Dear College Girl,

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Dear College Girl,

Two years ago I was you. Six years ago I walked around the campus that would become my home and became you. And today I get the privilege of working with you. You truly are some of my very favorite people. I love college and college students. I truly do. Just today I stood on my alma mater’s campus. I cheered for my home team and I thought of you.

Here’s what I want you to know. I get you. I see you. You are loved. You are worthy. You are okay even if you aren’t okay. College is amazing, wonderful, scary and hard all wrapped into one. You are about to have possibly some of the best nights of your life and quite possibly some of the worse. You are going to laugh and cry harder than you ever thought possible. You are going to make it through and if you don’t then you are going to be okay too.

I hope you love college even if you don’t love everything about it. I hope you grow. I hope you give and get grace. I hope you come in a different person than you walk out. I hope you learn about yourself, about others and about the world around you. I hope you learn that it is okay to make mistakes and fail. I hope you learn from your failures. I hope you pick yourself up and try again.

You are going to have some nights where you might sit and cry in your room because you think everyone is having fun without you. And then you are going to have some nights that are going to feel like a dream. I want you to know in the middle of it all you are okay. Instagram lies. Facebook deceives. And Twitter only shows 150 characters about someone’s night. That girl you sit next to is just as lonely as you sometimes. The boy who seems way too cool has no clue what he is doing. They haven’t done it before either and they are learning just like you are.

I want you to know you may walk out of college with some of your best friends and you may not. And both of those are okay. I truly hope you find wonderful friends, even if it takes years to get there. I hope you find your people, your home team, the people who you can call no matter what. I want you to find friends that love going out and having a great time but are just as content to sit at home and watch a movie and eat ice cream. Believe me you need the balance of both. Take lots of pictures, remember those moments, even when it seems like you are doing nothing. I promise those memories matter. Enjoy those people you get to spend these years with, because all too soon you could be scattered around the country.

I know you are going to face lots of pressure to look not only your best but also a certain way. And I am sorry. I am sorry that you will be faced with the constant pressure to conform to an ideal of beauty. I know it is oh so hard. I hope you know you are beautiful inside and out. I want you to know that the mirror lies and your beauty isn’t wrapped up in it. And if you struggle with how to handle all the pressure I hope you talk to someone.

In fact, I hope you find someone who is not your peer that you can talk to.  Whether it be, mentor, your professor, your campus minister, your counselor. Because I want you to know that there is absolutely no shame in asking for help. Whether it be a failed test, a relationship that ended, or an addiction. I want you to know that those people in your life are there for you. They want to help you! They know for all the wonderfulness that is college there is a lot of hardness a lot of darkness and they want to be there and walk through it with you.  They know struggle is inevitable and they want to be there for you in the midst of it.

Whether you join a sorority, a sports team, an academic club, a campus ministry or all of the above, I hope you enjoy it. I want you to find your niche and love it. I hope you become a part of something that you never imagined you could or would and fall in love with it. I hope you know it is never to late to try something new.

I want you to know that if you date that is wonderful and if you don’t that is okay too. I want you to know that the handsome boy you date, may be the most amazing man you have ever met, but he doesn’t own you. Not one single bit of you. Not your heart, not your mind, and not your body. I hope you have so much fun if you go on dates but I hope you know you aren’t committed to any more than a meal, coffee or the concert he asked to take you to. And that ring by spring thing, don’t take it too seriously sister. Because maybe you’ll meet the man of your dreams here (and indeed have that ring) and maybe you won’t but either way I promise you will be okay.

And sweet girl if these four (0r more) years aren’t for you I want you to know that is okay. These years indeed will shape you but they do not have to define you. They are minute in the scheme of life. So if college life isn’t for you I hope you find the stage in life that you love. Even more I hope you learn to love each part and stage in life.

I want you to know that I am sitting here cheering for you. I believe in you. And I could not love you more. Like I said you are some of my favorite people. So I hope you enjoy these years that will fly by and may you alway know you have a friend here. You’ve got this girl!

