Mustard Seed Faith

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“Because of your little faith, He told them ” For I say if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, move from here to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” However this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17: 20-21

I am reading through the Bible in a year with a group of ladies from #the4500, whom I talked about in my last blog post. Honestly, I didn’t want to read through a plan, especially a year long with anyone. I was determined I was just going to do my own thing, in my own time. The Lord made it clear to me that because of the season I am in, I don’t need to do anything on my own and I need the accountability. Today is day 29 out of 365 days. I’ve missed 2 nights so far, but am caught up at the moment.

Friday night (1/25) one of the readings took us into Matthew, where we read about the mustard seed. It’s a passage I have read 100 plus times over my years of growing up in church. I’ve heard multiple sermons on this passage. I’ve had people quote it to me in different seasons of life over the years. It’s not unfamiliar with this passage in any way, shape or form. However, as I read it the passage was kick in the tail for me. I think I read those two verses multiple times before I continued on to finish reading the rest of the passages for the night.

As I shared in my last post, I am in a difficult season. It’s a desert I haven’t been in, in a good long while. I don’t like desert seasons. I don’t like feeling the way I feel. Really, who does? If I am going to be completely transparent with you, I told the Lord while praying “I don’t know that I have the faith of a grain of sand at the moment.” (Why lie to the Lord when praying, because He knows what you are thinking and feeling anyway)? The Lord reminded me the mustard seed is tiny, yet a great tree grows from it. The tree is strong, even though it came from something so tiny and seemingly insignificant.

I have NO clue as to what lies ahead on several fronts. I know what I hope and pray for. I know the story I hope to write at the end of this season. I also know it’s hard to want to pray, stay in The Word and go to church, especially when you feel the Lord is being completely silent, but it’s the only way to survive this type of season. I know I have to lean in and dig in. If I try to walk through this season independently and attempt to temporarily shelf my faith, I won’t make it. I guess technically, I would eventually get to the other side, but what will I have accomplished in the meantime? If I don’t pray, if I don’t stay in The Word and I don’t go to church, how do I learn? How do I grow? Where does my support and encouragement come from? None of this is fun. None of this feels good. I’d rather stay on the mountain tops, but I am not a better or stronger person if I live there.

I’ve also had a large number of people who tell me I needed to walk some things from my past and walk this current season because I will have a story to tell. I’ll be able to look at someone else sitting in my shoes and tell them about my “But God” story. I get where they are coming from, but honestly, I would love to coast and have life be a little more vanilla. At some point, on the other side of this, I do hope something I’ve walked or something I’ve learned can be a point of hope for someone else. I do hope I can help someone else walk through a tough season. Even better, I would love to be able to walk alongside someone else and help them avoid some of the things I’ve walked.

There are so many hokey, christianese things I could insert here and make myself sound super spiritually mature, but I won’t go there. It doesn’t help me or anyone else for that matter. This current season is hard. My faith doesn’t always look the way it needs to look. Sometimes having the faith of a mustard seed seems like attempting to have the faith the size of Mt. Everest. Be ok with knowing you don’t have a perfect faith all the time. Those who look like they do are just better actors than the rest of us.

Like I said in the last post, if you are struggling, please know you are not alone. Pick up the phone or shoot me an email. If not me, then reach out to someone you trust. I’m grateful for the women who are surrounding me right now. On the hardest days, their prayers and encouragement keep me going.

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Forward?

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Honestly, I don’t get this word and right now it absolutely terrifies me. Let me back up just a little bit. I am blessed to be a part of online tribe called #the4500. We are a group of rejects the Lord brought together in a way I never could have imagined or asked for. We all applied to be a part of a book launch and were rejected. Then, we were turned around and added to another launch team. As we worked together on this book launch, something started happening. It’s not something I have ever seen or experienced on other launches. Women began to ask for prayers. They began to share their lives. Once the launch was over, the conversations and relationships didn’t come to an end. We moved our group over to a private Facebook page.

