The Scandal of Grace

Recently, I have found myself amidst conflict. As someone who hates conflict and tends to avoid it at all cost (sometimes to an unhealthy extent), I have been experiencing extreme anxiety, confusion, and unrest. I have been nauseous and unable to sleep as I attempt to untangle the unrest in my soul. My typical go-to coping mechanisms of binging on carbs and buying gifts for my dogs to cheer myself up vicariously through them have been ineffective (which is probably a good thing since both are unhealthy coping mechanisms…but hey, I’m human). So, in the messiness I am reminded that the only answer is Jesus ( oh how easily I forget this). As I have been prayerfully processing my thoughts and emotions in this conflict, I felt God challenge my heart. God directed my attention toward His grace. I realized that in this conflict,both sides have explained that they have felt that they have extended grace to the other side; however, neither side expressed feeling that they have received that grace. This revelation really challenged me in my understanding of God’s grace. How often do we hear from people who are not plugged into a church that they feel judged by the church despite the church believing that they are sending out a message of grace? Where is the disconnect? How can we be better at carrying the character and culture of Christ? As I  sat uncomfortably in the confusion, I found myself crying out to God in prayer, ‘What do I not understand about grace? What am I getting wrong/missing’. As I leaned into scripture and the correction I felt from the Holy Spirit working in my heart, this is what I learned:

1) Grace saves you a seat. Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray him and yet he saved him a seat at the dinner table. Judas attended the last supper (…and I thought my family dinners could be tense lol…). Is anyone else questioning Jesus’s judgement/choice of friends? It doesn’t make sense…but THAT is grace. Grace doesn’t make sense. Jesus did not cast judgement on Judas, because He knew that not only was Judas limited by his “human-ness”, but He also understood the significant role Judas was playing in God’s story. He celebrated with Judas. Jesus loved Judas, and he never stopped…God is love. And the other 11 disciples were not without their own faults. Jesus also saved a seat for Peter who would go on to deny him three times. Jesus knew that the people closest to him would disappoint him, but he embraced them unconditionally.

“Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins'”(Matthew 26:27). 

 As I read this verse, I am reminded how thankful I am for Jesus. If I had been in Jesus’ shoes, the verse would read something like this” :

“Then she took a cup passive aggressively saying to them, ‘Drink…especially YOU Peter (makes direct eye contact and mumbles, you liar). This is my perfect, faultless blood which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins which you all desperately need. And you’re welcome, I’ll be praying for you..;” (the book of Abbey 26:27)

If I was in Jesus’ shoes I would be spilling tea not pouring communion. Jesus saved a seat for Judas and Peter and forgave them before they betrayed him.  As I read through this verse, I felt God asking me who I needed to save a seat for. Who in my life have I “uninvited” because I have felt hurt. In order to carry a culture of grace, I have to be willing to celebrate the plan and purpose of God with everyone…especially my “enemies”.

2) Grace produces gratitude. Grace is being able to read the crucifixion story without  villainizing Judas. Grace is being able to read the crucifixion story and thanking God for Judas and the high priests’ roles in the larger story. In Matthew 26:27, it says Jesus took the cup and gave thanks. Moments before Jesus would be betrayed, abandoned, and crucified, he was giving thanks. (what?!) Even while he was being wrongfully arrested and prosecuted, Jesus took a stance of humility and silence.  If I were in this situation, I would be defending my reputation and trying to prove to those around me why I was “right”. But, Jesus didn’t do that. He didn’t belittle Judas’ character or insist that he had done nothing wrong, he simply walked the path of his calling. So often when we find ourselves in conflict we can confuse the need to feel “right” with the deeper need to feel seen and heard. As Christians, we can carry a culture of grace by learning how to listen and empathize with others. We are all undeserving of grace, yet God sees, hears, and responds with love to our story anyway. For that we can be grateful.