From your friend,

The Former College Girl

When The Inside Doesn’t Match The Outside

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I could feel her looking at me as I stared out the window. She asked the question again and I knew I had to respond. “So you don’t think you’re thin enough to have an eating disorder?” I stared at her defiantly as I replied,”No”. But even as I said those words my voice trembled. Because I knew. I knew I was sick but I just couldn’t admit it. Not to her not to anyone. And the truth was I didn’t see it. When I looked in the mirror I didn’t think I looked thin, I didn’t think I looked like someone with an Eating Disorder. I didn’t think my insides matched my outsides.

I remember the drive to her office, how at every light I wanted to turn my car around. I remember walking up the stairs barely able to breathe and I remember sitting the open lobby waiting for her to come out and signal me back. And as I sat down and we began to talk. I remember wanting to jump up and run out. But I didn’t, I couldn’t leave because even then, even when I didn’t believe it I knew I needed to hear those words.

Three years later I can remember that conversation like it just happened. Those words were such a pivotal point in my recovery and my dietician words that followed forever impacted me. As I sat in her office that day and we talked about how even if I didn’t think I looked the part or believe it, I was sick.

The stronger I become in my recovery the more it impacts me the way we literally look at people with eating disorders (and people in general). I know for myself and many others there was the misconception that if I didn’t look a certain way I didn’t have a problem. I was small. I was thin. I was little but I would have never deemed myself anorexic. Yet I was.

The fact is that eating disorders come all shapes and sizes, they do not discriminate. No matter how much someone doesn’t believe they fit into a certain category because of the way they look. Size is not the determining factor in an eating disorder. Frankly for many years I “looked” healthy. I wasn’t what someone would consider too thin or too large. I was just average. However, even in my average days I was so so very sick.

The more I work with women who have struggled with an eating disorder the more that constant fact rings in my head that we cannot judge someone by their outward appearance. We have no idea the thoughts going on in their head. The control or lack of control that dictates their life.

Because here is the thing my friend, eating disorders are so much more than what the public sees. There is hiding. There is deceiving. There are things that go on that you would never know about when you look at their smile, at their darling outfit, at their laughter.

I was the girl who had it all together, who had the world at her finger tips, who truly seemed to be on top of the world. But I was sick. I was struggling. I was so desperate for help. But had you seen me, you would have never known.

You may have seen me comment on food. You may have seen me be a “picky eater”. You may have even see me count calories or exercise to the point of exhaustion. But you thought nothing of it, because in today’s society, talking negatively about our body or food is acceptable. You may have thought nothing of it because you too have those behaviors.

As a woman in today’s world, we are taught to care so deeply about what our outsides look like. We are taught to be put together. We are taught to look presentable even “pretty”. We are told to act as if all is okay. Here is the thing though, often times it is not okay. We struggle, we hurt, we often need help and sometimes we need to show that on the outside but we feel like we can’t. Many times the insides don’t match the outsides.

So my hope is this, that the next time we look at someone’s outward appearance we wouldn’t assume they have it all together. We wouldn’t assume that they don’t need help. We wouldn’t assume that they aren’t sick. While this so very much applies to eating disorders I believe it applies to so many other aspects of our lives as well. May we not judge the book by it’s cover but may we learn to read the book and know the story by heart.

All my love,

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When Perfection Destroys

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At barely two I looked into the mirror, about to take a photo with my family and new baby brother and I starred back at my reflection. In the video that records this scene, you can hear my mother telling me to come on. I refuse to come take the picture and there I sit in front of the mirror and announce to myself and my family around me, “My hair don’t look pretty”.

Now some may think that little two year old girl was precious for saying that but honestly I think even at two that statement was a huge indicator of my personality. For whatever reason, I “knew” that I couldn’t take a picture because my hair didn’t look, “pretty”…it had to be perfect. And that is how I lived the first twenty years of my life striving for perfection that was unattainable.

Growing up I was the epitome of the “Little Miss Perfect”. And while I claimed to hate the nickname, deep down I loved it, because it meant I was doing something right. It meant that I was achieving what others thought was perfection. Oh how wrong they were, because inside I was dying. Do you know how hard it is to try to do everything right and perfect all the time.  It was exhausting. And that is where my eating disorder helped me out, he told me exactly what I needed to do to achieve the ultimate perfection and that was be the thinnest possible.

