Say No

I have a very vivid memory of sitting on a rug surrounded by classmates as my first grade teacher read this book about a man with countless caps on his head and I remember thinking, “Why is he wearing so many hats?” I was almost seven then. Fast forward eighteen years and I found myself asking that same question. Why am I wearing so many hats?

My life has become a balancing act, balancing all these different hats; the hat of wife, the hat of mother, the hat of writer, the hat of employee, the hat of ministry leader, the hat of sister, the hat of friend. I have become the character in that book. We all have. We all wear hats of different sizes, different shapes, different colors and as we walk through life we take on new hats, more hats.

Can I share a real, raw moment with you? Earlier this year all my hats fell. They seemed to all slip off of my head simultaneously. Every. Single. One. It was then that I asked myself, Why am I wearing so many hats?

Each title we take on comes with their own set of tasks. Every set of tasks contributes to a long list. A long list of things we need to do. Need. The word need by its very definition means something that is essential. But are all the hats we wear truly necessary? Are we wearing too many hats? I can’t answer that question for you but I can answer for myself and the answer is yes. Yes, I was wearing way too many hats. Yes, I took on too many titles. Yes, I was overwhelmed with all the tasks. And so they fell.

Can I share another real, raw moment with you? I’m happy that they fell. It wasn’t until I saw my hats scattered all around that I was able to see just which ones were truly essential. It wasn’t until I started picking them up that I was able to discern which ones I should say no to.

“It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” – Steve Jobs

So say no. Not to everything. But to the things that you know aren’t necessary. This part is critical, don’t feel bad about it. You’re not being selfish or rude by saying no. That’s a misconception. Saying no means that you’re acknowledging that you can’t do everything. Saying no means that you’re prioritizing. Taking on too much causes us to stagger. Like the man with all the caps on his head, they will all eventually fall. But taking on less allows us to glide and as we move, we can truly enjoy the things that are important. 

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Pursue Your Passion

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Last night my sister in law and I spent hours talking about our love for writing and sharing our aspirations. One of the things I mentioned was finally setting aside my fear and diving into my dream of writing a book. Writing a book has been on my heart since middle school yet I’ve created countless excuses not to do it. After our conversation I was moved to pray. I asked God to push me to pursue this dream if it was part of His plan for me and ironically I stumbled across these journals today. I was walking down the baby aisle of Target in search of formula and there they were right beside it. Misplaced but exactly where they needed to be. I laughed.

What’s preventing you from pursuing your passion? If I’m being honest with myself, the biggest block between where I am and where I want to be is me. I’ve struggled with anxiety and have allowed doubt to keep me from chasing my dreams. But not anymore. I’m taking a stand. Fear has no place in my life and it should have no place in yours. Today, right now, is the time to start ‘that thing’ that has been on your heart.

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”

 

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Power Off

Guilty pleasures. We all have them. Admittedly, I have several. Those who know me personally are well aware that my cell phone is my most guilty pleasure. It provides me with the ability to call, text, check my emails, take photos, search the web, but most of all it provides unlimited access to social media.

Each and every day I’m either sharing something or seeing what someone else has shared. I enjoy seeing photos of my friends and family, reading scriptures and other quotes even mouthwatering meals, especially mouthwatering meals (favorite recipes blog coming soon). One day while scrolling, a thought occurred to me…What are we missing in reality while we’re busy catching up virtually?

Social media has such power but I’ve come to believe that it’s potential isn’t exactly ideal. In fact, it has made most of us rather impractical. I’m guilty of this (more than I’d like to admit). I love social media. You name it, most likely I have it. But how terrible would it be if at the end of our lives we realize that we spent more time on social media rather than being social, physically communicating with those closest to us. Society has conditioned us to constantly desire social media. We cannot go a day without sharing our thoughts on Facebook, posting a photo on Instagram, retweeting our favorite quote on Twitter. While we’re almost never absent virtually, we’re almost never present in reality.

Our cell phones can be massively helpful but they can also tremendously hinder. They take away too much time from today, from right now, from this moment and the thing is, my followers on Instagram and Twitter aren’t going to remember me when I’m gone but Elijah and Ethan will. Facebook is fun but my sons are what matter. How dare I deprive them of making memories with me because I’m too busy scrolling through social media.

Do you seem to be struggling with the same situation or something similar? If so I’d like to challenge you. For the next two weeks, set aside two hours every day to power off. Disconnect to reconnect because the greatest present is our actual presence.

