Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.”  
– Psalms 139:14

Body Image

For years, I have struggled with body image issues. During high school, my highest tracked weight, right before I started Weight Watchers with my mom, was 232 pounds. I also wore braces and glasses, while dealing with that lovely thing called puberty that brought my chubby face many bouts of acne. My high school years were not nice to me.

Going into my college years, it didn’t get much better. Sure, I had dropped some weight, but I was still topping the scale around the 210-215 range. And to make matters worse, my face broke out. Not in the “oh, hey I have a pimple” kinda way. I mean full out, bright red bumps and white heads from up near my ears, all over my cheeks to down around my mouth and chin. Even looking at the few pictures I have from that year, I cringe at the sight and the memories.

So, I kept working out. If I couldn’t figure out how to fix my face, I’d make my body look better. By summer of 2010, I was down to the lowest weight I can ever remember reading on a scale – around 185. I was doing light weight workouts and running every other day. I was also sticking to my Weight Watcher methods, again. After combining that with some dermatology treatments to clear up my face, I thought I looked amazing.

Setbacks

After a bad car accident in October 2010, I struggled to workout after dealing with a ton of knee pain. The further away from exercise and “healthy” eating I got, the closer to alcohol, depression and laziness I got. I ate anything and everything I wanted, I drank alcohol, I smoked weed. Anything to coat the depression. Nothing worked though, and I ended back up near 215, a number I swore to myself I would never see again, by early 2012.

At this point, I was determined to change things. I began my “healthy” eating habits again (I use quotations because now that I’ve learned what healthy eating really is, I realized that for years I fell victim to the “low-fat, low-cal” diet food industry) and signed up for a membership at a Club Fitness just a few miles from my apartment. My friend moved in with me that summer and we began working out/eating healthy together, which helped a lot. However, we also indulged and helped each other justify our “cheats”, which didn’t help at all.

In November 2012, I attempted the Shape Reclaimed diet (the homeopathic line of the HCG drops). I dropped from 214 to 194, and while I was ecstatic, it was the most miserable “fix” I’d ever attempted – 500 calories and no workouts make me a very grumpy person. I swore I would never do it again.

After graduating college, I spent the first two months of 2013 eating and drinking my way through Europe. I packed back on about 10 pounds and regretted NOTHING. It was delicious, decadent and delightful.

A Change in Course

When I returned home, I was determined to get those 10 pounds off, and hopefully then some. I became a crazy cardio workout regime and slowly added in lower and upper body weight lifting sessions. I quickly lost the “Europe weight” I had put on and felt okay, but the stomach issues I had been having for the past few months continues. I tried everything – medicine, cutting out gluten and dairy, all natural remedies – nothing worked. Even if something started to work, it was extremely temporary and I just ended up miserable again.

For the last year, I have struggled with working out, eating well and feeling miserable. I felt as though I was constantly fighting a losing battle. I tried different workouts, bought macro/meal plans, adding in more cardio…and nothing. I was stuck in the 193-197 range. Which I would have been okay with, had I not felt miserable and huge.

So when the doctor called and told me that my blood work tested positive for Heliobactor Pylori, I was so relieved. It explained the pain, the constant hunger, the weight gain (I was back up over 200 — YUCK)… Plus, during the past year, my body was also absent of periods, which didn’t help with feeling gross and the stalled weight loss. So I thought that at some point, after antibiotics and progesterone pills, that I would just drop the weight and feel great.

Don’t get me wrong, I do feel better, but it wasn’t immediate and the weight has not come back off. I’m currently bloated, about to start and hoping my periods have come back to stay. I haven’t counted calories in over three months, but I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full (some call this intuitive eating). I also fill my plate with protein, tons of veggies and healthy carbs, along with good fats (okay, so I eat too much peanut butter…but, I feel like it’s kind of excusable, it’s a trade off for all the bread, pasta and cheese I can’t consume! Don’t judge…).

I started a new workout regime two week ago with my trainer friend and my weight has gone UP. But you know what? Screw the scale. I feel so good. I can see my body changing again and I am STRONG. Plus, I’m HEALTHY. So screw the number on the scale or a clothing tag. I don’t know who instilled in us the idea that you had to be a certain size to look or feel good about yourself, but they suck.

I saw a photo someone posted of their post-workout self one day with the caption, “This is the body I’m currently working with. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it either…” and I often repeat that to myself when I’m having an “eww, I feel huge and look fat and just want to eat everything in sight” day. I have accepted the body I have, realizing it’s the only one I’m ever going to get. But you know what? It’s just a body. It’s a shell. It isn’t the skin I’m in that matters, it’s the soul and the heart inside of it. Yes, I want to look good on the outside, but my inner health and beauty is far more important.

