very day to start small and work toward changes that focused on making what matters happen.

I set proper work hours and entire days off and installed an auto responder to notify clients. I set meeting days and office days and stuck to them like my life depended on it. I set business goals that were realisitic, that included the maximum number of clients I would take on and marketing opportunities I would engage in. I stopped attending industry events, instead investing in select connections that were genuine and the support was reciprocated.

And most importantly, I started saying No.  No, no and more no’s, so I could say Yes to so much more.

DSC_0044DSC_0587DSC_0017DSC_0458 DSC_0331 DSC_0637

But it was hard. It felt more akin to 1000 No’s for every 1 yes.

And while I knew what I was doing was right, I questioned myself constantly and feared what people would say. But as with any new habit, time and practice makes perfect- ish!

What followed, was the most beautiful and fulfilling year of my life. My days were filled with more joy than I ever imagine and adventures I had only dreamed of embarking on. My passion was resurfacing, I was falling in love with my life again and my purpose was becoming more clear.

I can admit I sometimes still feel conflicted by these boundaries and shift in priority and focus. Some of the professionals who started with me are now off speaking and running workshops- their businesses have tripled in size and they’ve got “likes” and “followers” to show for it.

But I know that no one can fully invest in lives when they’ve spread themselves so thinly, be it clients, family or friends.

DSC_0968DSC_0292DSC_0128DSC_0310DSC_0187 DSC_0238

With my rhythm of life now, I experience peace, knowing the truest part of me wants to be present, fully living every moment. I want to be all there, where ever I am, involved in what God is doing in the lives of those around me. It may not be glamorous or instagram worthy on most days, but I see more beauty than ever through these eyes. I know joy, lasting and deep; contentment, strong and true.

And here’s the secret: I’m discovering that everyday relationships are more fulfilling than climbing the ladder of achievement.

DSC_0279DSC_0082DSC_0008IMG_9957DSC_0300

Each January, when I look back across the 12 months and recount the ways in which I’m most grateful, without hesitating, I place my family, friends and the moments in between, at the top of my blessings list.

To save her from herself

“She loves food!.” He exclaimed. “We’ve been together for years and I never even realized how much she loves to eat. She’s got massive will power though and she’s so disciplined.”

He spoke with such amazement, almost proud.

“How so,” I ask.

My mind starts whirling. Flashes of my war with food start racing and quietly I will his next words to be anything but my minds.

“Well for example, she loves this dish I make. So much that she forbid me to ever make it again. It’s so good!”

He goes on to list every delicious morsel of ooey, gooey goodness, laden with heaps of buttery delight.

DSC_0312

DSC_0722

DSC_0085

DSC_0121

DSC_0171

“When I made it the first time, she ate the whole casserole dish! Not in one serving, but throughout that night. She loved it!”

I proceed to ask more questions, each answer pointing to the truth I so desperately want to banish…

…from her life. From my life. From the lives of every 1 out of 3 women who battle an eating disorder, and live in a war zone each and everyday.

The hardest part? This battle ground you can’t escape. Your body. Your mind. Your very skin.

They, me, us. Living each and every day in an invisible hallocaust, begging silently for someone to save us from ourselves.

I took the deepest breath I could and silently whispered a prayer. I would need the Holy Spirit to speak through me and prepare his heart for what I was about to share.

I told him my story; every aching and painful reality. The voices. The lies. The battle. The hatred and the agony. All directed at myself, the food that nourishes me and the body I have lived in slavery to.

DSC_0131

“That’s not will power,” I explained, “That’s obsession; a coping mechanism she’s trained herself to do in defense. It’s how she’ll win the battle for today. Tomorrows another story.

You see, the lies, they never stop; We’re not good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough. And if we are that minute, we won’t be fine for long. Eat just one bite of the wrong thing, miss one day of working out and we’re well on our way to being a heffer tomorrow. We’ll never be good enough or worthy of being loved unless we’re perfect.  At least thats what we subconsciously tell ourselves, without even realizing it. We even believe the lies to be our own thoughts.

That eating of the whole casserole? That’s not love. It’s hatred. It the forbidden fruit she’s just tasted. And the lies they get louder with every bite. But she’s already screwed up and ate it. She knows she’s “never allowed to eat this or do that again.” But she’s already fallen off the bandwagon, she mind as well make it good one- an epic fail! So She’ll eat the whole thing

When it’s done, guilt and shame will follow her; a distended gut, her dunce cap of punishment. Mirrors will taunt and mimic her stupidity and her mind will whistle the tune of “ugly, fat, not good enough.” … for hours, for days, for weeks.. however long it takes her to “be in control again and appease the image in the mirror.