We are a group of ladies who come from different walks of life, from all over the US. We come from different denominations and different ends of the political spectrum. The one common thread is that we love the Lord and want to see each other be successful and loved. Over the past several years this group has walked ladies through the mountain tops and valleys of life. I’ve watched as ladies have jumped into help total strangers in other states solely based on the stranger’s relationship to #the4500. I’ve watched as our group has rallied through the beginning and ending of relationships. I’ve watched as our group has rallied around ladies in our group and their families through illness and absolute tragedies. I LOVE #the4500 and what they have come to mean to me over the past couple of years!!!

One thing this group has encouraged over the past several years was to pray and ask the Lord to give us a word of the year. Given we are all in different places in our walks, the Lord isn’t going to have us all on the same word. In 2017 my word was Restore. 2018 the word was Courage. For 2019 it’s Forward. If you know me in real life, you have to realize, given my current circumstances that this word seems like a cruel joke.

On December 17th, I was called into a meeting at the church expecting one conversation only to be told that due to budget cuts I was being let go. Yep, the Lord gave me my word late October/ early November and I was let go in December. I had plans and dreams for my position at the church. It was complete and total shock. When you are a strict Type A personality, who is planner, likes structure and routine, this feels like a punch in the gut and knocks you on your tail. When you were not only staff, but an active member of church, it makes church hard. Church is weird and awkward because I don’t know what I “should” be doing and honestly, I don’t know what to say or do. I am beyond grateful for worship ministry because it’s the one place I still feel connected and gives me place of semi normalcy.

There is another, more private area of life that is topsy turvy right now and it is only adding to my anxiety over what life looks like right now. I feel like I have entered into a nightmare of the Twilight Zone. Every time I think about the word the Lord gave me, I just don’t get it. I don’t understand it at all. When it feels like I am taking 100 steps backwards, I don’t get how any of this moves me forward. Yes, I know the saying about how a sling shot has to be pulled way back in order to project an object forward. Y’all this is about to do me in.

My nickname growing up was “The Major’s Daughter” and right now, my emotions are all over the place. A Major sees an issue, creates a plan of attack and goes in. There are times in life when I can absolutely do that, but right now I don’t know which way is up. As I pray and trust me when I say I have prayed harder and more fervently than I have since we walked the road of miscarriages and fertility issues. The only thing I am getting back from the Lord is “Take the small steps.” In one area I know what that looks like, but not overly convinced it will work. In another area I have zero clue as to what a small step looks like. This post has a very different tone than what I typically post, but I also know others need to know that life isn’t always a tiptoe through Tulips. Life hits low valleys. Life takes long, unwanted detours through the desert. It’s ok to admit that you are struggling. It’s ok to say “I just don’t know.”

A while back our pastor commented in a sermon, “You can’t logic your way through things.” While I get where he is coming from, it’s the only way I am walking right now. If I allow my heart and emotions to dictate life, I’d be in a corner somewhere uncontrollably crying. While I don’t really “feel” like it, I “know” the Lord is in control. I “know” none of what is happening in life right now took Him by surprise. I “know” the Lord has a plan in all of this. Right now, I would really like a billboard or a letter laying out what is coming down the road and what I need to do to get there. This whole taking each day by faith and being patient is a huge struggle for me. I want to know that 2019 will end on a high note. I want to know the Lord will open a door for me. I want to know all of my relationships will be in tact and stronger come December. I want to know that while I am in a desert place, that by year’s end I will understand why I’ve walked what I’m walking. I am honestly, not so patiently waiting for the “But God” in this whole mess.

If you are in a similar place, please know you are not alone. If you are in a similar place, please reach out to me or someone you trust. Please find at least 2 people to walk alongside you, pray with you and over you. If one of those people is a therapist, then great! There is no shame in walking into a therapist office, especially in a time like this. All I am asking is that you please do not walk this alone.

Why Vulnerability?

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“You can’t get to courage without rumbling through vulnerability.”

“Own our story can be hard, but not nearly as difficult spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy- the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

Both quotes are by Brene Brown.