3) Grace requires transparency. Even though Jesus lived a perfect and faultless life, that is not the most important part of the story. God desired a relationship so deeply for us (sinners who are imperfect), that He sent Jesus to take our debt so that we could have an eternal relationship with our father. You cannot share a testimony of perfection and also tell a testimony of grace. If Jesus had spent his entire walk towards the cross trying to convince others of his perfection/innocence, the power of grace would have been lost. Jesus didn’t take a victim stance because he knew he had victory. Jesus was willing to wreck His image, because He fully embraced His identity. Jesus knew who He was, and He knew the heart of God. Personally, I would be heart broken if anyone ever looked at my life on social media and thought, “I wish I was her. I wish I had her life…it looks so fun/easy/happy.” I would hate for others to think I have a “perfect” life because of how I narrate my life via social media. Trust me, you do not want my life. Not that it’s not filled with joy the majority of the time, but I have really difficult struggles and hardships (just like everyone else). Instead, I pray that my vulnerability and transparency on social media and within my relationships would be saturated with a story of grace. I pray that my life would never be about me but would always be a reflection of God in me. When we carry a culture of grace, others feel safe and free to be their authentic selves. They do not fear judgement or rejection. I truly believe outsiders and nonbelievers will be more willing to enter the doors of a building where the transparent walls allow them to see that inside the people are just like them. People are attracted to grace.

4) Grace results in change. This past Easter season, my church encouraged church family to share their story of grace. Each story followed a similar pattern: an imperfect person encountered God’s grace and was changed forever. When we encounter God’s grace, our hearts are changed. This part can be especially hard to embrace. Not only can it be painful to humble out and admit that we need to change things within our own hearts, but it can be even more difficult to be patient in the transformation. So often as Christians when we find ourselves in conflict with others, we are quick to respond in prayer for the other person. But grace and prayer require action. If you are praying for reconciliation, what actions are you taking to see God move in that way? If you are praying for peace, what ownership are you taking over that promise? Sometimes the solution is to stay and work hard on restoring the relationship. Other times, God will call you onto a different path. What is important to remember is that the destination is the same. We are all racing towards eternity, and that requires a lot of grace. The position we take in the transformation determines our destination. For example, we can view separation as division or we can view it as expansion of influence in building God’s kingdom. When we keep our eyes on God’s mission, which is building His Kingdom, we remain unified in grace. CELEBRATE the calling on other’s lives. It is not a competition. Changing the world is a big task, and it starts and continues with the transformation we receive through grace.

5) The object of grace is relationship. God extended grace to us because he deeply desired relationship with us. So, you cannot claim that you are extending grace if your goal is forgiveness, justice, or an apology. The goal of grace is relationship. When we extend grace, we have to be willing to lay down our pride and hurt emotions. If we are holding onto bitterness or expecting something from the other party, then our extension of grace will not reach far enough. Grace often requires sacrifice. As a church, individuals will experience God’s grace when we make real, healthy relationship with them the goal. Where can God use you to heal loneliness? Where can you reach out to bring healing or health to a relationship? How can you be more inclusive in inviting others into your circle? The object of grace is relationship or it’s not grace.

30 Days, No Makeup 

I remember when I started wearing makeup. I was in seventh grade, and my mom took me to CVS to buy some cheap powder foundation, blush, and mascara. Over the years, my makeup collection has grown, and with it a dependence on makeup to feel confident and presentable. At the beginning of each year, my church participates in 21 days of prayer and fasting. As I considered what to fast, the idea of fasting makeup crossed my mind. I was immediately intimidated by this thought; however, I knew I had to challenge myself to find confidence without makeup. One of my main 2017 goals is to learn how to see myself through God’s eyes. When I continually use makeup to enhance my image-based confidence, I am failing to fully embrace my identity as a daughter of God. The confidence of Christ is so much greater than personal confidence, so it’s important that I challenge any areas in my life where I am holding onto a desire for external validation. 

First, not wearing makeup forced me to confront the condition of my skin. I have always had a rather good complexion; however, I have never taken good care of it. I am guilty of falling asleep with a full face of makeup on, and I rarely moisturized my skin. Going makeup free made me confront and reavulate my skin care routine (which was previously non-existent). I established a morning and night routine. While my skin became a lot healthier, the greatest impact this had was that it provided a designated time each day for self-care. By spending at least 5 minutes each morning and night to focus on myself, the tone of each day became more relaxed and balanced. I tend to go through each day with high stress and anxiety, so scheduling a time to pause and relax was amazing.

