Choosing Love

I think we would all being lying if we said we hated Valentines day. In reality, I think it’s hard it hate an idea that centers around us being cared for, cherished, adored and frankly loved. We all long for that. However, celebrating on one day with every other person in the world your love. That concerns me. Because what happens the other 364 days? What about the teenage girl who doesn’t have a boyfriend? The single mom? The orphaned son? On this day I don’t believe these people feel the love that everyone oozing about their VDay presents does. I hope though in spite of this day they they learn the love doesn’t happen once a year it’s an all year, every minute kind of thing. It’s 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.

Before you stop reading because you think that I am about to mush and gush about my love story and favorite guy. Hold on…I am not. 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 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.

This week 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 and YOU are WORTH it,

<3MK

20140216-202928.jpg

Advertisements

Taking a Leap of Faith

19d4a3568da511e3aac10eb8419687a3_8

Tomorrow I am taking another huge leap of faith. Tomorrow I get to share this video with a group of high school students and talk to them about Eating Disorders and Recovery. I wanted to share it with all of you first so that you could be praying that it would help open a conversation, that recovery is possible and grace is so much better. My story is one of millions and it has never been about me but if sharing my story of grace helps one person find freedom and grace than it is worth sharing.

Thanks for watching!

Always remember…

You are loved and you are worth it,

<3MK

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.

960162_10200658209803296_131492727_n

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

23 Reasons I am Getting Married at 23

 

Love2

 

The last few weeks have felt like a whirlwind. Actually more like a dream come true and a fairy tale wrapped into one. In fact, I still feel like I am processing all that has happened since December 19th, the day Brett asked me to spend forever with him. I have wanted to write about my favorite guy and fiance for so long and especially since the engagement. I am beyond excited to start this new journey with my best friend and love of my life. There are many things I could write about him, in fact I could fill up multiple posts. However, today when I read an article about things one should try before or instead of getting married at twenty three, I thought it was time to write. This in no way is a slap in the face to that author. She has her own experience and I have mine. I am not naive and neither is Brett. We are not getting married because we decided to on a whim. This is a decision we have talked about, thought about, prayed about, and sought wise counsel about.I know that different people make decisons for different reasons based on what is best for them. However, when I started this blog I promised to be honest and share my story. So here we go. Maybe you are thinking about marriage, maybe you have been married for thirty years, maybe marriage is not even in your sights. Whatever your life, whatever your choice, this is not a recipe or an instruction manual on why you should or shouldn’t get married. It is simply one imperfect girl’s reasons for marrying at 23. In no particular order…here are the reasons I am marrying Brett Eric Stainsby on July 4th:

mb2

1. Age doesn’t matter. Sure we would not have been mature years ago but  now we are both adults. I am 22 and Brett is 26. We will be 23 and 27 when we get married and we made this adult mature decison together.

2. He treats me with respect. More than just opening doors and pulling out chairs. Brett genuinely respects me as a person and as his future wife.

3. He is my best friend. He is who I never hold back anything from and in turn he never holds back from me.

4. He accepts my mess, flaws and all. He is willing to walk through the trenches with me, even if it is messy, tear ridden sometimes ugly journey.

5. He shares his mess with me and is not afraid to let me into his deepest darkest days.

6. He makes a choice everyday to love me and show me love, even when I am annoying, even when I am bratty, even when I am mean, even when I haven’t showered.

7. He shows me grace, grace for my mistakes, grace for my flaws, grace for my imperfections.

8. He constantly reminds me to show myself grace and models it for me.

9. He sacrifices for me. Whether it be big or small. The other day he quit on hold twelve of a great game of golf on a beautiful day to go to an event where he knew no one, just to be there for him.

10. He calls me out lovingly when I am wrong. He doesn’t let me get away with things I do wrong. However, he shows me grace for my mistakes and loves me despite them.