Y’all, it seems the word vulnerability has been a reoccurring theme in life as of late. So many conversations from people in different areas of my life are bringing up this word. I’m a part of a wonderful church staff. Earlier this week we had small group conversations around this word. Honestly, at the moment, it’s probably one of my least favorite words. It’s a word that means going below the surface. It’s a word that requires allowing others to see past the mask and the walls. It’s allowing others to see us at our weakest. Vulnerability means letting people into the darkest recesses we swore only the Lord would ever see. It means letting people you trust speak into those places. It means being seen on a level we aren’t really sure we want to be seen.

Vulnerability requires a great deal of trust. When you are not a trusting person, that makes it ten times harder. Vulnerability means allowing people to hear your story in its entirety. It means acknowledging you aren’t as perfect as you like to pretend you are. It’s laying your soul bare and knowing the person sitting in front of you can either honor your trust or completely betray you.

Life happens and throws us curve-balls. Sometimes life hands us situations where shame and guilt come into play. Many of us have stories we wish we didn’t have. Many of us have walked things we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies. They are things we wish we could permanently block from our minds. The only way to move forward and away from our past is to take the leap of faith into vulnerability. It is probably one of the hardest things we can do.

The question then is, who can we trust? I’ll be honest, I’m grateful for a small group women in my life. Two are friends I’ve had for roughly 17 years. We’ve walked single-hood to engagement, weddings, marriage, miscarriages, children and everything in between. There is another friend with whom I work and I can’t begin to tell you how many raw conversations and tears have fallen in her office. I also have two more seasoned ladies whom I love and adore. They are two of my biggest prayer warriors. You see, I know I am blessed to have these women in my life. They have given me a safe place to land and a place to let down my guard. The Lord knew I’m not a trusting person and He graciously placed these 5 women in my life.

Do you have people like this in your life? Do you have at least one person like this in your life? If not, I urge you to pray and ask the Lord to lead you to that person. Even if you don’t have trauma in your past, we all need at least one person with whom we can be 100% ourselves. We need at least one person with whom the mask can come off and the walls can come down. If you do have trauma in your past, then these are the people who can walk by your side on the hard days. These are the people who will pray you through those days and help you get to the other side.

Vulnerability may also be taking the step of walking into a therapist office. Y’all therapy is hard. It can be extremely humbling, but I think most people need to sit in a therapist office at least once or twice in life. Sometimes it may be for a check up and process some of the smaller things in life. Other times there are a larger issues that need to be addressed. It may be getting to the root of why you struggle with vulnerability.

Vulnerability may be allowing others to step and do something for you. I get the majority of us don’t need to go that far, but to allow someone to bring you a meal or take your children for a few hours can be huge, especially when you are hurting. Vulnerability is really allowing those you trust the most to step in when and where you need it the most. It may make you feel weak, but allowing others to love on you will put you closer to where you need to be.

We may not realize it, but vulnerability can affect all areas of our lives. If we stay shut off from the world and walk through it with only shallow relationships, we miss out on the beauty of the world and the richness of those around us. Vulnerability in the right places allows us to live our lives to the fullest. It means we’re allowing the Lord into those places and allowing Him to place others to be His hands and feet in our lives.

 

 

 

 

A Weird Lent

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This has been a weird season of Lent for me. I get that being Southern Baptist doesn’t traditionally call for a Lenten fast/ sacrifice of some sort, but I have followed that ritual through most of my adulthood. I have always joked my Catholic/ Episcopalian roots run deep. My mother and I are the only 2 Southern Baptists in our family. (That’s a whole other long post in and of itself). This has also always been a season of where being the grand daughter of my maternal grandmother and my family heritage on that side of the family has been a sense of pride. Wouldn’t it seem appropriate that coming from a long line of devout Irish Catholics would be seen as a badge of honor during St. Patrick’s Day and Lent?

In years past I have given up Coke, Dr.Pepper, chocolate, desserts or some sort of food. One year I either ran or worked out 5 days a week through this season. I have also participated in the 40 bags in 40 days decluttering challenge. This year I did none of that. I prayed about what Lent should like for me on a personal level. I prayed the Lord would show me what this season of the year should be in preparation for Resurrection Sunday. This year the Lord told me I wasn’t to give up anything, but I was to seek His face.

