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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Why I Am Throwing Out New Year’s Resolutions

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I could have never imagined what my life would be life 365 days ago. In a short year’s time, I got engaged, quit my job as a wedding planner, raised my entire salary for my new job, became a wife, an RUF intern, and a Waco Resident. I moved from the only place I had every called home to a small town that I was’t quite sure of. I married my best friend, insanely in love, but having no true idea what marriage would be like. I became a mentor to many students in which I had to admit that I too did not have my life together. And in all that I fell more in love with this place I call home, more in love with my best friend, and more in love with these students I have the privilege of walking through life with. 2014 was a year I will never forget. So here I am six hours from the new year and looking back there is not a thing I would change. I made mistakes and I learned from them, but without these mistakes and triumphs of the past year I wouldn’t be where I am today. So my friends, I want to let you in on a little secret I am not making any New Year’s Resolutions and I want to encourage you not to either.

As soon as I was old enough, I jumped on the idea of making new resolutions at the beginning of each year. It was an opportunity for me to lose weight, do better, and ultimately “become more perfect”. I started off each year with the idea that this would be the year I was size x. This would be the year that I got the guy. This would be the year that I would be recognized for my grandiose achievement. In short, this would be the year that I would become perfect MK. As you can see by day two I was exhausted by my strict regiments of what I should and shouldn’t do in order to have the perfect year. So after years of being controlled by perfection, I am throwing the resolutions out the window. Because really they mean nothing to me other than an excuse to exercise my perfectionism.

So this year I have an idea for you or more for us. What if instead we made a decision each day to love more when someone is unloveable. What if each day we decided that we wanted to step outside our comfort zone. What if we showed grace to ourselves and others when it is the hardest. What if we encouraged each other instead of putting one another down. What if we realized that some days are hard and require more love and care. What if we pursued that dream we are terrified of.  What if we realized that some days we may do none of the above and other days we might feel like we are on top of the world loving others.

That is what I want my new year to be about, making choices each day and pursuing grace instead of perfectionism. If I’m honest by the end of each year I couldn’t have told you exactly what my resolutions from the year before were. This next year I want to smile as I look back and know that it may not have been a perfect year but it was filled with grace.

Here is to throwing out resolutions and wishing each of you a beautiful New Year!

All my love,

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Thank YOU and A Giveaway

 I cannot say thank you enough to all of you for your support of my post Why I Won’t Call You Skinny .Your love and support has truly been overwhelming. While I am in the process of a follow up post I wanted to give you all a chance to have some fun.
One of the best things that has come from this blogging adventure is the sweet friends and fellow bloggers that I have met along the way. It truly makes a world of difference to feel as if you have a friend in this crazy world of blogging. So I have teamed up with some awesome bloggers to offer this Kate Spade Holiday Giveaway in the most festive of colors. The earrings are so glam and can be dressed up or down and the engraved compact is just that: darling. Make sure you not only enter the giveaway but also check out these beautiful ladies blogs.

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Anne | Martha Kate | Liz | Mia

Autumn | Claire | Tabitha | Nina

 

CLICK HERE:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

xoxo,

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Why I Won’t Call You Skinny

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I remember the first time I heard the words that will stay with me forever. I remember the smile on the woman’s face as she looked at me with envy and I remember the pride that exuded from me that day thinking I had just won a gold metal. What were those words? No they weren’t you are amazing. No they weren’t you are so smart or kind. They weren’t even you are beautiful. Those words which held me in a death trap for over a decade were, “You are so skinny!”

I was ten years old and standing in the school hallway before class. A former teacher looked at me and gushed as she told me how skinny I was, how much weight I had lost, and how incredible I looked. I learned on that day; skinny was to be praised, skinny was noteworthy, skinny made people stop and notice, skinny was what I should strive to be. My heart breaks and I literally feel sick as I think of that young, innocent girl holding her princess backpack as her grasp of beauty begins to slip through her fingers.

I think if only the teacher had known I lost weight because of mental issues that were weighing me down, if she had only known each day at lunch I traded my home packed lunch for half of a subway sandwich (that a girl who’s mom was on the subway diet gave her each day). And if only she knew once I was given that six-inch sandwich I never managed to eat half of it. If only she knew, ironically the same year, I learned about how important skinny was I also learned what eating disorders were. However, I never even dreamed I could have one, because I wasn’t an emaciated Ballerina and I didn’t throw up my food, so how could I have a problem. That same year I would stand outside my Reading Class with a headache so terrible I could barely focus because I had eaten nearly nothing that day. However, the only thought which crossed my mind was “If this is what it takes to be skinny, it is worth it”.

For over a decade I would believe the lie, “skinny was the best thing possible”. Skinny fueled my Ed. I would try to brush off every compliment related to my size. I would deny it when someone said I was smaller than them. Shrug my shoulders when size “x” didn’t fit me. I would laugh when someone asked me for my diet and exercise tips. Inside, I would be thrilled. I was ecstatic of the praise and attention. Proud that my size had earned me this “privilege”.

