Not What I Was Planning

1:45 a.m.

If you are wondering why I am up this late (or early), on a school night, in the wee hours before my 8 a.m. exam, I will explain why.

A couple of months ago, I was told I have insomnia. I could go into all the detail about my struggles with this frustrating and discouraging diagnosis, but that will come in another post. 

Just know this- a lot of prayer has been surrounding this problem. I have asked God that if He chose not to heal me now, that He would at least reveal things to me in the restless late hours or to open my eyes to something that would only be revealed to me in my fatigue. 

1:53 a.m.

This past summer changed my life in obvious ways. If you don’t really know much about my family’s story, you can read about it here.

After my mom suffered her heart attack and the word cancer became deafening, I quickly changed what my life was supposed to look like in those months to come. All of a sudden, school work became unimportant. My involvement became unimportant. My social life became unimportant. Not in a way where “unimportant” meant neglected, either. Unimportant in a way where something finally clicked and I realized that these activities in my life were completely habitual. I realized that I was about to step out of normalcy and routine and into the unknown. 

So what matter’s most in the “unknown?”

Love. Patience. Soul. 

2:06 a.m.

Sitting in a hospital room teaches a person a lot about time- or the lack there of. Morning becomes dinner time and the evening is constantly interrupted by beeps and clanks. Tangibly, all my family had was each other to hold onto. We no longer had our busy schedules to keep us distracted. We were forced to face the reality of being present.

Being present with someone who is terminally ill is extremely emotionally demanding. It can feel isolating and draining. Sometimes we crave the normalcy in those times.  Sometimes, we forget to place value on the present. 

There is so much value in stillness.

In love.

In quality time.

In detachment. 

These things are important for our souls… and for the souls of others. 

In the fast-paced moments, remember to take the time to step out of normalcy.

Take the time to be present with others. Each moment we have with them is a special gift.

2:20 a.m.

I’m not going to pretend to understand why God allows certain things to happen. I’m not going to pretend that I’m not angry that my mom was not healed on earth or that night after night it feels like my prayers for sleep are not answered. But Jesus laid this on my heart… and from one insomniac to another… I hope you grasp the real and raw concept of presence like I was able to tonight. 

Covering Your Tracks

I am going to let you in on a pretty dirty part of my soul. This is something I have struggled with ever since I came to college and became a Christian. It’s not pretty. It’s profoundly embarrassing. I never truly recognized it as sin until recently, when a friend called me out on it pretty intensely. 

I denied it. 

Then I was forced to meditate on it. I prayed about it. I was convicted that this was utterly true and stagnating my walk with Christ in an abundant of different ways.

It was crushing my witness.

Whoah. “So what is it?”

I suffer from the debilitating sin of “covering my tracks.”

Let me give you a little background.

I pride myself in being pretty transparent with people. In conversations, I am not afraid to talk about where I have been, what I have struggled with, and how Christ has gotten me through an abundance of trials. I also love learning how I can better myself, love Christ more, and love others well. 

Sounds pretty good, right?

As a Christian, I think we fall into this lie that we are never supposed to be tempted by sin. We might not mentally think that in our heads, but subconsciously, we feel as if certain desires are completely removed from us the minute we ask Jesus into our hearts.

There are few things further from the truth than that statement. 

What happens when we fall into sin and people are looking up to us as role models? What happens when we feel like no one can know about certain sins because they are not “normal” sins that Christians deal with. What happens when you struggle with something way more intensely than your other Christian friends do?

We cover our tracks. Well, at least I do. 

What does “covering our tracks look like?” Burying our sin. Telling people to take down their stories on Snapchat. Having people remove certain pictures from Instagram so people won’t know you were there. Texting that boy and telling him to NEVER tell anyone what happened. Doing it again. Lying to our friends. Pushing it so deep down that it becomes unreal to ourselves.  

When we “cover out tracks,” we are unable to receive the accountability we need from our friends. We are unable to hold ourselves to a higher standard because we become numb to our sins. We are unable to give advice without being a total hypocrite. 

How do we overcome this?

