Dear College Girl,

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Dear College Girl,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From your friend,

The Former College Girl

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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 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

Lessons from the Lunch Bunch

From one of our Lunch Bunch Sleepovers. We were definitely the cool kids in High School...

From one of our Lunch Bunch Sleepovers. We were definitely the cool kids in High School…

“Everybody has a home team: It’s the people you call when you get a flat tire or when something terrible happens. It’s the people who, near or far, know everything that’s wrong with you and love you anyways. These are the ones who tell you their secrets, who get themselves a glass of water without asking when they’re at your house. These are the people who cry when you cry. These are your people, your middle-of-the-night, no-matter-what people.”

High School Graduation with the Lunch Bunch

High School Graduation with the Lunch Bunch

There are certain people that know all about you, your deepest, darkest, scariest secrets. They have seen you at your saddest, happiest, craziest, funniest, meanest and they love you still. They have been with you through more up and downs than you can count and they never cease to stop holding your hand or drying your tears. These are the people that you don’t have to call when tragedy strikes because they are already there standing by your side. They are the ones who tell you when you are being absolutely ridiculous and laugh along with you. They bring light to your darkness and show you the silver lining in stormy clouds. These are your people and for me, my people will always be the Lunch Bunch.

Meg's Sixteenth Birthday with the Lunch Bunch

Meg’s Sixteenth Birthday with the Lunch Bunch

While I met each of them under different circumstances eleven years ago we all met collectively in the sixth grade. However, we didn’t form the Lunch Bunch until summer before sophomore year when “A Saved By the Bell” board game was bought and we had our first sleepover a few weeks before school started. Naturally, when we were given off campus lunch several weeks later and I had the option to bring friends home for lunch, I chose these three and there the Lunch Bunch was formed. During the next three years, we ate more lunches at my table, had more Youth and Government sleepovers, left out more boys from our lunch gathering, had more races, shared more boy stories, and ate more packs of Oreos and cookie dough than one can imagine. Sometimes it was the four of us and sometimes it was only one or two of us. While individually the three of them comprise my very best friends, together they are the Lunch Bunch.

Youth and Government with the Lunch Bunch

Youth and Government with the Lunch Bunch

This week each of us will graduate from three separate colleges (two of us from TCU at the SAME graduation 🙂 ) and so this is the perfect time to tell these three not only what they mean to me but to tell the world what extraordinary women I have as my very best friends. These three ladies are world changers. They bring light wherever they go. To me they are my best friends,  my secret keepers, my confidants, my soul sisters, my future bridesmaids and so much more but they are also three of the most extraordinary women you will ever meet. So here you are my friends, meet my Angie, Lexi, and Meghan or as I like to call them the Lunch Bunch…

My Angelita

My Angelita

My Angelita…she is the epitome of a best friend. She is one of the most genuine people you will ever meet. She is a natural beauty who radiates inside and out. We first became friends over her friendship necklace and later our friendship blossomed over boy talk.  So it is appropriate that she is my straight shooter when it comes to my relationships and boys. She tells it like it is out of love and while she may not think this, this is one of her best qualities and it is one I am forever grateful for. She has saved me from true heartache many of times and caught me before I made some ridiculous mistakes. She is the one I go to when I need real advice about life and she is never afraid to be real with me. She was one of the only ones that in my darkest days told me how much I needed help and that I had to get serious about it. She has held my hand through so much and she has cried with me when I was too hurt to continue on. She sees the best in me and truly brings out the best in me as well. She is the one who is not afraid to dream with me and continually assures me no dream is too small. She is the one who I go to for reassurance and she never ceases to provide it. Without her I would have been lost more times than I can count but because of her I have been able to make some of the very best decisons Together we can quote One Tree Hill and Gilmore Girls, we can sing just about an 90s pop song, we can laugh about high school crushes and silly mistakes, and have some of the best phone conversations I have ever had. We have been through over eleven years together of  both our youth groups, middle school classes, high school classes, youth and government, key club, student council, birthday parties, family parties, high school graduation night and so much more. She is the person that no matter how hard I try to not tell her something, I can’t not share with her. She knows my heart too well and  I can’t hold back from her and in turn she doesn’t hold back from me. She is the person I spent the night of my high school graduation with dreaming about our future college lives and so it is bittersweet to not spend this Saturday with her dreaming about our adult lives. She is a peacemaker, a world changer,  and one of the most accepting people I know. She has shown me more love and compassion than I deserve and she will always be one of my very best friends.