Mentally, not wearing makeup allowed a lot of my insecurities to surface. Leaving the house without covering my breakouts or putting on some mascara made me feel very vulnerable. I was surprised at how limited I felt while not wearing makeup. I realized I literally felt less worthy to talk to someone which is SO illogical. In reality, no one treated me any different (duhhhh!). No one made the comment, “I really liked you until you stopped wearing makeup. You’ve changed”. Obviously, makeup doesn’t make you a better friend. Sometimes, it takes confronting our irrational thoughts that fuel insecurity to overcome them.  

As I journeyed through 30 days without makeup, I began to wonder what fuels a women’s desire to wear makeup. Personally, I think it’s fun to try out new techniques, colors, and products. I enjoy investing time in making myself feel good; however, I also use makeup as a mask to hide my exhausted eyes and fickle insecurities. As I began to ask the girls in my life why they wear makeup, I was surprised how similar their thoughts were to mine. While makeup can be a confident boost, it also requires a lot of time, energy, and money. There is empowerment in going bare-faced when society promotes fleek eye brows and Kim K contour. We were never meant to be flawless. 

Overall, ditching makeup for a month allowed me to explore the motivations behind why I wore it. I was able to confront the irrational thoughts that my self-worth is connected with my appearance. We are not MORE beautiful when we wear makeup and dress in the latest trends. Beauty is not conditional. We should not be afraid to expose our imperfections. We are masterpieces created by God! I want to feel like a masterpiece even when I’m not wearing makeup and my skin is breaking out. 

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago”(Ephesians‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬).

At the end of the day, we are created in God’s image! It is no surprise that the enemy would want us to hate our reflection. The enemy hates everything created by God. In 2017, I want to see my reflection as an avenue for God’s glory to be revealed. In 2017, I aspire to embrace real. I want to be unashamed and authentic. I want to focus more on building God’s kingdom than building up my own confidence. In order to turn my eyes toward heaven, I have to turn my eyes away from the mirror. 

My Life is Not Aestheticly Pleasing 

A little over a year ago, God whispered to my heart destiny-declaring words that inspired my first blog post, Wrecking My Image. I wrote about how the story of the Virgin Mary had inspired me to live a fearless life that refused to protect my image over my calling. As the Christmas season quickens pace, I am reminded of these truths God spoke to me. 

This past semester of college has challenged my need to appear in control. I was taking 19 credit hours and working towards my CNA certification. Honestly, the busier I get, the more I want to appear balanced and uneffected by the chaos. I strive to be “perfect”. Social media creates a culture of competive comparison that can leave me feeling inadequate and unworthy. Tonight as I restlessly reflect on the last few months, I am reminded that God loves messy. God CHOSE messy. 

So here is my confession: My life is not aesthetically pleasing. 

1) Rarely does the atmosphere of my life look like a cute and cozy coffee shop. In other words, I’m more of a “half-spilled Quik Trip coffee while exhaustedly driving to an undesired location” than a “warm Goat Hill coffee while reading a good book on a rainy day” kind of girl. I’m always in a hurry even though I’m ALWAYS 20 minutes early to everything. I’m alarmingly punctual. It’s actually a problem. Relaxing is not easy for me. I find comfort in worry and planning and preparing and stressing. I’m thankful I serve a God who challenges me to pause and proclaim His peace. My heart finds rest in His presence. 

2) I once bought La Croix at Target because I thought it would make my seem trendy…not because I genuinely wanted it. I mean, La Croix is tolerable and definitely Instagrams better than a Diet Dr. Pepper, but I bought it for all the wrong reasons. This is just one trivial example to illustrate how hard I strive to fit in. Everyone wants to belong; however, we will only satisfy that craving when we allow our AUTHENTIC selves to receive God’s love-sealed invitation into His family. Living an image based life is empty. We have to claim our genuine, God-crafted identities to find fulfillment. 

3) No matter how many Youtube videos I watch, my eyebrows will never be on fleek. I have always struggled to accept my appearance. I have spent the majority of my life struggling to fix my body. Recently, I have found myself channeling so much time and effort into image based self-improvement. But, this is wasted energy. God hand-crafted me into a masterpiece. There is a difference between cherishing yourself and changing yourself. When I cherish my body, I focus on improving the quality of my health, happiness, and heart. When I change myself, I manipulate the pieces of me that God created in order to fit into society’s strict standard. In 2017, I plan to channel more energy into my calling than into my outfits. 

