Breaking Up With Ed

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photo credit: Les Newsom

I lived with him for twelve years. He lied, cheated, nearly killed me and still I stayed. He made me lie to my friends, my family, and literally to everyone I knew. I was in elementary school when he moved in, so young, so innocent, yet so very broken. I lived by his rules and let them control my life. He was my best friend, my enemy, my dictator, all rolled into one…  To keep reading, follow along at…

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Losing Diamonds

If you were to look at my left ring finger you wouldn’t see that beautiful diamond that has graced my hand the last month and half. Nope it is not there…

Now before you all panic and starting sending me frantic texts and calling my mother, Brett and I are still very much together and engaged. In fact, if you haven’t heard we are having a July 4th wedding,which we are pretty stoked about. However, that diamond ring isn’t on my finger currently, although I wish it was.

Somewhere in between Sunday Church, lunch, a nap, and errand running the big diamond in my perfectly beautiful ring fell out. I was devastated. Gratefully we found the diamond on my floor after scouring my room, outside, cars, etc. The ring is currently being shipped back to the manufacture to be remade and the jeweler assured me this has never happened before and there must have been a defect with the ring. I am not sure if I felt better after that conversation or not. So for the next week and half if you see my left ring finger you will see a beautiful pearl ring my father gave my mother twenty six years.

As interested as I am sure you all are in my lost diamond saga, I think there is a much  deeper lesson that I have learned through it all that I would like to share…

I love people. I love spending time with people. I love sharing stories. I love phone calls. I love catching up. I love doing it all so much that I often schedule one too many meetings in a day. While it may be well intended, by the end of the day I am exhausted and sometimes I even have to cancel something because I am so overwhelmed with “all I have to do”. Just like I took for granted my beautiful diamond that set on my finger I take people and relationships for granted too.

This weekend I got to spend time with some of my favorite people, my RUF community. If you know me than you know how special they are to me, they are family. Half of them flew across country to witness the union of two of our dear friends. It was truly a beautiful special time. Some of us see each other often and others of us had not spoken in more than a year. However, we know each other, we get each other and after a few minutes together it was as if we had never been separated. We have smiled, laughed, and cried with each other. We celebrate victories and we comfort hurts.

Unfortunately, those bonds don’t come easily and they certainly don’t happen overnight. They happen one meal, one coffee, one secret shared at a time, one grace filled conversation at a time. Even more they don’t happen when taken for granted. Whether we all speak each week or we only talk every few months I can guarantee that we all value what each person has been and will be in each others lives. We realize that life is fleeting and friendships like these will not always happen. We recognize that although distance separate us, one day they will not and that one of the most beautiful pictures of God’s people in community is when we come together to share in life moments.

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Not only, did I have this beautiful reminder of community and friendship but I also had a much tougher example. Like my diamond ring that I once thought would always be on my hand forever. I often think I have infinite time with people and that if we miss one phone call than we can always catch up later. Sadly, sometimes that is just not the case. Last night, I visited my sweet 89 year old grandfather in the hospital. If you know me than you know that my Poppy has a very dear place in my heart. He was so much a part of my college years and in fact it is because of him that I had the best twentieth and twenty first birthday, complete with a Roaring Twenties and Mardi Gras theme. He has taught me to dance and to not take myself to seriously. He has loved me and laughed with me. He has beat boys off with sticks and taught me important life lessons. He seriously always makes me feel like a princess and the most beautiful girl in the world. Precious is an understatement of who my Poppy is to me. Last night, as it is becoming more normal, he didn’t know who I was. After some chatting he knew I was his granddaughter and after some coaxing he remembered my name. My eyes filled with tears at the smile that crossed his face and the pride in his voice as he said, Martha. Poppy may have years left or he could have months or days, we aren’t sure. However, his memory and dementia will continually get worse and there will be a day that he no longer is able to recognize me even with coaxing.