We start by defeating pride in our life. Covering our tracks stems from a place of deep rooted pride in who we want to be, but are not authentically. We need to MOURN our sins, even if we do not feel completely saddened by it because we have buried it so deep. We need to pray for forgiveness, mercy, and grace.

If that seems tough, I am about to give you an even tougher task.

Be honest with your friends. Tell them what you have been truly struggling with. Do not sugar coat it. Be as authentic as you can. Cry. Be angry with yourself. It is okay. Let those buried feelings be unmasked and naked. 

Then you are held accountable. You are finally held to the standard that you need to be held to. 

As Christians, we are called to a life of accountability. But how exactly is this done?

I mentioned earlier that I had never truly been called out on my sin until recently. Christians do not do a good job at holding their friends accountable. Let me tell you why:

Instead of holding our friends accountable, we  need to hold ourselves accountable for our friends. We can not be afraid of their brokenness. We can not be afraid of conflict. It is loving others so much that we are willing to surrender to the task of accountability. Actively knowing what is going on in our friends lives so we can have a deeper intimacy- one that might have a lot of real anger, tears, and brokenness. That is what it means to have a loving friendship.

And to the receiver of accountability (a.k.a. me in this story):

Pride makes us defensive and unable to receive criticism. Pride is blinding. Nobody offers you advice because they know it won’t end well if they do. Be quick to recognize the pride in your life. Be quick to apologize without an “I’m sorry….but…..” Stop obsessing over the opinions of others. When you “be” instead of “do,” your walk with Christ will speak for itself.

Acts of Kindness: Birthday Edition

About a month ago, I celebrated my 21st birthday. You can even read a little bit about it here. As conflicted and anxious as I was for my birthday, I knew I wanted more than the celebration of just myself to come from this (because let’s be real, that’s awkward). I could have asked people to donate to a charity in honor of my birthday using that cool new Facebook tool OR I could have even spent my day at the local soup kitchen. These are both amazing ideas that I highly suggest. But I decided to jump out of my comfort zone a bit. I designed a game that would make people ACT. I called it “The 21 Acts of Kindness” game. This is how it worked:

I posted a photo on Instagram (as seen in the featured image) with a poster-board labeled 1-21. I asked people to comment a number and whatever number they commented, I directly messaged (dm’ed) them a personalized act of kindness from a list I made. 

I disclaimed that it might be a small financial contribution, a small portion of their time, or just a big smile to a random stranger. 

With over 130 comments, I spent my “birthday eve” sending people their “act.” It was such a joyous process. The next day, I had people sending me pictures of themselves doing their act of kindness and I could not have been more blessed.

Even if only half the people participated, that is still a ripple effect starting with nearly 70 people. Incredible!

Here are a list of the Acts of Kindness in case you want do this yourself!

  1. Buy a small gift for someone.
  2. Bring 2 friends a meal.
  3. Call 3 friends/ family members and ask how you can pray for them.
  4. Make a gift basket for your neighbor with 4 items in it.
  5. Call 5 friends you haven’t talked to in a while and pray for them.
  6. Buy coffee for the person behind you in line (approximately $6).
  7. Walk/play/wash 7 dogs or cats at the local animal shelter.
  8. Send letters to 8 chronically ill children or to families at the nearest Ronald McDonald House.
  9. Visit the nursing home and hang out, talk, play bingo, read, or pray with 9 elderly people.
  10. Give a random person a $10 gift card to a place of your choosing.
  11. Give 11 thank you cards to the local police station.
  12. Take 12 photos of someone to make them feel beautiful- edit them and email them to them.
  13. Write a positive review on a business that you like and admire with 13 different aspects in which you like the business.
  14. Donate 14 of my items to a local women’s shelter or charity.
  15. Give the double amount of money to the charity you usually give to, or if you do not give regularly, start doing so!
  16. Collect 16 soda can pop tabs to give to the local Ronald McDonald House.
  17. Put 17 positive notes around campus (or your work).
  18. Give 18 compliments friend or strangers.
  19. Pick up 19 pieces litter around me and throw it away/recycle it.
  20. Send 20 texts with encouragement to numbers you haven’t texted in a while.
  21. Smile at 21 strangers.