4) I have never been able to perfect the messy bun; however, I’m a master at creating a mess. I don’t wake up flawless, but I do wake up with God’s fresh mercy and grace. This past year has been filled with memories I wish I never created. Sometimes, I choose insecurity over quiet confidence. Sometimes, I choose selfishness over sacrificial love. I’m far from perfect; however, I am always near to a perfect God. 2016 has also been filled with more moments of abundant and lavishing love than I could have ever imagined! I am speechless as I reflect on how many miracles God performed in my life and through me this past year. It’s a good thing God loves and uses messy people. 

5) My relationship with Jesus is not a 5a.m, photogenic devotional. In many ways my life is more like a photo album filled with forced family photos than an aesthetically pleasing editorial. Some days, I have to force myself to spend time with Jesus despite my tired, stressed, and anxious soul (and some days I choose sleep or work over Jesus). While I absolutely love sitting in the quiet, calming presence of my perfect father, sometimes I convince myself it can wait. It’s not always easy making God my number 1 priority when I have timelines and deadlines to follow in school and work. This past year, I have learned to be flexible and frequent with my faith. I began to live in worship, believing that God was wanting to use me in every moment. As my faith became a willing walk of worship each day, I found that The Holy Spirit came alive in ways I never could have imagined. I abandoned the idea that God-encounters had to take place in quiet moments, and began to proclaim His presence and promise into every moment (no matter how chaotic). 

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭1:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In 2017, I plan to recklessly abandon my desire to belong. I already belong to the family of God! I can delclare my acceptance into the face of insecurity. •Authenticity > Aesthetic• 

Hit the Ground Running 

This blog post is way over due, yet perfectly timed. It’s been a message on my heart for almost a month now; however, God is still revealing new meaning to the phrase He placed on my heart in a moment of flooding anxiety. But, the full story starts in January during a time of prayer and fasting. During my churches 21 days of prayer and fasting, God challenged me with an image that stems from Matthew 14 when He called Peter to walk on water. 

“Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14:29-33‬ ‭NLT‬‬).

I felt God challenging me with the questions, “what would have happened if Peter had made it to my arms? What would have happened if Peter didn’t sink?” With that challenge came the image of me dancing on top of crashing waves with my loving, Heavenly Father. So, I made a commitment to dance this year. I made a commitment to trust God over trusting my physical feelings of fear or doubt and my logical explanations of why I can’t possibly walk on water. 

In May, I decided to leave my job so that I could open up my schedule to serve more in my church. I had been praying for months (and chatting my family’s ears off) about this decision, because I knew logically it didn’t make sense. I had a good job, loved my coworkers, and keeping my job would have been better financially; however, I couldn’t ignore the feeling that God was calling me to step out of my boat. I quit my job, believing that God would provide opportunities to serve in my church that I could not see yet, and that He would provide financially. The crazy thing is…He did provide! I had short term, flexible job opportunities that perfectly complimented my desire to serve in my church! Also, in the beginning of July, I was given an opportunity to serve on a creative team in my church that I NEVER could have predicted…an opportunity that I would not have had if I was still working at my past job. I’m constantly amazed at what doors open in my life when I follow the whisper of God! 

With new opportunity came new resistance. For the first time in months, I began to experience suffocating anxiety. One night, as my head spun with critical, anxious thoughts, I decided I needed to distract. Anxiety is just what the enemy wanted, and I refused to entertain his lies. So, I put my music on shuffle and the first song that played was It is Well by Bethel! Message received, God. In that moment, I paused to praise and pray! I felt God reminding me to hit the ground running. I may not be the most experienced or qualified to serve on this specific creative team; however, I knew without a doubt God was already there calling me to step outside of my boat and into His arms….and I refused to settle for anything less than dancing! I refused to doubt myself. I had been asked for a reason, and with God on my side I could not fail! 

One of the most relieving things about serving God is that it isn’t about personal ability. It’s about obedience and willingness. So instead of looking at what I lacked, I boldly offered what I had (willingness) knowing that God would provide the rest (ability). 

Fast forward a month and I’ve found myself in a season of transition. I’m transitioning into a new season of greater responsibility and greater independence. I’m creating myself in ways that I haven’t had to do before. And so, with that comes the need to be more intentional, brave, and patient. Growing up is an imperfect process, and I never want to get to a point where I think I have everything under control. I just want to find peace in knowing that God is in control (which hasn’t always been easy for me….heck, it’s still really hard some days!). As a part of this new season, I’ve decided to train for a half marathon in April! Running allows you to embrace the uncomfortable, escape the logical, and live intentionally. I want to spiritually and physically hit the ground running as I go towards where God is calling me next! Tonight, God gently reminded me of His empowering love and constant desire to run the race with me!  

