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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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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No Matter What, YOU are BEAUTIFUL

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It happened nearly seventeen years ago and I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was on the playground, a young five-year-old. I was in a purple t-shirt esque dress, my hair long hair bouncing as I climbed up the to the top of the slide. Suddenly, she looked at me, a girl whose name I will never remember but whose words were imprinted on my heart. She looked right at me and said, “You’re fat!”. That is all she said and walked away. I honestly have no idea if we were friends, or if I even knew her name but even now nearly seventeen years later I remember my heart breaking. I remember it was all I could do to get home without crying. I remember telling my mom and grandmother. I remember my little heart and head couldn’t understand but even at five I knew that fat meant ugly and she had called me fat, which meant I was ugly…

Fast forward seventeen years later to a week ago, I am with a woman who loves me and knows my struggle, yet as we walk across the parking lot she grabs my arm looks at me and smiles. “I am so glad you dropped all that extra weight because you are just too pretty to not be tiny. I am so glad you are your tiny self again. You are just beautiful like that.” I starred at her not believing the words that just left her mouth and my heart and head took me right back to my five year old self who was broken-hearted because someone called her fat and therefore ugly. It didn’t matter that I knew I hadn’t changed sizes, it didn’t matter that I knew that this woman had an Ed and therefore couldn’t speak truth, it didn’t matter that I knew my beauty wasn’t defined in my size, it didn’t matter that I KNEW that fat and ugly are NOT synonymous, it stung. And for the last few days I have wrestled with that sting and why it hurt so bad and friends I think the truth I remembered in the midst of the sting is worth sharing…

When I was in the deepest darkest days of Ed, beauty meant one thing, it meant being thin. However, no matter how desperately thin I got it, was never enough. I could never see myself as beautiful, only ugly. My view of myself was defined in something temporary, in something that the world tells me is important. My beauty was defined in my physical appearance which is something that will never be perfect. The more I watch TV, flip through magazines, or browse pintrest the more disgusted I am. You see I am a true girly girl at heart. I love anything that sparkles and glitters, I love pretty dresses, I love nail polish, I love lipstick, I love getting all dressed up. But I have learned that none of those define me. And the more I look at the media and the more I hear young girls and older women talk the more my heart breaks, because the overarching message is this: You are beautiful when… you are size x, you have perfect hair, you have a clear face, your nails are manicured, you have beautiful clothes. My friends it is NOT true! As women I believe we have an innate desire to want to feel beautiful but I have learned that beauty in no manner comes from my physical appearance. Beauty is NOT defined in a size!

I know you just read that last sentence and were tempted to stop reading because you don’t believe me. You don’t believe that beauty is not about your physical appearance but I promise your beauty does not depend on your physical appearance and I desperately need you to believe that. Because until you do, you can’t fight the lies of the world that tell you otherwise. The statement from my friend and the girl when I was five stung because it defined me solely by my physical appearance, it defined me as only good enough or beautiful enough if I met certain standards, and it hurt to be put in such a narrow, rigid box of lies. And any time someone tries to define us in one way I believe it hurts because we are soo much more than what are face and body looks like. However, I will be the first to say that it is hard to not believe the lies that the world tells us but it is absolutely so much more fulfilling and life giving to fight the lies.

I truly believe that I have the most beautiful friends and family in the world. However, their beauty has everything to do with their heart, their faith, their love for others, their ability to show grace and has nothing to do with their size, their clothes, their hair or makeup. The truth is my hair will one day turn gray. I will have wrinkles and saggy skin. I will probably shrink. My teeth my fall out. I may have age spots. And yet I will still be beautiful and so will you. If I prescribed to the world’s idea of beauty, I am not sure how I could get out of bed in the morning. Most days I wear yoga pants, shirts that are two sizes two big, and my hair in a messy bun. I get zits, my hair normally needs to be washed, more days than not I don’t wear makeup, so if I spent my time following the world’s idea of beauty, why would I get out of bed. Frankly, I would be terrified I wouldn’t match up. But each day I get up, I fight the temptation to give into the lies of the world and I remember that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and am absolutely beautiful, no matter what my physical body looks like.