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7
 
Jesus thinks my insides are pretty beautiful, and in the end, isn’t that all that really matters? I can’t take this body with me into eternity (and I think the heavenly one I’m going to get is going to be pretty darn awesome!).

I Will Trust You.

Before D left for his mission trip on Sunday, he played Matt Hammitt’s All of Me while we were in the car heading to church. I’ve been listening to it over and over again, because I loved the song. Just a few minutes ago, I put on a Youtube playlist someone had made with his songs, and Trust came on.

The words filled my speakers just as I was requesting another deferment on my student loan.

Trusting Jesus is just what I am doing, and I believe He sends little reminders to us at exactly the right moments. That’s exactly what He did as I was once again fretting over something so worldly and petty as a massive student loan payment. He never fails to send me signs of His love and His presence, and I am so grateful for those little things.

And it’s also a reminder of one of my favorite passages:

Do Not Worry

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or stow away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. they do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’. For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34

The New Is In.

Blast from the Past

As I spent Friday morning skimming through the last year of entries I had written in my journals, I was incredibly proud of myself for keeping up with that discipline. I’ve had a tendency in the past to begin writing in journals or on blogs, and then getting bored or forgetting that I’ve started on it.

It was really rewarding to look back over the past year though and see how far I have come. At first, I was discouraged because all of the worries I journaled about last May were all the same ones I had journaled about this May. “How can I still be at the point in my life,” I thought, “How has nothing changed in the last twelve months?”. But then I realized, I’m not at all the same person that I was a year ago. Sure, some of my worries are the same – doctor bills, student loans, finding a job, etc. – but I am a completely different person than I was just one short year ago.

Then

A year ago, I was still in search of something. It was the same something I had searched for and never found in A. The same thing I ran away to Europe to find. The same thing I came home still looking for. But I was searching for something that I just couldn’t find, no matter how hard or how far away I looked.

I didn’t want to be back in Pacific, the small, dead-end town I grew up in. So, I once again tried to escape in the ways I knew how, through drinking and traveling. I had started hanging out with a new group as soon as I returned home in March, and was quick to jump into the scene of drinking until the wee morning hours with them then ending up in places I shouldn’t have been. But I justified it, saying that I didn’t really party in college so I was getting it out of my system now.

Thankfully, I began working out with a group of guys at my gym and quickly realized that drinking wasn’t part of the lifestyle I really wanted.

But I still hadn’t found what I was looking for. So, I started taking weekend trips to visit friends and to explore new places. I traveled because I was passionate about it, but I also traveled to escape reality. However, the weekend always ended and I always returned home, still unsatisfied and without finding whatever it was I was searching for.

Finding What I Was Searching For

It wasn’t until that day on the driveway last September that I realized what I was missing – God. Sure, I had been going to church and reading my devotions, but I was still allowing myself to do things I knew weren’t completely right. I was what you would call a lukewarm Christian, dangling on the line of the world and Jesus.

Besides that moment on the driveway, there are two other moments I am a hundred percent positive changed my life – the day I forgave A and the day the Lord called me to the mission field.

I have not been the same since. And I won’t be. I can’t be.

Now

I have found exactly what I was searching for, the very essence of my being, the missing piece. I have returned to my First Love, and I have never been more satisfied.

There are still moments when I wonder what I am supposed to be doing and times were things begin looking up, then fall through (jobs, mission trips, etc.). But I have faith in the Lord, and I know that He has an incredible plan for my life, even if I don’t know what that it is yet, and will bring me to it when He is ready. I know that the Lord is using me exactly where He has me today, according to his purpose.

For right now, I am content with where I am at.

I suddenly don’t feel the need to run away anymore, or search for myself in earthly things. I have Him, and that is enough for me.

 

 

A Change of Course

Trials and Tribulations

In church a few weeks ago, the speaker taught about waiting on the Lord. Oftentimes, when the Lord reveals his plans to us and we choose to listen and obey, we have to wait upon the Lord. During this time of waiting, we are often faced with trials and tribulations. These tests are meant to build our faith in the Lord and our obedience to Him. They aren’t easy tests, but they aren’t meant to be.

In the last month, there have been multiple trials in my life. After I applied for the 3-month long Immersion mission trip to Costa Rica for the fall, I quickly wrote and distributed my support letter for the trip, believing that if this trip was God’s will for me, that the funds would come in. In the midst of sending these letters out, I became extremely sick. I have dealt with health/stomach issues for about a year and a half now, but never have they caused me as much pain as they did the week I was accepted into the program.