ED had a solution for every failed test, bad situation, breakup, loss, and it was, control it, with food. And the more I let ED take control, the farther I moved away from all that made me happy. Of course he told me the thinner I got, the more I was reaching perfection. However, the thinner I became, the more I lost, grades, relationships, friendships, social events, energy, and ultimately happiness. Yet, ED promised just a few more pounds and I would be there. Well, it never happened. No matter how thin I got, it never worked. And then one day I realized, this whole perfection thing wasn’t any fun, and it sure wasn’t getting me anywhere but despair.

That’s where grace came in and that is where the healing began. However, I didn’t learn that grace overnight but it was the  pain and suffering that got me there. Without these circumstances I am not sure grace would be as real to me as it is now. It finally sunk in that the God that I loved, didn’t love me because I was perfect, He loved me in spite of the fact that I wasn’t. And nothing I could do would make Him love me any more or any less than He did right then. As my dear friend says, “It’s okay that we’re not okay because Jesus is better than being better.” It was that message that made the darkness bearable and reminded me that there was light at the end even when I couldn’t see it. And those people who thought I was so perfect, well they loved the not perfect MK even more, because she was real. Unlike, perfect MK they could identify with the real MK (funny how I was convinced they wouldn’t know how to handle not perfect me).

So what about today? Do I still strive for that perfection? Even those questions make me laugh out loud. Because, today I cannot live without grace, because I am one big mess! And the fact that I am not perfect is totally okay. “Perfect MK” lived a really miserable life that led to a really horrible relationship with ED and other destruction. MK today, she messes up about every other minute. However, she is learning to accept the fact that it is okay, because in her imperfect mess she is loved deeply.

Maybe perfection in any aspect is your goal. My guess is on some level it’s tearing you apart. Let me tell you no matter how hard you try it’s not going to get you anywhere but misery and heartache. And even more, I bet the people in your life would love the not so perfect you even more than you could ever imagine. So just remember it’s okay to not be perfect, in fact it is extremely freeing!

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Owning The Mess

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“Either I can be here, fully here, my imperfect, messy, tired but wholly present self, or I can miss it- this moment, this conversation, whatever it is-because I’m trying, and failing, to be perfect. But this season I am not trying for perfect. I’m just trying to show up, every time, with honesty and attentiveness.”Bread & Wine

I am sitting here in our immaculate bedroom, in the background great music is playing, a creme brûlée scented candle is burning, I am lounging on our made up bed complete with throw pillows, and to top it off I am writing all of this in a perfectly coordinated outfit. This is the MK I am totally comfortable with. It is this MK that if you dropped by right now, would welcome you into her home and maybe even offer to make you some homemade cookies. However, that is the MK who I would like you to think I am 100% of the time, when the truth is that MK is who I am maybe 1% of the time. In fact, if you had dropped by earlier today you would have found me a messy disheveled girl, wearing a stained t shirt, hair piled haphazardly on my head, receipts and a paperwork spread all over my floor, bed unmade, throw pillows everywhere, a huge pile of laundry in the middle of the room and music blaring. If you had rung my doorbell this afternoon, I would have hid behind it, praying my cellphone wasn’t on loud and you didn’t hear it ring and in turn discover I was home. I would have been mortified if you had seen me in the midst of that mess.  And I would have been scared that you would have guessed that MK is the real me…

Just like the phyiscal mess I sat in today, I am well aware that my life once contained a mess. As I continue to share my story with others I begin to believe I am okay with my mess. However, the truth is I  was/am only okay with my mess to a certain point. I am totally fine with sharing details about my hardest days in the past but what about when someone asks me if I still struggle? What if they want to know if certain things are still hard for me? I push back, I don’t want to talk about that but the truth is I need to, we all do. It in these moments that I have a choice to make.

Just like today, what happens if my friend drops by and I look less than presentable and my room is a mess? What if they have time for a quick lunch and I haven’t showered that day? What if someone wants to get together and it is just a rough day? In these times, I get an opportunity to make a choice. I can either push them away or invite them into my daily mess, the unglamorous, sometimes ugly, hard moments of everyday life. So friends, I am making a choice and I am going to try to keep making this choice. The secret is out…my life is still kinda a mess and I secretly hope I am not alone in this. It doesn’t make me any less of a  wife, recovery warrior, believer, friend, daughter, sister, or person to admit that. However, sometimes I have this deep dark fear that if people knew I didn’t wash my hair everyday, that I get way too emotional at times, that I talk too much, that some days I stay in yoga pants all day and that some days I still struggle, then they might look at me differently. However, I am making the decision to be real and share the mess anyway.