Last night visiting Poppy, was a tangible reminder that we don’t have unlimited time with people we love and in fact that we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Life is precious and it would be so easy to zoom through life from project to project and coffee to coffee without fully soaking in time and building relationships with people. In all honesty, who knows how many “diamonds” I have lost along the way because I rushed from thing to thing and took for granted precious people in my life.

Now I want you to know this isn’t a post to shame, this isn’t a post to make you feel bad if you are a busy person, and this certainly isn’t a post to say make sure you check and insure your valuable rings. This however is a post to encourage you and remind you to make time to focus on those who are the most precious in your life, to not let your schedule fill up, to not take any person for granted. As crazy as it sounds, it took a lost diamond to slap me in the face and to make me recognize that I have some of the most precious people in my life and I want to spend the rest of my life loving on them and being in community with them. My best guess is this is exactly what you want too. And while you continually loving and walking in community, may you always remember…

You are loved and you are worth it!

❤ MK

What’s Inside Your Heart

“What you do shows what’s inside your heart”-Nicholas

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Six years. That is how long we’ve had together. One week. That is the time we have left. As I sit here and begin to tell you about someone who means the world to me, tears are beginning to cascade down my face. These are happy tears. They are filled with joy for the time we have spent together and the memories shared. They are filled with hope for the future and all that will happen in both of our lives. And they are filled with a full heart for all he has taught me in the last six years. However, I would be lying if I said the tears were not mixed with a hint of sadness because selfishly I don’t want him to go. You see in one week we won’t live five minutes from each other, we won’t be in the same time zone let alone the same country. Communication will be a mix of face timing, texts,  and fb messages scattered in with some phone calls. And while it will be more difficult than I could imagine, it will be worth it. He is going to make a difference wherever he goes and I have the joy and the privilege of saying always, that’s my big brother…

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If you know me than you know about Nicholas. You know what a huge part of my life he is. And if you don’t then let me clear up some misconceptions for you. We are family, we are brother and sister. He is my big bro and I am his little sis. Not by blood, not by formal adoption, but by heart. And let me tell you I am willing to take down anyone who tries to tell me differently. 😉  It didn’t happen overnight but through the years he has become my big brother, my protector, my adviser, my advocate, my partner in crime and my best friend. It is no crazy accident how we became friends, in fact if you know the story you are laughing at how our friendship began. I could sit here and tell you about the lock in where we became real friends, or the family bonding, and meals that made us siblings but this post isn’t about that. It is about Nicholas.

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Some people radiate and you can’t help but notice them and if you have ever met Nicholas you know this true of him. From his smile, to his charisma , to his humor and intelligence he shines. His story is one of perseverance, love, and truly miracles. You could never imagine how much this guy has gone through to bring him to where he is today but that is the most amazing part about him is if you met him you would assume he has had the best life imaginable to bring him where he is. That is the most precious part about him, he his humbly grateful no matter where life takes him. The quote I used to begin this post,  is one that Nicholas said to me many years ago and it hangs painted on a canvas in my room as a reminder that all I do shows what my heart is about. Nicholas lives out this statement in every aspect of his life. He lives to help and serve others. He has wisdom that most adults never have. He has a child like spirit that literally is bouncing off the wall at times. He has a heart that loves others with more passion than I have ever seen. And if you have one conversation with him, you know this because his heart evidently shines through.

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Truth is I have great friends and a wonderful family but Nicholas and his family are one of the best gifts I have ever received. When I look back on the last six years of my life I could not have made it through without them. His family (which there will be a later post on) and him have been my rock on many of the hardest days I have ever faced. Nicholas and I may have gone to separate colleges and lived apart for most of our friendship  but it didn’t matter. We have shared more long talks, skype times, meals, heartbreak, Disney movies and laughter than I could ever count. I have never met anyone who would come home from a six week trip and sleep on an air mattress for weeks because his little sis had occupied his entire room. I have never met anyone who will sit up with me for hours baking cookies and practicing my song for a wedding the next day. He is the person after heartbreak, after bad Ed days, after fights, who never ceased to pick up his phone when I desperately called. And even more after I walked away from each conversation I felt uplifted. He has a gift of turning any situation into a joyous one and a gift for encouragement that exceeds any I have ever seen. He has counseled me over more problems than he would have liked, shared more friends with me than he thought he ever would, and let me talk for more hours than he was ready for. And all those things make up why we have become family, why we have become siblings.