I went to the doctor for blood work and the results came back a week later with news that I tested positive for Helicobactor Pylori, a bacterial infection in the stomach that is actually present in about 50% of the people in the world. However, not many people experience the symptoms of H. Pylori. Unfortunately, I did. They put me on a triple dose of medication to rid my body of the infection and sent me for an ultrasound and an upper GI, which both came back clean of ulcers and damage (Praise Jesus!).

But I still felt miserable. The sickness and the medication took a lot out of me. I also had simultaneously began taking progesterone pills to help resume my period after not having one in over a year after coming off of birth control. As you can assume, my body was a mess and my mind wasn’t far behind.

To top it all off, the initial money I needed for my trip did not come in, despite my letters and prayers. I was extremely disappointed at first, but then I thanked the Lord, realizing that if this trip had truly been of His Will (which I thought it was), then I would have had the money in, no doubt about it. I took it as a sign of protection and emailed the program staff, heavy-heartedly declining the spot on the team.

Right Where I Need To Be

Immediately, I felt a sense of relief. I knew that the trip wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. I know that the Lord has called me to the mission field, but I know that He will lead me to where He wants me, in His good and perfect timing.

And right now, I am exactly where He desires me to be.

I have been attending my friend’s church with him on Sunday mornings and joining their youth/young adult group on Tuesday evenings, while still going to my family’s church on Monday nights for prayer and to the Wednesday night services. I am falling so in love with this new church though. There is such a pure heart for the Lord. It radiates off of every single person there. There is such unity and a sense of family that I’ve never felt in any church before (and I’ve been to quite a few). I adore the church my family attends, but for the first time in forever, I feel at home when I’m at this church and with its members. I believe that is truly how a church is supposed to feel.

Plus, there is a large group of people my age in the church. People that I have quickly come to call my friends. I am so blessed to have been introduced to a group of Christians my age who live close to me and enjoy just fellowshipping with one another – no parties, no bars, no booze, no excessive spending on hanging out, but just watching sports, grabbing dinner, taking walks and playing games. It’s exactly what I have needed, exactly what I have been searching for.

Missions on the Home Front

I truly believe that God has placed me in this new group to help me grow further in my walk with Him. I believe that He will continue using me for His kingdom, starting right here in my hometown area.

I absolutely love spending my Tuesday nights with a group of children and young adults who have such a child-like faith in the Lord. I’m able to talk to girls who are coming into adulthood and will be faced with all the worldly pressures and temptations that I was, and I’m excited to be able to be an example and a confidant to them.

Right now, God has me right where He wants me. For the first time in a long time, I’m not looking to run away to a new life or get lost in a foreign destination. I am content, I am happy, I am full of love, and I am ever-so-grateful to be here.

Acceptance

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.00.52 PMA Call to Go

As I’ve wrote before, I’ve been called to go. God is sending me on a mission to spread His love and His name. To serve the least of these for His glory. I am honored, blessed and humbled…and I haven’t even left yet.

The Process

From what I’ve heard, the application process for mission trips takes some work – lots of paperwork and phone calls and interview. Sometimes the entire process can take months. So when I began looking into mission trips last week, I had no idea that within a week, I would be interviewed and asked to join the Experience Mission 3M Costa Rica team for Fall 2014. God works in crazy ways, and sometimes, He works very quickly! I have yet to wrap my mind around the fact that in four short months, I WILL BE IN COSTA RICA!!

WOW.

I was drawn to the Immersion program because rather than focusing on completing tasks, they are focused on building authentic relationships. You live with host families, interact in daily, local life and work alongside the tribes to make their community a better place. It isn’t a trip based just on doing, but on living and loving. And I really like that.

Here’s a video for the Immersion program that shows scenes from Costa Rica. I cannot watch it without tearing up and smiling. I cannot wait for August.

If you would like to know more, or to make a monetary donation, feel free to take a look at my prayer and support letter — A Call to Go.

A Passion for His Name.

A Desire to Be Passionate

I always wondered why I lacked passion. I watched the people around me pursue their passions and I oftentimes sat back and wondered why I didn’t have anything I was passionate about. Sure, I liked a lot of things. I enjoyed writing, being artsy, taking photographs, fitness, health, traveling…but as far as being so in love with any of those things that it consumed me? Not so much.

I have a friend who is passionate about fitness. She is a gym manager, and she does everything she possibly can to help others reach their fitness and health goals. She puts in extra, unpaid hours, goes above and beyond making class workouts and answers any question she is asked. She loves it. She is passionate about it.

I have another friend who is passionate about event planning. Weddings, baby showers, church gatherings, softball games, birthday parties – you name it, she’ll do it. She has a “take charge” personality, is organized and creative. She just started her own small business to promote her name and gain more event business in the area. She goes the extra mile to make sure that the event is perfect. She is passionate about what she does.