Just like the quote states, when I choose to be fully here in my mess. I experience life and I am myself. Just like I used to hide my identity in Ed I still try to hide my identity on being the girl who has a perfect story of recovery. Trying to be perfect on any level and not embrace my mess is not only the opposite of grace but it also causes me to not live my life in the moment. When I worry about what people think of my mess then I am not experiencing life to the fullest.

I am going back to my roots I am going to continue to leave my perfectionist ways behind and learn grace and begin to have more of it for myself. I am going to be fully here, even if that means unmade up, t shirt wearing, crying MK, even if that means inviting people into a messy room, even if that means forgoing laundry for a deep conversation instead. I want to show up. I want to be present not perfect. I want to live life fully. I want to show grace. I want to own my mess.

Friends, will you join me? Will you begin to own and share your mess? Will you let others in, even if it is hard? Will you just show up and be present even if it is hard? Something tells me it will be worth it, more than we can imagine.

So much love for you!

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Stop Looking In the Mirror

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I was a little over two when I realized that beauty mattered, way too young for a little girl to discover whether she was beautiful or not. I loved watching and participating in fashion shows at an early age and I loved watching beauty pageants. I was a little girl who loved anything to do with pretty dresses, high heels, and sparkles. This girly love wasn’t all together a bad thing, until I let it define and take over me. However, once my quest for beauty began is when I lost it all.

At two I looked in mirror before a family photo was taken and told my parents and grandmother, “My hair don’t look pretty.” What at the time was a funny comment from a precious little girl turned into my mantra. In the years that followed I would look in the mirror, and would always find something that “didn’t look pretty”.  Mirrors tortured and taunted me, no matter what anyone else said. Every time I heard the words, “You’re beautiful.” it was all I could do not to laugh, because there was no way I could have believed it.

The mirror is where I found my truth. If the mirror said I looked good (which it rarely did) than the day would go well and if the mirror showed that one hair was out of place than game over. For me, overcoming my issues had a whole heck of a lot to do with me not seeing myself as beautiful. They were all lies and I know that now but it can still be difficult. It didn’t just happen overnight and it certainly didn’t happen without a whole lot of work. As a woman, I think I can safely say that I believe all women struggle with the idea of beauty and feeling beautiful. We live in a society that is rampant with ideas of beauty, false, unattainable, unrealistic standards of beauty. It wasn’t until I finally realized and accepted that beauty wasn’t in a made up face, it wasn’t in high fashioned clothes, it wasn’t in a size zero, that it began to sink in. Beauty used to mean a specific size and specific numbers, but it doesn’t anymore.

And the reason it doesn’t matter anymore is because I realized some pretty incredible and important truths. Beauty is in the smiles that spread across faces when we experience joy, beauty is in the laughs that echo from our mouths as we enjoy our lives, beauty is in the eyes that sparkle as dreams come true, beauty is in the grace that we live our lives by.

My worth will never again be determined by my outside appearance, for I am worth far too much for that and so are you. Beauty is measured by the heart and the love and grace we show to others.

All of this sound like too much to swallow? It once did to me too, but now I know that it is completely true. I don’t ever want to live up to the world’s standards of beauty because it only causes, pain, heartache, and a life surrendered to these. I no longer have to have my life dictated by these unreachable standards and neither do you. Because whether you realize it or not, I know it’s true….YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL and my prayer is that you would see and realize this beauty and know that it is lasting. So this week don’t look into the mirror for your beauty look into your heart.

