Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Scars of Abortion

I want to share a story with you. It’s a story of pain, tragedy, death, love, and redemption. It’s a story that, until now, only two people have heard. It’s a story that I have hid in my heart due to my fears of judgment or condemnation from other people. A few weeks ago, God placed it on my heart to share this story and I have been reluctant to obey. After much prayer and attempting to bargain with God, I find myself sharing the story of my abortion.

I’m not sharing this for sympathy or attention – but to acknowledge the glory of God and how He can and will redeem us from our darkest sins.

Whether you choose to believe it of not, the psychological scars of abortion are devastating.

I was twenty years old. I was in college. I was in love. I drank a lot and I didn’t know that I was hiding behind hundreds of masks to hide my true self. I didn’t know who my true self was. I didn’t believe that anyone loved me for who I was. I believed that I only deserved love if I was “good enough” to earn it. I believed that he only loved me because I did things for him. I had no faith in God. I didn’t understand who He was. I pretended to be someone whom I thought others would love. I didn’t trust people. I was lost, but I didn’t know I was lost. I thought that my boyfriend was the only person who was looking out for me and I worshiped the ground he walked on and I would have done anything for him.

I always wanted a family. My own family was dysfunctional as child and I longed to have a family of my own – a family that included a mom, dad, and child(ren). I thought, if I could just have that, my life would make more sense and I would be okay. I thought I had found true love. I thought he was the man I would marry. He seemed to be the first man I had ever been with who was interested in more than just that “one thing”. I was broken though. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but my life was in shambles and I was grasping for control.

When I found out I was pregnant, I was scared but I was elated. I thought that he would be happy and that we would become a happily ever after family. But I was very, very wrong. When I told him, he said that he would support whatever I chose. But he kept pushing for abortion. I was terrified of losing him and I didn’t want my child to be raised the way I was, without a father. If we had this baby, I would disappoint my family, I would never finish school, I would never amount to anything, I wouldn’t be a good mom. In short, I would be a failure. I had never given much thought to the topic of abortion in my past. I always thought I was pro-choice. I didn’t see anything wrong with it, but I always thought it wasn’t for me. The more he suggested it, the more I wrestled with whether or not I was okay with it for me. But if it was legal and our government said it was okay, I figured it couldn’t be that bad. Abortion was a way of making sure that I didn’t have to give up on my own dreams. After many weeks of coercion, I agreed to “take care of the problem”.  He never seemed to give any thought, and nor did I, to how going through with this would change our lives forever.

I sat in front of my computer, very hesitant. I didn’t know how hard it would be just to type the words “abortion clinic” into the Google search bar. The results appeared quickly and I had the name and number for the place I needed to call. I picked up my phone and dialed the number. I just stared at it for a minute, trying to give myself the courage to press send. When I did, I felt like the line rang for eternity. I was finally greeted on the other end by a young woman with a chipper voice asking, “how may I help you?” I stumbled through my words and I struggled to get them out, “I-I-I-I n-n-n-need to have and a-a-a-bortion.” She responded in that same chipper voice, “Okay, no problem. We can help you with that problem.” She then proceeded to tell me what I needed to do, how much it would cost, and how I was doing the best thing for my future. She set up my appointments and told me not to worry. She told me that everything would be back to normal once it was taken care of.

The clinic required a “pre-op” appointment. I went to that first appointment by myself. I was young, scared, and confused, but I was convinced that if I ever wanted a chance to have the life I had always dreamed of, I needed to go through with it. That appointment was overwhelming. I heard all the scientific facts of the thing growing inside of me and how this was the best thing I could do for my future. But no one ever spoke of the growing mass in my belly as a baby. No one told me that my baby had a heartbeat. No one told me that my baby could feel pain. No one told me that my baby was a baby. These are things that I wouldn’t learn until after it was over; after I couldn’t change my mind. They tried to prepare me for what my body would experience as a result of the procedure. They explained that there would be some pain involved but that after a few days I should feel pretty normal again (what they didn’t know, and neither did I at the time, is that I didn’t know what normal felt like). They explained to me that I may experience a little sadness but that would simply be the result of my hormones getting back to normal. But what they didn’t try to prepare me for was the emotional distress that would pour into my life after “my mistake was taken care of”. No one told me that the abortion really meant ripping my baby limb from limb from the warm, secure home he had, had for 11 weeks in my womb. By the time I left that appointment, they had convinced me that I was doing the right thing. The doctor and nurses promised me freedom and happiness once they had “fixed” the mistake that I had made. I was sure that if I let the thing developing inside of me turn into a baby, my life would be ruined.