“And He gives you faith, 

So you can lift your head, 

And you can run real fast, 

And you can feel His joy”

https://youtu.be/zEL4Oqfcgn8

A Year in Review

It’s hard to believe my freshman year of college is complete. It’s even harder to believe just how much has changed in the last 12 months. If I had to choose three words that sum up the past year, I would choose destruction, restoration, and growth. I have experienced joy and peace in the most genuine yet illogical ways. I have seen mountains move in my life, and have witnessed God’s personal love like never before. This past year has been simultaneously the hardest and happiest year I have ever experienced, and I am humbly reminded of God’s grace and goodness as I reflect on all that has occurred.

Rewind to one year ago (May 2015), I had just graduated high school and was intimidated by the opportunity that stood before me. I had learned to define myself by my own success, and feared that I would fail in this new season of life. I was overwhelmed, stressed, and fearful of what the future would hold. I wasn’t sure if I was capable of being more independent. Fear and doubt poisoned my spirit, convincing me to retreat into pursuing the one thing I knew I could control: food. My life began to revolve around counting calories, losing weight, and focusing on food. My eating disorder became a distraction from life’s stress. Physically, I was weak, exhausted, and dying. I was convinced that dying from the success of an eating disorder was better than failing at “life”.

In July of 2015 I began working part time as a bank teller, and in August I became a full time student. Working 30 hours a week, taking 15 credit hours in school, and attempting to manage an eating disorder were becoming too much to handle. I wanted to succeed in school and work, and being malnourished was inhibiting me from achieving my potential. My heart was yearning for change, but the thought of giving up control and gaining weight prevented me from fully committing to recovery. Logically, I knew I needed to change; however, my heart was far from being motivated to recover. Finally, I decided to step out on a limb and write my prayer request on a connect card at church. I wrote out my situation/prayer need, and kept the connect card in my purse for a few weeks before finding the courage to turn it in on a Sunday. Not only was it hard being so vulnerable and risking judgement, but I also wasn’t convinced I could get better. In some ways, it felt pointless asking for prayer. A few weeks later, I got a call from a woman in my church who offered to pray for and encourage me. Her simple texts of encouragement throughout the week reminded me to refocus my thoughts on God’s truth.

I can’t fully explain the chain of events that occurred over the next month. But, I can say that prayer is powerful. Healing starts in the heart, and I truly believe that the prayers I received over my connect card were the catalyst to my recovery. It definitely was not in my own ability or desire to see myself achieve my full potential. My heart just started to transform  and my perspective on the world changed. In October, God started nudging on my heart. I felt Him reminding me that I am not a victim to my circumstances. For years, my eating disorder had been my escape from undesirable/stressful situations. But, I felt God heavily weighing the words peace and joy on my heart. I felt challenged to seek for the miracles in EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I was no longer content with barely surviving. I desired to see God move in my mundane moments. The more I seeked God’s peace, joy, and victory, the more peace, joy, and victory I felt. 

Also, it was in October that I was confronted by the unglamorous and embarrassing reality of what years of malnutrition and purging will do to your body. After avoiding the dentist for months, I finally had to get a decaying tooth checked out. I was hoping that a simple filling would fix the problem. Unfortunately, when they went to do the operation they discovered that the damage was too close to the root of the tooth, and they decided that a root canal was the best option. I remember feeling slightly betrayed by God. When my dentist started operating, he mentioned that if this was unsuccessful, a root canal would be necessary. In that moment I prayed wholeheartedly for restoration and healing. Part of me was praying out of embarrassment. I didn’t want a root canal to taint my image. If my tooth would just magically heal, I wouldn’t have to face the reality of how sick I was…but that didn’t happen. Within minutes of working on the filing, my dentist stopped and declared that the damage was too deep. I needed a root canal.