All my love,

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When the Rainstorm Hits

As I sit here my eyes are heavy and my head is running a hundred miles an hour with a million things to do. Truth is I am a list girl and my lists are piling up. And when my lists pile up so do my perfectionist tendencies, so do my worries, so do the lies. For the past week I have been worn out emotionally, physically, spiritually, in all areas in my life and when I am worn down bad habits start to creep up. And instead of being honest and open with people, I shut down and I shut up. I don’t say how I am really doing and I put on the Miss Perfect Hat. I let little things get to me and I start to only see things as right and wrong in my life or as black and white. So what am I doing instead of listening to the overwhelming lies in my head? I am sitting down and talking to you dear friends. Because maybe you’ve had a week like mine. Maybe you need to hear this as much as I do.

When everything in my life seems uncertain, I do the one thing that make life feel more certain to me…I control. I control my relationships, I control my behavior, my decisions, even my wardrobe. Honestly, it’s not bad to plan to be well prepared but I take it to the max when I feel the need to control. In the past Ed, was the master at this he knew just how to control my life tugh negative food behaviors. Even being strong in recovery for three years, there are days in the midst of uncertainty that I have to sit back and take in the truth and not listen to the lies that start to creepin. Because the fact is, I don’t believe them anymore and I don’t live by them. However, when I am worn down and fragile they have a way of breaking through the steel trap door which I have locked them deep behind.

Maybe you have struggled with Ed, maybe you haven’t but I think we can all understand the desire to control when everything seems out of control. Here is the bad thing though, when I lean into the control I lean into my perfectionist qualities. When I lean into my perfectionist self I don’t like who I become. That MK always has an answer for everything, she has to constantly have her hair and wardrobe perfect, she has to always say the right things, she is irritable, she can’t mess up, and she certainly cannot share her mess. She becomes more focused on the results and not the relationships and people in her life. That MK, cannot leave the house in yoga pants, she cannot relax when she is with friends, she cannot stand when one thing in the house is out of place, she can’t sit still, she can’t be really present, and she cannot deal with imperfection. Let’s be real, that MK is NO fun to be around!

There are times when my life is just more messy than usual. There are times where the pain and past wounds seem to still sting. There are times where I just cannot catch my breath and the last few weeks have been like that. Don’t get me wrong there has been a lot of joy and wonderful times in the past few weeks. I have always been a glass more than half full girl. I can tell you all about the sunshine and the roses but today I need to tell you about the rainstorm because that is just as real. We don’t talk about the rain and hail, especially in the midst of it, so I am going to take a big leap of faith and do just that. In the midst of the rain, when I cannot see the sun, life is hard and my desire is to control and when I control I become the worst version of myself. However, I don’t have to be that controlling person, but that takes major effort.

It is during the rainstorm that I have to take time to rest, to practice self-care, to be still, and to know that taking care of my self, especially when life is hard, is NOT selfish. If we don’t give our bodies time to rest, to feel all the emotions that come with uncertainty and to work through them, then we are doing ourselves a huge disservice. For me unwinding is reading a favorite book curled up with a cup of coffee, it is watching cheesy ABC family sitcoms, it is a glass of wine and a chat with my best friend, its a nap in the middle of the day, it is praying, it is singing at the top of my lungs to my favorite song. Those are all healing for me, however I will say this healing activity can soon turn into numbing. I know all about numbing from my years with Ed and I never want to go back there. So I build in me time but I also don’t let it take over. Because lets be real, I could sit and read for days, I could lay in bed and watch every episode of every TV show ABC family ever created, but that wouldn’t be helpful and it would certainly check me out to life and I don’t want that. So I rest and take time to heal but I don’t numb out.

This coming week I am striving to be the more balanced MK. The MK that doesn’t freak out when her plans go awry, the MK that can get ready in ten minutes, the MK who doesn’t focus on what she eats. And here is the secret, I will slip up this week and want to go back to the control and so will you, because we aren’t perfect. Each slip up though reminds me that instead of focusing on what I did wrong there, I have a chance to do it right the next time. And in allowing myself to mess up I give myself grace and with that grace comes rest, and when I rest I loosen my grip on the control and perfection because I don’t need them anymore. That is what I wish for you this week my friend, that you would show yourself grace and give yourself rest. Rest in whatever way you need to and loosen your grip on control because control destroys. Know not only can you do it this week but also I will be there with you doing it and cheering you along.