I didn’t get it. The Lord reminded me that my family has just walked through a season of hurt and loss. At the same time, the Lord was breaking things in my own life. I’ve had to lay down a good bit at His feet over the past 9 months. I came to a point where I reached the end of me. The only place I could look was up. So that sounds a bit dramatic, but true. Sometimes the Lord brings you to the end yourself, so you only look to Him. It doesn’t mean that you are involved in some immoral lifestyle or that you lose all of your possessions or even your physical health. In my case, it was a laying down of pride. It’s a laying down of the need for the appearance of perfection. It’s a laying down of saying “I’ve got this.” It’s been a letting go of being “The Major’s Daughter.” It’s a season of the Lord showing me who I am in Him and letting go of the expectations of everyone else.

In my case, the Lord brought me to a place where I have had to lay some pretty large goals/ dreams at His feet. I’ve had to say “Thy will be done.” There are two major goals/dreams I have and they will only work out IF the Lord is the one leading them and opens those doors for me. I have no clue as to what the Lord is going to do with what I’ve laid His feet. I will admit that I lack patience. In my current season, it’s the Fruit of the Spirit I most need. Its the Fruit of the Spirit I have always struggled with the most. When you’re a Type A planner and like things to fall into a neat and orderly schedule of events, this kind of season is difficult. I shared in my last post that I feel like I am in a Chrysalis, waiting to break free my cocoon. I can feel my wings fluttering and am ready to break free from my shell. I also know the cocoon won’t break free until it’s the Lord’s timing and I have to be patient. Yep, there’s that pesky little word again. Patient.

What have I been doing during this season of Lent? I have been in the Word and seeking Him with all that I have. The Lord brought me to a new Bible study group on Wednesday nights this past fall. We walked through “One in a Million” and are currently walking through “Discerning the Voice of God” both by Priscilla Shirer. Y’all the Lord has stepped all over my toes in both of these studies. Courage, patience and obedience seem to be reoccurring themes in the scripture readings. I shared in my last post that I am wearing a bracelet that says “I Must.” It’s a daily reminder that delayed obedience is disobedience and the Lord has been convicting me during this season of Lent.

As we walk into the last couple days of Lent, is there something you need to lay at the feet of the Lord? Is there something you need to surrender before Resurrection Sunday? Is there an “I Must?” I encourage you to seek the Lord with everything in you. Easter may not be your deadline, but it may your starting line. As always I encourage you to pray. If needed seek out one who is wiser than you and allow them to come alongside you in whatever your journey may entail. I have an open door policy, so please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Happy Easter Y’all!

The Chrysalis

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There are times in life when things seem to be going pretty steady. It doesn’t mean life is trouble free or the stressors are non-existent, but for the most part things are trucking right along. There is something to be said for these times in life because you know what to expect. Then, there are other times when you know you are waiting for change to happen. It’s not always something you can explain, but it’s just something you can feel.

I know change is coming. I have no clue as to what is coming, but I know something is about change. It’s a weird feeling. There are changes I would like to see made, but don’t necessarily know what it will look like. When you’re a Type A planner like me, it’s almost anxiety producing to know the Lord is getting ready to move, but hasn’t clued you in yet.

The Lord has been working in my life for about 2 years now. I’ve had to take several hard steps and have had hard conversations. I’ve had to be honest with myself about certain aspects of my life. For the past couple of years I have loved the analogy of the glow stick. In order for a glow stick to work it has to be broken. It’s the broken part of our lives the Lord used to minister to others.

The image I’ve had in my head the past couple of weeks is that of a caterpillar in the middle of the transition to a butterfly. While my time as a caterpillar hasn’t been bad and I’ve enjoyed many things in that time, I feel like the past two years I have been wrapped in a chrysalis. The Lord has been doing a work on the inside where no one else has been able to see it. He has put several people in life to speak truth to and over me. He has been making changes in my heart. At some point, the next chapter of my life will be me spreading my wings and soaring through whatever it is the Lord has for me.