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Through Nicholas I have learned that family isn’t made through blood and it isn’t made by having the same name. It is made when you hold each others hands when your world is falling apart. It is when you celebrate the joy of triumph. It is when you cry on each others shoulders. It is made when you clean out closets and run errands together. It is made in the big moments and the little moments. It is made in the in the midst of the darkest days and brightest tomorrows. Family is made when you share all of life deeply and intimately together, when you face it together as one, when you make the promise to be there for one another no matter how many miles separate you, and when you know deep in your heart that you share a bond that can never be broken. That is family.

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They say people come into your life and when they leave they leave footprints on your heart. Nicholas hasn’t left footprints he has left a piece of himself in my heart. He has changed my life for good and he has no idea how much he has done so. I am not the same person I was six years ago and so much of that is due to him. So if you know him, if you are a part of our family, thank you for sharing your Nicholas with me always. If you don’t know him you are missing out on one of the best guys on the planet. I have learned more about life, love, truth, and joy from this guy and thank you will never be enough. So as tears fall down my face my heart is full for all the memories we have together. Every time I look at my bracelet, wear one of his necklaces, write in my journal, look at my canvas, watch a disney movie, I will remember that, “What you do shows what is inside your heart.” and I will always  remember my Nicholas. The truth is I couldn’t be more beyond blessed with him because he is one in a million!

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Love you always and forever Nicholas,

❤ Your Marta

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What Family Is

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“This is what I know: we want to live in connected, honest community. We were created for relationship. We long to be invited into the vulnerable, family spaces in one another’s lives. But as desperately as we want this, at the same time we hate the idea of people seeing the mess in our own lives, both literally and figuratively.
Bad news, though: the system is rigged. If you only let people see the perfect parts of your life, you’ll never experience those transforming, extraordinary moments of friendship that we’re longing for, that we’ve been created for.”

I have rewritten and rewritten this post so many times my fingers are starting to hurt. I haven’t gotten past the introduction and I think it’s because I am afraid that if I do than the waterworks might start. I might have to be not only real, which includes being sad and a little heartbroken, but also overjoyed. How do you put into words when someone changes your life completely? How do you tell the story of a family that changed your life? How do you tell the story of people who mean the world to you? How do you not say goodbye and only see you soon?

We met over a year and half ago and within that time my life changed. I have never met a family that did real so well, that lived grace, that gave love unbounded. When we met I wasn’t ready to be real. I wasn’t ready to be honest and I certainly wasn’t ready to take off my mask. However, it didn’t take long because I found a family with these amazing people. I suddenly realized that I didn’t have to be perfect around them. They let me into the real messy, vulnerable, and honest, parts of their lives and because of that I let them into mine too. It is true what the quote above says, when we let people into the realness of our lives that when is the celebration of extraordinary friendship occurs, and that is what happened with us. We celebrated more than just birthdays and anniversaries we celebrated bravery, and realness. We celebrated disappointment and heartache because we knew it had a bigger plan in our lives and was temporary. Sometimes you meet people and you have no idea that they are about to change your lives. From the first time we met I knew this family was special. I saw the outward beauty in each of their faces but it wasn’t long before I saw the beauty in their hearts.