Secretly though, I was dying physically, mentally and emotionally. I thought in order to be loved, in order to be valued, in order to be praise worthy I needed to stay this skinny. It was a losing game because no matter what the number on the scale said, no matter how small the size got, no matter how many people complimented, it wasn’t enough. And even more, the skinnier I got the more I lost MK. I had no idea what true beauty was and that it had nothing to do with the size you were.

Looking back I don’t blame the woman who stopped me in the hallway, she didn’t cause my eating disorder. My Ed was about so much more than that. That woman merely played the part that society has taught us to play. We are taught from an extremely young age that beauty and (even more) size are important. We are taught that it defines our worth and who we are.

What if I told you it didn’t though? What if I told you striving for skinny and even more perfection won’t get you anywhere but heartache. If you know me today you know no matter how much weight you may have lost or gained, I will never comment on your size. I will never tell you how skinny you are. I will never say you look like you’ve put on weight. Because I don’t believe commenting on people’s sizes is appropriate in any way, shape, or form. Because I don’t believe your view of beautiful should be determined by a comment, or a magazine, or by comparison.

When we take time out to comment on something we are stating what we feel is important to say. Worth is put in our words. I never want someone to think they are valued for their size. Because size doesn’t define worth. Size doesn’t define beauty.

May you know you are beautiful for millions of things but your size should never dictate your beauty. And may we work together to stop using words like skinny or fat or commenting on size in general.

And may you always remember how loved and worth it you are,

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You Know Her

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Three years, and yet it seems like a lifetime ago. Three years, and yet it seems like I don’t even know who that girl was. But I do, because she was me and deep down inside I know what it was like to be that girl. I remember every detail of my sweet therapist Shelley’s office. I remember the paintings hung on the wall. I remember the chair I sat in. I remember the tears that began to stream down her face when she told me I needed more help than she could provide. I remember the sobs that came from me and the Kleenex she handed me as she held my hand. I remember standing up and giving her a brave smile. And I remember the hug she gave me as I left her office, knowing I had a decision to make.

If you had bumped into me in a coffee shop a little over three years ago, you would have thought I had it all together. I always had the right outfit with the right accessory. I had bow in my hair and the biggest smile you have ever seen on my face. If you were my friend a little over three years ago I would have sat across from you at coffee and told you that I was just fine. I might have admitted that I had a little issue with food but that I had it under control. Deep down inside I knew I had a problem but I was okay with the problem because I didn’t want to let go of the control. Ed was ruining and wrecking my life.

That day in counseling three years ago I made a decision. I decided that I would stop letting Ed take control and I would start fighting for freedom. And I haven’t stopped since that day. Because of His amazing grace, and an incredible support team professional and personal, I am where I am today, living a life of freedom.

While it seems like much more than three years ago that I sat there terrified of what may come, I remember who that girl was and even more I see her all around me. She is the one who looks like she has it all together. She is the one who is involved in everything. She is the one who always has a smile on her face. She is the one who is the first to help you with all your problems. She could be your best friend, your sister, your boss, your mom, your wife.

You may have no idea she has a problem because you think she has her life all together. You may see her comment on food. You may see her be a “picky eater”. You may even see her count calories or exercise. But you think nothing of it, because in today’s society, talking negatively about our body or food is acceptable. You may think nothing of it because you too have those behaviors.

Can I tell you a secret? She needs you. Whether she wants to admit it or not. She needs you to hold her hand. She needs your hugs. She needs your love. She needs your support. Even more she needs to know that you don’t love her any less because of this. She needs to know that you don’t think she’s crazy. She needs you to know she will mess up and it will be hard but you will stand by her. That smile on her face is hiding her pain and her put together outfit and life are facades in order to fool you into thinking she has her life together. She wants you to think she has it all under control when really her control is slipping through her fingertips.

So love her and show her grace. Help her when she needs it and listen when she asks. If it weren’t for those people in my life I would have never made it in recovery. Eating Disorders are horrendous for the people dealing with but they are also terrifying for the people surrounding them. Loved ones often want to help but they have no idea how. So for those of you who are struggling, let someone in today, I promise you won’t regret it. For those of you who love someone struggling with Ed, hold their hand and listen. You can’t fight the battle for them but you can love, support and show them grace while they do it, and I promise you it will make a bigger impact than you know. And to my lovely support team, friends, family, professionals, thank you will never be enough. Because of your support, love, and pointing me back to His grace, I am living three years of freedom. Oh happy day indeed!