I had to wait three days before I went back to the clinic for “the procedure” as they called it. But those few days felt like an eternity. I felt like an inmate on death row who was waiting for her sentence. I was terrified of what was going to happen, but I was sure that once it was over my pain would be gone. Those days dragged on in a haze of confusion and alcohol abuse. I was sure I was doing the right thing. I was sure that everything I was feeling would go away once the problem was gone.

It was like I was standing on the edge of a cliff and everyone around me promised that if I stepped off the edge, I’d find happiness, freedom, and peace. But the voices I kept hearing all around me were 100% contradictory to everything I was feeling. I didn’t know at the time that what I was feeling was love and compassion for the life inside of me. I thought I was feeling contempt for it and would be glad once it was gone. I felt trapped and I didn’t know whether to listen to the voices or my feelings. Most of my history had taught me that my feelings couldn’t be trusted, so I was quick to disregard my feelings.

I was a control freak who felt like I had lost all control of my body and my life.

So I stood on the edge of the cliff and looked over the expanse. I didn’t want to step off the edge because I didn’t know what I’d be falling in to. All I could see was endless darkness. But I also didn’t want to walk the winding path that was behind me. As I turned to assess what the scene behind me would behold, the twists and turns horrified me. I saw wild beasts that looked ready to attack if I tried to take even one step forward. Thorns and thistles lined the path and darkness consumed it. It was intimidating and terrifying, but I could see the terrors and could prepare for how to handle them. The voices inside of me told me that if I went down this path it would hurt, I would disappoint and hurt other people, and that I would fail; but those same internal voices told me that I could and should take the risk. But then there were the louder, more tangible, external voices that urged me to step out into the vast unknown oblivion. They promised me love, security, freedom, and acceptance if only I took the step off the cliff. They promised me that what I couldn’t see in the unknown was a better life, a life free of my “problem”. They told me I could trust them. In a desperate attempt to find love, safety, and acceptance, I abandoned my own feelings and decided to step off into the oblivion. But that one step left me falling into a darkness that I didn’t know how to handle.

It’s funny, really, the lies you believe when you have no foundation of truth.

The night before the “procedure” he had promised he would be with me, he promised that he would support me through the whole experience because, as he said, we were doing the right thing. But that night, I experienced the first in a long string of broken promises. He didn’t show up and I was left to wrestle with my confusing emotions on my own. I was unable to sleep as my mind kept taking me back to that cliff and the fear of the unknown that I was about to enter into.  When he arrived at my house the following morning to take me to the clinic I was filled with anxiety. My thoughts were running in so many different directions that I didn’t understand what was going on with me. I felt alone, scared, and out of control. I placed my physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being into the hands of the man that I thought loved and would only do what was best for me, not knowing at the time that my safety and security were the last things on his mind. He told me we were doing the right thing, and I believed him. But if this was right, then why did I feel so wrong? If this was right, why did I feel so condemned? If this was right, how come I felt so ashamed? If this was right, how come I felt like, from that moment on, I needed to guard this secret with my life?

Entering the clinic was overwhelming. I was walking in, a scared, twenty year old, pregnant young lady and I was promised that I would be walking out as a freed and happy young adult with a bright future. I was consumed with confusion as I was greeted by smiling faces. How could they be smiling about something that felt so wrong to me? I was deceived and I didn’t know that behind those smiles were people just waiting to take the life of the unborn mass of cells that lay within my abdomen.

We had a seat in the waiting room and it felt surreal. I was buying into the promises of freedom and I couldn’t wait to reach the other side of this, to be free of the feelings that this pregnancy had brought upon me. I had been convinced that everything I was feeling was not negativity toward the procedure but actually toward the pregnancy. My name was called; I squeezed his hand, and walked through the doors that I would never walk back out of. After several needle pricks, my arms were left sore and bruised. I was asked to change my clothes and have a seat in another waiting room. This room was full of terrified girls and young women. We were all waiting to hear our names called so we could get this over with. The room smelled of shame. At the time, I assumed we were all just ashamed of our pregnancies. If you don’t know what shame smells like, step foot into the waiting room of an abortion clinic, it’s an unmistakable smell that one can never forget. A few of the ladies tried to make small talk, but mostly we all just kept to ourselves, trying to hide our faces.