I have now had several conversations with different people in my life and they are all telling me the same thing. It’s times like this I know the Lord is speaking to me. I know what I am hearing when I read The Word and pray, but the Lord always seems to use others to get me to where I need to be.

Last week, I attended a Christian Women in Media (CWIMA) regional dinner. This is an organization I have been a part of for almost 3 years. I have joked I am the rookie in the group because I only have a blog and have yet to complete my book. I started my book well over 2 years ago and then my laptop ate everything I had completed. Not even my techy husband could retrieve it. I got so frustrated that I didn’t write for a while after that. Eventually I wrote 2 chapters and then I froze. See the Lord has made it very clear as to what chapter 3 should be and it terrifies me. I have avoided any thoughts of chapter 3 for a good long time.

We  have walked through a lot of life in the past 9 months. I did’t do much writing during that season. My blog went silent and I didn’t even journal during that season. I am now at a place where I feel like I can take a deep breath and cobwebs are starting to clear. This leads back to the CWIMA dinner. I had 3 conversations about my book. Two of the ladies I know well and the 3rd, I met for the first time that night. As the conversation unfolded my book came up and I admitted to being stuck on chapter 3. She handed me a bracelet that says “I Must.” Yep. The Lord hit me square between the eyes with the phrase on the bracelet. “I Must,” not “I can,” not “I will get there eventually.”

“I Must.” It’s about obedience at this point. It’s no longer a matter of, “I’d really like to write a book,” or “This could be fun.” It’s about walking in obedience to the Lord. I have loved writing and the dream of writing a book has been in place since college. Back then I thought I knew what the book would be about, but I had no idea where the Lord would eventually take that dream. Here I am. Two chapters completed. Now, to write chapter 3. Only those closest to me know the topic of my book. Once it’s closer to completion, I will share more information with my blog readers.

In the meantime y’all have permission to ask me if I am writing. I will wear and look my “I Must” bracelet on a daily basis until the book is complete. If you are facing what seems to be a daunting task and the Lord has called you to it, go for it. He will lead you. It will be scary as all get out. You may falter a little, but in the end you are walking in obedience to what He has called you to do.

What is your “I Must?” What is the one thing you know the Lord is asking you to do that you keep avoiding or putting off? My Wednesday night Bible study has started going through “Discerning the Voice of God” by Priscilla Shirer. A line that jumped out at me during the homework for the first week was “Delayed obedience is disobedience.” Y’all we can be walking in obedience in every area, but one and we are still living in disobedience. Do not put off that difficult task one more day. Start today. Let “I Must” become your battle cry until you have completed whatever the task. Find someone or a couple of people to hold your feet to the fire until it is completed. I am here with open ears and ready to cheer you on in whatever your “I Must” may be. Walk forward in obedience from this day forward. The Lord will walk ahead of you and hold your hand through it!

 

Word of the Year

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It’s January, so of course the long list of “I want to accomplish _________; My new year’s resolution is __________” is all over social media, the blogs we read and the sermons/ podcasts of our favorite pastors/ teachers we follow. I don’t see anything wrong with setting goals, but I wonder how realistic and honest we are with ourselves when we set these goals? Is there any intentionality in our goals? Do these goals allow us to get to where we want to be when December 31st rolls around?

I am a member of an incredible group of women on FB. This is a group who started off as launch team on FB, but once the launch was over we never left the FB group that was created. This is a group of women I have come to love and cherish. We come from all walks of life, different denominations and hold a wide range of views. The cool thing? The main goal is to support each other and I have watched this group walk alongside women walking through all sorts of life issues. This is an encouraging and praying group of women. Some I have had the privilege of meeting in real life and others I hope to one day meet. I share all of this to say we want to see each other grow and succeed.

One of the things we have been encouraged to do the past couple of years is to pray and ask the Lord to give us a word for the year. Last year my word was “Restore.” All year the Lord put verses on restoration right in front of me. There are areas of my life He is still breaking, only to restore. I look at in the form of a remodel. You can’t have the new unless the old is torn out. It’s a process that goes hand in hand. The restoration process isn’t over. The Lord is still working in my life and will be for a while.

