The Words You Say

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I was two when I said I didn’t look pretty and meant it. I was three when I learned what a diet was and how to do it. I was five when I was called the word fat and it devastated me. I was nine when I noticed what the scale said and what those numbers really meant. I was ten when I was called skinny and it encouraged me that starving myself was okay. I was twelve when a boy commented on my physical appearance and it stayed with me. I was fifteen when I missed a state mandated fitness test because I was terrified to see the numbers on the scale and what the teacher would say. I was too young to learn and be impacted by those words and yet it happened.

And the truth is it is happening to young girls and boys no matter how young they are and no matter whether we want to admit it or not. We think they are too young to fully understand the impact of our words, too young to have these struggles, too young, 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, love them.

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 and they hold more weight than you could ever realize. We have to start changing this and it starts with changing the conversation.

Stop telling them they are beautiful solely for their physical appearance. Tell them they are beautiful inside and out. 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.

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 and tell others how loved they arefor who they are on the inside and not just on the outside because that is what matters. 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.

You are so very loved,

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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

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

Fairytales and Happily Ever Afters

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This quote has become a huge part of my everyday life. I constantly have to remind myself that when I begin to judge a person, most of the time I have no idea what their story is. I have no idea what they have gone through or what has made them the way they are. I have no idea what might have changed them. We all have stories, you have a story and I have a story. I am grateful for each of you that allow me to continually pour my heart out and tell my story…

For a long time I didn’t want to tell my story. I wasn’t comfortable with it. I didn’t think it mattered. I didn’t think it was important. However, my story matters just as much as yours does. I honestly never thought I would get to a place where I would be able to tell my story to others and be proud of it, the good, the bad, the ugly, the messy, the mistakes but today I am. Just as that quote states we have all gone through things that have changed us. My story isn’t the same as yours and while many of you may be able to identify with pieces of my story I know there are many things that you can’t relate to, just as I cannot relate to yours and that is okay because all of our stories are as unique as the people who hold them.

From the time I was little I loooovveed reading. I would sit in my room and reads many books in a day, I could never get enough of the stories being told in the books. Whether, it was a princess in a fairytale or a love story I was wrapped up in the tale until I read the last sentences of a happy ending. I couldn’t go to sleep unless I knew that everything worked out in the end. When I was even younger and my dad used to tell me stories before bedtime I had specific rules for the stories he told some of them being: the stories couldn’t be sad, they had to end happy, no one could die, and no talking animals (I was all about it being realistic;)). Even as a little girl I wanted the stories handed to me with a happily ever after at the end tied in a nice little  pretty bow. Some of my favorite stories were the princess stories, where they find the prince and ride off into the sunset and the words following, literally state happily ever after.

Because I adored these tales and beautiful stories, I began to think my life should be lived as such. If at the end of everyday there wasn’t a “happily ever after” I didn’t know what to do. My friends, this isn’t the reality of life. Like I have said before, life is messy and broken and some days just aren’t the best. I began to think that because my story wasn’t a “fairy tale” it wasn’t worth sharing…what a lie that is. Now I am grateful that I know one day, I get  to have a happily ever after in eternity because of the most amazing grace but while I am here on earth life is often hard. We live in a broken world and we all go through many tough times, which makes telling our stories and sharing our hearts all the more important.

As I began the journey to recovery, the stories that meant the most to me weren’t the ones that told me life was full of roses but the ones that stated life is hard but you are going to make it through. In fact, the stories that were tied with neat little happily ever after bows I began to doubt as lies because I knew that here on earth there were so many struggles and issues that we try to stuff in the closet and that’s what I saw in the “real life fairy tale stories”. The stories that gave me hope, were the ones where people shared their pain, they shared their struggles and they told me how they fought hard to overcome the hardships in their lives.  Those stories told me how to find lessons in the mess and joy through the pain. They told me that while life wasn’t all sunshine and roses the fight to recover was worth the blood, sweat, and tears. And I am here to tell you that those stories are exactly right. Those are stories of unconditional love, scandalous grace, amazing mercy and blessings more than you could never imagine.

My friends my story is one of billions. I am not the only young woman who has suffered from anorexia, suffered from depression and anxiety and found grace and hope in the midst of it all. I am just one young woman who decided to share her story to bring hope. My story isn’t anything extraordinary but hopefully it is a story that encourages others and lets them know that they are not alone and that their story matters! Because friend, your story does matter, it is worth telling and through sharing it not only will you find healing but also you have no idea who could find hope from your story. I also want to address for a minute that even throughout the pain I have been as I like to say beyond blessed and I understand that many of you may have experienced pain I could never imagine and I want you to know that I know your story may be hard to even think about telling but I promise no matter how awful you think it is, there is hope! I don’t know each of your stories, I wish I did. I wish I could sit down with each of you, have a cup of coffee and hear the beauty that is your story. Those of you that I do know your stories, it is more encouragement and inspiration to hear them than you will ever know. You inspire me with your hope, grace, and love that encompasses each of your precious stories. I’ve said it before but we are all a work in progress…my story isn’t done and neither is yours, but friend don’t wait till you think  it is “finished” to be shared. You have no idea how much your story can be used. Share your story friend, no matter how unimportant, insignificant, painful, shameful, you think your story is…it is beautiful and it is worth telling. You never know who might need to hear your story, you have no idea how God can use it, you have no idea what He has in store for it, you have no idea how much hope and healing it can bring. So share your story this week and watch the beauty unfold…and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!!