So where was my passion? I liked all the things I have done. I even loved some of them, at least for awhile. But eventually, I lost interest and didn’t do them as much. My camera only gets pulled out for extremely special events (I also blame my iPhone for that, as snapping decent-quality pictures with my phone makes lugging around a DSLR slightly pointless), my arts and craft bin stays stored away until a project comes along and my “health kick” falls off track when I find another new way to add chocolate into my life.

Ever searching, but ever failing to find it, I became dispassionate about finding my passion.

A Word to Describe Me

While in the car on the way to Starbucks yesterday (now there’s something I’m passionate about! Or addicted to…I think there may be a big difference there), I was again thinking about my passion, or lack thereof. The thought of it came and went like it normally does, so I didn’t put too much time into dwelling on it or getting upset over it.

Then last night, as I was filling out my application for Experience Mission‘s 3 month Immersion trip to Costa Rica, it asked me to list three words that my friends would use to describe me and why. I blanked. I also just wanted to know what they would say, so I text a handful of close friends who all know me fairly well, some more than others.

The first three responses I received were:

1. Friendly, warm, passionate

2. Passionate, motivated, compassionate

3. Passionate, loyal, generous/kind

WOW. Wow, wow, wow. These responses stopped me dead in my tracks. Passionate? Me? Really??? Surely they were kidding.

But here were their reasons why:

1. Halfway doing something just isn’t really you.

2. Because when you commit to something, you give it your all.

3. You put 110% into everything you do, even if you hate it (haha, this one came from my gym trainer…).

I spent a good amount of timing thinking on their words and reasons, and then I realized, they were right. These friends, who ranged from knowing me one year to nearly twenty years, know how passionate I am about one thing – LIFE.

If there is something to be done, I will do it. If it’s something I enjoy, I will do it. If it’s something I hate, but know it needs to be done, I will do it. I am passionate about doing and about living.

A Passion for His Name

As I continued filling out the application after Wednesday night church service, I realized why I had never before found anything that I was passionate about. I hadn’t found my “thing”, my niche, because I hadn’t yet discovered it. Not until God called me to missions.

Missions was always something I knew God had for me, but I was never ready to fully take up my cross and follow him. He was never my one and only desire. I wanted His love, but I wanted to live my life in my way. Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, talks about being a “lukewarm Christian,” and that is exactly what I was. I was living with one foot in the church and one foot in the world, which the Bible says is an absolute “no-go”.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” – Matt 6:24

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” – John 15:9

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2

In Matthew 13:44, it says, “The kingdowm of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Chan writes that, “In this account, the man joyfully sold all that he had so that he could obtain the only thing that mattered. He knew that what he had stumbled upon- the kingdom of heaven – was more valuable than anything he had, so he went for it with everything in him” (Chan, p.66).

We are called to be so consumed and joyful in the Lord that we are willing to give it all away in order to pick up our cross and follow the Him. We are called to be a people passionate for his name.

I am so happy that I have discovered my true passion.

Beautiful Surrender.

A Whirlwind of a Week

5 April 2014 – “Ah, happy girl. Feeling a little more grown up lately. I like it. I’m pretty content right now. I’m still waiting on the ‘what’s next’ thing, but I’m patiently waiting and living in the present. I like it. It’s working alright for me at the moment…My life is working out exactly as God has planned for it to. There’s a reason I’m not 1000+ miles away right now. I wouldn’t be turning into the woman of God that I’m becoming if I was, and I truly believe that. I’ve needed this season at home to become humble and lose my prideful spirit…I want to be humble, modest, and full of humility. A Jesus-like spirit, not a prideful one.”

6 April 2014 – “The guest speaker spoke on getting your friends saved and about being called into the mission field. I gave a public declaration to give my ALL to go for God, and I meant it. Mission work has been on my heart for so long now, and this timing for me to visit the church was just incredible.

God is doing great things in my life. They may not be BIG things yet, but he is stilling working in and on and through me. I serve a mighty, loving savior. I am so blessed beyond measure. I may not have always made the best decisions and choices, but they have all brought me to this point, to this moment, to these people, and honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

8 April 2014 – “I feel so undeserving. So impure and damaged. I know that is a feeling of the devil though. I know that I am a new creation in the Lord. I know he took me back as a prodigal child as soon as I came running back to him, and that he has been working on me ever since.

I know that I am enough, every flaw and mistake is forgiven. I know that day on the driveway that God spoke to me. I know He has great plans for me. I know He is making me into a woman of beauty in Him, one who is worthy of love and happiness and a life in His perfect will. I know that despite my past, I am more than enough.”