When praying about my word for the year, the Lord kept bringing the word “Courage” to mind. Most people who know me, would say I am a picture of confidence and maybe even come across as a little cocky and arrogant. Y’all this is so far from the truth. When I left my full time position back in spring of 2013, a part of me shattered. I felt like I had failed my husband, my children and myself. I didn’t see how the Lord could take that hot mess and make anything of it. Even though the Lord opened an incredible door for me to walk through in our own church and allowed me to land in a position that fits my talents, skill sets and spiritual giftings, I still managed to lose my voice. I have stayed quiet when I should have spoken up. I shrunk back, when I should have squared my shoulders and stood up.

My husband and I experienced a great deal of life in 2017 and the second half of the year was rough, to put it mildly. When everything started happening, I stopped writing. It’s been roughly 6 months since I’ve had a blog post. I stopped because life was hard, but I also stopped because I didn’t think it mattered. Y’all, I love to write. The one thing I could have kept going, I allowed to come to a screeching halt. Fear also played into this. It took me a while to realize how many areas of my life I allowed fear to takeover and to silence me. It wasn’t anything any one person said or did, it was allowing satan to claim space in my head he didn’t deserve to have.

The verse the Lord has given me for the year is Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it shall be given unto you. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened unto you.” This is KJV, but it’s way I learned the verse back in middle school. It seems to be a weird verse to go along with courage, but how much have you or I missed out on in life because we were too afraid ask? I think too many times we feel like things/ opportunities are given to others, but we aren’t worthy of receiving them ourselves. I believe the Lord will open all doors He sees fit, but I have to wonder how many more would be opened if we approached Him with confidence and asked? When we get into situations, do we truly seek the Lord’s hand and wisdom? I don’t think this means if we ask for a million dollars and a lavish beach house, He will grant it because He isn’t a genie in a bottle. I do however believe if we are truly seeking His face and living a life He called us to live, He will provide and open needed doors.

Walking into the first part of 2018 my goal is to find my voice. This is both physically and in the written word. I know the Lord has put more inside of me than I have shown or given over the past several years. This means stepping forward with courage in spite of the fear I may feel. It may mean having hard conversations. It may mean taking steps I never imagined taking. I pray when December 31st rolls around, I will see a bold, new person when I look in the mirror. I pray the Lord will do as He did last year and put verses on courage in my path throughout the year. I pray He will take and destroy the fear I have allowed to build up over the years.

As you walk into the the second week of 2018, I hope you will pray and ask the Lord to give you a word to focus on for the year. I pray the Lord will bless you beyond measure in the area He is showing you that needs to grow and/or change. I pray 2018 is life changing for you and the Lord takes you to places you never imagined you would go.

Body Image and Expectations

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It’s taken me a couple of weeks to write this post. I needed to make sure I was writing from my heart and not from a place of anger and frustration. Honestly, I have struggled with weight since I was in middle school. There are many factors that have played into this over the years. Some of it has been what others have said and/ or done, others have been my own choices, both positive and negative.

A few weeks back I had two encounters within a week that left me angry and in tears. The first happened in a local grocery store. A lady approached me and started to share about a weight loss program she had created and the new store she was opening on the north side of town. Sounds harmless; right? Wrong! In her spiel she told me how she lost 93 lbs on her program and she could help me “lose weight as well.” Y’all my 8 year old daughter was standing beside me through the whole thing. I was angry, embarrassed and wanted the aisle to open up and swallow me whole. Whether she intended to or not, she fat shamed me in front of my daughter and sent her the wrong message. Her words also went against the language we use as far as health and fitness go in our home. I will also say she lost a potential customer.