Sending you love,

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Take A Break

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I feel like I haven’t taken a breath lately. It seems as if my life is whizzing by and I barely have time to fall asleep at night before waking up and doing it all over again. One of my very best friends used to joke that I couldn’t even sit down and watch TV without multitasking. It seems as if these days if I take time to watch TV I am either trying to work on five different things or am thinking about all I need to do instead of watching TV. It is a constant battle for me to not just rust through my busyness and forget to live my life. Every moment of life is precious and in light of so much recently I am realizing just how precious it is…so I need to take a big deep breath sit back and enjoy the tiny moments, the everyday moments, the not so glamorous moments, and be grateful for them all. However, when I let busyness rule my life and don’t live it this is what happens.

This week, I was on the phone with a dear friend. It took me several minutes in the middle of our conversation to realize she had asked me a question and if I am being honest, I have no idea what our conversation was about. Not only, was I talking on the phone but I was also filling out paperwork, looking up details needed on the computer and then I was still was trying to catch up with a dear friend. Sounds crazy-it was. The people in my life are so precious to me and I don’t want them to think I don’t care. Obviously I am imperfect and sometimes I don’t care for them well. However, I certainly don’t care for them well when my head is consumed with other details and I blatantly don’t focus on them.

The point is we all do it and I was reminded again this week how prone I am to seek glory from my busyness. The more busy I am,  the more important I feel and the more impact I feel I make. That couldn’t be further from the truth. When I my head is swarming with a million things, I don’t do any of them well or truly focus on those around me.  I have written before about the glorification of planning and it goes hand and hand with busyness. I think we all, myself included need a reminder to sit back and enjoy the moments of our life because they are passing all too quickly. And even more those of us who have struggled with Ed or other issues are so prone to the lies and the belief that we need those things when we are worn down. We have to be on guard not to step back into our old habits when life gets crazy. I am not immune to it and neither are you.

Even more, we need to take a moment, take a deep breath and enjoy the life we are living even in the mundane moments. There is nothing great about busyness. It will all get done and I have to remind myself that indeed I don’t need to solve the world’s or my own problems in a day. When I look back at my week, my best moments were those where I was really present and where I was focused on the here and now and was not consumed with where I was headed next or all I had to do. So my prayer this week is that I would sit back and enjoy more, little, not exciting, everyday moments, moments that show me that indeed I am really living and that my friend is my prayer for you too. May you enjoy all the little moments this week, take a break from the busyness and be grateful for this life.

So much love for you my friend!

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Taking A Snapshot

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I am pretty obsessed with pictures. To say I love them would be an understatement. When I was younger my room had huge amounts of photos plastered all around it. Even today our house has quite the amount of pictures displayed in it.  Part of my fascination with pictures is that you are capturing a specific moment in time, one that can be remembered for many years through a photo. Another of my favorite things about photos is seeing people smiling. I love seeing others genuinely happy in photos and seeing them smile. However, I also know that behind these photos and smiles there can be a lot of pain and suffering. Unfortunately, pictures do not always portray the most accurate representation.

Awhile back, I heard a quote that resonated with me, “We live life exposing ourselves through a series of snapshots…carefully edited snapshots that we let others see.” As I thought about that statement I thought back to my pictures or snapshots and how I used to live my life in a manner that only showed a nicely edited photo. And it was only this nicely edited photo that I let others take a quick glimpse at because I was too afraid they might see the real raw negative version of me if I let them see me for too long.

I talk quite a bit here, about my perfectionism and my relationship with Ed both of which were intertwined. Both fed off the desire to appear to others as a nicely portrayed unrealistic snapshot of myself. For years, I only allowed others to see the perfect snapshot and so it is no wonder that most had no idea the internal suffering and pain I endured daily. Even those who were closest to me didn’t know for a very long time how truly bad off I was.

You see, to go along with the perfect image I showed everyone, I carried around a set of rules in my head that I lived by. Never tell people that you aren’t doing okay, in fact tell them how great you are. Always look your best, never ever leave the house looking like a mess. Never show extreme emotion in public or in front of anyone unless it is a big smile. In fact, you should always wear a big smile. Try not to ever say anything about problems in your life, always minimize them. Don’t cry in front of anyone and the list went on and on. I didn’t want anyone to know the real me because I wasn’t nearly as glamorous as I seemed in fact I was really messy.