9 April 2014 – “We’re taught not to test God, or to ask him to reveal things to us through signs and wonders, but isn’t that oftentimes what they did in the Bible? Like with Gideon asking God to make the fleece wet and the ground dry (and then vice-versa) to know that the Lord would be with him to save Israel by his hand? I guess I just don’t get it. I guess I’m just looking for a sign.”

10 April 2014 – “Yesterday, I wrote that I was just looking for a sign. A sign that what I have been feeling and thinking and desiring was placed on my heart and my mind because it was God’s will and part of His plan for my life, not just something I wanted. Last night at church, God gave me that sign.

Pastor walked up, placed his hands on my face and before I could utter a sound, he began whispering in my ear, ‘You’ve done the right thing by taking off your shoes, for the place you’re standing on is Holy Ground. Just as I called the prophet to go, so I am sending you’ (there was more to it, and he used the word humility, but I was so consumed, this paraphrase is all I can recall).

I broke, I cried, I shouted, I dropped to my knees, overwhelmed by the Lord. And God spoke. He said, “you asked for a breeze, but I’ve sent you a hurricane.” I cried and I laughed, because he confirmed what I have known since I was a child, that I was called to be a missionary, that I would be going to the ends of the earth for Him. I have never before felt so full and so satisfied. These last few years, I have been in search of something. I travel, I enjoy and I come back longing for more. This is why.

I’m not sure what comes next and I don’t need to. Like mom said, something is going to come along and I’m just going to know it’s time. I’m no longer anxious, but excited. My heart feels as though it may burst with joy and happiness and love and excitement. I feel found. I feel like everything I’ve been longing and searching for is suddenly mine. This passion, this fire, this burning desire is so amazing and so overwhelming.

I’m laying it all down for Him. All of me.”

11 April 2014 – “Ah, how freeing this feeling is. I am excited beyond words for what the Lord is planning to do. I’m anxious because I’m ready. I am SO ready to lay it ALL down for His name, His honor and His glory. I am so blessed that He has chosen and called me to be used by and for Him. So unbelievably blessed and honored.”

 

 

Let’s Catch Up

So much has gone on since my last post in November. You can see a small (but extremely important) part of that in the journal entries I posted above (those are from my personal journal – very real and very raw).

In a quick whirlwind, I’ll attempt to bring you up to speed…

After I forgave A in November, my heart was released from a heavy burden that I didn’t realize was weighing me down so much. As we moved into the new year, I set my sights on the Lord and was determined to dive deeper into him. I began using JoyFm’s Read Through the Bible in a Year as a challenge/resolution for myself. I have always wanted to read through the entire Bible, but have never made it past the first three books before getting extremely bored or off-track. This time, I was determined. I pushed through a few books in the Old Testament that nearly put me to sleep, I got behind during a weekend away and had to read a ton of chapters to catch up and I woke up an hour early some days just to have time to do the reading. I am three and a half months into 2014, and 9 books into the Old and New Testaments (it splits it up so you alternate a bit).

As I’ve read further, I’ve learned more. Even on the days that didn’t hold my interest, I pushed through and kept reading. The days I didn’t feel like doing my devotions were the days I knew I needed to read the most.

And God has taught me so much through these last few months. I have grown in Him more than I ever expected. He has brought me through so much and has given me more blessings than I could have ever thought to ask for. He is truly a mighty God.

He has swarmed me with a few words (aka lessons) lately – pride, humility, beautiful, surrender and faith.

Pride Cometh Before a Fall

“You need to stop being prideful and just drop your weight…”

This was said to me while lifting weights with a (newer) friend at the gym. This was the second time he had called me out on trying to lift more than I could and the second time he used the term pride with me. Six months ago, I got defensive when he used the word. We hardly knew each other, and he definitely didn’t know anything about me or my pride (yet, that reaction makes it obvious that I was very prideful!).

Last week when he said it, I stepped back, dropped my weight for the exercise and then read up on pride and humility during my next devotional time. Two days later, I ended up thanking him for calling me out on it. Pride is something that the Lord has been quietly working on in my life, and sometimes, it takes another person to point out your flaw so you can see that it is still there and needing to be worked on.

He smiled at me and said, “That’s something the Lord works with me on every day. I didn’t even realize I said it, but I’m glad I could help you.” It was one of those moments that you just know is dynamic. I was proud of myself for putting myself out there in humble honestly. I trembled the entire way through the conversation, and realized that thanking someone for calling you out on your pride, was nearly more difficult than actually being called out on it.

None More Beautiful

Beautiful. In today’s world of photoshop, it’s hard to define the word. For months after I moved home, I worked out for hours a day, stuck to a strict diet and wasn’t only unhappy with the results I wasn’t seeing, but I felt ugly, inside and out.