 

The Size of My Jeans

 

Each and every day I watch my youngest son stare in amazement as he explores his fingers, tummy and toes. I also watch my oldest son stare at himself in the mirror and smile exclaiming how handsome he is. They’re both so small yet somehow have this substantial confidence when it comes to their bodies.

There is a shift that occurs somewhere between childhood and adulthood, our perspective regarding our physical appearance radically changes. But when? When do we lose our ability to look at our body with amazement? When do we stop looking at ourselves in the mirror and smiling?

Prior to my second pregnancy I confidently wore size six jeans. Fast forward 11 months and I find myself shopping in one of my favorite stores for new ones. Rather than searching for size six jeans, I gathered a couple different styles in a size eight, after all I just had a baby. In my mind, purchasing a new pair one size up was logical. But once I was in the fitting room all logic jumped out of the window. The size eight jeans would not go passed my thighs and the size ten jeans would not go passed my hips then finally, I had a pair that fit. To my dismay I had doubled in jean size. Size 12. Size 12! SIZE 12! I could immediately feel my self-esteem shrivel inside. How could this have happened? After my first son the weight practically melted off the same day I gave birth and yet here I am two months after my second son and I have gone up six sizes! I cannot count the amount of times I cried in the days that followed. My confidence had clearly been shaken.

Society does a sensational job of deceiving women, making us believe that we’re only beautiful if we wear a specific size and teaching our minds to bully our bodies until we attain those proportions. But I’m here today to say, the size of my jeans does not define my beauty. My body is not an ornament! My body is an instrument! It was not meant to merely be on display. It was created with divine purpose for delicate works.

Since that store visit my jean size has gone down to a ten and if it never goes down again, that’s okay with me. My body carried and birthed two beautiful boys. My purpose now is not to attain the ideal body but to care for the two children God has entrusted me with. Please do not misinterpret what I’m saying, it is still very crucial that we establish healthy habits, exercise is essential as well as maintaining a proper diet, after all the Bible does tell us to take care of our temple. What I am saying is that whether you wear size 2 or size 12 or size 22, love your body because it is BEAUTIFUL!

 

You Can’t Sit With Us

Rejection from man doesn’t equal rejection from God.”
– Lysa TerKeurst

Rejection. Oh how that word pierces my soul. Such a dirty little word, isn’t it? Certainly makes me feel dirty. I’ve known rejection way too well, in fact, there were times it felt like rejection and I were best friends. I can recall countless times I felt rejected; countless times I felt inadequate, discarded, set aside. Rejection first made its presence known within the four walls of my home, but that’s a story for another time. The rejection I’m referring to today is the rejection within social settings.

Rejection always knew where to find me. It knew who and what and how and when. It knew just the right moments. Many of those moments occurred throughout my school years. As early as Kindergarten when three classmates said I couldn’t sit at their table because I wore glasses. Immediately, insecurities started to stir. I was seared with rejection’s dirty sting. Numerous times throughout elementary school and middle school I was outcast based on my appearance. My self-esteem started to plummet. A voice echoing in my ear, “You will NEVER be accepted because you DON’T belong!” The voice growing louder and louder with every encounter.

Rejection reached a new level when I entered into my high school years. I was determined not to be an outcast. That same determination inevitably led to the demise of my character. I spent what seemed like every second striving for acceptance yet still somehow struggled to fit in until I discovered the art of pretending. I impersonated and imitated my peers and slowly started to be invited into their circle. Finally, I was being accepted. But that acceptance came with a high cost. Perhaps I wasn’t an outcast anymore but I certainly wasn’t proud of the person I had become. I mastered mimicking so well that I became unrecognizable. I was trapped within my own deception. I was lost and lonely. My desperation for attention drove me straight down a dark, isolated road. Then God sent a light.

I’ll never forget the moment we met, in fact, she and I still laugh about it. There was no doubt in my mind that this was someone I was never going to ever speak too. Isn’t that just like the enemy to immediately try to drive a wedge between you and what (or in this case who) God has sent for deliverance? That wedge didn’t last too long. Hallelujah! Dancing triggered a conversation and soon we’d discover the countless commonalities we actually shared. As our friendship grew it was quite clear that God’s love flowed both in her and through her. It was contagious. I had been to church before, many years ago, but the way she spoke about God instilled this intense need to know more. As friends do, we started to exchange stories, after one particular account of mine she asked me a question I had never heard before. “Can I pray for you?” I knew what prayer was but I couldn’t recall anyone ever requesting to pray for me. I found it odd and yet somehow still endearing. We snuck into the girls bathroom, she held my hands and began to pray. I wish I could remember the words she said but I’m grateful that I’ll never forget the way I felt. Tears started to rush down my face almost immediately, my body subtly shaking, feeling lighter each and every time she spoke the name Jesus.