Friends, I wish I could say that everyday, every hour, every minute, I believe this truth but I don’t and frankly some days are just harder than others. Some days I fight the lies of my past life with Ed and the lies of the world. But I remember that I am aiming for grace, not perfection and each time I remember the truth and live in the truth, that is beauty. Beauty surrounds me in the smiling faces of those who love me as my messy broken self, beauty is in the scars of battles won, beauty is living in freedom and not bondage. The world lies and tells us beauty is in the face but I am hear to tell you it is in the heart. Beauty is all around you and I dare you to see it and live in it this week. The second you feel the urge to tell yourself that you are not beautiful, I dare you to put on your grossest t-shirt, your stained yoga pants, throw your hair up in a messy bun, and forget the makeup. Stare at yourself in the mirror, smile and tell yourself how absolutely beautiful you are, because it is the TRUTH! Whether you are wearing sweats, a prom dress, a swim suit, a wedding gown, or pajamas, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!  My prayer is that you will discover how truly beautiful you are this week, because that is freedom, that is living in truth. And in case no one has told you today, you are absolutely beautiful inside and out just the way you are!! Believe that truth this week friend and live in the freedom of discovering real true beauty. And may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it (and once again, YOU are BEAUTIFUL, INSIDE and OUT!)!!

<3MK

Fairy Tales And Messiness

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If you know me, than you know that I grew up loving fairy tales. I am a sucker for Prince Charming and a Happily Ever After. I get so swept up in the tales. From the time I was little, I longed for the fairy tale story that swept me away. I wanted the movie scene life where everything fell perfectly into place and the audience would weep with joy. That is what I wanted my life to be, a cheesy, romantic, everything is perfect in the end fairy tale and so when my life turned into anything other than that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it…and that is  I when stopped living…

I didn’t know what else to do, so instead of accepting my less than perfect life I kept waiting for my big  fairy tale moment to happen and slowly days and years went by and it didn’t happen and I was frustrated. Each time a big moment happened such as making dance team, dating the ridiculously cute older boy in high school, getting into TCU, dating the ridiculously cute frat boy…and so on I thought maybe my fairy tale was about to begin. Sense a pattern? I didn’t know how to deal with the realness of life, the messiness, the hurt, the frustration, the anger, the disappointment. Instead, I hid behind a really pretty mask and kept waiting for my prince charming to sweep me away and in the process I hid. Ed was really great at helping me hide and as early on as I can remember that’s what I did, instead of dealing with life I hid my true self as I waited for my fairy tale.

For over a decade I did it…I hid. I hid my loneliness, I hid my sadness, I hid my fear. Instead, Ed “helped” me deal with it. I used food as a method to control the chaotic world around me. I used it to comfort me, I used it to tell me that everything was okay, I used it to tell me that I was worthy. It failed me and so did Ed…they failed me miserably. And that fairy tale I was looking for didn’t happen. I was so lost, so broken, so unworthy feeling that I didn’t know what to do…and then I found grace and when I found grace or really when grace found me, my life changed…

My life still isn’t anything close to a fairy tale and I definitely haven’t found a Prince Charming that has swept me off my feet but even on my worst days, I am more than okay with that. I am even happy with it because grace changed my life. Grace taught me that I was loved despite my imperfections. Grace taught me that being real was okay and being a mess was beautiful and by living my life by grace that I didn’t have to measure up to the world’s standards because I was loved despite the flaws I tried so hard to conceal.

Sometimes it is still tough to want to be real and live a grace filled life. Because being real is hard! It means really feeling things in your life, the beautiful and the ugly. It sometimes hurts and it sometimes isn’t fun. However, let me say it so much easier than living behind a mask. Life is hard enough as it is and as a person who lived behind a mask for too many years, it takes a lot of work to pretend you have it all together, ALL THE TIME. Once I accepted the fact that I desperately needed grace like I needed air not because I am perfect but because I am perfectly imperfect, that is when life became easier.

When we open up, when we are real, when we show love, when we give grace, this is when we are allowing people to be the very best versions of themselves. When we are real with each other we are allowing people to be their messy beautiful selves. The other day I heard someone say that they wished people would stop talking about the messes in their lives. Honestly, friends I cannot imagine anything more horrific. When we stop talking about the messes in our lives we stop being real. Sure there is beauty in life, there is wonder, and those things make life spectacular but the fact is those are things that are easy to talk about. Beautiful things are comfortable to talk about and they certainly don’t require effort. I love hearing about beautiful things and I am sure you do too. But honestly, what I love more is hearing about the beauty in the midst of the mess. The mess doesn’t have to consume us and make us hate life but what it helps us to do is embrace the realness of life.