11. He loves Jesus big time. He loves Him way more than he loves me. He actively pursues his faith and leads me.

12. He makes me laugh. Whether it is dancing silly, using accents, or teasing me. When I am around him I cannot help but smile.

13. He makes life better. He makes my good days more amazing and my bad days sweeter.

14. He encourages me to tell my story, to share my life with others and he supports me in the process.

15. He is an amazing listener. I may give him a hard time for not remembering every little detail but he truly does listen, especially when it counts.

16. He tells me I am beautiful no matter what and he means it. The first time he told me he loved me, he told me no matter what I looked like, I was beautiful and he loved me.

17. He makes me feel like I am the only girl in the world. Ten supermodels could walk by him while we are having lunch and the man would not even glance up at them.

18. He loves my family and shows them more kindness, love and grace than anyone ever has.

19. He takes time for my friends and considers them his own. I have never seen anyone so loved and respected by my friends.

20. He is willing to do silly things with me. Last night he watched High School Musical 2 with me while I sang along to every song and he said it was the best night.

21. He has the kindest spirit. He would give the shirt off his back to anyone and he is always willing to help anyone in need.

22. He is genuine and down to earth. He couldn’t care less about the money someone makes or where they live. He loves people for their hearts and spirits not for their material worth.

23. He wants to do life with me and I want to do life with him…FOREVER! We are not taking this marriage lightly. We know that the commitment we are making is a life long one and we couldn’t be more excited.

So there you go. Those are the reasons that I am marrying my Brett. Some of you make look at them and scoff, others may relate. Whether I decide to one day travel to the Effiel Tower, Sky Dive, get a PhD or decide to some, all, or none of those things and many more I want to be there with him through it all. He is not perfect or a saint and neither am I. We are two hopelessly imperfect people, in need of grace who want to do life together. We don’t have life completely figured out and we never will but we want to do the “figuring out” of life with each other. He is who I want by my side. He is who I want to do life with. He is my one person.

ry%3D480

I hope that each of you are filled with as much joy as we are, whether you are married or not or whether you are 23 or not (Brett is not 🙂 ). I also hope you know that you can have the adventure of your life even if you are married or not!

And may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!

❤ MK

Words Are Worse Than Sticks and Stones

100 x Yes!

My heart hurts. I am near tears. I am sad. I am angry. I am outraged but I am hopeful…

I’ve thought and prayed all day before I wrote this post, because I know of the wide variety of people who might read this article. Even more I thought of my future son or daughter who might one day read this article and I thought of the world he or she might live in. I can only hope that it is more compassionate and loving towards those with Eating Disorders and other issues. For over a decade, I lived in the silence of a sickness that was killing me and so much of the reason I lived in silence was because I was embarrassed and I was afraid. I was afraid of articles such as the one I read today. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be taken seriously or understood.

This morning a friend tagged me in the comments of an article and asked if I wanted to tackle this article on my blog. Typically I am not one to respond to articles such as this but my heart broke for the women and men who might read this article and who more than that agreed or believed it in any way to be true. Typically I would link my post to an article I reference but frankly I would prefer others not read it. However, to give you readers some context the article I read had to do with reasons to date girls with EDs. After reading the article and being thoroughly appalled I decided that it was time to take a stand because after all change doesn’t happen when we sit around and do nothing. So today, I am going to share a part of my story again, in hopes that it may help someone else. After all, my story of my struggle with Ed is one of millions but it is one that I feel compelled to share. Because in my heart, I believe we go through trials and hardships in order to help others with their own burdens. So here is to helping others and sharing our own stories so that the word might be changed through grace.