In that moment a transformation began, it wasn’t instant but as time continued I could see that I was finally becoming who God had always intended me to be. It’s such a relief to say that I am no longer lost. In fact, I love the young woman I have become. Am I perfect? No. Do I still struggle? Of course. Even now rejection still sears me with its dirty sting and although it hurts I now know that I can hold onto God’s truth.

Rejection has affected almost everyone, to those who have experienced it and to those who are still enduring it I want to share this truth with you today. People may choose to set you aside but God has selected you to be set apart.

Scars Are Beautiful

“Scars are beautiful when you see them as glorious reminders that we courageously survived.”
– Lysa TerKeurst

Not all wounds are visible. Some people are seared in scars that have no physical evidence. I have scars. I have an abundant amount of scars. Scars that make me feel afraid and ashamed. Scars that make me feel damaged and dishonorable. But the thing about scars is, they’re part of the past.

There are parts of my past that I have tried extremely hard to suppress yet I still have very vivid memories, some would even call them out of body experiences. It’s like I’m there again, watching myself, watching the nightmare unfold and I’m screaming to my younger self to run, to hide, but to no avail. Sometimes I relive those moments over and over and over again. Sometimes those moments never seem to end. Sometimes I feel trapped in what now are only memories. Sometimes I can’t sleep. Sometimes I can’t breathe. It’s overwhelming.

For countless years I cried out to God, begging Him to block those years of my childhood, to let me live the rest of my life without ever having one of those out of body experiences again. The years continued and my memory remained intact, every dirty detail.

Anger began to build. Every fiber of my being filled with frustration.
Why God?! Why?!
How could You have let this happen to me?
You call me Your daughter!
You call me Your beloved!
You say You know all our days before we are born and if that’s true then that means You must have known this would happen too!
What kind of God would allow that happen?
What kind of God allows an innocent child endure that kind of agony?
Why God?! Why?!

Very recently something was revealed to me, our purpose is to glorify God in every part of our lives. In fact the Bible says to, “Lead your lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel…standing firm…[don’t] be alarmed or intimidated by your opponents for you have been granted the privilege [to] not only believe and confidently trust in God but also to suffer for His sake.” – Philippines 1:27-29.

It took me some time to understand what those words meant but now that I do I can finally see the purpose of my scars. The purpose of my scars are to share them and use them to glorify God. I once heard someone say to speak your truth even if your voice shakes so here I am, with tears running down my face, trembling with each word I type and giant knot in my throat but I believe that there is someone, somewhere who is wondering why, who endured something that no one should ever have to experience, someone who is doubting God because of that experience and I’m here to say that you are not alone, you are not broken, you are not used or ugly. You are worthy! You are beautiful! You are so very loved!

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If by some miracle you are reading this, you know who you are, please know that I am praying for you and am truly trying to forgive you. I pray that you will pursue God and allow Him to transform your life and heal you from whatever hurt that caused you to hurt me.

Beyond Beautiful

I am no stranger to the struggle with self esteem.
For years I sought to be perfect.
Perfect.
What is that anyways?
I’ve come to the conclusion that perfection is merely perception.
Throughout the years I would peer into the mirror and immediately begin to point out imperfections…
Why am I so pale?
Ugh! My face is so round.
Ewww look at my eczema!
My waist is too big.
You can still see my stretch marks!
My hair sucks.
…I would only see what was wrong. Time and time again I would torment myself with these thoughts, with these words. I found myself depressed. Seemingly happy to everyone else but inside, I was screaming.

It didn’t matter how I styled my hair. It didn’t matter the clothes I wore. It didn’t matter what makeup products I used. It didn’t matter how many meals I skipped. I had this image in my mind of what it was to be physically perfect. An image I always seemed so far from. An image I would never allow myself to become. Why? Because I constantly fed myself lies. Lies that would echo over and over and over. Lies that were louder than everything else.
Then…
Something happened.
An experience I’ll never forget.
I’ll spare the details but in short, I broke.
And it was in the midst of that breaking point that my perception changed. I was no longer trying to attain this false notion of perfection. Instead I began to embrace every part of who I was.
Physically, mentally, spiritually.

Now when I look into the mirror I smile and say all my amazing attributes. I remind myself that I am a work in progress rather than the thought of perfection. Once I changed my perception, I came to find that I am beautiful. And so are each and every one of you! We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. There is nothing about us that is accidental. So stop! Stop filling yourself with lies and focus on the truth. Because the truth is, you are beyond beautiful.

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