Tag Archives: inspiration

The Best Messiest Decade

I am 36 today and it feels huge. True to my nature, my “milestone” year doesn’t fit with tradition of the “big ones” like 21 or 40 or 50. As I go through the highlight reel of  just my 30’s, I realize I’ve made questionable/hard decisions that have yielded extraordinary new chances to live better for a lifetime. I give 100% credit to God who keeps redeeming and rebuilding me. In the words of one of my favorite bloggers, I never have my shit together, but somehow it doesn’t matter because it’s in the messes I make for myself that God does his best work.

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20160812_200526Straight out of the gate at 30 years old, I had cosmetic surgery. I don’t regret the surgery, but I do question if I’d make the same decision today. I never saw my decision as a symptom of a deeper mental health issue until I found myself in anorexia recovery four years later. Now, I am in a season of learning to love my body as is. I am connected with my physical self, and I finally understand and appreciate all the work my body does to take care of me even when I mistreat it. Optional surgery was a life-altering decision; I live with the result every day, remembering how far I have come from the inner-unrest of my past and appreciating the different perspective I have today.

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At 31 I had an affair and subsequently experienced a marital rough patch. I don’t want to relive 20160825_183327those years, and I pray my marriage doesn’t experience anything of the like again; however, if it weren’t for the two years that threatened to destroy my marriage, my husband and I wouldn’t be what we are today–grateful, humble, and in love. It was a lot of work to fix what was wrong; it’s still work to keep it strong. Nearly 15 years together, 12 of those married, my husband and I are are more in love today than ever, yet experience has taught me I cannot take love for granted. Love doesn’t just happen. We make the choice every single day, in the bustling mix of kids, work, commitments, projects, and appointments, to look each other in the eye; to wrap our arms around each other; to say I love you; to say us first, then the rest; to acknowledge I see you and hear you and you matter; to say I’m sorry; to say thank you.

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The timing of my newly strengthened marriage couldn’t have been better because the two years following that season were tumultuous for my health. At 33 I was diagnosed with celiac disease, which exacerbated the full blown eating disorder I was living with but wouldn’t be treated until I was 34. Physically and mentally, I was very ill and in danger of dying.

Even so, I ignored my body and became a Taekwondo student that season. My intention behind the menevergiveupdecision was to do something fun and bonding with my children, especially my daughter. (Shortly after I joined, I had to take a three-month medical leave to enter anorexia rehabilitation.) Little did I know the Taekwondo studio would become my training ground for perfectionism recovery and a supplemental space where God continues to show me what my body and mind can do as is. Technique-wise, you won’t find me winning competitions and awing crowds in demonstrations. I am clunky and slow and often mis-torqued in movement; however, I am the strongest and most mentally resilient than I ever have been.

My daughter and I are T-minus six months away from our earning black belts together.  Mission almost accomplished!

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portland-and-meAt 34 I entered anorexia recovery, which continues today. This has been my biggest challenge (after motherhood, of course) I’ve ever faced. I depended on anorexia for over 13 years to help me maintain the illusion that I had my life all together, but it nearly killed me. You won’t hear me use the words “I’ve overcome my eating disorder” because while I am better and don’t need the disease, the eating disorder voice is always quietly hanging out in my head. Complacency is dangerous.

With my recovery came a passion for mental health and suicide prevention advocacy. True to God’s nature he’s taken my fears and experience and rebuilt them as a platform to lift up others who find themselves struggling in mental illness.

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My dad and my daughter.

Shortly after my 35th birthday I asked my dad to go to counseling with me, which we did earlier this year. You cannot heal in the present without visiting your past. Part of anorexia recovery meant taking my dad’s hand and walking together through some painful memories from my childhood.  It was eight intense weeks of raw honesty and emotion that yielded understanding, forgiveness, and fresh space for us to grow in relationship going forward.  I know my dad loves me and he’s got my back even if we don’t agree on things. I feel confident and valued knowing my dad has my back, which is imperative as I continue to learn and express who I am without the crutch of perfection. A girl always needs her dad. <3

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My 30’s so far have been my best messiest decade. It’s the decade where God is carving away my self-made facade to reveal who I really am as He crafted me. With both discomfort and gratitude I appreciate the process, yet I am still learning how to rejoice in the results. So, happy birthday to me! And happy birthday to you if we share this day or even this season. May your fresh new year be blessed with something beautifully unexpected.

<3 Peace and love.