I defeatedly got in my car to drive home. I was ashamed. I felt judged by my dentist, and was nervous to reveal the news to my mom. No one ever verbally said that the purging had caused this; however, the connection was unquestionably understood. In a moment where I began to question God’s goodness, He showed up. While driving home, a song began to play on the radio. The song was “Restore” by Chris August. Even though the song is about restoring a marriage, the chorus spoke exactly to how I was feeling. The chorus sings about God’s healing love and his ability to bring restoration. I had literally been praying for restoration as I sat in the dentist’s office, so when I heard these lyrics I knew God was speaking to my heart.

In that moment, I felt God reminding me that His healing isn’t some temporary filling. His healing love is a root canal. In order to find restoration in our life, we have to dig deep into the parts of our life that have suffered decay and remove the toxic roots. The root canal was the restoration my tooth needed, even if involved taking a hit to my image. See, I thought that if I whitened my teeth and used enamel strengthening toothpaste then I could fool my dentist. As long as my teeth looked clean and shiny on the outside, then the inner damage would go unnoticed. Clearly that wasn’t the case. After the root canal, I had to schedule another appointment to get a crown that would take the place of the old tooth. The crown looks like the tooth that once occupied the space in the back corner of my mouth; however, it is much stronger than the old, decaying molar. From the outside, the change is unnoticeable; however, the strength of the crown is much more reliable and usable.

God wants to place his heavenly crown on us. He never asks us to remove the dying parts of our self without replacing it with new life! In fact, usually he starts to root his love in us before we even begin to remove the decay. It was in late October/early November of 2015 that I found a new passion for my calling. I finally believed I was “usable” by God because of who HE is. When I started recovery, I created an Instagram account to track my journey. I wanted to be a light of encouragement to those who felt hopeless, lost, and beyond repair. I wanted to be an example of God’s powerful healing and personal love. Over the last 8 months of this account, I have been humbled by God’s ability to use me to encourage others. I feel privileged to receive daily messages from people all over the world asking me about who God is, and how my faith has helped my recovery. I get to spread God’s love to others, and be a voice of empowerment in declaring victory over the enemy.

2015 was a year of destroying who I thought I needed to be, and allowing God to restore my damaged parts. I embraced my image as a child of God, and allowed His love to transform my life. 2016 began with 21 days of prayer and fasting my snooze button. God spoke so much clarity and truth into my life over those three weeks, and that has set the pace for my growth thus far. My main prayer for this year has been that I would get more rooted at my church. Over the last several months, I have witnessed God answer the deepest desires of my heart. I have joined amazing teams that allow me to serve each week, I have gained so many valuable relationships with the kindest people in Kansas City, and I have been blessed with an opportunity to go on a Mission Trip to the LA Dream Center in three weeks.

Honestly, 12 months ago I had began to subtly say my goodbyes. The instability of my declining health made me uncertain of my future. BUT PRAISE GOD THAT THE TRUTH OF HIS PROMISE IS THAT WE HAVE A FUTURE OF HOPE AND PROSPERITY. I cannot adequately express how thankful and humbled I am by God’s kindness and love. As God transformed my heart and equipped my spirit, I found confidence and courage to pursue my calling. I have experienced abundant peace and joy despite my circumstances, and have found freedom in declaring the promises of God into my life. This last year has made me very certain of a few things:

  1. God’s plan is (wayyyyyy) better than my plan.
  2. I am a child of God.
  3. I have a God-planned and God-protected calling.
  4. There is power in community.
  5. Pray intentionally and boldly for God’s promises.          

“I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities. I will restore your leaders as in days of old, your rulers as at the beginning. Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City.””‭‭ (Isaiah‬ ‭1:25-26‬ ‭NIV‬)

God reclaims and renames the city with its true identity, despite the contrast of an unfaithful and unrighteous past. This is what I love about God! He doesn’t look at our past/present and call us unfaithful, broken, and flawed. He only calls us by our identity. I am a child of God! I am complete, whole, worthy, valuable, and loved always! 

Losing My Voice

I was sick.

What started out small, cough and slight congestion, had undeniably turned into a cold.

After a few days the manageable cold had evolved into a hindering cocktail of symptoms and with the sickness

I lost my voice.

I never realized how much my soul longed to sing until I lost my voice.

Long drives and morning showers felt incomplete without my self-proclaimed Grammy worthy solo.

My daily routine felt different, unlike me…But I suppose from the outside it appeared nothing had really changed.

I remember you sat next to me.