<3MK

A Strong Foundation

I have never really known much about building anything. I didn’t know all that building entailed. Sure I had my Lego extravaganza moments but I was never a master builder. I eventually learned, that in order to have a good structure everything I built required a good foundation. Instead, of focusing on building the coolest, highest building ever, I should have focused on making my foundation stable in order to create a lasting structure. Little did I know that my life was much like the buildings that stood for a few minutes and then came tumbling down…

A year ago my life was in utter shambles. For those of you who didn’t experience that part of my journey with me, be grateful. My life was a literal mess. Just like my beautiful buildings, for awhile, I looked semi sparkling on the outside but my foundation needed a lot of work because I was in the process of crumbling. I was depressed, anxious, hurt, scared, angry, undernourished, and so so weak. I had committed to my recovery but I was struggling step by step through it. What I would learn later is that I was rebuilding my foundation to be stronger, and to withstand anything that came my way.

My recovery a year ago was not only a struggle but a fight. I had to fight Ed it seemed every minute of everyday. I had to fight to put tiny bites of food into my mouth. I had to fight to eat many times a day. I had to fight to get out of bed. I had to fight to put my recovery first. And I had to fight to wake up each morning and do it again. Sound pretty awful? I’m not going to lie to you, it was. It was the hardest thing I have ever and probably will ever have to do. What I didn’t know at the time though, was that it wasn’t going to be awful always and that today looking back on a year ago I definitely do not feel awful. In fact, today I feel pretty wonderful.

As I mentioned earlier I didn’t know I was rebuilding my foundation. I was relearning how to eat, how to deal with stress, how to cope, and how to live my life without Ed. I was finding out who I was at the core and why I was the way I was and why I dealt with life the way I did and how to change quite a lot about myself. All of this challenged the foundation that Ed had helped me once built and the foundation on which my eating disorder survived. Since I didn’t want to continue living the way I once was I had to rip up my old foundation and start from square one.

My pastor on Sunday, said that to find out who we are we must seek outside counsel and have inside accountability. Well let me tell you folks I had my share of many hours of outside counsel by a phenomenal woman who I truly believe is one of the most amazing counselors. That in itself was great but each time I walked out of her office I had a choice to implicate the changes in my life that we had discussed that session. If i had been left to my own devices, I never would have done it, but thankfully I had many, many cheerleaders and supporters who kept me accountable and helped me recover. They not only encouraged me but they truly kept me accountable for my recovery and sticking to my plan.

Many counseling sessions, nutrition sessions, psych sessions, doctors appts, meals with friends, and phone calls later, I am here in a state of recovery I never thought possible. And honestly it would have never been had I not torn up that icky foundation which included my relationship with a Ed and laid a new one of grace, love, and acceptance. I may have had to do a lot of hard work to tear up and lay down a new foundation in my life but it would have never been possible without the support I received throughout this long continuous journey. I had a God who loved me and gave me grace unconditionally, friends and family members that displayed this unconditional love and support, and many professional support team members who helped me rip up and lay down a new foundation.

I have no doubt that this new year will come with its own sets of ups and downs and its own set of triumphs and struggles but I know who I am at the core now and I have a new foundation that won’t be torn down. As Marty Grubbs says, “It is going to take work to build a solid foundation because it will be tested. Your foundation has to be something you can hold on to that will not wavier in the storm.” And tested my foundation was but because of that testing it is now as solid as ever and throughout any storm I know it will stand strong. I will be tested and tough times will come in the coming years but my foundation will stand firm. Maybe you are like me and you had no idea that your foundation was rocky. Maybe you know you’ve needed a new foundation for awhile but don’t know how to do it. Maybe this all just sounds a little crazy and overwhelming. I can relate to all of it because I have been there. But let me tell you friend, there is hope and you can do it no matter how difficult and impossible it may seem. You CAN and you WILL do it but like Marty says it will be tested. However, let me add that it WILL be worth it to live a life free from Ed and drinking in that freedom of your new foundation and life will be something wonderful you could have never imagined.

So tonight I rejoice, I reflect, and I ring in the new year with someone who loves me exactly as I am. I know that not everyday will be an amazing day but that too is okay because I now have an unshakeable foundation, a faith that is stronger than ever, and freedom I never thought possible. I hope and pray that this is what you find in the new year, that you find the true freedom that living without Ed and building a strong foundation brings, because you deserve it more than you know. So as you get ready to toast to a new year…ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it,

<3MK