Category Archives: Beauty

7-in-7 Day 7: Who am I?

I’m posting this early. Day 7 isn’t actually until tomorrow, but God laid this on my heart tonight. It’s not my usual style of writing, yet every word is deeply true.

Who am I?
Really, who am I?
I could tell you my name,
But that doesn’t answer the question.
Who am I?

I am not my age
Nor my name or my weight
I am not my past
Nor the reflection I see
I am not my mistakes
Nor the things I’ve seen

So who am I?

I am a princess
A daughter
I’m loved by a King

I am an artist
I like to create
I’ve seen hell in my life
But I’ve also seen glimpses of Heaven
I feel deeply
And I love passionately
My skin is too thin
For the hate in this world
I spew words onto paper
And empty my heart
Express how I feel
In stanzas and lines
My favorite color is purple
And there’s something about a yellow rose
That just captivates me with it’s beauty

Who am I?

I’m human
I’m a sinner
I need friends
Not a lot, maybe just one or two
To help me through life
But I’m awkward and scared
Insecure and intimidated
Too afraid that you’ll reject me
Just as soon as look at me

Who am I?

I’m not where I have been
But where I am going
I am not what I’ve done
But what I am doing
I’m learning to give love
And also to accept it.

Who am I?

I am worthy of love.

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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.”

No Looking Back

When I became a Christian, I wanted nothing more than to leave my old life behind me; but my old life was holding onto me with a death-grip. I really didn’t want to leave my past behind me though; after all, it was fun and I was in control, so what was the big deal? The big deal was that I was living behind a mask. I didn’t want my Christian friends to know about my struggles or the very “un-Christian” aspects of my life.

But apparently, God wanted me to trust Him and allow Him in to those scary, untouched parts of my life. He wanted me to share my life, my hurts, and my struggles with other believers. At the time, I thought this was the most ridiculous thing God could ever ask of me.

Nearly two years and lots of tears, emotional meltdowns, sleepless nights, anxiety attacks, and fear later – God had brought me through so much and it is safe to say that I am no longer the person I used to be. I have been set free from self-harm, depression, a love and relationship addiction, and the effects of abortion and sexual abuse. God has proven Himself, over and over, in my life. He hasn’t failed me yet; but somehow, I still struggle with letting God into all parts of my past.

Recently, I have begun a new phase of my recovery. A phase that, in all honesty, I don’t want to go through. I want change, but I don’t want to do the work required to change. I don’t really want to change my behavior, rather I’d just like to change the pain I feel while still doing what’s bad for me. Yes, I am fully aware how illogical that sounds. But that’s the problem, when our minds get distracted by things of this world and we lose our focus on God, things start to get illogical.

In the midst of my shame, guilt, anger, and self-pity, God gave me a beautiful gift today. He gave me a reminder of where my hope lies; a reminder that He loves me, that He cares about me, and that He will calm my fears.

I walked outside this evening and I was immediately blown away by the beauty of the evening sky – the way the light shined through the clouds and the sun’s rays beamed…it was, for me, just a small slice of what Heaven must be like.

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But in that moment, while I marveled at the beauty of God’s creation, I turned around. That’s when I saw the darkness of the storm clouds behind me.

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Standing in the same place, I could see two totally different perspectives – if I looked ahead of me, I saw light, hope, strength, and beauty…but behind me, there was sorrow, pain, and darkness. I saw all these things without moving an inch, it only depended on which direction I choose to look.

This is, basically, the exact definition of my life right now…I can look ahead at the light and hope that God offers me or I can look behind me at my failures and pain and be stuck in the darkness. I don’t have to move to be able to see the light, I just have to choose to look at it, it’s my choice.

You see, for the last few weeks, I’ve been looking back; looking at the depth of my sin and the greatness of guilt and shame. Looking back into the darkness had drawn me away from the light and the things I know to be true. I have felt like God was distant from me, and now I ask myself – who moved, God or me? Clearly, the answer is me.

I moved away from Him because I wanted control in my out of control life…even though I have a pretty long track record of not being able to control anything in my life and just creating an even bigger mess than when I started.

