Belong Magazine:Tell Your Story

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Thrilled to be sharing another post about why you should tell your story. Head on over to the link below and you’ll find my piece on Belong Mag. This magazine is written by amazing women who have a heart for everyone to know you belong!

http://www.belong-mag.com/blog/2016/3/23/you-have-a-story

 

You Matter and You Belong,

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The Story Matters

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I am a bookworm. I can sit all day with a book or two, captured in the beautiful world of storytelling. Hand me a cup of coffee to go with that book and you may not see me for days. There is something about reading and falling in love with a story that captures my heart. In fact, some of my favorite books I like to reread over and over again. I love knowing what is going to happen in the book and getting excited when certain parts of the story are unfolding, knowing the conflict will subside and it will end beautifully or at least well. I love knowing the characters and understanding how each one plays into the storytelling. There are certain books that I have read so many times that I could tell you the story from beginning to end, tiny details included. This last year has been one of my favorite years for books, because as much as I love fiction I also love to read true stories of real people. And this year, some of my dearest friends have written some beautiful books and shared their stories with the world.

It hit me though the other day as I was flipping through one of my dear friend’s books, that sometimes I treat my life like my favorite books. I treat my life like the stories I have read assuming that everyone already knows the book cover to cover, so it is safe to just keep living the same story over and over again quietly. And even more, that tons of people have my story and in fact they tell it better.  However those my friend are lies, and when I keep quiet about my story assuming that everyone knows it (or doesn’t need to hear it), I keep quiet about the transforming grace that changed my life. Because, only I can tell my story and only you can tell yours.

I used to live a life of darkness, of fear, of shame. While one may say this sounds awful, for me it was safe. My eating disorder, my pain, my control kept my life safe because it was what I knew. Stepping out of the darkness was the best thing I could have ever done but it was in no way safe. However, it was go0d. As I gained courage, strength, and hope, I was able to step away from the darkness that controlled my life. It didn’t make each day not scary but it made it good because I was learning a new way to tell and live out my story. I wasn’t living my life in the same way and throughout the hardship and pain beauty began to unfold that I never thought was possible.

Even nearly five years into recovery, life can still be hard and on those bad days I have to remind myself to tell my story. I have to remind myself that I don’t live the story of shame but I live a story of grace. Life is hard and it is anything but safe but the goodness in the midst of hardships are what makes life beautiful. It would be so easy to sit on this side of the computer and tell you how beautiful and wonderful life is. I could live in the fantasy world of the beautiful literature that I love so much. However, I made a decision when I began to write, that I would tell my story and even on the hardest days that is what I do.

So why do I do it? Why do I continue to be vulnerable, to pour my hear out, to share the messiness of my life? Why on some of my worst days, do I sit down and type out the messiness? I do it, because I believe our stories matter. I believe the truth and the realness of our life stories is vital to share. I believe that as one of my favorite authors says, that when we share the brokenness and beauty of our lives that the gospel truly comes to life. The gospel becomes a real life story of redemption and not just abstraction. The other day over coffee, someone asked me about my story and I hesitated. We were sitting face to face and for a moment I was scared. It is a million times easier to share a story with tons of people you don’t know versus the one person you are staring straight at. But I took a deep breath, looked this friend in the eye, and I told my story. I told my story of grace. I told it because my story matters and so does yours. Every time we are brave and choose to be vocal instead of silent about our stories we give people the opportunity to see grace at work.

The truth is my story is one of millions. However, as I said before no one else can tell my story and no one else can tell yours. No one has walked in your exact shoes and lived out every minute of your life, except you. So on the days that I feel like listening to the lies and the shame I decide instead to tell my story. I choose to tell my story of the grace that changed my life. It’s easier to believe the lies, it’s safe, it’s what I have always known. It is harder to believe the truth, it is harder to believe grace but it is good. And each time I have an opportunity to tell that story of grace it becomes a little sweeter.

Friend, I don’t know what each of your stories are. I have said this many times but I wish I did. I wish I could sit down over coffee and hear your beautiful story. I can guarantee you though, without ever having heard your story, that your story matters, not just to you but to the world. Every time you tell your story of real true grace, you allow the gospel to be present, you allow barriers to be broken down, you allow someone else to feel welcome to share their own story. Believe me it’s easy to retell the stories we’ve lived our whole lives and listen to the lies, rather than to tell the story of grace. Because, that story of grace no doubt includes a lot of growing, stretching, and changing. Our stories of grace involves telling of the broken messiness and the heartache in our lives but man is it worth telling.

Because the truth is, my story isn’t about me at all but about a grace that changed my life. My story should have never been told and it certainly should have never been read worldwide, but it is and that is absolutely not about me but about the grace that transformed my life. And that story, is worth stepping out of the safe for. So friend, tell your story this week. Tell your story of grace and redemption and watch other people tell their story. And one day friend, I hope I get to sit next to you and listen as you tell your story.

You Are Loved and Your Story Matters,

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And in case you are looking for some beautiful books where people share their stories, these were written by some incredible people I call friends:

Get Your Story Straight: A Teen’s Guide to Learning and Living the Gospel-Kristen Hatton

If You Could See As Jesus Sees: Inspiration for a Life of Hope, Joy, and Purpose-Elizabeth Oates

This Is Awkward: How Life’s Uncomfortable Moments Open the Door to Intimacy and Connection– Sammy Rhodes

And a book that I was lucky enough to be on the launch team for:

Looking for Lovely: Collecting the Moments that Matter-Annie Downs

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.  No those words 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, and 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 an eating disorder, because I wasn’t an emaciated Ballerina and I didn’t throw up my food. So how in the world 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. The only thought which crossed my mind as I stood there, 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 to praise and take notice of size. We are taught that size 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. I don’t believe your view of beautiful should be determined by a size, by a comment, by a magazine, or by comparison.