Honestly, if I believed that this was just one absurd article than that would be one thing but sadly statements and messages such as these are becoming the norm. I learned in kindergarten that sticks and stones break bones but words could never hurt me. That was a lie and it still his. Words hurt so much more than a stick or stone ever could. If you are reading this and have dealt with physical abuse, please know that in no way am I making light of it but I want people to understand the value of words in response to such a hateful article. My bruises from getting knocked down on the playground healed but the hateful words that were said to me left wounds that took and still take time to heal. When we say negative things about other people especially about their bodies, we are stating not only words that can never be taken back but we are also judging based on solely physical appearance, which in no way determines our worth. It in no way measures our heart, our journey, or our stories. However,  sadly articles such as these preach the opposite and in turn cause bruises worse than any stone. Eating Disorders as they were in the article are glamorized and even more taken lightly, when in reality they are life taking, soul sucking illnesses that need serious medical help and awareness all over the world. I will never forget the amount of time I spent pouring over various glamour magazines, looking at unrealistic standards of beauty. I spent hours memorizing diets and workout plans and it left me empty and unfulfilled. No matter how hard I tried to look a certain way it was never enough. The media promotes a standard of beauty and appearance that is not only unhealthy but it also distorts the reality of true beauty. Instead, we are fed images that are not only unhealthy but also unrealistic. As a girl who spent years striving to look a certain way, all those images ever did was leave me with a huge hole in my heart.

Sadly I am not the only one who was often left with a hold in her heart, that no one knew about. People with Eating Disorders often look like they have it all together. For over a decade, I was the girl with the smile on her face. I was the All-American, Girl Next Door poster child. I had everything I could have ever wished for and more, yet inside I was dying, taken over by a stronghold so much greater than I ever realized. I felt so, so alone because I believed no one would understand that I didn’t have it all together and that my world might be falling down around me. While I felt alone the one thing I have realized throughout recovery is the fact that other people who struggle with Ed also feel alone and isolated. I never talked about my issue because I thought that others wouldn’t understand and that they would judge me because I wasn’t perfect. What I learned was that no one expected me to be perfect in the first place and was relieved when I wasn’t. When I am messy and real I am me and that is why I share my story, because Eds lie and manipulate and articles that promote such unhealthy realities only fuel such lies.

Because Ed lies and deceives we often believe the lie that Eating Disorders only affect a certain group of people and the rest are immune. However, I am here to tell you no matter your race, gender, culture, socioeconomic standing, nationality, or age Eating Disorders don’t discriminate. Eating Disorders affect everyone from young kids to grandparents. Mine started when I was a young child, before I even hit puberty. Even more, along my journey of recovery I have met men, women, grandparents, parents, teachers, lawyers, doctors, wealthy, poor, middle class, people of various races, and so many other groups of people who have dealt with Ed in their lives.Even more than discrimination of Eating Disorders based on the background of people. We often discriminate based on the appearance of someone. Finally, professionals are learning that there is no set weight or number for someone who has an eating disorder. Ed doesn’t discriminate based on the number on the scale. In fact, numbers don’t matter at all. People of all shapes and sizes struggle, however are overlooked because they don’t meet certain criteria. By making light of an issue because we assume it only affects a certain percentage of people is to not only be ignorant but also to let others who don’t fall into a specific category know that it is not okay if they struggle with this issue. And that in my book is not okay!

While my heart was heavy after reading the aforementioned article, my heart is also incredibly hopeful. A few weeks ago I was contacted by some incredibly brave students from my Alma mater at TCU. They decided to do a project on Healthy Body Image and Banning Fat Talk. You can watch the interviews they did here:

and sign their petition to eliminate fat talk here /http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/tcu-fat-talk/ It is students and individuals like these that make me so grateful for the opportunity I have to continue to build awareness of Ed and Body Image issues. They are not alone in the fight and it is my hope that after seeing their video and reflecting on your own experience with body image that you too would begin to change the conversation, that you would think about the words you are about to speak before they leave your tongue. Together we can make a change for our future sons and daughters to not have to live in a world where Eating Disorders and other mental illnesses are taken lightly. Whether you struggle with Ed or some other kind of addiction or stronghold, know that you are not alone in the fight and even more know that articles like the one I read today are not truth. The more we share our stories and struggles the more opportunity we have for a change to take place. And the more we cling to grace and not perfection the better chance we have to change the world . Today and always I am proud to call myself an Ed survivor and a Recovery Warrior and I hope that no matter your issue you keep fighting and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!!!

xoxo MK

The Year That Changed Me

My day speaking to some amazing high schoolers.