One by one, our names were called and one by one our babies were murdered. Finally, it was my turn. Finally, I would be getting that freedom that I was promised.

I followed a nurse back to the “exam room”. I think death chamber is a more appropriate name. I’ll never forget this doctor as long as I live. He was wearing sky blue scrubs and a face mask. I have often wondered what he was hiding behind that mask. But what horrified me were his eyes. His eyes were like ice and it chilled me to my bones. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was in the presence of evil and my consciousness shut down.  I had made myself become numb; I felt like a zombie. I had absolutely no control over my body. The doctor and nurses spoke to me and my body responded to them, but I couldn’t comprehend what was going on. I followed orders and laid down on the table. I watched as the doctor pulled the stirrups out, placed my feet in them, and strapped my feet down. At the same time, a few nurses were on either side of me securing my arms. One nurse injected a medication into my arm that would sedate me and I felt a cold sting run through my veins. I felt as if I had just been injected with the ice from that doctor’s eyes. The medical team was busy with mindless chatter as I lay there helpless and afraid. It was as if what they were about to do to me meant absolutely nothing to them. But I still thought they were helping me. One of the nurses urged me to close my eyes and promised I would be asleep before anything started. That’s when I felt the doctor touching me and I felt a warm tear streak across my cheek. The doctor said, “this will be cold,” as he pushed the frozen ultrasound probe inside of me. I felt like I had been penetrated by the evil I saw in his eyes; but he was helping me, right? My mind was starting to feel cloudy and I was beginning to lose consciousness and that’s when I heard the doctor’s voice again. “Wow, that’s a strong heartbeat. Oh, no wonder, there’s two.” It was in that moment that I changed my mind. I tried to speak and struggle free. My mind was screaming, “let me go, let me go,” but the drugs they had given me had done their job; I was too weak and disoriented and my eyes closed. The last thing I heard was the distinct sound of two very strong, very healthy heartbeats.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up to extreme pain and I heard the humming of the torture device that was ripping my babies from their home. I tried to scream, but nothing would come out. Then I felt that cold, evil sting in my arm once more and I was again unconscious. The next time I awoke, I was being forced from the exam table to a wheel chair. One of the nurses pulled on my arm and almost yelled for me to “wake up and move.” I groggily followed orders, still unable to comprehend what was happening. Was it over? Was I fixed? Was I free? As I stood up, I was overcome with pain and I nearly collapsed into the waiting wheel chair. This was their first time in my life that I had ever been blinded by pain. This is when I first realized that I was falling and I couldn’t catch myself. But I was sure that those promises of freedom, love, and happiness still waited for me.

I was moved to a recovery room where four recliners sat side by side. Three of the chairs were already filled with shamed and hurting young women who had, like me, unknowingly just committed the biggest mistakes of their lives. I painfully made my way into the chair and quickly fell back to sleep. I was only vaguely aware of the busyness around me as everyone else seemed to go about their business. As I opened my eyes again, a male nurse approached me, sending me into a panic. He had the same icy eyes as that doctor; however his voice was much gentler. He told me that it was time for me to get dressed and leave. My head was foggy and my legs were unstable, but I felt sure that as soon as I could get out of this place, I would experience the freedom I was promised. No one had prepared me for the amount of physical pain I would be in. I got dressed and was only able to half listen to the instructions the nurse was giving me. He then walked me to the back door and led me out of the building where I found my boyfriend waiting to take me home. At the time, I wondered why we weren’t allowed to leave out the front door after the procedure, now I realize that they don’t want the young women in the waiting room to see the pain and despair on our faces – that might lead them to change their minds. That’s why they made us use the back door.

I had expected him to take me in his arms and tell me how much he loved me. I had expected him to embrace me and tell me he was sorry for my pain. I had expected him to comfort and protect me. But all I really got was silence. More broken promises. Where was my freedom? I felt more bound, confused, and ashamed than ever. I couldn’t even look at him. On our way home we stopped for lunch and I looked at him, with hatred in my voice and said, “it was twins.”

I didn’t realize then, how much I already loved them.