I don’t want to give up the facade of control that I convince myself that I had (even though I KNOW that’s a lie). I want to do things on my own without facing the pain. I don’t want to do what’s right because, right now, what’s right is also what’s hard…and I don’t want to deal with the hard part.

So here’s, yet another, giant leap of faith on my road to recovering from my past. I know that God knows better than I do; He knows the master plan while I can only see the small space that I occupy. I know that this new phase of recovery will be painful. It will hurt, but I’m trusting that it will be worth it. God hasn’t let me down yet, I doubt He’s going to start now.

I’m tired of looking at my past and feeling discouraged by the darkness that surrounds it. I will CHOOSE (yes, it is a choice…a painful choice…but a choice nonetheless) to look ahead of me, to look at God and seek the light. I will CHOOSE to keep moving, even when it hurts, trusting that Jesus is right there next to me. I CHOOSE to not beat myself up when I fall (because I’m sure I will fall along the way). I CHOOSE to place my hope in my Savior and not in myself. I CHOOSE to celebrate the little victories and not get caught up in the set-backs.

Philippians 3:13-14,16No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us…But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.

I CHOOSE TO STOP LOOKING BACK!


Perfectly Imperfect

For all the perfectionists, control freaks, socially awkward, anxious, depressed, and/or scared girls out there (myself included): stop it! Just stop it! Stop competing with each other. Stop comparing your life and your body with someone else’s. You are you, plain and simple.

You may call me crazy, dumb, cliché, narrow-minded, or any other choice of words after reading that opening paragraph; but don’t write me off just yet. I promise, I have a point to make.

So with that being said, I also know it’s not easy…I know, because I can’t “just stop” either. But our striving to be perfect and control the world around us, is robbing us from experiencing the perfectly imperfect life we are living right now. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get pretty sick and tired of people telling me to just stop. Just get over it. Just move on. Just let it go. Because quite honestly, those are just not possible without stepping backward, into the craziness that has become our minds and figuring out how and why we got this way.

I want perfection. Why? Because somehow, someway I learned that beauty, love, and my all around value as a person came from the size of my waist, the number on a scale, and the beauty of my face. At no time, until recently, had I ever placed any value on the size of my heart.

At the age of 10, I started weighing myself; and every time, I thought the number was too high. By 11, I started experimenting with restricting food. At age twelve, I discovered binging and purging. And by age 13, I was trapped in the world of a crazy, eating disordered obsession.

I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to be beautiful. I wanted to be loved. I wanted control. I wanted to be protected. I wanted to be wanted. I NEEDED to feel like I had a purpose in this world. And from what I could tell of the world around me, purpose came by way of beauty, which came from being perfect, which extended from being thin.

But the perfection that I so desperately strived for, would never be possible. I would never and can never be a perfect person. But at the time of my eating disorder, I didn’t see that. At the time, I kept thinking that if the number on the scale just got lower, I would be happier and find perfection. But each time the number got lower, that voice in my head told me it still wasn’t low enough.

And since we’re talking about eating disorders here, I want to clarify a very common misconception. Eating disorders are not necessarily about weight or appearance; although that’s the way it manifests. Ultimately, eating disorders are a way to gain control over a life that’s uncontrollable. Eating disorders are just one tool we use in an effort to attain perfection. When my weight issues started, I had been sexually abused by a friend and sexually harassed online by some guy I didn’t know. I was 10 years old and I felt like my life was spiraling out of control. So I grasped for control and my grasp landed on eating disorder. For a good while, I believed that I was in control. I couldn’t control anything else in my life, but I could control food; and that gave me a sense of pride like I’d never known before.

But that sense of control and pride that I felt, quickly gave way to a new emotion: depression, the state of feeling completely and totally alone and worthless. Depression soon led to self-harm and self-harm to suicidal thoughts…all for the sake of beauty. For the sake of beauty, I was willing to flirt with death, to test my chances. Between the eating disorder, the “perfect” façade I put on, and the seriousness of my self-harm, my body was barely fighting to be alive…but my mind didn’t even know that I was slowly killing myself. I was sure that I was still in control and that I would, one day, find perfection if I could only get thin enough and pretty enough.