My whole purpose in this blog and in continuing to write and share my journey with you friends, is because I am daily leaving perfection and learning grace. There are so many times I sit down to write and want to have the perfect post, with the perfect story and then I stop myself. I will never even be close to a perfect writer and my story is anything but perfect but I continue to write. I write to share my story and to point to the grace that has changed my life and I write in hopes that you too dear friends, share your story. That your victories, your triumphs, your struggles, your messiness may be used to help others with their own stories. My story is one of billions but only I can tell my story and only you can tell yours but believe me yours is worth telling! I hope this week that you sit back, decide to be real, embrace the messiness and throw away the fairy tale, because life is so much more beautiful and messy than a fairy tale could ever tell. And this week as you decide to be brave and embrace the messiness, may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!

<3MK

 

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

The Dark Side of Busyness

“Life is a collection of a million, billion moments, tiny little moments and choices, like a handful of luminous, glowing pearls. It takes so much time, and so much work, and those beads and moments are so small, and so much less fabulous and dramatic than the movies. But this is what I’m finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I’m waiting for, that adventure, that move-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets – this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of use will ever experience.”

I feel like I have barely taken a breath lately, 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…

Earlier this weekend I was on the phone with a dear friend. It took me several minutes in  the middle of our conversation to realize he 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…

Wednesday was my last RUF, with the people I love so much. All day I wanted to think about it, I wanted to dwell on my time with my community. I wanted to write them notes and reflect back. However, I crammed my day (and the days preceding) full so full that I missed breakfast with my best friend that morning because I slept through my alarm for the first time ever. I felt shaky all day because I was drinking too much caffeine just to stay energized. By the time I made it to RUF I was emotionally and physically exhausted…

This weekend I went shopping for the perfect graduation dress. I decided that in between babysitting, lunch plans, dinner plans and other things (within a thirty minute span) that I would try on dresses. I know myself and I know that sometimes shopping isn’t the best idea for me. If I am not in the right mood, am exhausted, if I am not in the right clothes it can go very poorly and poorly it went. I also know what styles I typically like and look good on but I was so consumed with all I had to do that I picked out dressed I would never wear and that I know wouldn’t look great on. I ended the shopping experience more frustrated and near tears. I heard Ed’s lies telling me how ugly and fat I was in the mirror. It was awful…

Looking at those three scenarios it is no wonder that I felt the way I did walking into and out of each. I know better than to do other things when I am on the phone with someone I care about. The other stuff was not crucial and it could wait. I know how much I love RUF and how important it is to me and once I walked in the door to my community my focus changed and I realized that I had to put all else aside. I know Ed lies to me when I am the most vulnerable, weak, exhausted, frustrated and preoccupied. I know that what he says are indeed lies and not to listen. But, when I am overwhelmed, I hear the voices because I am so consumed with getting everything else done around me and how I can’t, that I suddenly feel unworthy-hence Ed decides to step in and tell me what is wrong with me. Gratefully, I am far enough along in my recovery that I didn’t act on those feelings but they were there and I had to be conscious not to listen and take time to speak truth to myself.

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, take a moment, take a deep breath and enjoy the life you 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 hear 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… and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!!

<3MK

Here are some pics from when I was really enjoying the everyday moments of my life…So much happier and fulfilling…

Watching my brother play at a staff/kids bball game for Hope Farm the place he loves.

Watching my brother play at a staff/kids bball game for Hope Farm the place he loves.

My last RUF with my people (the seniors and Kelly our intern).

My last RUF with my people (the seniors and Kelly our intern).

Fro Yo, Diet Coke Jokes, and Selfies with one of my dear friends

Fro Yo, Diet Coke Jokes, and Selfies with one of my dear friends

Ministry Team with one of my favorites.

Ministry Team with one of my favorites.

Karaoke with some pretty ladies

Karaoke with some pretty ladies