My day speaking to some amazing high school students.

“So there you go that’s me…I am not perfect (in fact I am as far from perfect as they come…I am actually quite a mess 🙂 ), I need grace always (sometimes I wonder how He puts up with me, but he ALWAYS does and ALWAYS will), and I am on a journey ( a roller-coaster of a journey)…a journey to a life without ED. So if you are like me or you know somebody like me, join me on this journey (but before you do buckle up. This will be the best ride of your life but just as on any great roller-coaster there will be lots of hills and drops along the way, but the end will be great). I cannot promises roses and sunshine everyday but I can promise joy in the midst of pain and a life so wonderful, you can’t even begin to imagine it! ” -From my first post A Ballerin, A Modeler and a Recovering Anorexic

 

I am sitting on my bed overwhelmed and with tears in my eyes…but these are the good kind of tears…the happy, the grateful, the amazed kind of tears. I cannot believe all this year has brought and all the grace I have been shown since I started to share my story here a year ago. A year ago, I wrote a post about my story, my journey through Ed recovery and a year later I am amazed and truly beyond blessed by the journey that I have been on since then. Today I spent the day with high school students sharing my story and talking about eating disorder awareness and it truly was the best day. Once again, I am astounded by the bravery of those students to talk to me and share their hearts and questions. In my mind, I am and will always be just a girl who decided to share her messiness with the world, a simple girl who has been blessed by Grace and Unconditional Love that is bigger than her mess ever will be…

As I sat down and reread my very post from a year ago, I couldn’t believe how far I had come. In fact I am still astounded and humbled. You see unlike the girl in the first post Ed and I don’t talk on a regular basis, or on a weekly or monthly basis. In fact, we really have no relationship at all. However, when his lies occasionally creep up and he decides he might like to visit I have a support team in place to remind me those are lies and what truth is. What a blessing it is to hear the truth and believe it. Today, I live my life in the freedom of recovery. It means not everyday is perfect, not everyday is great, but everyday holds beauty even in the midst of pain and everyday is a step in the right direction. In the last year, I learned that recovery in no manner is an open and shut book that you put up on the shelf to never touch again. Recovery is a work in progress and so am I.

A year ago, I could have never imagined sharing my story with thousands of others. In fact, even as I wrote my first blog post I was astounded by the love and grace I was shown. Even more than sharing through words on a page I never thought I would be given the opportunity to share on the news, on the radio, in newspapers and in public forums. I never dreamed I would be introduced as an Ed survivor (talk about humbling). That my friends is the beauty of grace. I in no manner deserve this and yet I was given this beautiful opportunity to share my story. In all truth, I am merely one of millions that has a story of Ed struggles and a story of recovery and yet because of grace I have been blessed ten million times over by this blog and by the opportunity to share my story.

You my friends, each of you reading are the reason I continue to write and share my story. I am continually inspired by each of you and the way you live your lives full of grace and beauty. I once thought that being messy and broken would be awful but it is the most freedom and the most joy I have ever felt. Being real, means being me and I really like being me.

If there was one thing from the past year that I could share with you friends, it would be that your story matters, and even a year later I realize how much this is true. I have said it many times before, but only you can tell your story and when you tell your story you give others the opportunity to be real and share theirs. When you share your story you allow the story of grace to be told and when that happens lives change. It is no accident that this blog is called leaving perfection learning grace. I am constantly learning to leave my perfectionist ways behind and live in the freedom of grace. Each time I make a small step in the right direction and choose to tell the story of my messy broken life I get a chance to experience grace. You my friend have the same opportunity as well, so go out there, be brave, and tell your story! You will be surprised at how many people can relate…

So to my best friends, my lunch bunch, my family, my Brett, my RUF community, my roommate, my cheerleaders, my mentors, my big sis’s, my TCU, my girls, my staff, my reader friends, to all of you who have listened to me share my story you are the reason that I do this. Your support, your tear drying, your laughter, your diet cokes, your coffees, your hugs, and your unconditional love and support have made this all possible. Thank you for allowing me to  be the real me, messiness and all, and THANK YOU for always, always, always, showing me love and grace. You mean the world to me and I couldn’t do this without you!