My point in telling you all of this is simple: we are killing ourselves for the sake of beauty and unattainable perfection. We are so pressured by the world around us and the enemy within us, that we believe the message that we’re not and never will be good enough. We put ourselves and our bodies through physical and mental anguish for the approval, praise, and acceptance of others. We rarely even stop to consider the rationality of what we’re doing; the eating disordered mind no longer understands rationality.

2 Corinthians 4:16So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

The normal, rational, logical mind tells a person to eat when they are hungry. But the irrational and illogical eating disordered/distorted body image mind has been physically conditioned to find euphoria and happiness in the feeling of hunger.

I’m fairly certain that pretty much every girl and woman has at some time in their lives struggled with body image issues. I’m sure we’ve all experiences the heart-breaking pain of believing we are ugly…for whatever reason.

Maybe an eating disorder isn’t your struggle to find to beauty. Maybe your body image issues show themselves in another way. Maybe you overeat and try to make yourself unattractive so that you will never have to feel the shameful, sensual touch of a man ever again. Maybe you are obsessed with exercise, you work your body past it’s breaking point so that you can find the power to fight back. Maybe you go under the knife, you choose surgery as a way to get rid of the things you don’t want and add the things you do want. Maybe you use alcohol in an attempt to “loosen up” and be more social and friendly. Maybe you cut yourself to cope with the guilt and shame of not being enough. Maybe you jump from one relationship to another; giving your body away to every man you meet, just hoping that someone will stay, that someone will love you.

The list could go on and on…but I think you get the picture.

Our culture, our society, the messages we push out, not only to young girls – but to girls and women of all ages…it all points us to a gut-wrenching lie that we’re not good enough and, no matter what, we’ll never be good enough.

1 Samuel 16:7The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

But as hard as it is to believe, and I say it like that because I often have a hard time believing this myself, you are enough. You are beautiful. You are worth it. You are loved. You are cherished. You are the daughter of a King.

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

Can we, for just a minute, step back, close our eyes, and stop focusing on the world and the pain that is right in front of us. Let’s look further beyond what we can see. Instead of finding our value in the mirror, let’s look at our hearts.

Proverbs 31:30Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.

I know that it is easy to hear all these things and think, “Well, that doesn’t apply to me. You don’t know the things I’ve done.” And you are absolutely right, I don’t know the things you’ve done or the circumstances of your life, but I can bet that whatever it is that you think you’ve done or been through that is too much for God – I’ve probably done it too. I thought the same thing, I thought I was too far gone. I never thought He would reach out to me…but He did, and He wants to do the same thing for you.

Romans 8:6For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

After living most of my life in my distorted mind, I thought God could never use me. But I was seriously wrong, He has already used me and is continuing to use me on a daily basis. I still struggle with body image and eating issues. I still, quite often, fail to see myself the way God, my husband, or anyone else does. And to be quite honest, I will probably never be able to actually see myself in that way.

So ultimately, it comes down to a choice. Am I willing to accept that I am perfectly imperfect? That God cares about me in spite of and because of myself? That even though I may not see Him moving or active in my life, He loves me anyway? Am I willing to believe that I have made choices that have steered me away from Him? That my own sins have drawn me further and further away from the truth? That I have spent much of my life “spitting in God’s face” by trying to destroy my body; the very body that He created? Am I willing to confront my past and look to God for comfort and reassurance when my pain feels too great?

Matthew 7:13-14Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

It’s your choice. A choice that must be made on a daily basis. What will you choose?


The Beauty of the Cross

Is there anything in this life more beautiful than the Cross? I mean if you really focus in on what the Cross means, it is breathtaking! The Cross means freedom, pure freedom, that cannot be found anywhere else in this world. How do I know that: I’ve looked! Even when I didn’t know it, I was in bondage to my shame and my sin, but when I came to the Cross, I learned what freedom was. I learned what forgiveness was. I learned what love was. I learned what grace was. But I also learned that I don’t deserve any of it.