I am valuable

Breaktime

 

From the time I was four years old, I was led to believe that I must earn my worth. Who I was was not automatically desirable or valuable. By the time I hit eighth grade, I was tired of the shame I felt about who I was–the annoying, dumb girl who never gets it right. Before I realized what I was doing, I began to build a shield around myself to hide what was obviously so repulsive to the world. This shield was perfect because it was perfectionism.

And it worked. In college, I was getting praised, winning awards, and was sought after for my hard work. I was the one who had good ideas, got things done, and surpassed expectations. As pressure mounted to keep pleasing, the shield became a burden and who I really was, that person I was trying so desperately to hide, was long forgotten. I developed an eating disorder to cope with the confusion and pressure; the disorder nearly killed me.

Nearly 15 months into recovery from the eating disorder and less than a year into de-constructing the shield of perfectionism, I am starting to see who I was hiding. Though I’ve aged over 25 years, I’m still the same person at my core:

I am a child of God living in this world but being not of this world. I have the spirit and preciousness of a four-year-old girl with the growing wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of the Kingdom of God.

In other words:

I wear orange shoes and speak in unexpected metaphors. I have diddle-songs about random daily things, like waking up, brushing your teeth, and dinnertime. I’m an intellectual but you won’t know it by talking with me. I’m quirky and simple but you’d never know it by reading my writing. I find deep meaning in everything, including the color orange. If you’re having a bad day, I can find something in you to expose you as good regardless of what your day told you.

I oversimplify most things; I overthink when I’m scared. I don’t understand why we make life so complicated–love God, love your neighbor, the end. Yet, I find the complexity of love and God and truth and human nature alluring–fascinating. I get confused easily, but give me a little time to think and you’ll be surprised by my introspection.

Faithandculture1My face doesn’t lie about how I’m feeling, but I do. When I am passionate about how I feel, my hands and arms fly through the air, dancing and spinning with my words as they pour out from my heart.

My heart is the best thing about me. It hosts the Spirit of the God. So I hurt for the brokenness and evil that infects this world, yet I have confidence and hope and belief in restoration and healing. I take seriously the hurt others endure, and as the Spirit calls me to love, I pour that love into those around me–whether I know them or not, whether I want to or not.

Am I perfect? Nope. I am human, which means I can be selfish, lazy, and self-centered at times. A lot.  But these are just symptoms of my humanness and not who I am.

As I lay in bed last night I thought about all of this. My husband turned to me and looked into my eyes. Then he kissed me. With sudden realization I said, “I am valuable.”

“Yes, you are.”

The simple fact that I am who I am living in this world makes me valuable. Automatically. Culture and people make me feel like I must earn my worth. But God says I am valuable because of who He made me–as is.

I am valuable.

I fell asleep in silent tears because for the first time since I was four years old, I actually believe it.

Mental Illness is NOT scary

TheGatheringonMentalhealth

Houston, we have a problem. There’s a social epidemic wreaking havoc on our nation’s people. Unfortunately it’s an issue that remains hidden behind walls of stigma and mask’s of false reality.

Mental illness (don’t click away! Hang with me for a few, pretty please?)

I recently attended The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church at Saddleback in California; (This is bestselling author Rick Warren’s church, in case that rings a bell for you.) I’ve been an advocate for mental health since going through my own recovery for anorexia and anxiety. As a co-leader for my church’s brand new Shattering Stigma mental health ministry, attending this conference was a special opportunity. Continue reading

"Meet Me in the kitchen."

Kneading dough

I have written a book. I said I never would, but clearly God disagreed. Every time I open up the file on my computer it’s a bit surreal to see it there. I hope that you’ll get to read it, but it isn’t time yet, and honestly I don’t know the plans for this precious gift given to me. I can imagine the plans that would be cool to see, but nothing I imagine could be better than what God has planned (and has already done).

It’s a children’s book called The Hungry Garden. The main manuscript is written and edited and has even gone through a beta-reading process. From an industry perspective, this book is ready for a publishing journey. Oh friends, it’s so tempting! However ( I must remind myself), I write for God and not the industry. Continue reading

Why I don’t need anorexia anymore

 

“What’s going on? What are you thinking? I can see something happening in there.” While I have only been with Tamara, my eating disorder therapist, for 10 months, it’s impossible to hide my feelings from her.

I let out a deep sigh, not wanting to share my thoughts. It feels ooky to say out loud what I am thinking. My feelings feel wrong.

“It’s–it’s almost like I want to stay sick. But that can’t be right. Who wants to stay sick … to not get better?” Continue reading