When we take time out to comment on something we are stating what we feel is important to say. When we comment, 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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When the Rainstorm Hits

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sending you love,

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What Is Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YOU are LOVED!

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Present Over Perfect

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I’ve reorganized my desk. I’ve straightened my new short hair. I’ve done laundry. I’ve hung curtains. The list goes on, and I have done all of those things to avoid writing about what is on my heart… because what I have to say I am not good at. In fact, I am pretty bad at it most days. However, that’s why I started writing here because I believe that grace is bigger and perfection kills dreams and breaks heart. I spent too many years in the down spiral of perfection. So today. as a new wife, as a new neighbor as a new employee I remind myself of the truth I know that grace is bigger and that I have to continually choose it in order to live a life of present over perfect.

In the last two weeks, I became a wife and to say my dreams came true would be an understatement. I love being a wife to my handsome husband. I love serving him. I even love being able to spend time setting up our house. Even in the midst of hard marriage talks and fights, life is filled with joy… until I listen to the voices in my head, telling my decorations aren’t good enough. my dinners are gourmet enough, and heck I am not even good enough for my sweet husband. And when I sit down and listen to these voices, I realize what soul sucking lies they are. So this week I made a decision that I would choose present over perfect. I would choose to be in the moment, good and bad because I only have this life to live. As I sat down I realized that the more I chose the present over “being perfect” the more I was able to see the grace at work in my own life.

I’ve always been the biggest people pleaser. I want everyone to be okay with my choices and okay with who I am. If I am being honest it used to kill me when someone didn’t like me. But when I live my life dictated by the standard of perfection that I and other people set for me, I am even more of a mess. I am a stress case. I control, anything and everything in my life. I miss out on life. And I am the worst version of me. And the worst part is that I believe the lie that life is a story about me.

In my heart, I truly believe in grace. A grace so scandalous that it not only saved my soul but it truly took a wretch like me and used my story to bring glory to the One who wrote it. I believe that grace saved my life and saved me from destroying myself. When I lean towards perfection I don’t recognize grace and even more I don’t exercise. I believe that I can do it all on my own and frankly I don’t need any help. I am more selfish than ever. And I end up on the kitchen floor in tears because the room doesn’t look perfect, and I am exhausted and I haven’t eaten because I’ve been too focused on my selfishness. That is what perfection does, it wrecks me but grace it saves me.

So today, tomorrow, this week, and here after…I’m deciding to live in the present. I am choosing present over perfect. This is where I get to see grace at work.  My friend, life is hard but it is a million times harder when we let perfection rule it. So how about you choose present over perfect? How about you take some time to live in the present and see grace at work? It is worth it I promise

You are loved and you are worth it!

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I Am Not a Writer

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I never meant to be a blogger. I never sat down and thought I could write something that would resonate with others. I never thought of myself as a writer. I was always the reader. I love books like some people love the sunshine, I cannot get enough. I have always had a book under my arm, not a pen in my hand. I majored in English because I love literature not writing. I crave stories and the words in them.

All that time I never thought I was a writer. In fact, for nearly all of my education years I hated writing. I hated essays. I hated papers. Ask me to read a book and I would do it in a night. Ask me to write anything and I would sit on it for as long as possible. However, the older I’ve become the more I have recognized we all have a story, a story unique from anyone else’s and if we are brave enough to tell our story than others might share theirs too. And when we share our stories we might realize we have a friend who understands us and can help share in our burdens.

Recently I have struggled with the idea of myself as a blogger. It is no secret that I love social media. I can recognize that there are definite downsides to the use of social media. However, for many reasons I will always love it. I love the inspiration that can be found, the relationships that can be built, the companionship that can be shared and the storytelling that can be told. I have benefitted from each and every one of these aspects.

I follow some of the most creative bloggers, photographers, and activists on social media and while I love seeing their posts, on my bad days I cannot help but compare. Now my friends, I have learned that the comparison is the thief of joy. So when the lies tell me that I am simply MK, I don’t have a fancy company, I am too young, I am a nobody…the truth tells me that I am MK, there is no one like me, I have a story and I am the only one who can tell my story, and I was put on earth to tell my story so that it might point to the gospel…that is my truth.

So on the days I struggle with whether I am a true blogger or even more whether I am a true writer. I tell myself that YES I am! Because to me, a writer tells a story and that is exactly what I am doing, I am telling my story. I am a writer. I never imagined I could be or I would be but I am.

Pretty soon this special piece of web space is going to get a fabulous make over by my fabulous friend and designer KM (and yes our name is totally the same flip flopped. Hers is Kate Martha!! We were meant to be besties!!) So as that change takes place, it is important for me to remind myself and my readers why I write. I write simply to tell my story, in hopes that it may help one person realize that they are not alone and that freedom is REAL and it is the BEST! When we tell our story we allow the gospel to become real to people and that is my hope for this blog, that you would see the grace of the gospel in the midst of my mess. Whether you are a blogger or a writer, you are a storyteller because only you can tell your story, so tell it.

So if you are reading for the first time or for the millionth time…Welcome Friend! I know that you have a story to tell and one day I hope I get to hear it. And may you always remember…

You are loved and you are worth it,

MK