You can reference the Instagram post here. I hope you feel inspired to do an Act of Kindness today, everyday, and especially on your birthday!!

Hebrews 13:2 (NIV) “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

Unspoken Broken

Unspoken broken.

What does that look like?

What does it look like to try and live with a shattered heart.

Let me tell you what it feels like from over here. It’s people saying “I’m so proud of you- you are handling this so well.” “You are going to come out stronger.” “You are taking the right path in this journey.” 

Reality: The more I pray, the more I have felt completely abandoned by my Savior. Where is He in the darkest depths of the night when my body is numb? Where is He in the middle of the crowd when I feel like I might actually lose it “this time.” How long, Lord, must I keep praying and you keep ignoring me. Christ… why do I feel hollow and weak and unable to keep up with everyone else. 

Then I was honest with God. I did not tidy my prayers, put them in a pretty box with a bow on top. I ugly prayed. And cried. And screamed. 

My conviction was rooted in my honesty. To God, myself, and others. 

And today.

Today I accepted the imperfection of my grievance process. I have built so much pressure to walk this journey completely perfectly; to model the way for a good, clean Christian grievance.  It’s not a clean break. And I have cracked. And I have fallen. And I’ve broken.

Now, I am allowing myself to be the spoken broken I’ve been afraid to speak.

I am not afraid of broken things.

The 21st Birthday

Let’s talk about something that Christian’s seem to have a really hard time discussing.

The 21st Birthday.

This is something I have had every intention of writing about, but decided to wait. I questioned my motives for waiting. “Just say it, Faith. Say what God has so fervently laid on your heart.” 

So I did the opposite. I waited. I consciously lingered around the subject. I waited for my 21st birthday to come and go so I would not be held accountable for my actions on the very day that caused me so much anxiety.

Two years ago, I dreamed about the day I would turn twenty-one. I could not wait; it was obviously going to be the greatest day of my life. It was the day I got a free pass to drink as much as I wanted, party as hard as my body would let me, say whatever I wanted to say, and do whatever I was capable of doing. 

After dedicating my life to Christ, these views changed… but not for the better. 

Instead, I was filled with an unhealthy worry and tension for my 21st birthday. What the heck does a Christian do- especially in this crazy college culture? Do Christians get a free pass to do whatever they want? Or do I sit at home and watch a movie on my birthday? 

Is it normal to feel extreme anxiety for a BIRTHDAY? Do other people feel this way? Am I alone in feeling this way?”

Option B did not sound like an appealing offer. I sought out wise counsel from people who mentor me. Although they gave me the answers that I knew deep down in my heart, I buried it deeper. 

And so my 21st birthday came and went.

Paralyzing disappointment.

“The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.” 1 Peter 4:7

I’m going to be real with you all. I had the farthest thing from sound judgement and sober spirit on my birthday. I was completely seduced by sin and took my “not-so-free” pass to do whatever I pleased. Feeling completely disqualified to show my face around my christian community ever again, I quickly began to fall into a false identity of unworthiness. 

“I must do A, B, and C to get right with God again. I must prove myself before man that I am an honorable Christian. I must do (insert number) good works before Jesus will forgive me. I need to attend every Bible study this week that I can possibly go to.”

Jesus quickly tugged on my heart-strings and gave me jolting truth while studying His Word.

In Romans 6 and 7, Paul discusses how we are torn between the law and our sin. Sin has found a way to pervert the law and make is seem like a “forbidden fruit.” Although Paul is obviously talking about God’s law, the parallels to the earthly law regarding “the legal drinking age” is still applicable. 

The “forbidden fruit” of drinking is finally broken when we turn twenty-one. But sin has creeped in and completely warped our thinking around this activity. The world tells us that drinking excessively is okay and totally normal. Despite the “normality” of this, we get condemned from our fellow peers for our actions from the activity they told us to participate in. Ironic. Why are we looking for this kind of approval from man if it will always disappoint us? 