I have never been a real mom or aunt. I have never had more than one sibling. However, they let me have a small taste of it all. This year they let me try and they let me fail. I have learned what it means to have five more minutes of snuggle time because you can’t imagine putting them to bed just yet. I have learned what it means to say no because you have their best interest at heart. I have learned that nobody is going to die from a slightly burnt grilled cheese and sometimes even after the fourth time of rewriting the handwriting just doesn’t look better. I have learned that two desserts is just necessary on certain days. I have learned that some days call for multiple diet cokes. I have learned that in order to deal with problems that you have to be real with them. I have learned that there are people who get your struggles more than you ever imagined. I have learned more about different kinds of toys how much cooler they are then when I was little.  I have learned that building a fort is timeless and ageless. I have learned that sometimes Baby Einsteins is the only thing that works for a screaming child and that is okay! I have learned that we don’t get along perfectly everyday and some days are just hard. I have learned that we have to work at relationships. I have learned that a child’s intuition and wisdom is more brilliant and precious than any adults. I have learned what it means to love your family no matter what comes. I have learned that you say sorry when you don’t do things right. I have learned that prayer is essential and love should be freely given. I have learned that grace is vital. I have learned that none of us is perfect but that the mess can be beautiful.

I have watched three gorgeous kids grow up into the even bigger, wiser, and more faith filled individuals who inspire me daily. I have seen a mom and dad who love their kids more than anything and give more of that love and grace than I ever thought possible. I have gained a best friend who is like a sister and a big brother who would do anything to protect the people he loves. I gained another family, a family who welcomed me into the mess and all, who loved me despite me flaws, who told me it was okay to mess up, who celebrated over my victories big and small, who loved me when I was unlovable. There are no words to express the multitude of these gifts but I can say that I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I wouldn’t be where I am in my faith, in my recovery, in my journey without my family.

Today we don’t say goodbye but only see you soon. Hundreds of miles will separate our physical homes but not the love in our hearts. When you become family with someone you don’t ever lose that. We may not share the same DNA or blood types but there is no doubt that God made us family. A year and half ago I couldn’t have imagined what life would be with them and today I cannot imagine a day without them. So my family, for all the way you have loved me for all the ways you have shown me this love and grace, for all the tangible and intangible gifts you have given me, for the faith you have inspired me with, for all the joy and happiness you have filled my life with, thank you will never be enough. Never will I drink another diet coke, see Disney Princesses,  jump on a trampoline, eat mint chocolate chip ice cream or a greek salad, play on a kindle, watch baby e, and not think of you. For all the tangible ways in which you have forever changed my life I will be forever grateful but for the million plus intangible ways, for all the lessons, prayers, love and grace, my heart is forever linked with yours. You have changed my life for good. I will never be the same because of you! I am beyond blessed because of my beautiful family and I always will be! This is NOT goodbye…this is see you soon…this is lots of airplane trips, car rides, skype and facetime, this is tons of messages and phone calls, pictures sent, and mail received but this is NEVER goodbye. You hold a spot in my heart that no one could ever take. We may not be with each other everyday but we will always be at heart because we will be forever family… May you ALWAYS remember…

I LOVE YOU to the moon and back (times infinity!),

❤ Your MK

Dear Ed…Closing a Chapter and Beginning a New Book

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“It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard, she said, is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.”

The last several weeks have been a whirlwind. From graduating college, to saying goodbyes to friends,  to starting new adventures, to friends getting married, if feels as if life is going at full speed and it is during those times that I feel the need to take a big deep breath and soak in all I have the potential to miss. I have never felt more loved or more celebrated than I have in the last several weeks, from a graduation party thrown by “The Moms”, to a precious family party, to time with my best friends, to many cards and presents, to sweet texts and phone messages, as I have said (many many times if you know me 🙂 ) before I really am one beyond blessed girl. It wasn’t until I was going through a memento box from the last four years that reality finally struck me. A chapter in my life was closing in so many ways. I ran across a letter I wrote in the early fall, shortly before I started this blog. It was a letter I wrote in the midst of recovery to Ed and when I wrote it I felt like I still had to struggle extremely hard be free. As I read the words in the letter the other day though, tears filled my eyes, because I realized  by the grace of God I was no longer the girl in the letter. I realized I had grown leaps and bounds in the last nine months and that Ed is no longer a part of my daily or even weekly life. Sure I have bad days and struggles like anyone else but I have reached a point in my recovery that there is so much freedom that is unbelievable. So even though I am so proud of myself for my college graduation in my book this is an even bigger deal. So as you read this letter I hope you know if you have been a part of my journey thank you, this is for you and for those of you out there struggling this is for you too. Nine months ago I didn’t think I would be where I am now and yet here I am, beginning a new part of my life after college. For the first time, I feel as if I am closing a chapter of an old book and starting a brand new one…