To any of you out there who struggle with Ed or anything else, know that there is HOPE a hope much BIGGER than your struggle, grace is REAL, recovery IS POSSIBLE, and YOUR story MATTERS, and MAY YOU ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH IT!!
<3MK

 

 

Changing the Conversation

One of the most important truth speakers in my life.

One of the most important truth speakers in my life.

I remember standing on the scales getting my weight read to me and marked down in my file for my seventh grade dance class. I was traumatized, I knew the exact numbers and how it had changed since last semester. Years later, during the middle of my junior year I would miss a state mandated fitness test because I was terrified to step on the scale and to know my weight and BMI. Of course, I would fake sick to get out of it but internally I knew I could never know those numbers because they would haunt me. For years, each time I went in for a check-up no matter how sick I was I made sure to pay attention to my weight, how it had changed. I would prep for days going into my appointment so I “maintained a good weight”. I was so very sick and I had no idea.

Today I still struggle. Recovery is not an open and shut book that I can close and put on the shelf. However, I am thousands miles from where I once was. The other day I ate brownies for breakfast solely because I wanted them and let me tell you they were delicious. For me, I have certain triggers that I have to be careful to avoid or deal with in a proper manner or Ed thinks he can come have a chat with me. I am so grateful for my journey and what has happened to me during my twelve year battle and my two year ongoing recovery journey. However, I can’t help but wonder what if something had changed sooner, when I was younger. And that gives me hope for the young people now that struggle, that a change can be made but first we have to change the conversation.

This past week I spent some incredibly wonderful time with one of the most amazing young girls you will ever meet. As an eighth grader, she holds wisdom that I can only hope to one day have. Watching her interact with her friends, cheer with her cheer team and talking about boys at night, got me to thinking about young MK at that age. She was a mess and she had no idea what to do. More days than not she didn’t get the nutrition she needed as she missed meals and hid her double life. She strived to be the beautiful girl that all the boys wanted to date, and all the girls thought was gorgeous. And it got me to thinking about how early these issues start especially for young girls (young men are definitely not exempt). And even more it made me realize there are so many young people who deal with the same issues and we don’t address it because we assume they are too young to have those struggles. They aren’t.

So today I want to take a moment to talk to those young girls, the moms of young people, the teachers to these kids, and anyone who interacts with these young people on a daily basis…Take notice of these young people because they see the world in a manner that you can’t, they see the beauty and they see the pain. They are confused and trying to become the best individuals they can, so stop putting pressure on them to be the best. Encourage them to be their best.

Today across the world, there are young girls skipping lunch, running to the bathroom, literally running for miles, pouring over magazines, crying in the mirror, trying to fit into a certain perfect size jeans, writing in their diary because some boy told them they weren’t pretty. And it matters…it is not just simple words, your words, their words, they matter. We have to start changing this and it starts with changing the conversation.

Stop telling them they are beautiful for their physical appearance. Instead tell them they are important, their opinions matter, they are going to change the world. Their physical beauty is fleeting and could change in an instant but their beautiful hearts are forever. Tell them they are loved for the unique individual they are. Tell them there is no one like them in the world, because it is true. Don’t wait till it is too late!

Moms, Dads, teachers, friends, pastors, mentors, young people, you have a chance to change the conversation and it starts today. I hope today that you feel loved for who you are on the inside and not on the outside because that is what matters and from a young lady who has fought harder than anyone should ever have to, to believe this truth I promise changing the conversation, it is worth it and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!

<3MK