Paul says in Romans 6 that we are dead to sin, but are still required to fight it everyday. This is not an effortless action just because we are a Christian. In Romans 6:15-18, Paul talks about this struggle, “Because we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in His freedom!”

Paul goes more in-depth saying that our desires WILL be contrary to the Spirit. Excessively drinking, whether on your 21st birthday or not, is an act that will cause us not to walk in the full freedom that Christ has offered us. 

Galatians 5:17 “The flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”

Whatever sin causes us anxiety, we need to be in an accountable state at all times. We need to constantly be resting in a state of sound judgement and a sober spirit. Sin will compete for our attention. The world will compete for our minds. We will be reminded after falling into this that it never sustains or satisfies. But we will also be reminded that Jesus loves us with no strings attached. Once we accept Christ as our Savior, we are constantly redeemed, loved, and worthy. There is an ongoing work in us; don’t let our short-fallings become our identity. 

When You Just Can’t Get Out of Bed

“Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.” James 1:12

Last year, I went through a break-up that brought me closer to God than I could have ever imagined. After the healing process, I ran to my mentor and friend Katie Bulmer and said “I need God to break my heart again. That’s when I felt closest to Him. I need that again.” And I prayed for it. I literally prayed to God to break my heart. Little did I know that my heart would break in a way that feels completely unreal and unwelcomed.

Two weeks ago, I lost my best friend- my mom. Although I have a joy and peace that she is dancing in the gates of heaven, my heart feels like it is being crushed every second of every day. I have been stretched emotionally, mentally, and spiritually these past six months far more than I could have ever asked for. Trying to live life normally does not exist, because life is not normal anymore. This time, being close to God has not come so easily. It has been something I have had to fight for. Quite frankly, the cracks in my heart have been filled with anything but Jesus. They have been filled with bitterness and guilt. 

Grieving is authentically hard. Jumping right back into school after such a life-change is very tough to endure. Mourning makes you feel like a ghost of yourself.  

I do not have much to offer in this season of life right now. I do, however, intend to finish this race with my eyes set on the cross. I choose to stick it out. The Bible instructs us to not let our hearts wander off. I will find more comfort and strength in Him than I will ever find in the world. I have my faith and a secure foundation. Jesus will not fail me, leave me hanging, or forget about me. He cares about my heart so much and will not let it be hardened if I stay close to him. Scripture provides a guide for a time such as this: 

“When troubles come and all these awful things happen to you, in future days you will come back to God, your God, and listen obediently to what he says. God, your God, is above all a compassionate God. In the end he will not abandon you, he won’t bring you to ruin.” Deuteronomy 4: 29-31

Seek Him with your whole heart, in the good times and in the hard times. 

 

 

The Goodness of God in Suffering

Just a few months ago, my and my family’s life was radically turned upside down. If you read my blog post Life, Interrupted, you know exactly what I am talking about.

But if you are not sure, let me catch you up. Five months ago, I was walking in late to a meeting about an upcoming mission trip I was about to embark on with some of my best friends. As I was walking into the door, my mom called me. The only words I vividly remember hearing were “collapsed” “tumors” and “emergency room.” I ran to the bathroom (“straight out of a movie” type scene), called my best friend and we sat on the church bathroom floor and cried together. 

Later that week, I would drive home from college to spend a week in the hospital with my family. It was then confirmed that my mom had stage four colon cancer. 

Fast forward to June 2017. My mom had been in alternative treatments for her cancer, rotating between chemotherapy and natural remedies for the past four months. Right when things were under control, we found out she had blood clots all over her body. This would create a spiral of unwanted and unwelcomed hurdles for her body and the doctors to overcome.

We took a family road trip to Wyoming in the midst of all of this. A week after we got back, my mom landed in the hospital again- only this time she would suffer a heart attack and a stroke. However, there was nothing we could do for either because of her blood clots. With lots of pain medicine and prayers, we sat with her through a 14-hour heart attack. A week later, she was put into hospice care.