Dear Ed,

You have been a part of my life for too long now. I hate you. In fact, I despise you. I know that for the last twelve years we have been friends, we’ve been best friends but that is ending now. I don’t want you in my life. I don’t want to be your friend. I don’t want to hear your lies.

I know we have been close for a very long time now and leaving you behind is not going to be easy but it is going to be worth it. Everyday that I listen to you one less time, every time I take one more bite, every tiny step I take towards being free of you is a small battle won. I will celebrate these victories and I will be proud of myself for them. You have kept me in chains for too long and I AM going to break free.

I am making a commitment to not listen to you, to not obey you, to fight you and to win. I may make mistakes, I may fall, I may not win immediately but eventually I will. I will not let you use my mistakes and my slip ups against me. I will not let you get me down. I will give myself grace, I will remind myself of what my life will be with without you, I will step up instead of backing down.

I know I have said this before and I know that a year ago I made a commitment to beating you but I have been scared, no, I’ve been terrified. You made me believe that I couldn’t live life without you, that I wasn’t strong enough, that I would never beat you but for the first time in my life I believe I CAN and I WILL!

I will not let myself believe the constant lies you tell me, or all the doubt you fill my head with. I know as I recover your voice will be there, pretending to love me (when in reality you hate me). I WILL not count calories, eat or not eat for the sake of comfort, I WILL not skip meals, I WILL not use ANY KIND of supplements, meal replacements, or laxatives or medicines (to avoid eating or to get rid of food), I WILL not engage in behaviors that make your voice loud, I WILL not continue in behaviors that harm me and continue to bring me self-hatred and disappointment.

I will avoid and be aware of my triggers (talking about diet and exercise plans, looking at models or unhealthy people, obsessing and comparing myself to others, constant stress of perfection in school, and thinking I have to impress everyone I meet). I will instead remind myself that I am loved by a God who, “fearfully and wonderfully made me” just the way that He wanted me and that He believes I am beautiful no matter my looks. I will remind myself that Mary and the Kendall family, value my friendship and love and treasure me in their lives. I will remind myself that Mommy and Daddy, Sam, Anne, Davis, Nick, and Carter are grateful I am a part of their families. I will remind myself that I have countless, family, friends and wonderful best friends who believe I am worth fighting for and beating this. I will remind myself that my Anorexia does not define me and never will. I will remind myself that God has incredible plans for my life, which include loving and serving others, and bringing glory to His name, and none of them I can complete if I am not here.

ED, this is goodbye for good, you will no longer master my thoughts, my actions, my life. I am taking back the control and will keep it for the rest of my life. I am ending this friendship for the last time and will not be returning. I just wanted you to know in case you were in doubt that I DON’T love you and I DON’T want you to be a part of my life anymore. I will KEEP fighting EVEN when it gets hard, EVEN when I want to give up, EVEN when I feel like no more of me can fight, I will fight until I BEAT you and you are NO longer a part of my daily life!

Goodbye ED, we won’t be speaking anymore,

Martha Kate

To those of you who read that letter and walked this journey with me, thank you is an understatement. It is your hand-holding, prayers, love, and support and grace, that brought me through. I love you and always will. I could not have made it without you. To those of you reading this who are struggling with Ed or something else, there is freedom, there is hope, you CAN be set free. I want you to know that there was a point that I never thought it was possible but IT IS!! And to MK way to go girlfriend, you never backed down and you still don’t. I want you to know, I am proud of YOU!