The second incident happened in a private, health FB page I belong to. In a post a lady bragged about how she judges people based on what’s in their buggies. She also openly admitted to judging those she passed in the grocery store, along with fighting the desire to have “honest” conversations with parents with “fat/ obese kids.” The thing that made my stomach churn more than it already was is that so many other women agreed with her. They felt she should speak up and if maybe they all spoke up, then they could in turn save the world from fat people. It was horrifying. It was a moment I couldn’t respond. I had many responses I could have typed, but I kept scrolling.

One incident was directed towards me and the other wasn’t, but both still reduced me to tear. Y’all, I am NOT a crier. It has to be bad for the tears to come. The tears partly came out of anger at their words, both spoken and typed. The other tears fell as a result of a huge wave of shame that rolled over me.

know what I need to do. I know what to eat. I know how much exercise I need. I have a minor in Human Performance. (In some colleges/ universities this is the same as Exercise Science). I also spent 9 years working in the recreation and fitness field before starting seminary. Oh yeah, the whole my body being a temple thing didn’t help any of this. Christians are experts at the whole guilt thing. Wish I could say I was kidding, but I’m not.

Total transparency here. At my heaviest, while pregnant with my youngest, I was pushing 200. At my smallest, I was in the low to mid 120’s. Most of my adult life I have fluctuated between the 2 numbers. The cycle goes like this: Exercise, eat right, maintain for a few months to a year or so. Slowly start to let diet and exercise go. Throw diet and exercise out the window, eat all of the things and send the “skinny” clothes to Goodwill. Get frustrated and start over. I know I can’t be the only one who falls into this cycle.

There were times when I was at my heaviest I was good with being “the fat girl.” I know how to play this role. I know what’s expected. Then when I’ve lost the weight and can wear what I call “cute clothes” I love looking at pictures of myself and feel proud that I am no longer the “fat girl” in the group. It’s fun to be the “cute one.” It’s fun to have people comment on how wonderful you look.

This is what one of my seminary professors would call “stinkin’ thinkin’.” How much of what society says plays into this particular tape in our head? How many times do we pick up magazines and see what is expected of women? Most of the women’s, fitness and running magazines show women with 6 pack abs and cut arms. Their thighs don’t touch. They are considered beautiful.  There are so many diets, exercise routines, pills and shakes to choose from that should make this whole healthy and skinny thing easy. I’m here to tell you it’s anything but. All of our bodies are different. What works for one person may not work for another person. This fact can add to our frustration. As I look at all of the media around me and options and opinions it’s no wonder eating disorders are so rampant and starting earlier and earlier in our kids.

When I look at what it means to truly be healthy and comfortable in your own skin, it’s not about a number on a scale. It’s not about the number on the tag of your clothes. It’s about being able to go about your daily life and not being winded by tasks. It’s about being able to chase your kids around the backyard or the park and not feel like you’re going to need someone to hand you an oxygen mask. It’s about being able to sit through a sermon on your body being a temple without praying the Lord will look at all of the other good things in your life and letting this one thing slide. It’s being able to go out to eat with your husband or your friends and not worry others are judging you because of what you ordered. It’s about being confident to go buy new jeans or a dress without having a meltdown in the dressing room. (We all get a pass on swim suit shopping because that’s a whole other monster).  It’s about being able to look in the mirror and be content with who you are.

The crazy thing is I can give you the whole paragraph above, but I can’t tell you how to get there. I’d be a multimillionaire if I could. We all have different backgrounds. We all have different issues we’ve overcome or are working to overcome. Our hurts and hangups are different. I don’t have any of the answers. The only thing I can tell you is to be kind to others. Don’t judge their appearances because you have no idea what they may be walking. Watch what you say in the presence of your daughters, nieces and other special little girls in your life. Don’t teach them the same unhealthy thought patterns you have. Most of all be kind to yourself. Seek and ask for help when needed. Find an accountability partner if possible. While this will sound like the correct Christian thing to say, pray the Lord will help you in this area. We can’t do it in our own strength. While they are health issues the lead to issues with weight, many times it boils down to an issue in our own hearts. Only HE can deliver and redeem whatever that issue may be.

In the meantime, I’m here whether you need an ear to listen or an invitation to come join me in the gym. We can do this together.