So, she’ll try harder. She won’t let it happen again. From the binge, comes the purge cycle, be it a physical purge, or simply an elimination of anything ” not healthy.” And working out will be her pennence, while she tricks herself into thinking she’s “got this.”

You see foods the strongest enemy and ourselves the tattling five year old. And exercise? Well it’s the best friend who’s really a frienemy, and disguises her evil motives.

It’s a battle she’ll never win, only succumb to more and more. Slowly but surely, she’ll kill every part of hope, every like she once had in herself, every food and movement that once brought her joy and made her feel alive.

This is 1 in every 3 girls reality; the war with food continues.

And the world thinks we’re healthy. We’re active and we’re disciplined. They praise us for our vainity and ask pointers for our ways. They feed the monster thats slowly killing us and ripping the very essence of our joy.

DSC_0090

This evil epidemic has gone unnoticed, not talked about for far too long.. why? because we’re too ashamed to admit it. Too stubborn to “let go” and find freedom. Fear tells us it’s not possible and our coping isn’t so bad!

And as players in the game, we’ve fed each others obsession and quietly cheered each other on to the gates of hell..

A living reality that needs to stop. It’s time we shed light on the truth.

_____________

If you are facing a battle with food or an obsession with exercise, it’s time you face the truth. Reach out for help. Tell someone, anyone who you feel safe with whats really going on.There is help. There is freedom. There is another life with healing!

How to tell is someone has an eating disorder

If you have a friend, an acquaintance or a family member that deals with an eating disorder; or you know someone who you suspect is struggling, please tell someone.

While attacking them face on is not always the best tactic, reaching out to someone who loves them with the truth is paramount. Quietly, in secret, that women is begging you to save her.

She may not have the words to ask or the willpower to leave the battle herself, but acknowledgment is the first step to healing and you may be her only chance.

To feel His delight

We sat down to watch another fashion show… like the million others I’d seen before- already decided I wasn’t overly impressed. The show hadn’t even started.

The host graced the stage and announced we were in for a treat. Yah right, I mocked silently.

The lights dimmed. The music started and from a silken beam she cascaded from the sky.

DSC_0601

Shocked, I sat up. Something inside me perked.

With what appeared as effortless grace, she conquored gravity and frolicked from great heights.

The more she spun, the faster my heart raced. I couldn’t tear my eyes away.

I was transfixed. But it was more than simply her movement.. it was the feeling, the passion, the joy that emanated from her.

I could almost taste it.

DSC_0602

Why? I knew it well.

What my mind had forgotten, my heart knew well; like marrow of my bones and blood through my vines.

I remember the surge I felt when I graced the stage. To perform was freedom unleashed. There was no where else I felt freer to be me…

DSC_0605

Free from pain. Free from struggle….

From comparison, expectation and others’ “rules.”

I could be me fully alive, uncaged. No need to tame myself or to calm down. I could throw every fibre of my being into the movement.

No matter my mood, lifes circumstances or it’s pressures, to dance washed everything away. It was my comfort, my strength, my healer and my truest joy.

DSC_0606

I could never put my finger on it, but I know now that what I felt was God’s delight.

As one performance led into another, something inside of me came to life; something I knew had lay dormant for nearly 10 years.

My mind flashed to the women I’d just met, who spoke over me last spring; the one who told me I was still a dancer and that God wanted me to dance again.

I laughed. My pride still bruised from my immature exit from the dance world.

I said nothing out loud then, but in my heart, vowed again I’d never return. I couldn’t face my past. My old life. The old me.

I’m different now. That part of me is dead.

DSC_0607

But as the music raged on and the performance came to climax, I felt a tear roll down my cheek.

“Go.” I felt Him whisper, His invisible arms embracing me like the welcomed chill of a summers wind.

While I could deny it all I want; allow the fear to suffocate his voice, the light of truth shone in that moment.

DSC_0614

There is a part of me that was made to dance. He put it in me. He made me with purpose. He wants me to use it for His glory…. if only for me to feel his delight. In me. Through me.

Cause that’s the funny thing with our pasts. We can run from it all we want. We can change. We can evolve. We can find new purpose and identity.

But that which He desired for good, will never truly disappear.

DSC_0610

No matter how painful or uncomfortable it may be, God wants us to go back and look our pasts straight in the face.

To give him the pain, the ugly and the hurt and allow Him to mend the broken pieces.

To take what Satan meant for evil and use it for good- for His Glory.

He wants to make beauty from our ashes.

But first we’ll have to stop running, turn right around and walk, one foot in front of the other, back on stage.

____________________________

In case you’re wondering, I’ve begun to dance again. While my nerves still hold me captive, my muscles remember beautifully. It’ll be a slow road, but I’m trusting His purposes in asking me to move again.  I know there’s healing to be had and joy to be remembered.