Friends, you can make it through recovery, you can beat this. There is hope, there is grace and when you do find freedom, I want you to be so thankful for those who have helped you through, I want you to give back and help those struggling but I also want you to be sooo proud of yourself because no one can do this for you but YOU.  I don’t know about you but this girl is slamming the book closed on that chapter (never to be reread!) in her life and she is starting a brand new beautiful book full of grace, messiness, imperfection and beauty because that is what life is all about! My friend, I am thinking of you this week and hoping  that you may find the strength to fight whatever battle it is in your life and that you may find the hope to overcome it and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!

❤ MK

Recovery and Crawfish

Eating with a full heart at RUF Crawfish Boil 2013

Eating with a full heart at RUF Crawfish Boil 2013

“…sometimes the happiest ending isn’t the one you keep longing for, but something you absolutely cannot see from where you are.”

I cannot help but smile from ear to ear when I look at the picture above. That girl is so joyful and not the kind of joyful that masks pain but one that knows pain, has felt it and still finds joy in the morning. That girl didn’t exist last year and she certainly didn’t exist at that very same crawfish boil, because she was terrified. MK last year might have made a commitment to recovery but she still found certain things so hard to do. Let’s just say eating with her hands, off a table, with other people, surrounded by mounds of food wasn’t the ideal situation, but this year…it was perfect… because that is the beauty of recovery…

When Ed and I were still best friends there were certain things that I was “not allowed to do” as mandated by Ed. I had certain eating habits, which meant I ate with my hands extremely rarely. I used utensils for everything. I DID NOT get my face or hands messy. I didn’t eat from family style meals. I certainly didn’t eat off a table.  I didn’t eat with anyone but my closest friends. And I didn’t eat anything that was not on my list of certain foods “I was allowed”. Those were just a few of the Ed rules. ( I want to be clear and say I only tell you these “rules” because I want you to know how absurd they were and how filled with lies each was!!) When I started recovery many of the rules went out the window. However, these were still some of the ones I clung to in order to maintain stability and control. I had bizarre food behaviors that were slowly being eradicated but it was a process. Needless to say, I was still working on these as I went to my RUF Crawfish Boil last year and I was pretty terrified. I remembering managing to eat a few of the critters which were definitely not on my okay to eat list but the whole time worried at who was watching me eat. Had I eaten too much. Could I eat the desserts and the crawfish? Where did these things fit in on my meal plan? How could I calculate? It was rough to say the least, in fact I am pretty sure I left early mostly due to how overwhelmed I felt.

Fast forward a year… I helped plan the Crawfish Boil and wait for it… I was in charge of coordinating and even picking up some of the food. My how a year changes things. I was literally ecstatic to spend this time with my best friends. I had fun from the set up to the clean up. I ate until I had a full tummy and my lips burned with spiciness. I tried multiple desserts and loved them. I played with the cutest babies, caught up with dear friends, laughed and never thought once about what I was eating. All the things that scared me last year were not even on my radar this year. Nobody cared what I ate or didn’t eat. No one was watching me eat like I previously thought. I even taught some new friends how to eat crawfish. And lets be real, eating off a table with your hands is pretty fun! 🙂  It was a spectacular time…because that is the beauty of recovery.

Friends that is recovery, enjoying eating critters. 😉 Recovery is eating with my community and not worrying about what I am eating because I am having way too much fun enjoying the people I am with. Recovery is being able to eat fast food and not care. It is about eating a candy bar mid day because it sounds good. It is about choosing fruit or a salad because it genuinely sounds good and not because it’s the lowest calorie option. It is eating family style and aking for seconds. It is eating with your hands off a table. It is trying two desserts. It is about going to get a diet coke and deciding an ice cream cone sounds good. It is about not checking the menu before you go to a restuarant and even more not caring what restuarant you end up at. It is about ordering or buying food that is not light or low fat because you like the taste or vice versa.  It is about not wearing make up just to cover up a pimple. It is about not wearing clothes two sizes too big just to cover your body but wearing clothes you like. It is about enjoying shopping and not caring about sizes. It is not caring what other people think about the way you look and even more it is about realizing that people truly are not focused on the way you look.