The weekend was a blur of pain, sleep, and crying. I hated sleeping because I was overcome with grief in every nightmare. I caught glimpses of the baby boy and girl that I had just killed. They wanted to know why I didn’t love them. They wanted to know why I had killed them. They wanted to know why. And so did I. But when I was awake, I was in such a tremendous amount of pain that I could barely move. I was sure though, that I deserved this pain. The babies in my nightmares told me I did too. Being awake and facing the physical pain was better though than being asleep and having to see their small, mutilated bodies crying at me. Honestly, at the time, I didn’t think I would survive. I truly believed that this pain would literally kill me. And a part of me hoped it would. I didn’t believe in God at that point. I thought God hated me and had forsaken me many years before. But I cried out to Him, asking Him why He was doing this to me.

He stayed with me for most of that weekend. I probably would have taken my own life if he hadn’t. Two days was not enough time to heal, but I told myself it had to be. Monday rolled around and I had to convince myself that I was fine. I had to forget the pain and move on. After all, I had been promised freedom and I was determined to find it.

The promises were all broken. My boyfriend’s support quickly dwindled as did my trust and faith in him. I had placed my body in his hands and allowed him to control me and he shattered every fiber of my being. I was determined to never be that vulnerable again. I was determined that no one would ever have that kind of control over my life again. I was determined to regain control of my own life.

The promises that the doctor and nurses made to me about love, acceptance, safety, and freedom were all lies. It was never about love, it was about death. It was never about acceptance, it was about alienation. It was never about safety, it was about fear. It was never about freedom, it was about bondage.

In an attempt to cope with and hide my pain, I turned to drug and alcohol abuse and I also struggled with self-harm and bulimia. These things only deepened my shame and left me bound in my despair. I did all I could to avoid feeling the pain.

This story took place just over 6 years ago – January 11, 2008. In these past 6 years I have hidden and run from much of the pain I have felt.

I stepped off that cliff and I started falling. I was terrified by what the impact would look like once I finally hit the ground. Would I break and shatter and lose it all once again? Or would God’s loving arms catch me before the impact could ruin me?

I choose to believe that God will catch me. No other promise has felt as secure as that one.

Facing the pain of the abortion was hard. It was, after all, a choice that I made. I cried many tears and yelled at God many times. But trusting in myself and what I could do had obviously not been helpful, so the only choice I had left was to trust the God who said He could heal me.

I think we get so bound by our shame that we convince ourselves that IF God is real, He can’t forgive this and that we are hopeless. But that’s why I wrote this, it’s not hopeless and you are forgiven. You just have to trust Him. Trust is hard and can sometimes be painful, but it’s worth it.

It is only by trusting God and allowing Him to show me the depth of my sin and shame that I have been able to find freedom. I have worked through the “Surrendering the Secret” Bible study and Celebrate Recovery step studies. Those, along with lots of prayers and tears, have helped me to understand who God is and who He says I am. The shame of abortions is real and it is deep. Most women hide it so deep that they don’t even realize how much they’re still hurting.

I hid it for 5 years before I realized how much I was still hurting from it. After 5 years of hiding the pain so deeply, I had forgotten how to feel it. It’s taken this past year to work through and process all of the shame and emotions I’ve felt.

It’s odd really, when women choose abortion they choose it because they don’t believe that they have any other option. We’re promised freedom, but what we find is the furthest thing from it.

I’m sure there will be controversy about the topic of this post, and I’m okay with that. My goal isn’t to make everyone happy, but to simply share my story in hopes to help someone else. I want it to be known that I will not engage on any arguments or debates and any condemning comments will be deleted.

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Drowning

Life as a Christian is not all sunshine and roses. There are definite struggles. Just because I have a deep joy and hope that I am saved through the grace of God, I still have very real and very hard issues in my life…and quite often, I feel like I’m drowning.

“Drowning”…that was the title of the sermon at church today. Today’s sermon was one of those where I personally felt like my pastor was speaking directly to me, like God put every word he spoke into his mouth because I needed to hear it…it was actually a bit eerie.

The past few weeks I’ve felt like I’ve been drowning – like I’ve been crying out to a God who hasn’t been listening – like no matter what I’ve tried, I haven’t been able to get my head above water to catch a breath.

Psalm 69:1-3 –  1Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.