The silence was the loudest thing in the room, and both of us wanted to say something.

But I knew my body wouldn’t allow me to speak, and you knew if you did speak, it would be a one sided conversation.

Somehow, I still longed for you to entertain the silence. Any noise would distract from the discomfort I found in the quiet.

I had no way of telling you what I needed in that moment, so I couldn’t blame you when your response was inadequate.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Sure…but who is there to care.

No one.

I learned to play charades.

Frustrated, I acted out my thoughts and feelings while you misinterpreted try after try until we finally agreed on a loose definition of what I attempted to communicate.

Always slightly off, but close enough for me to finally stop dancing.

Other times, I would just give up…leaving me feeling trapped in my broken body.

Thankfully, after some time my body began to find healing.

It started with a cracked whisper. My words often broken

and unfinished

I didn’t always trust that my body was ready to speak, and my confidence was shaky after multiple failed attempts to proudly proclaim and demonstrate that my voice was restored.

But my voice did come back.

I have a new appreciation for the power of words.

Finally free after feeling trapped in my body,

Finally able to communicate without restraint.

I speak with a new admiration of how words feel as they depart. I’ve become more intentional of what I say, realizing that sometimes words are limited.

Research in Recovery

As I have stepped up my game in terms of recovery over the past three weeks, I have had many, “OMAHGOSH I THINK I AM DYING MY BODY IS FOREVER BROKEN” moments. In these moments of panic, I have learned to seek out answers on the good ‘ole internet! Google search has become my best friend. Over the past three weeks I have learned a lot and thought it would be very informative to share some of the wonderful articles I have found! The blogging world is full of gems! Plus, eating disorder recovery basically breaks every diet and “how to stay slim” rule out there. It’s terrifying, counter intuitive, and often feels uncomfortable; however knowledge is power. So, below are some of the articles that I am basing my recovery guidelines on and some articles that have helped explain some of what occurs during the very uncomfortable and painful recovery process!

Bloating (so much pain but not permanent…and my least favorite phase of recovery): 

Bloating and Water Retention

The Truth about Bloating in Recovery

Psychology Today

Personally, I experienced very painful bloating and edema my first week into eating a consistent amount of calories. It made wanting to continue eating very difficult because physically I was in so much pain. My face and ankles would swell, and my stomach felt as if it was stretching my skin. Ouch. What I found to help me was continuing to nourish even when I didn’t want to so my metabolism and body could continue to heal, drinking lots and lots and lots of tea and water, exercising lightly, and doing yoga that aids digestion. I still suffer from bloating; however, after about a week and a half everything seemed to become less painful and severe. The important thing is not to restrict fluid or food despite what appears to be fast weight gain. Your body will normalize!

Calories and Meal Plans: 

A Life Without Anorexia

I NEED HOW MANY CALORIES

I have been aiming to eat between 2500-3000 calories a day. I was SHOCKED to see how little my weight was affected when I increased. Yes, I gained weight (because it was needed), but it wasn’t nearly as fast or dramatic as I expected. I have learn more and more each day that maybe I am not the exception after all.

Parents Point of View:

Family Experience Video

I found this video very enlightening and enjoyed hearing the parents point of view. It’s a little lengthy to watch but very informative!

Weight Gain and Natural Set Point:

What if we viewed weight as we view height?

Set Point Theory

Not Being the Thinnest

Partial Recovery

These articles have become reassurance and some what reminders that recovery is not about weight. I have found myself aiming to hit that magical BMI of 20 so that I can call myself recovered. When I was inpatient three years ago I was told that the minimum weight I could maintain was a BMI of 20. My disordered brain interpreted this minimum as a maximum and ever since I have found myself measuring my health based on this number. The thought of weighing more than a BMI of 20 is terrifying but necessary to achieve full recovery! It is more important to discover your bodies natural set point which will likely take a year for me to figure out as my body still has lots of healing to endure!

HUNGER WITH A CAPITAL H!!! 

Stopping Half-Way

What is Extreme Hunger

Picture of the Cycle of Hunger

Feeling hungry after a year of suppressing this feeling was very scary. What was scarier was feeling hungry even after eating 2000 calories. Extreme hunger is a part of the process and should be honored…not ignored.

All of these articles I found very helpful and informative! One of the best tools in recovery is just knowing what to expect so you can prepare for each and every stage!