My Lexa Lou

My Lexa Lou

My Lexa Lou… she is my soul sister and my other half. She is the girl who walks into a room and all eyes turn to her. She radiates a beauty that shines inside and out. She is one of the most humble people I know. We met at the age of eleven at a girls assembly. I fell for this girl because she rocked some sassy overalls and from that moment on I knew we had to be friends. Lexa is the person that gets me without me even having to say a word. She knows me and she knows my heart. She has been my make up artist, my fashion guru, my go to about boy advice. She is smarter than she will ever admit to and I am literally in awe of her brilliance. She is the first person to my defense and as a result some boys still talk about the glares she gave when they broke my heart. She is person that knows what I am thinking before I say it and sometimes she says what I wanna say because she knows I won’t. Together we have watched more chick flicks, had more boy stories, passed more notes, listened to more country songs and drank more diet coke and chewed more ice than I can count. She is one of the funniest people I know. In the last year I have gotten to spend more time with her than I ever imagined and I will always cherish that time together. She is the person who is always supportive and encouraging me in every aspect of life. She is the person who introduced me to diet soda, who taught me how to put on make up, how to study for a test (with songs and dances), how to craft, and how to be a true friend. She is the person who is never afraid to be put in a new situation and make new friends. Because of her I have some of the best quotes you could ever imagine. She is the person I call when I have a crazy idea and she is the one to say let’s go for it. She is one of the first people I text when I need prayer knowing she gets it and relies on a faith bigger than us both. She is the one who can tell when I am hurting or something happened and I don’t want to tell anyone. She is the one I can ask about anything and guarantee she will tell me the answer and give her best advice. She is the girl I am not afraid to be my crazy self around because I know she loves me no matter how ridiculous I am. She is an encourager, a world changer and one of the most loving people I know. She has shown me more love and grace than I deserve and she will always be one of my very best friends.

My Meg

My Meg

My Meg…she is known as the third child of my family. She is the most loyal person I have ever met. She has a beauty that radiates from her sweet spirit inside and out. She is the person who has literally become family. She is the girl who has celebrated every holiday with me since we became friends. We met standing outside our 6th grade school both a mess of  straight across bangs and braces not quite straight from crooked teeth, and after a science fair project together the next year I knew she was the kind of friend I would be grateful to have by my side. She has a wittiness that no one can match. She is the girl that has some dance and rapping skills that I stand amazed at. She is the precious friend who has literally slept next to and woken up with me in the wee hours of the morning when I couldn’t sleep because of a broken heart. She is the only one allowed to call my daddy by his first name. She has become the best friend to my precious brother. She is the girl you want standing in your corner when the world is falling apart around you and the girl you want jumping up and down with you at the celebration of life. Together we have read more cheesy romance novels, baked more cookies, rapped more songs, been to more church events than I could ever count. She is the one best friend out of the Lunch Bunch who I will get to spend two graduations with, something I am forever grateful for. Without her by my side at TCU, I wouldn’t have made it through. She knows more family secrets and dynamics than anyone. This girl is one of the most hardworking individuals I have ever met. She has a creativity that blows me away every time I see it at work. I am amazed by the talents that this one lady holds. She has a servant’s heart and a gentleness few could ever match. She is the person who is already praying before I even ask. She gets grace better than almost anyone and gives it better than most as well. She has a heart that loves others and seeks peace. She is a giver, a world changer and one of the kindest people I know. She has shown me more love and more about true friendship than I deserve and she will always be one of my very best friends.

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My Lunch Bunch

To say I am proud to call these three gorgeous and truly amazing individuals and women my best friends is an understatement. I am more than beyond blessed with these three. I may call many people best friends but there is no doubt that these three are the real deal.  I have watched them grow the last eleven years and turn into the very best people I have ever met! Angelita, Lexa Lou and Meg, I am so proud of you for the women you are, the friends you have been and the world changers you are going to be. To all of you who don’t know these three, you should, they are the best ladies out there! To all of those out there who have shared these sisters, these daughters, these girlfriends, these friends with me, thank you I am so grateful for these three precious ladies. And to my Angelita, my Lexa Lou and my Meg thank you for blessing my life in more ways than you will ever know. You forever hold a piece of my heart. You are my home team, my family and my very best friends. I love you a million times over! Congratulations on your graduation and on all the world changing you are about to set out on and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!