Most days the things above are part of my normal rountine I don’t have to think twice about any of them. And then there are other days, days that are few and far between, when recovery is a little more difficult. Those are the days I am concious of fighting hard because Ed wants to creep in and have a say so. On those days it is easy to become mad, frustrated, and let down. Ed and I don’t really talk anymore but when I am worn down and upset he thinks it’s okay to slip in his two cents. It is on those days that food is just a little more difficult, that looking in the mirror doesn’t come as naturally and that I have to remind myself where I am in my journey. Those days although few and far between are tough, they take a lot of energy and they remind me why I fight. It is on those days that I am grateful that I can fight back because once I didn’t know how and I wasn’t strong enough, today I am. I can slam the door in Ed’s face and tell him to leave me alone. It is on those days that I remind myself for over a decade that this is how I dealt with life and that it is a process and that one day I won’t hear him ever. It is even on those really tough days that I am so grateful for where I am and the fact that more than 90% of my days I don’t hear from him or think about his place in my life… and even more when he tries to speak up I know why and can tell him to go away and it happens… and that is AMAZING! It is about understanding that everyone has a bad day. It is about truly knowing that I don’t strive for perfection any more because I am living and walking in grace.

Friend, I hope you are encouraged and that you know that this is possible for you too. I want you to eat crawfish family style. I want you to order the ice cream cone. I want you to pick the salad because it sounds delicious. I want you to look in the mirror and smile. I don’t know where you are in your path to recovery but know that it is possible. Life without Ed is soo possible and don’t let ANYONE tell you it isn’t! There is freedom and I am living in that freedom and that is what I want for you too. Recovery is truly a journey and I want you to know that your are not aiming for perfection but you are learning to walk in the freedom of grace. May your week be filled with the idea of living and walking in freedom and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!!

❤ MK

Life that shall endless be

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Last night I was reminded of how truly blessed I am. Wednesday nights have been my favorite  for the past four years.  Each Wednesday night I walk through the doors and am greeted by a community of people who love me exactly as I am…flawed, messy, and in desperate need of grace. Four years ago, I walked through the doors and was scared because I knew no one in the room. However, I was greeted with warm smiles and people that enveloped me in and for the first time during college I felt at home. A peace washed over me like I had never felt before and I knew I had found the community I so longed to be a part of…and that community is RUF (Reformed University Fellowship)…

As I sat there last night it hit me that this was my last time to sit and hear my pastor preach as a student. I still have a few more large groups left. I still have a couple more ministry team meetings. I still have the Craw fish Boil. I still have Summer Conference…but then it ends. And that is where my heart breaks…my time as an RUF student has flown by and I can’t believe it. However, my heart is still filled with such overwhelming  joy because, yes technically my time as a part of the RUF ministry as a student ends, but my community within RUF doesn’t and it never will and for that I am grateful.

I have been involved in many ministries since I was young. They were all wonderful and I loved my time with each. However, there is something about this group, this community that changed my life. It was within this community that I learned that I was messy and broken and  that I was loved and given grace despite my messiness and brokenness. It was within this community that I took my mask off, that I became real. These were the people who loved me in spite of my flaws and poured into me when I needed it most.

I have been blessed many times with communities that I have been spent with a group of people. These communities were people I  came together with for worship and a lesson, who I had great bible studies with, who we planned events together, had parties together. However, many times I have found that this is where the community ended. We came together for church, bible study, and special events but often we didn’t do life together and this is exactly what I expected when I became a part of RUF. I expected to have a great once a week large group, a good bible study, and enjoy some fun events, be able to sing on the praise team, and then I would go back to my life and do it all again the next week. I was wrong.