A lot of pain, sleepless nights, anxiety, and a cloud of sadness has swept over us, no doubt. This is by far the most difficult season of life we have ever gone through. The Bible shares a similar story of human suffering in the book of Job. The majority of the 42 chapters are about human suffering, but God’s sovereignty prevails in the end. Let me give you the rundown of Job’s life.

Written like a narrative, we have an inside look on a heavenly court debate between God and Satan. Satan approaches the Lord after roaming about on the Earth and the Lord speaks to him.

“Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on Earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8 NIV)

Satan debates with God, saying that if He took everything away from his faithful servant, Job would curse his name. God knew that Job was totally devoted to Him. He told Satan he could take everything from him, but not lay a finger on him.

Satan did just that. Job’s cattle were stolen. His servants were murdered. His sons and daughters died because of a collapsed house. He suffered from misery. He had agonizing sores all over his body, unending pain, and a total loss of dignity. He even longed for death. 

He questions the same thing we tend to question a lot —why do bad things happen to good people? Job was inherently good. He had riches but still put God first. Like us, Job can only see our small, earthly view of suffering- he had no idea of God’s greater intention.

“Why does God bother giving light to the miserable, why bother keeping bitter people alive, those who want in the worst way to die, and can’t, who can’t imagine anything better than death, who count the day of their death and burial the happiest day of their life? What’s the point of life when it doesn’t make sense, when God blocks all the roads to meaning?” Job 3:20-23 MSG

Much like Job, I have cried out to God asking what we have done to deserve this. I have begged to see tangible miracles, yet He stays quiet. I prayed in the Father’s name to have my mom completely healed. I have pleaded with God asking for her to be healthy enough to watch my little sister graduate high school, help me pick out my wedding dress one day, or buy an RV with my dad and hit the road when they retire like they had always planned.

“But he stands alone (singular and sovereign), and who can oppose him? He does whatever He pleases. He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans He still has in store. That is why I am terrified before him; when I think of all this, I fear him. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me. Yet I am not silenced by the darkness, by the thick darkness that covers my face.” Job 23:12-17 NIV

Job did not feel silenced because of the dark times he was walking through. He communicated his distress and misery to God. He had a fervent fear for the Lord, like we are called to have. We are able to see the bigger picture that Job was never able to see. The truth is this: we see a tiny crack compared to the things God sees. He sees from the very beginning to the very end. If we knew all of the facts, we would always choose God’s way. Sometimes God ordains innocent suffering. He does this for many reasons:

  1. Our own strengthening: “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV 
  2. Patient endurance to help others“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 NIV
  3. To bring God glory“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:1-3 NIV

Job was prepared to DIE trusting in the name of God. It is true that sometimes we cannot trust God with our whole heart until our circumstances lead us into painful places. This is when we learn to lean not on our own understanding. THIS is how we obtain spiritual endurance much like Job did. Suffering also reveals the weakness of the things we usually lean on (friends, Netflix, food, alcohol, isolation).

We are brought to the end of ourselves through suffering.

God finally confronts Job in chapter 38, saying “Where were you when I laid the Earth’s foundation?” Job 38:4 NIV. 

After waiting 37 chapters for this moment, Job responded much how I would have.

“I’m speechless, in awe- words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! I’ve talked too much, way too much. I’m ready to shut up and listen.” Job 40:3-5 MSG

Through it all, Job did not curse God’s name ONCE. While he was on Earth, he never had an idea about the conversation between God and Satan. This is where we are given a true example of walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). 

Our human reasoning is inadequate! I can not think of a single reason for God putting my family through the trials we have been through these past five months and the much harder times to come. Much like Job, I have sleeplessness, a broken spirit, lack of peace (Job 3:26), and fractured plans (Job 17:11).

I believe with my whole heart that Jesus can and will heal my mom. My eyes have been shifted, however, to ask God to do whatever brings Him the most glory. I cannot see His intentions, but I will trust Him today, tomorrow, and for the rest of my life. This requires giving Him my everything, literally- my life, my worries, my time, my attitude, and the hardest- my family. 