<3MK

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

Status Updates, Tweets, and Instagram photos

The last few days I have been thinking quite a bit about social media. As I was on the internet earlier today I read a beautiful article by an author about what social media has become and how it affects us. Now before you think that I am going to tell you to deactivate your Facebook, shut down your Twitter, and stop Instagramming…I am not saying anything of the such. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about comparison and how we do it all the time with one another and I believe we do this oh so much with social media outlets. Since I have said from the beginning that I would be completely real here I wanted to do just that for you. I wanted to share posts and pictures from my social media sites and show you how they do not even begin to tell you the real story behind the actual post. Here they are:

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Facebook

This is one of my very favorite pictures. If we are friends on Facebook then you will recognize it as my cover photo. I love it for the realness that I know is behind this sweet photo but others don’t know that realness when they merely glance at it. It is a picture of my best friend/sister Mary and me. Mary is one of the most grace and love filled women I have ever met. She knows my mess completely and walks my journey with me everyday. She understands my struggles and loves me unconditionally. This picture doesn’t even begin to capture the beautiful real friendship that we have and always will. It doesn’t capture the amount of times I have laughed or wept with this precious lady. I get the privilege to spend almost everyday helping her with her precious three kiddos. Her three kids, husband, parents, and extended family have become like family to me. This picture is from Mary’s birthday in February. I love my friend to the moon and back and I loved celebrating her birthday with her. However, what this picture doesn’t tell you is it was the biggest effort to get dressed and make it to the party that day because my heart was so broken from the mess I was dealing with. I was overwhelmed and exhausted. The picture doesn’t tell you how as I left (shortly after this picture was taken) that I wept as I hugged Mary goodbye because I needed to take care of myself and wasn’t getting to spend as much time with her and her precious family that week. If you saw the picture and caption on Facebook you would have thought I had the best day ever and life was wonderful, pictures can be deceiving.

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Twitter

This was my status at the beginning of this semester. I love my school, I love the precious people I have met at this school. However, this status doesn’t begin to encompass all that has occurred to me the last four years. There are no words to describe how ready I am for schoolwork to end, but not to leave my precious friends or the community I have grown to love. It doesn’t describe the immense pain, struggle and heartache that have occurred the last four years or the joy I found through the pain. It doesn’t begin to tell you how much I have changed for the better. It makes it seem like I have had the most typical college experience ever.  My friend, this is not even close to the truth. However, Twitter doesn’t allow me that many characters to express all of that (not that I would have shared it anyway).

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Instagram

If you can read the tiny print and are thinking that my life in any way resembles the glam of JLo’s in the Wedding Planner, think again my friend. This photo captures the excitement before my first night on the job. However, it doesn’t tell you that I stood on my feet for ten hours. It doesn’t tell you that Wedding Coordination is hard work and involves being sweaty and moving heavy objects. It doesn’t tell you that we were a little frantic when the caterer hadn’t shown up twenty minutes before the wedding. It doesn’t tell you that my job is anything but glamorous. It also doesn’t tell you how I shed a couple tears before a sweet moment with the Bride before she walked down the aisle. It doesn’t tell you about the harder workers on staff, who turn everything to a magic setting. And it doesn’t tell you that I love my job. You see the picture doesn’t even touch all that my night encompassed.

You see my friends, pictures, tweets, status updates, they are deceiving. Most of the time they only portray a glamor shot or a highlight reel of our lives. They don’t show the mess behind the photo that was taken, they don’t show tears, they don’t show heartache. Because lets be real how many pictures would you look at if they just made you more and more sad with each shot? I do it too, I gloss over friends and acquaintances statuses and photos. And oftentimes as I look at the photos and status updates of, the ring on their finger, “the perfect family”, the gorgeous clothes, the extravagant trips, I become consumed with a longing to have those too. I become dissatisfied with my less than perfect, messy life. Then I remember…they are people too, people who get hurt, who get heartbroken, who have messes, who are broken, the pictures and statues are not an accurate portrayal of the entirety of their less than perfect lives.