What I found is RUF doesn’t live within the walls of the chapel or within the space of Wednesday night. The community of RUF is visible, late nights at Whataburger, during the Slurpee runs at 7-11, at early morning breakfast, during birthday and Christmas parties, in the midst of break ups and heartaches, at the pub, singing karaoke on a Saturday night,  and whenever and however we are together or sharing life. These are the people who have held my hands, who have dried my tears, who have reassured my fears, who have loved me when I felt unlovable, who have shown me grace, and who have always  pointed me back to the cross. They spoke truth when it was hard to hear and came to my rescue when they saw me in need. They have shown me more love and grace than I could have ever imagined and they have shown me what it means to be in true community.

Now let me spoil the secret for all of you people who are thinking that we are this group of church people who have our lives together, you see that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I am going to speak for the community and say that we are ALL  messy, broken people, in desperate need of grace. We have messed up together, hurt each other, made dumb decisions, had to apologize, felt unlovable, had a multitude of struggles and suffered brokenness in many different ways. We in no way are perfect people we are a mess and we need each other. The sole reason that we have been able to love each other and show each other grace, despite our own flawed hearts is because, we have been shown a scandalous and truly amazing grace that none of us deserve. Because of this grace we were given we have tried to show that to others. We have spent time learning to live out this grace, to serve others, to love others, and even when we have screwed up we were shown grace. We believe in and serve a God who is bigger than us, bigger than our mistakes, bigger than our flaws, and bigger than RUF.

So here I sit a little sad because my time with a ministry I love is coming to an end but grateful that I have been given the opportunity to experience a community that keeps the main thing the main thing and even more joyful because this community lasts forever. These dear people are some of my best friends (but really they are :)) and while we may all be headed to different jobs, states, even countries and continents, we share a connection that can never be broken, and a faith and understanding of grace that transcends state, country and continent lines. If you are reading this and have been a part of this community of RUF, thank you will never be enough but I am going to say it anyway. Thank you for your love, your grace, your humor, your laughter, your realness, your brokenness. Thank you for embracing my ribbons and bows, my boy troubles, my Disney princess love, my love for Diet Coke and my constant use of the word best friend. Thank you for making me eat when I needed to, refusing to let me run when I couldn’t stop, for helping me eat ice cream and drink milkshakes, for introducing me to Wayne,  for coming to parties at GG’s, for praying for my family, for loving my friends, for listening to me sob, for listening to my uncontrollable laughter, for letting me lead worship, for encouraging me with smiles from the pews as I sing, for loving me when I was unlovable, for telling it like it is, for clinging to the gospel, for keeping the main thing the main thing and for always pointing me back to Jesus and His grace, love, and mercy.  Each and every one of you have changed me for good. The world we live in is all too broken and messy but you have made this side of heaven beautiful with the community that you have shown me (and I am not the only one). I am grateful for each of your friendships and my love for each of you is bigger than you can imagine. I am beyond blessed by each of you and you hold a piece of my heart that will be there forever. For many of us our time in RUF is ending but know that our love and friendship is not.

And what about those of you who are reading this and aren’t a part of a community like this? What if you didn’t know such community exists? My first thought is that if you are entering college or are already a college student find the RUF group on your campus! Seriously, DO IT! However, I know this is not reality for many of you. You may be past college age or not there for many years. The good news is that there are other communities like this out there, communities of people that are real, who cling to the gospel, and show love and grace despite their flaws; find those people.  You won’t be sorry you did…we all need a community this side of heaven to help bear in our burdens and love us well. I promise you they are out there. My friend, there is hope and it starts with unimaginable grace from a God who loves and chose you despite your messiness, He picked you. It is lived out by the community of people who are devoted to loving Him and showing this grace and love to others. Look for those people and if your interested in RUF… go check it out @ http://www.ruf.org. 🙂 And my friend, ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH  it,

<3MK