He has a reasoning for your suffering. Most of the time, you will never get to see the bigger picture. But rest assured that in the midst of your anguish, His goodness will prevail.

The Space in Between: Advice From a Twenty-Something

I’m 20. I have made countless mistakes. I have learned. I have grown. I am still in the process of both. I am a firm believer that every wrong decision can be redeemed, every step backwards can equal two steps forward, and every bad can be used for good. Experience what there is to be experienced, but do not waste your life, your hurt, or your time. My single, biggest regret is not following Jesus sooner, but I do not dwell on this. I use my past to propel my future and let Him guide me every step of the way. Here are things I learned in my twenty-something years and I hope they stimulate you to reflect and admire on the moments you have been given. Whether you are a freshman in high-school or a senior in college, here is my advice to you. Keep this close, read it often, and do not dismiss it.

Invest in who you want to be NEXT.

If bad company tempts you, don’t go along with them.

Become a minimalist.

Do things that get you out of your comfort zone.

Don’t assume you know it all.

Earn a reputation for living well.

The best time to work on a marriage is before you have one.

Don’t “kill time” with someone just because.

Don’t just know about the people in your life, KNOW the people in your life.

Make sacrifices. They will all be blessed by God.

Stay inspired & uncomfortable.

Become humble through the giving of time, money, and self.

Determination and hard work will not help you achieve fulfillment, total surrender to Him will.

Overcome the obstacle of prayerlessness. There is nothing more substantial than prayer- even going to church, studying the bible, having small group, and watching sermons online.

Fall in love with your Creator in creative ways.

Remember that everyday is a new beginning.

Forgive, over and over again.

Drink green tea, exercise, and smile.

Spend less time on social media.

Do not feel pressured to live up to society’s expectations. Focus on God’s expectations of you. 

Don’t focus on one thing too much, either. Stay versatile.

Let your opinions and viewpoints evolve, but make sure they align with The Word.

Truly obtain the qualities you seek in others.

Seek out advice from people you admire.

Don’t ever stop being spontaneous and making priceless memories.

 

He Sustains: Life After An Eating Disorder

The doctor sat me down with my parents. At this point, I was in a constant state of humiliation and indignity; I couldn’t even look anyone in the eyes. Shortly after, the doctor said “You have one of the worst cases of bulimia we have ever seen.”

My heart dropped. I was weak. I cried. I felt hopeless and scared. I was sick. My body had started shutting down in ways that were unexplained. And the worst part of it- I had brought it all upon myself.

After entering into a full-time treatment center (and on the record, this was totally kept in secret), I slowly (and I mean SLOWLY) started to learn what my eating disorder really meant.

How does someone come to bring upon them self such a deadly and self-destructive behavior? Let’s be real, no one wakes up one day and says they are going to get addicted to (insert name of drug here) or become an alcoholic. In the same way, I never imagined I would end up with an eating disorder that would take over my life.

Whether it is self-harm, drugs, alcohol, sex, food or lack there of, self-destructive behaviors come from trying numb or distract ourselves from a certain feeling, even if you can’t pinpoint what exactly it is.

Having an eating disorder distracted me from the exploitation, unworthiness, and insufficiency I felt. I would be so preoccupied with food, exercise, numbers on a scale, and how I looked in pictures that I would distract myself from these very real feelings. The eating disorder itself would leave me feeling so exhausted and physically incapable of dealing with anything else.

I had given my mind, body, and soul to something that would leave me feeling more and more hopeless every day. After the high faded, my depression worsened, and I sunk into a deeper black pit.

Nevertheless, after SIX years, approximately 2,190 days, the Lord redeemed my story. He completely healed my mind and body. After cursing His name many nights, after begging Him to take it all away, after insulting Him by doubting His goodness…

He

Still

Chose

Me

Do you have chills yet?

Suffering is a ministry. Even our self-built prison walls can be used for God’s glory. Our pain is a unique invitation to understand others. The Holy Spirit lives inside of us and leads us to where our story will further the Kingdom in the most extensive ways.