Know today and everyday, you are loved and you are worth it!

xoxo,

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*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or any kind of counselor or medical professional, just an Ed survivor and advocate.  I also in no way believe that only women suffer from Ed so know that this could easily be for men as well. Even more, I don’t want you reading to believe that if you or someone you know smiles a lot, wears put together outfits and is a driven person that means you or they have an Eating Disorder. I simply want others to take notice that often the people we least expect to have issues are the ones that do. If you or someone you know has an Eating Disorder these websites below are great resources:

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/

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What Is Love

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I think we would all being lying if we said we hated the idea of love, of falling in love, of being in love, of love stories. In reality, I think it’s hard to hate an idea that centers around us being cared for, cherished, adored and frankly loved. We all long for that. Our culture is filled with romantic sitcoms and movies, it seems it’s on every billboard and it’s around every corner. The wedding industry is booming and Valentine’s day is celebrated by millions. However, what if I told you love doesn’t just happen once a year on a special day. What If I told you it’s an all year, every minute kind of thing. And even more, what if I told you love is not a feeling but it’s a choice…

I would be lying if I said that somewhere deep down inside I don’t long to be a princess. In fact, I used to think love was this fairy tale princess story that ended with a Happily Ever After and a ride off into the sunset with my Prince Charming. If you had asked me what love was two years ago that is exactly what I would have told you. It was Happily Ever After, tied with a beautiful bow around it. Now I know better. My friends, that is not love, because love is a choice, love is an action.

In fact, nearly four months ago I did marry the man of my dreams and I did have a fairy tale day but my marriage to sweet Brett has even more confirmed that love is a choice we make everyday. Because for any of you that have been married, had kids, had close friends, you know, laundry piles up, work days are grueling, you don’t always agree and life is hard. Feelings get hurt and we say things we didn’t mean, and it is in those moments that we have a decision to make, to keep loving. Brett and I stood up on that altar four months ago and we made a decision to love each other even when days are hard and we don’t feel like it and for that I am forever grateful.

However, I am not just talking about love with your significant other, I am talking about love with your friends, with your community, with your parents, with your extended family, with your kids, with yourself. I no longer hold the belief that love is this mushy, gushy feeling. If that were true then love would last very briefly. In the last few years (and even more in the last four months) I feel like I have gotten a crash course in love and what it means to love others and have them love you back.
I once had a conversation with a friend who told me that loving someone should be easy, it shouldn’t take work, it shouldn’t be messy and we should just have that love feeling. I tried to explain that was the opposite of what I believed love to be, because, love was all of those things, messy, hard, complicated, work, and it was anything but a walk in the park. We are human, we mess up and we are in no way perfect so why should love with other people be anything but imperfect. I believe there is only one true perfect love, filled with grace and that is from a Savior much bigger than any of us. So when it comes to imperfect people love is difficult. We often give up easily because love requires grace. It requires looking at someone and seeing their imperfections and loving them all the same.
Every day we wake up and we have a choice to dig deep with people. We have a chance to roll up our sleeves and walk through the messiness of life hand in hand. We have a chance to forgive and keep forgiving. We have a chance to live out grace. We have a chance to not treat others in ways they have treated us. Sometimes it gets really messy, sometimes it requires us to do things we don’t want to do, awkward things. It may require kindness to a stranger, it may be asking to help with a task you absolutely cannot stand, it may be physically cleaning up a mess, it may be time consuming. Each time we dive in and show that kind of love we are giving people a chance to see that beautiful face of grace and love.

Earlier this month, I got to spend time with one of my favorite friends who is beautiful inside out. She has mentored and loved me unconditionally. She has held me when I cried. She has talked me through the toughest times, shared her family and seen past my flaws. Most of the time I had nothing to offer her back but my mess and she still chose to roll up her sleeves, pick me up and help me out of my mess. She made a choice to love me when I was unlovable. That my friends is love, when we have nothing to offer and someone comes in sacrifices for us and scoops us up in their arms and makes a choice to love us.

Sometimes we forget to extend this same courtesy to ourselves. It is easiest for us to love others and not ourselves. My friends I want to remind you to extend that same grace and love to yourself, even when you are a mess and feel at your worst. You too need love, even from yourself. Real love is hard even for ourselves because it requires sacrifice. It may mean that we don’t get to watch a marathon of our favorite TV shows, maybe it means putting part of your paycheck into something less fun than a rainy day fund, sometimes it means telling the honest truth in grace and risking a relationship. That is where we often get caught up in a predicament, we are all about love, until it affects our bank accounts, our home, our time. I want to challenge you friend, true love requires this sacrifice. It means loving when the person isn’t deserving. It means loving when you want to quit. It means loving despite the fact that the other person can do nothing for you. It means loving the mess of a person laying in bed, who hasn’t showered, has bad breath and greasy hair. That is love.

This week I hope you think about the ways you can love others…truly love others, ways you can sacrifice and love people when it isn’t fun. It might seem hard and weird but just remember it is not a feeling you’re going off, it is a choice, it is an action. And as you begin to love others this week I have a feeling you will really begin to live and I pray you get that love and grace you are dishing out, served right back to you.
And may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED!

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