When I decided to be real, I learned that those rules were going to have go straight in the trash and the only snapshots that people were going to see were snapshots of the real me. Most days that isn’t bad at all. I actually like not having to worry about putting make up on and fixing my hair every morning. I really love yoga pants and could live in them and honestly constantly trying to create a perfect picture is exhausting. But sometimes showing the real me isn’t about how I look on the outside, it is about the way I look on the inside and that’s when things get hard.

It is so easy to skate through life letting others see the glamorized, photo-shopped versions of ourselves. It may be easier but it is not worth it. For me it meant accepting that people loved me as I was, the real me and that my Savior would never love me any less no matter how messy I was. And here’s the deal, the same is true for you too. No matter how messy how awful, how desperate, you think you are right now there are so many people who love you for who you are and will love that person so much more than the glamorized snapshot you show them. And I can guarantee that there is one girl who loves you for the messy, real, version of you that you are when no one is looking.

Much love,

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It’s Okay That You’re Not Okay

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“I believe that God is making all things new. I believe that Christ overcame death and that pattern is apparent all through life and history: life from death, water from a stone, redemption from failure, connection from alienation. I believe that suffering is part of the narrative, and that nothing really good gets built when everything’s easy.”

I sat at the table staring out the window, I didn’t want to make eye contact, because I was afraid she already knew what my answer would be. Still, I could see her looking at me through love filled eyes. “Martha, some day you are going to have to choose. You are going to have to pick your Eating Disorder or Jesus. You are going to have to jump. Are you ready?” I smiled at her, my painted on ,”you are very sweet, but you just don’t get it smile.” I looked her in the eye and with a level of defiance stated,  “Thanks but I am just not ready yet.”

A month later, I sat in the office of my beloved counselor as tears streamed down her face first and then mine. “Martha, you need serious help. You need a professional treatment team. Your Eating Disorder is serious and it is killing you.” She let the words sink in and through my tear soaked cheeks, I nodded. ” I will help you, she said, but I am scared that if we don’t start really fighting this…well I am scared of what will happen to you.” I sobbed, for the first time ever about my Eating Disorder.

I spent the next few days crying. Talking to dear friends and to my family. I spent the time thinking and praying and wondering what I would do. All along though I knew the choice I had to make. Finally, it was real and I knew what I had to do. Shakily, I picked up the phone and called my sweet friend who told me I had to choose. I called and told her I needed help. I wanted to fight. I never said the exact words, but she knew and looking back I knew too. I was ready to jump. I was choosing Jesus.

It has been three years since those conversations and since I chose Jesus and ran into the arms of grace. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about those conversations or the days leading up to my choice. I was sick. I was addicted. And I was a mess. Today only one of those is true. I am still a mess but I am no longer sick or addicted to food or the constant thoughts of food or body image. Sometimes I get scared to talk about my story of grace in it’s fullness because in all reality Jesus and Grace are trigger words. They make people take a second look at what you are writing. They make people fidget and look away. People either love you or hate you for writing about Jesus and your Faith. However, the truth is grace is scandalous and unimaginable and nothing about it is safe and comfortable. Even more so this story that I am living out is NOT about me. It is about a grace and love from a Father that I could never imagine. My story is about the gospel.

When I decided to fight and choose Jesus I had no idea the ride I was in for and am still on. It is only by the grace of His spirit that I have and had the strength to stand up to Ed and my ways of control. It was through Him and the people He placed in my life that I constantly was given the choice to embrace the beauty of grace. If it was left up to me, I couldn’t have done it and the road at times can still be rocky because I am always a work in progress, as is my story of recovery and grace.

This past fall I celebrated three years of recovery. I celebrated the decision to jump off the cliff into the arms of grace and say, “It is okay that I am not okay because Jesus is better than being better.” The most beautiful part is, embracing grace doesn’t mean that I am not still a mess. However, it envelops me in all my messiness and it allows me to be my messy broken self. Because Grace is bigger than my flaws. Grace is bigger than my mistakes. Grace is bigger than my guilt. And Grace is so much bigger than my shame. In fact, it washes it all away and says: You are loved, You are fearfully and wonderfully made and Your worth is not in Your outward appearance.