Drowning should drive me to prayer. It’s weird, sometimes when my life seems to be falling apart and the control freak inside of me is panicking because I can’t hold it all together, sometimes I don’t want to go to God because I am angry or frustrated with Him because I don’t understand my circumstances. But in reality, that’s when I need to run to Him most. He wants me to bring my doubts and questions to Him. He already knows that I’m thinking them, I might as well be honest with Him about it instead of just holding onto it and letting it fester inside of me.

One thing I’ve realized about myself is that when I go to God with my doubts and my questions, when I actually form my thoughts into words, I realize how childish and selfish I’m being. I realize that I’m usually just acting like a child who isn’t getting her way. Not to say that my circumstances can’t often be frustrating or discouraging, but that I often have a bad attitude about the circumstances because they’re not how I want them.

Psalm 69:16-18 – 16 Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good;
according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
17 Hide not your face from your servant;
for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.
18 Draw near to my soul, redeem me;
ransom me because of my enemies!

Drowning drives me to consider my purpose. My purpose in this life is not to just be happy and live an easy life. In fact, as a Christian, it is the exact opposite. Although I will receive blessings in my life as a result of obedience to God, God also promises me that I will experience struggles and suffering – what matters is how I choose to respond to it. Am I willing to move beyond my own narrow view of myself to use my suffering to help someone else? If I will allow God to use me, if I will follow where He leads, I can turn around and use my affliction to serve others.

This is something I’ve seen mostly within Celebrate Recovery. I enjoy serving others around me and reaching out to other people who are just as broken as I was when I first came to know who Christ is. Whenever I think that God cannot use whatever my current circumstances are, he throws me into so ridiculous situation where He reminds me that I can serve others using my greatest weaknesses and struggles.

Psalm 69:32-33 – 32 When the humble see it they will be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
33 For the Lord hears the needy
and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.

Drowning will be reversed. God will redeem me from my pain and brokenness, Jesus died to save me from my own sin. He has a plan for me and for my life. Yes, there will be struggles and suffering, but He is still there with me. He still hears my prayers and catches my tears. I simply have to trust Him.  

One of the things my pastor said this morning that really stuck out to me was: when I feel alone, like God isn’t hearing my prayers, think of my baptism and what that resembles. In baptism, the old me had to die so the new me could have life…the old me has been drowned and the new me lives.


The Socially Anxious Introvert

In a world that seems to be dominated by extroverts (of course, because introverts don’t generally have as much of a desire to fill the limelight) it is hard to be an introvert without feeling like there’s something wrong with me.

Let me start by explaining what an introvert is and what an introvert isn’t.

An introvert isn’t just someone who is shy and doesn’t like people.

An introvert is someone who very much loves people, has a great deal of compassion and affection for others, but who also is physically and emotionally drained by spending time with other people.

An introvert isn’t a shut-in who avoids the world at all costs.

An introvert is someone who, although he/she enjoys spending time with family and friends, desperately needs to spend time alone to recharge and relax.

An introvert isn’t a rude person who simply doesn’t want to talk to you.

An introvert is bad at small talk and finds small talk tiring and uncomfortable.

I am an introvert and I also have social anxiety.  Social anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness, dread, or apprehension about social interaction and presentation. Introversion and social anxiety, when combined, can be a toxic mix.

The weird thing about me, even though I am a socially anxious introvert, is that I enjoy public speaking and performing. I love talking in front of people (as long as it is planned out and practiced) and I love performing worship on Monday nights at Celebrate Recovery. But as I say I enjoy these things, that doesn’t make them any less emotionally draining on me. I need quiet, alone time to emotionally recoup from this level of interaction.

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I HATE talking on the phone. If I don’t answer my phone when you call or I don’t call you back, don’t take it personally. If you text me, or contact me any of the other 10 ways I can be contacted through my iPhone (technology humor, lol) that don’t actually require me to talk to you, I’ll probably send you a pretty speedy response.

Here’s another thing about introverts, we communicate much more effectively through writing or other non-verbal forms of communication. I have some friends and family who get frustrated by this, but what you need to understand about me (or whoever the introvert is in your life) is that I love and I care about you very deeply, but I will never be able to express that in the same as my extroverted counterparts.

Due to my social anxiety, I also find it hard to make true and lasting friends. I get anxiety at the simple thought of making a phone call to someone I don’t know…and sometimes even to people I do know. I have anxiety about going to the grocery store, going to church, attending Bible studies, taking my daughter to school, going to family events at my husband unit…you name it, if it involves being around other people (especially people I don’t know) it causes me anxiety.