I was miserable and unhappy. I kept comparing myself to the bodies I saw on social media and in magazines, wondering why all of my hard work wasn’t paying off. Wondering why my digestive issues weren’t being resolved (I’m still working on figure this all out and praying for complete healing) and stalling my weight loss. Wondering why I wasn’t beautiful.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but one day, I just decided that I didn’t care anymore. Sure, I still want to look good and feel confident in my appearance, but I no longer want to believe the lies of the enemy that I am ugly, or that I am not good enough.

Ever since I resolved to be at peace with my body and began eating for health, rather than for a number or a size, I became less stressed and more accepting of myself. I have been released from a disorder that has plagued me for years. I can slip up now, and forgive myself for having a treat off my meal plan or skip a workout and not feel the need to kill myself twice as hard at the next session. In fact, I actually began to FEEL more beautiful. Because God loves me, whether I’m a size 14 or a 4 (and believe me, I am much closer to a 14).

A Call to Surrender

Surrender. A word that has been resonating in my heart lately.

To surrender means to:
– abandon oneself entirely; give in to
– the act of surrendering (synonyms: submission, yielding).
– to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc.
– to give control to someone else
– to allow something to influence or control you (Merriam Webster)

When I stood up from the wooden pew at that little non-denomination church last Sunday, I was surrendering my all to God. I was putting myself aside and taking up the cross. I was losing myself again, but this time, I was gaining so much more. I was surrendering to the God who forgives my pride, makes me humble and finds me beautiful.

Well Done, My Good and Faithful One

I cannot wait for the day that I hear the Lord speak those words to me.

I am ready to begin serving for His kingdom, to fulfill the calling He has placed over my life. I am so ready to trek the unbeaten path, to reach the unreached and to spread love to those who have yet to hear of His great name. I am SO ready.

I made a big decision this morning, and while I am extremely nervous about it, I am doing it in faith. I plan on giving my two weeks notice at work this week.

I have dreaded every shift I’ve worked these last few weeks. My heart weighs heavy in my chest the entire time I’m there and my spirit aches. I know it’s because of my recent choice to surrender to God. I am no longer able to return in “good fun” the foul language, inappropriate jokes and crude remarks, and I am no longer able to let them pass by me unaffected. The Lord is calling me out of such a place.

I’m nervous, as I make pretty decent money waitressing. I pay my own bills, buy my own food and have enough extra to treat myself to expensive treats and trips. But this is part of laying it all down for God. This is part of leaving the world’s ways behind, taking up my cross and following him.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) says that, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we cannot see.”

I am ready, willing and waiting to find out where the Lord is leading me to next. I have a few mission trips in mind, and I am praying for each of them. I only want to do His will, and I know that when the right one comes along, it will all work out according to His purpose.

I am stepping out in full faith, and I’ve never been more sure.

Taking a Bite of Humble Pie

Take a Bite of Humble Pie…

…or in my case, eat the whole thing.

Life isn’t easy. Whoever says it is, well, they’re a liar. We read joke about suing Disney for giving us a the wrong ideas about love and fairytales and happily every after, but in reality, nothing in life is really like it is in the movies.

You don’t always get the boy you want (usually that’s something you’ll thank God for later, but if you don’t believe me, just ask Garth Brooks…), the ugly girl doesn’t always come out on top to win Prom Queen, and your “college experience” is nowhere near as perfect as the movies portray it to be. One big party? More like four (or four and a half) years of hard work, late nights studying, struggling to make it to 8am classes after working your part-time job and not getting home until midnight, declining going out for drinks with your friends because of a group project you’re doing solo… yeah, a real “party” that is (granted, I ended up in a national honors society and graduated with a 3.55 GPA, which may compare differently to the grades that some of those partiers got…let’s not get into the ones that could go out every night and still pass with a 4.0, we kind of hate them…)

Life is Supposed to Be Easy

I’m getting off track. Life isn’t easy. It’s supposed to be, but it isn’t. As humans, we make it complicated. As a perfectionist, I always feel as I though I fall short.

If you’ve been following my blog for any good length of time, you’ll know that I took two months off after graduation to travel throughout Europe. When I did this, I gave up my retail job at Victoria’s Secret, I declined a position at the ad agency I was interning at (which wasn’t really a “real” offer, but we won’t get into that right now) and I agreed to move back into my parent’s house.