I am not motioning for us to stop posting these photos or statuses. I think it is sweet to be able to share these moments with other people. However, some of my best moments are not on my social media outlets. They are shared with the people I love the most. They are my conversations with Mary in the midst of chaos, they are the snuggles with her precious kids, the laughing that occurs in my room when my parents and brother and I are all together, they are the dinners with inside jokes, the coffees with my best friends, the weekly lunches, the Wednesday nights with my RUF community, the secrets shared with the brothers, those are some of my favorite moments. You see we often get so wrapped up in this image that we portray to hundreds of people via the internet that we don’t connect with those who mean the most to us. I can tell you that during those moments mentioned above I wasn’t tweeting, instagramming, facebooking, I was enjoying the moments with the people who know the most about me and love me unconditionally. I think that social media can be great and I am grateful for the way it has helped me share my blog but I have to be careful not to get so caught up in sharing my “highlight reels” that I don’t forget to live my real true messy life. I hope this is a reminder to you friend that no matter how great your life is on Facebook we all live messy lives and it is only when we live in true community off these sights that we really get to share our real lives with others. May this be a reminder not to compare yourself with someone’s “highlight reel”  this week and may you take some time to live a life that you don’t have to post on the internet because your too busy enjoying it to think about posting anything…and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it,

<3MK

Messy and Beautiful

I was reminded today what it means to be truly beautiful and truly messy…There are a lot things and a lot of people who have impacted my journey through Ed recovery. However, I can honestly say that without this real messy and beautiful community I wouldn’t be where I am today. There are many memories that I will look back and cherish when I think of the last several years in recovery and those spent with this real community of people will undoubtedly be my fondest. Throughout my life I have had many dear, dear friends and if you asked many of my friends they would say I have an abundance of best friends. Today I was reminded of the importance of a community and not just a community but of people who I can be real with. It is through my real and raw community that I have made it this far in my journey…

For many years I tried to walk the journey alone…I kept the “I’m fine smile” plastered to my face while my heart broke. It didn’t matter what hardship or hurt came, I held it together because I could handle it. I didn’t need help. I didn’t want to open up and I certainly didn’t want to be a burden. Until one day, I broke…I couldn’t do it anymore. My life with Ed and so much other pain was too much. I needed help and I needed a community that could come alongside me. I needed people who could hold my hand, people who could wipe my tears, people who could speak truth, people who could see hope when I couldn’t. And when I reached out, when I cried help I was met ten fold with the most loving people I have ever met. I was surrounded with people who saw the light when I didn’t and who loved me in spite of my flaws.

I once had a friend tell me that he didn’t know anyone who had people who had real burdens or baggage in their lives. This statement made me sad because I knew that not only was it not true but it also meant that people in his life weren’t being real with one another. The fact of the matter is, we all have struggles, we all have burdens, we all have a story that has shaped and changed us. However, we have community to share in those struggles to help and love one another when life is too hard to bear alone and it is in that real community that we find our purpose for our struggles and helping others through theirs. I remember sitting in a car with a dear friend one night and after sharing my story and struggle, through tear filled eyes I looked straight at him and apologized. I apologized, for my story?! If I have learned one thing my friend, it is that you should never apologize for your story!!  I am so grateful that dear friend looked back and me and smiled and not only told me not to apologize but he also told me that this is what we are here for to help bear each others burdens and loads. I am grateful for that dear friend and the many since who have come along side me and not only helped bear my burden but also lighten it.

We all walk through some kind of our own personal wilderness and it is during those times that we are taught the most…it is there that we learn to love, to hope and to give and accept grace. The people in my life who are the most beautiful are the ones that have the most messiness in their lives. They are not only the ones with messiness in their lives but they are the ones with messiness who are not afraid to share it with each other and be real about their mess. They are not afraid to come up along side one another and love each other well through the mess and speak truth. They love unconditionally and give grace freely. They are the beautiful people who help give hope in the darkness and share the truth which brings life. It is with this community of real, messy, and beautiful people that I have experienced love and grace more freely than ever before.

If we are being truthful we all have a messy life and those of us who deal with an Ed (or whatever your Ed may be) know bondage all too well. Friend, let me speak some truth to you today, find that community to share in life’s messiness. Find people you can be real with, who you can share your story with. Find people who will share their own story with you, people who will give love, grace, and truth freely. Find people who can help you bear your burdens and you can help them bear theirs. These my friends will become the most incredible friendships you will ever imagine. It is never easy to be real, to be vulnerable, to be messy but it’s worth it. Once we are real and we take off the really pretty masks only then are we able to become the truly messy beautiful people we were created to be.  Believe me there are more people out there than you could ever imagine who will LOVE the real YOU…  and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!

<3MK