Now, combine my introversion and social anxiety…what you get is a lot of anxiety attacks and tears.

So we’ve already covered that introverts have a desperate physical NEED for quite, alone time…away from ALL other people. Let’s talk about how hard this is as a wife and mother.

As a wife and mom, I spend almost all day, every day with either my kids or my husband. I have very little, if any, time to tune out the world and refocus myself. What happens when days, weeks, or even months, pass without being able to find that quite time to recharge? Anxiety skyrockets and tempers soar. Social anxiety becomes exacerbated and social interactions become fewer and fewer.

An introvert who isn’t able to fulfill the very deep need for alone time becomes a ticking time bomb. My husband, and most of my family, has seen this side of me on many occasions. I try to hold it together and do things like normal, but with each passing day, my heart beats a little faster and my head pounds a little harder. I can, physically, feel the effects of it in my body. An introvert CANNOT be expected to function like an extrovert, at least not for very long.

It’s hard though, to explain to the people I love the absolute most – my husband and children, that sometimes I just can’t be around them. Sometimes I need them to just leave me alone so I can pray, cry, write, think, read, take a bath…just recharge my heart, mind, and soul. But one BIG lesson I’ve learned in recent months is that it’s better to apologize to them for retreating to the back of the house or out on a run for an hour or so than to have to apologize for angry words that cannot be taken back. You are not a bad parent or spouse just because you take time off to take care of yourself – in fact, that makes you pretty awesome!

Introverts, my advice to you is to accept who you are as an introvert. We cannot be extroverts, we never will be. God made us this way for a reason and the world needs us just as much as it needs extroverts. Take pride in who you are. Learn to know your limits. Know when it’s time for you to spend time alone, but don’t use it as an excuse to shut out the world completely.

Extroverts, don’t try to pressure your introverted loved ones into being an extrovert. Acknowledge that we have different personalities and be okay with that. The world needs us both.

But whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, that’s not your identity. Although your personality is one or the other, our identities are still all found in Christ…after all, that’s what truly matters.


You’re My Inspiration

When I first started running, other runners and people in the gym intimidated me. I was no where near as fit or as thin as they were and I assumed that they were all judging me. I was fat and out of shape. I was miserable in my own skin and I failed to see my own beauty.

I’ve struggled with body image, as I’m sure most women in our society have, for much of my life. I’ve been thin and I’ve been fat. I’ve battled anorexia and bulimia and compulsive over eating. My mind has been a battlefield for many years. So when I decided to start running, I wasn’t really sure why I wanted to do it. My initial motivation was not to get healthier ans start a better lifestyle. But when I first started running, I found freedom. I found dedication and determination. I found that I had a stronger power inside of me than I ever knew. Running opened up a new world to me. I was still insecure and self-conscious of my body and I would run or go to the gym early in the morning or late at night so that I no one would see me. I was terrified of the judgement of others…until I was willing to accept who God said I was, I wouldn’t be able to step out of that fear.

The more I ran, the more I saw who I really was. No, I wasn’t super thin. No, I wasn’t ultra fit. But I was, and I am, beautiful. I’m beautiful because I am loved by God. I’m beautiful because I love others. I’m beautiful because I am determined. I’m beautiful because I am kind. I’m beautiful because I refuse to give up. I’m beautiful because I am me.

Song of Solomon 4:7 – You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! You are already beautiful. If you can’t see your beauty now, you won’t see it after losing 10, 20, 60, or 100 pounds. Your beauty comes from your heart. Yes, you may want to lose weight to be healthier or feel better about yourself or whatever your reasons may be….but just know, that losing weight or getting fit will not make you beautiful. You are already beautiful.

I got this letter in an e-mail yesterday. I do not know who the original author is, but this is so beautifully written that I had to share it. This is for the “fat girl” in me who was afraid of everyone else in the fitness world. This is for the new runner. This is for the new athlete. This is for the “fat girl” who just wants to better her life. This is for anyone who thinks that they are being judged by those who are more “in shape” than they are.

You are my inspiration. Even now, when I get “stuck” and can’t find motivation some days, I look at you and you inspire me to keep going.