Now, in my “movie-perfect” mind, I was going to return from my trip (okay, if I’m being honest, I had no intention of returning home from my trip – I really thought I was going to fall in love and never come back. Well, I met a boy, but I ended up back in Missouri, so that story doesn’t need any further explanation).

theleadingedgeblog.com

theleadingedgeblog.com

Fairytale Fail

But alas, here I am. Back in my parent’s basement. I didn’t expect to be here for this long. Somewhere in my crazy mind, I was only going to be back for a month or two before I snagged my “dream job”. I’m not sure how I planned to snag it so quickly, especially since I’m not even entirely sure that I have one… I’m also not sure who I expected to just hand me a job, or why I thought it would be so easy to come by. But I did. And I have found that I was so very mistaken.

So, here I sit. Slowly moving from the spare room upstairs to an empty room back in the basement apartment at my parent’s house, seeing as I’m going to be here for longer than originally expected. I’ve been getting my niece ready for school and on the bus, working out, doing internship blogs and working at a new pub in town for some cash to start paying off my credit card and student loans. I’m still job hunting, kind of. It’s awfully depressing when there is absolutely nothing available, and you haven’t heard back from anywhere you’ve applied so far. Wait, that’s a lie. I actually did get an “although we were impressed with your qualifications, we have decided not to move your application forward” email the other day. I think I liked not hearing back better…

But I will readjust my big girl panties and continue  moving forward. Continuing to move forward may be a slow process, but at least I’m not idle. If we stop moving forward, we will never get anywhere in life. I know God has great plans for my life, even if my small human brain cannot seem to figure out what they might be as I spend this season of my life waiting tables and rely on my parent’s for my room and board. I guess you could say that I’m learning patience in this process, as well.

And who knows, maybe I’ll be like Alexis Bledel’s character in Post Grad. Move home, put up with my crazy family, meet a cute guy, get my dream job…

My life might not be an academy award winner, but it’s still a movie. Once I’m lucky enough to get to be the lead star in.

Oh July, where did you go?

July? What am I talking about, where did the other six months of this year go?

Life in General

I’ve been back from Europe for nearly five months now. I’m still jobless (though to be completely honest, my hunt has been lacking – there’s not much in St. Louis that I feel competent enough to do, and I haven’t heard back from any of the jobs I have applied for, therefore, the search just leads to being depressed and wanting to binge on gluten-free cacao chip cookies while taking breaks between sob sessions).

So I’ve been spending my days working out, laying out and trying to figure out my life. I have no real direction, and while that slightly scares me, I have an incredible peace about it. I know that peace only comes from the Lord, and I’m incredibly thankful to know that He is the one directing my life and that He has a plan for me, though I still have no idea what that may be.

Living at home has proven to be just as stressful as I assumed it would be, as there are way too many people under this roof. On top of that, my mother thinks I’m just out to make her miserable. I don’t smile enough or talk enough (and when I do, she says it’s sarcastic or disrespectful), I don’t wipe down the counters sufficiently (but, let’s not forget the fact that I do all the cooking, dish-washing and I do wipe down the counters), I don’t do this or that when I should or shouldn’t. Aren’t our relationship with our parents supposed to get better as we get older? Somewhere between high school and college we started losing the close relationship we had, and we’ve yet to be able to figure out how to get it back. I don’t know how to change any of this. I work on it and it seems like things are going well, then she goes off on me again. I’m not saying it’s completely her mood swings, but it can’t always be me (which she seems to think it is, though everyone else in the house can attest to it being her, as she gets this way with nearly everyone). Sorry for the rant, it just happened again, so it’s fresh on my mind. I love my mom, I honestly do. She has always provided for me, even when she had to go without to do it. I just wish I knew how to “fix” this. Any advice?

Workouts and Diet

My workouts have been intense lately. I was lifting heavy with less reps for quite awhile, but have joined a group of girls on Facebook who are creating workouts that are both challenging and really switching it up with the lighter lifts and higher reps. I love it though, and can already tell a huge difference just in the first week.

My diet is pretty much the same from day-to-day: protein, veggies, fruit, healthy fats. I eat a lot of the same things, but try to switch it up here and there, since I don’t want my body getting used to any one things. It’s hard when you’ve cut nearly everything out of your diet (I’ve been eating gluten, dairy, egg, corn and shrimp free). It’s actually been going really well. For those of you who think you could never cut all that out, I assure you that it gets easier with practice. When you feel so miserable whenever you eat any of that stuff, cutting it out is the most rewarding option. Plus, all that clean eating really helps with the cutting weight and healthy lifestyle.

I’ve also signed up to be a Beachbody Coach. I’m loving it so far! Although I’m still trying to get my follower count up. So if you’re interested, follow along on my journey through Facebook, Instagram and WordPress! Oops, nothing like a little self-advertising on my own blog, right? Haha.

Love Life

….what’s that?

