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

Recovery and Crawfish

Eating with a full heart at RUF Crawfish Boil 2013

Eating with a full heart at RUF Crawfish Boil 2013

“…sometimes the happiest ending isn’t the one you keep longing for, but something you absolutely cannot see from where you are.”

I cannot help but smile from ear to ear when I look at the picture above. That girl is so joyful and not the kind of joyful that masks pain but one that knows pain, has felt it and still finds joy in the morning. That girl didn’t exist last year and she certainly didn’t exist at that very same crawfish boil, because she was terrified. MK last year might have made a commitment to recovery but she still found certain things so hard to do. Let’s just say eating with her hands, off a table, with other people, surrounded by mounds of food wasn’t the ideal situation, but this year…it was perfect… because that is the beauty of recovery…

When Ed and I were still best friends there were certain things that I was “not allowed to do” as mandated by Ed. I had certain eating habits, which meant I ate with my hands extremely rarely. I used utensils for everything. I DID NOT get my face or hands messy. I didn’t eat from family style meals. I certainly didn’t eat off a table.  I didn’t eat with anyone but my closest friends. And I didn’t eat anything that was not on my list of certain foods “I was allowed”. Those were just a few of the Ed rules. ( I want to be clear and say I only tell you these “rules” because I want you to know how absurd they were and how filled with lies each was!!) When I started recovery many of the rules went out the window. However, these were still some of the ones I clung to in order to maintain stability and control. I had bizarre food behaviors that were slowly being eradicated but it was a process. Needless to say, I was still working on these as I went to my RUF Crawfish Boil last year and I was pretty terrified. I remembering managing to eat a few of the critters which were definitely not on my okay to eat list but the whole time worried at who was watching me eat. Had I eaten too much. Could I eat the desserts and the crawfish? Where did these things fit in on my meal plan? How could I calculate? It was rough to say the least, in fact I am pretty sure I left early mostly due to how overwhelmed I felt.

Fast forward a year… I helped plan the Crawfish Boil and wait for it… I was in charge of coordinating and even picking up some of the food. My how a year changes things. I was literally ecstatic to spend this time with my best friends. I had fun from the set up to the clean up. I ate until I had a full tummy and my lips burned with spiciness. I tried multiple desserts and loved them. I played with the cutest babies, caught up with dear friends, laughed and never thought once about what I was eating. All the things that scared me last year were not even on my radar this year. Nobody cared what I ate or didn’t eat. No one was watching me eat like I previously thought. I even taught some new friends how to eat crawfish. And lets be real, eating off a table with your hands is pretty fun! 🙂  It was a spectacular time…because that is the beauty of recovery.

Friends that is recovery, enjoying eating critters. 😉 Recovery is eating with my community and not worrying about what I am eating because I am having way too much fun enjoying the people I am with. Recovery is being able to eat fast food and not care. It is about eating a candy bar mid day because it sounds good. It is about choosing fruit or a salad because it genuinely sounds good and not because it’s the lowest calorie option. It is eating family style and aking for seconds. It is eating with your hands off a table. It is trying two desserts. It is about going to get a diet coke and deciding an ice cream cone sounds good. It is about not checking the menu before you go to a restuarant and even more not caring what restuarant you end up at. It is about ordering or buying food that is not light or low fat because you like the taste or vice versa.  It is about not wearing make up just to cover up a pimple. It is about not wearing clothes two sizes too big just to cover your body but wearing clothes you like. It is about enjoying shopping and not caring about sizes. It is not caring what other people think about the way you look and even more it is about realizing that people truly are not focused on the way you look.

Most days the things above are part of my normal rountine I don’t have to think twice about any of them. And then there are other days, days that are few and far between, when recovery is a little more difficult. Those are the days I am concious of fighting hard because Ed wants to creep in and have a say so. On those days it is easy to become mad, frustrated, and let down. Ed and I don’t really talk anymore but when I am worn down and upset he thinks it’s okay to slip in his two cents. It is on those days that food is just a little more difficult, that looking in the mirror doesn’t come as naturally and that I have to remind myself where I am in my journey. Those days although few and far between are tough, they take a lot of energy and they remind me why I fight. It is on those days that I am grateful that I can fight back because once I didn’t know how and I wasn’t strong enough, today I am. I can slam the door in Ed’s face and tell him to leave me alone. It is on those days that I remind myself for over a decade that this is how I dealt with life and that it is a process and that one day I won’t hear him ever. It is even on those really tough days that I am so grateful for where I am and the fact that more than 90% of my days I don’t hear from him or think about his place in my life… and even more when he tries to speak up I know why and can tell him to go away and it happens… and that is AMAZING! It is about understanding that everyone has a bad day. It is about truly knowing that I don’t strive for perfection any more because I am living and walking in grace.

Friend, I hope you are encouraged and that you know that this is possible for you too. I want you to eat crawfish family style. I want you to order the ice cream cone. I want you to pick the salad because it sounds delicious. I want you to look in the mirror and smile. I don’t know where you are in your path to recovery but know that it is possible. Life without Ed is soo possible and don’t let ANYONE tell you it isn’t! There is freedom and I am living in that freedom and that is what I want for you too. Recovery is truly a journey and I want you to know that your are not aiming for perfection but you are learning to walk in the freedom of grace. May your week be filled with the idea of living and walking in freedom and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!!

❤ MK

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