Romans 5:8 – But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

John 14:6 – Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Running
Running without a destination
She was running from despair
If she chose to leave it all behind her
She could move on without a care
She ran to things that destroyed her
But didn’t know it at the time
The things that she thought loved her
Were slowly taking her life

The race that she was running
Landed her in a pit
And this is where it hit her
On her own, she couldn’t quit

He was running from his demons
Too afraid to face the shame
It was easy to pretend, “I’m fine,”
As long as he hid the pain
So he just faked a smile
Pretended he was alright
All the time he didn’t realize
This was a useless fight

The race that he was running
He thought he’d made it to the top
And that is where it hit him
On his own, he couldn’t stop

You see, we’re all powerless
To control the hurt in our lives
We can hide and we can mask it
But we may not survive
If you want to win the race
You must give up the fight
There is only one Man
Who’s ever gotten it right
He died on a cross
In obedience to the Father
He shed His own blood
For His sisters and brothers
Can you picture it now
God’s Only Son on the cross
Nails in His hands
Paying our cost
Don’t take it lightly
What He has done for your soul
He loves you, He forgives you
Just give God control
He will not condemn you
That’s already been done
He longs to embrace you
His daughters and sons
So run into His arms
They are spread open wide
Waiting for you to give up
So He can take over the fight


Because I am Beautiful

I know I can’t be the only person who is appalled by what our society deems as beautiful. The messages we, as women, receive about beauty and success just make me sad. I googled the word “beauty” and the picture to the left is one of this first things that came up. It simply makes me sad for our next generation of girls who don’t know and understand how God sees them. Then I googled “Godly beauty” and the image to the right was one of the first results. There’s a big difference between what the world sees as beautiful vesus what God sees as beautiful.

We receive the message that we’re not beautiful unless we are very thin and wear designer clothing and we’re not successful unless we’re beautiful. And unless we’re beautiful and successful, we’re unlovable. For a long time, those messages shaped who I was and who I wanted to be. From a very young age I wanted to be thinner. I never felt good enough. I felt ashamed of my “ugliness” and I turned to extreme measures to try to find some comfort and control. I just knew that if I wanted to be beautiful then I needed to be thinner. I have tried to lose weight through the unhealthy obsession of an eating disorder. I have tried to manage the shame of that eating disorder through self-harm. It’s a vicious cycle. The more out of control I felt, the more control I tried to grab a hold of; but the more control tried to grasp for, the more control I lost.

All I wanted was to be beautiful because I wanted love. I never had the reaffirming love of my dad while I was growing up, so I turned to ridiculous places to find it. I didn’t find love in alcohol, I didn’t find love in self harm, I didn’t find love in an eating disorder. As I got older, I was beginning to believe that I would never find love.

But, better late than never, my dad showed me love. He showed me the love of an unfailing, all-powerful, sovereign God. As I began to understand who God was, I began to understand who He said I was and what He said was beautiful.

1 Peter 3:3-4 – Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

1 Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

God doesn’t see beauty in our external appearance. Beauty doesn’t come from our weight or our clothes, but beauty comes from our heart. God doesn’t see the way the world sees. When the world judges us by our outward appearance, God looks into our hearts and sees our real selves, our hidden lives. That can be comforting or terrifying, depending on how we see God. If I try to find beauty based on the world’s standards, I will never be satisfied. But based on God’s standards, I am already beautiful and love by my Heavenly Father. I don’t like to dress up and I don’t like to wear make up, but guess what? God still loves me unconditionally and thinks I am beautiful. I am His daughter and He loves me, no matter how I look.

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

Isaiah 43:1 – But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”

Proverbs 31:30 – Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

God doesn’t love me BECAUSE I am beautiful; rather, I am beautiful because He loves me.

When we look at what we think is beautiful, do we ever think about why we think certain things are beautiful? I learned a great lesson from watching VeggieTales’ Sweetpea Beauty with the girls. I’m not the one who finds beauty in everything, God does, but I simply choose to agree with Him.

I wish I could get rid of the messages that we’re not good enough, we’re not thin enough, and we’re not pretty enough. But society continues to pour out those messages and there’s not much I can do to stop it. However, I can counteract them with the Word of God. I can counteract those messages with choosing to not believe them and to believe who God says I am.

Psalm 139:14 – I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

God didn’t just throw me together from scraps, He knew me intimately and He intricately crafted me with the work of His hands. Who am I to contradict Him?


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