I never used to understand when people said that Jesus wrecked their lives but now I get it. He definitely wrecked mine and turned it upside down in the best way. He took everything I thought I knew about control and addiction and swept me into His arms. He told me I was loved when I felt unlovable and that I was beautiful in His image. He gave me scandalous, beautiful, amazing, grace. Today, I have the joy of working with college students and because of that. I have an opportunity to show others, specifically these students, that kind of love and grace that is scandalous and unheard of and it is because of my story of grace and the work of the gospel in my life, that I am able to do just that.

I am not sure if you read this and want to scream or if you read this and are in tears. Either way, I would love to hear your story of brokenness and redemptive grace. Because when we share about the mess and the beauty of grace in our lives, that is when the gospel becomes real. My friend I pray you know there is hope in whatever situation you face. Buckle up, because if you are willing to jump, you are in for the ride of your life.

May you always know how loved you are,

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Falling in Love

photo courtesy of my sweet friend Caroline's Wedding: All rights belong to Caroline Liegel and Kate Bentley photo

photo courtesy of my sweet friend Caroline’s Wedding: All rights belong to Caroline Liegel and Kate Bentley photo

I have never considered myself a writer, in fact as a young girl I often mysteriously contracted a headache or stomachache when it was time to have in class writing. However, I have always loved words and the power they hold. In fact, that is why I believe that as soon as I could read I fell in love with books. The words that told such beautiful stories, touched my heart and had me reaching for more each time. I truly believe in the power of the written word to help connect us to each others stories. Yet, when it came to put pen to paper I always felt queasy. After all those sick writing days, here I sit, typing away because despite my aversion to writing I know that words hold meaning and if we use the right words much healing and hope can flow from them. I write because I have have fallen in love with sharing the story of grace.

For years I sang on Sunday mornings with the praise team. We would practice on Saturday afternoons and then when Sunday morning came we would “perform” our rehearsed set. I say perform because that is what it was to me, my regular Sunday performance. I would get nervous each time that I wouldn’t do the harmony perfect or hit the right notes. All those years I didn’t get the joy I could have by leading worship because it was more about the performance than anything.

I find that scenario so applicable to my daily life. So many times I find the need to perform, to say the right things, to write the perfect words, to take the prettiest picture. And each time I find my soul aches. I want to be the perfect version of me and if I am real that is never going to happen.

There have been so many times I have missed out on opportunities, because of this fear. I didn’t think I would have the right words to say to someone new. I didn’t think I would have the experience that they thought was worthy. Or, I didn’t even have the cutest outfit to impress. So much time has been spent living life as if I was on stage and each scene needed to be more outstanding and applaud worthy than the last.

Let me tell you friends blogging just brings a whole new dimension to that. It would be so easy to sit down and write a post that I thought would get the most views. I would be lying if I said that it hadn’t motivated me before. It would be easy to sit down and write about my favorite outfit or how I decorate my home or my favorite recipes (and let me just say that many people do write about those things and I LOVE those blogs, but that is just not me) That is not my heart and that is not what I feel called to write about. I write because of the words of others that changed my heart. I write to tell my story. I write to share grace.

My life is far from perfect and in fact most days I cringe inside when I hit the publish button because I know a little bit more of my heart will be exposed for the world to see. But when I don’t share my real true self and pretend I live a perfect put together life or when I seek to gain approval or show off my life, than I am missing the message of grace entirely. My life isn’t about pleasing others or gaining applause, even though that is often hard and painful to realize. it is about leaving perfection learning grace.

When I think about the world I can’t help but imagine people who don’t perform but instead live out their passions. I imagine the world filled with writers who write because they can’t imagine not sharing life through words, artists who paint because they believe that art has meaning, singers who sing because they can’t help but fall in love with the sound of music and people who pursue their passions because they have fallen in love with them not because they want a standing ovation and a job well done. That my friends I believe is life well lived.

So if you read my previous blog post than you know I am not about New Year’s Resolutions. However, this is my for my life this year and my prayer for your life as well. May you leave behind the critics and fall deeply and madly in love with your life, your passions and a grace that will change your world.

And may you never forget how loved you are,

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