I attempted this chat app. Which I suppose is a lot like online dating. And it sucks. One guy pretty much catfished me (really funny, now that I look back on it — I didn’t even know what that was until I started talking to a person on that app and they told me to Google it). I went to the Blake Shelton with another guy on Friday night. Talk about awkward. The drunk older women in front of us made a big deal about this “first date”, but by the end of it, two of them pulled me aside at separate times to advise me not to go on a second date with him. I had already planned not doing so before we even got to the concert, as I had “friend-zoned” him about three weeks ago. This probably makes me sound like a douche, but I really just wanted to see Blake Shelton, and figured it was as good of time as any to give this guy a chance. Thank goodness for the concert and the hilarious entertainment around me, otherwise I would have been miserable. After the concert, I met up with another guy I met on the app (who happened to know people I know, so it wasn’t quite as awkward). We sat outside by a fire for a few hours just chatting, and I thought it went fairly well, but I haven’t really heard from him since. So, guess that’s already finished.

I realize now why I have never liked the concept of dating. It’s awkward and uncomfortable and disappointing. But, at least now I can say I gave it a go, right?

Adios

I’m fairly sure that’s all the news I have at the moment. I’m sure there’s more that I will think of as soon as I post this, but oh well. I’m going to try to post more frequently, as every few months really isn’t enough.

I’m off to finish grilling dinner (we ran out of propane, so dad had to run to the gas station) and then stuff my face. When all else fails, my love of food does not.

Happy Sunday, loves! xx

Mother’s Day Weekend.

What a nice, good weekend.

I spent Friday after doing what I now can’t quite remember (darn you early onset forgetfulness!), then I met my mama at the gym after she got off of work for our workouts. After that, I headed home to make some dinner – GF pizza for her, leftover grilled chicken with asparagus and a sweet potato for me. As soon as I had gotten out of the shower, a friend text me and invited me to join her and some friends to see Ironman 3. However, I’m not a huge movie fan (not to mention I haven’t seen Ironman and Ironman 2), so I planted myself on the couch and watched/helped the girls play games (my mom and sister were playing Apple-to-Apples and Headbanz with my nieces and two of their friends). I was quite content.

On Saturday, I woke up early for breakfast and devotions before I was off to the gym for some cardio and core. Kali, the new trainer, kicked my butt in her core class. But I completely enjoyed it! After a quick lunch and shower, I set off with mom and sis to get some grocery and dress shopping knocked out. Chesterfield Bottoms, Whole Foods and West County Mall on a Saturday afternoon – not our best plan! But we accomplished everything we set out to do, and when I got home, I threw together dinner (while helping put away all the groceries, I might add) before heading over to Kory’s for a relaxing night in with friends. I absolutely love nights like that. Nights where you play cards, take goofy pictures and stay up just talking, laughing and joking – it’s such a good time. By the time I got home and took a shower (I knew if I waited, I wouldn’t get one before church — oh the perks of living with a ton of people!), I didn’t get to bed until nearly 2:30am!

Sister

Sister

Luckily, I was wide awake at 6:30am on Sunday morning to start my busy day in the kitchen. First up, GF banana nut pancakes, eggs and bacon for a small Mother’s Day brunch! Then a cake in the oven for sister’s 21st birthday (a very drunk Barbie cake) and a GF apple cinnamon streusel coffee cake for mom (and me!). I got the girls and myself ready for church, decorated the cake and managed to prep a bunch for dinner before we headed to church. It was such a great sermon. Pastor spoke on how we don’t see ourselves as clearly (or near as beautiful) as everyone else sees us. What a much needed message! While out shopping Saturday, this young girl who was passing me stopped to say, “you’re really pretty, just so you know” – it completely made my day! It’s amazing what a simple compliment can do! I suggest you look for an opportunity to compliment someone today, as I promise you, it will make their day a bit brighter.

Mama Bear

Mama Bear

Mother’s Day with the family went off without a hitch! Well, unless you count the strawberry sauce that fell and broke, leaving glass all over the floor. Or the grill that kept going out because of the wind (I love/hate propane). Or the million other little things… but I didn’t let them get to me. I grilled, set up dinner, washed all the dishes, cleaned up after – all so my mama could enjoy her day (which she did, btw). By the time everyone left and I sat in the recliner, I was exhausted. I passed out in the chair at 8pm!

Next up…

Now, it’s a glorious Monday morning and I’m feeling so very blessed. I’m off to work on internship things before heading to an interview, a chiropractor appointment and the gym.

I may not be where I was expecting to be by this point in my postgrad life, but I know that I’m right where I need to be, right where God wants me. I’m working on being content where I’m at and living in the moment, rather than being so wrapped up worrying about the future. Let me tell ya, it isn’t easy, but it’s so worth it.

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