The letter from my e-mail:
“Hey, Fat Girl.
Yes, you. The one feigning to not see me when we cross paths on the running track. The one not even wearing sports gear, breathing heavy. You’re slow, you breathe hard and your efforts at moving forward make you cringe.
You cling shyly to the furthest corridor, sometimes making larger loops on the gravel ring by the track just so you’re not on it. You sweat so much that your hair is all wet. You rarely stay for more than 20 minutes at a time, and you look exhausted when you leave to go back home. You never talk to anyone. I’ve got something I’d like to say to you.
You are awesome.
If you’d look me in the eye only for an instant, you would notice the reverence and respect I have for you. The adventure you have started is tremendous; it leads to a better health, to renewed confidence and to a brand new kind of freedom. The gifts you will receive from running will far exceed the gigantic effort it takes you to show up here, to face your fears and to bravely set yourself in motion, in front of others.
You have already begun your transformation. You no longer accept this physical state of numbness and passivity. You have taken a difficult decision, but one that holds so much promise. Every hard breath you take is actually a tad easier than the one before, and every step is ever so slightly lighter. Each push forward leaves the former person you were in your wake, creating room for an improved version, one that is stronger, healthier and forward-looking, one who knows that anything is possible.
You’re a hero to me. And, if you’d take off the blaring headphones and put your head up for more than a second or two, you would notice that the other runners you cross, the ones that probably make you feel so inadequate, stare in awe at your determination. They, of all people, know best where you are coming from. They heard the resolutions of so many others, who vowed to pick up running and improve their health, “starting next week”. Yet, it is YOU who runs alongside, who digs from deep inside to find the strength to come here, and to come back again.
You are a runner, and no one can take that away from you. You are relentlessly moving forward. You are stronger than even you think, and you are about to be amazed by what you can do. One day, very soon, maybe tomorrow, you’ll step outside and marvel at your capabilities. You will not believe your own body, you will realize that you can do this. And a new horizon will open up for you. You are a true inspiration.
I bow to you.”

You Lead, I’ll Follow

Finding God’s will for your life is hard….but I think that’s the problem. We’re all looking so hard to do great things for God that we miss the small opportunities that He gives us. We miss the ways in which He is using us now. We want to serve Him in magnificent ways, and we seems to somehow forget that sometimes, the most magnificent service is the mundane, ordinary, and boring everyday tasks that not many people want to do.

Matthew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

I get stuck sometimes…frustrated…because I want to serve God. I want to share Him with everyone around me and tell people all that He has done in my life. But sometimes, that just means living my life, trusting Him to get me through every day, raising my children to know and love Him, honoring him in my relationships with other people. Most often, He asks us to serve Him in ways where we don’t even realize we are serving Him.

Luke 16:10 – One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

I think, at least for me, the biggest focus should be on trusting Him to get me where I need to be. I hate stepping out of my comfort zone, but some of the best memories I have are when God has used me to serve Him in areas that extend from my comfort zone. God has recently presented me with another opportunity to serve Him. It’s an opportunity that I am excited about…but it is also an opportunity that asks me to exit my comfort zone and trust Him more. It’s an opportunity for God to continue to show me how faithful and trustworthy He is. It’s an opportunity for me to extend to others the grace, love, and mercy that have been extended to me.

Matthew 20:28 – Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

God has given me passions and dreams and He has gifted me in certain ways. It is my job, no matter how small or how large, to use my gifts in a way that honor and serve Him.

You Lead, I’ll Follow
Where do You want me
My heart wants to know
Is it here, is it there?
Guide my steps as I go
I’ve walked around blindly
Looking for Your will
All the while You were asking
That I simply be still
Am I longing to serve You
Because of Your grace and mercy
Or do I seek recognition
Which is just serving me
I ask You to search me
Show me the truth
Take away anything
That’s not pleasing to You
You say You will use
The wounded and weak
So here I stand now
Ready to hear You speak

When I was lost
You brought me Home
You showed me love
When I thought I was alone
My heart, once empty
Has been filled to me brim
With the life You gave me
When You freed me form sin
I’m not who I was
And I’m no longer in chains
I’m not bound to my past
You took away all my shame

So let me take this new life
And make it be known
With my Father, my God
I’m never alone
Bring me to places
That will challenge my fears
Through the thick and the thin
I know You’re right here
So wherever You want me
That’s where I’ll go
No questions asked
You lead, I’ll follow


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