You are not too far gone. In fact, thinking this very thought is prideful. It is doubting God’s ability to bring you from death to life.

Marvelously loved one, Jesus knew your struggles before you did. There is absolutely nothing accidental about your story. He heals and redeems so that you can experience His WHOLENESS. The King of the Universe strikes you with an electricity to be BRAVE with your life, with your struggles, with your insecurities… all you need to do is ask for it.

I want you to think about a couple of things:

  1. What is holding you captive?
  2. Are you praising The Most High through a current storm?
  3. Are you sharing your victories with others who need you?
  4. Have you thanked God for bringing you through a certain trial?

Just because we are at the end, PLEASE… I beg you. PLEASE do not skip this part. Out of everything said, this is the most important.

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV) “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

He does not want you to perish. He is waiting to help you. He is not slow in helping you. He is patient. He knows exactly what you are going to go through and He knows exactly how your story will be redeemed. Do not let the length of time of a suffering discourage you. Surely, the Lord will keep His promise to you.

Do not destroy your soul for a peace of mind you will never achieve outside of Jesus.

Life, Interrupted

“Every time I look down and see you’re calling or have called, my heart does a happy dance. Sweet dreams to my wonderful daughter and love forever!”

This was the last text I received from my mom before my sister called me the next morning to tell me she had driven herself to the emergency room (yes, you read that correctly). Going in for what she thought was either a severe case of pneumonia or a broken rib, the nurse saw something else in the X-Rays.

A suspicious shadow.

Cancer is not something that happens to OUR family. Cancer is seen from afar. I have watched  other families go through this. I have prayed for other families going through this. My mom and I have fund-raised and walked hundreds of miles for OTHER people. Not her. Not OUR family.

Initially, I was breathless. Suffocating. The words “cancer” and “more than we thought” are words that tend to do that to you. The phone call from my sweet daddy left me speechless and sobbing. This was NOT my mom’s life. This was NOT our family’s life.

Take a step back. Gain perspective. Pray.

There is boundless uncertainty because I am human.

But GOD.

With God, there is boundless certainty. He is not confused. He is not surprised. Let me tell you what He IS. Caring. Loving. Unconditionally sovereign. Healing. Powerful. Faithful. Invincible. Greater. 

Isaiah 54:4-5 (NIV) “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by His wounds we are healed.

My faith has not been tampered with. My faith is unwavering. My faith is zealous. My faith gives me peace that surpasses all understanding. My faith gives me no room for Satan’s lies and schemes. My faith gives me a boldness to pray BIG prayers. My faith makes me confident that my prayers will be answered. My faith convicts me that this trial will be used for a greater good (Romans 8:28). My faith gives me hope that my family will glorify the King’s name through it all. My faith gives me belief that miracles are modern.

Dear Mom: I want you to know that you are tenacious and unyielding. Your faith surpasses any mountain that could be placed in front of you. We are in the valley, but your heart is still dancing with joy. I have watched you give the glory to God in the most minuscule victories, such as walking to the door or eating a bite of grits. Your sociable persona makes you want to visit with every friend that walks through the hospital door, even though your body is weak and tired. Answering nearly 100 texts daily for you is a testament to the kind of woman you are. The influence you have had in your community and beyond is unmatched. My favorite part of this journey is listening to people tell me how much you mean to them. How you have touched their lives. How you have been their light in the dark. Whole congregations and small groups and offices have prayed for you. People who have met you once or twice have fasted meal after meal for you. Your importance in this world and to this family is matchless. You live life with spunk, newness, and adventure every chance you get. You put your family first. You love the people you work with and your clients so well. The phone calls and video chats we have mean so much to me because you have become my best friend, the one I confide in, and the one I seek prayer  and encouragement from. I hope you know that you have loved me best. You have loved this family unceasingly. You have never given up. You are a fighter for what you are passionate about. You have raised strong and confident women through your example. We are strong through this because of you. I love you to the stars and back, Mom.

Genesis 50:20 (NIV) “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

This is just a small detour, not the destination.