Following the Path Ahead

IMG_8465For the first time since starting this blog in 2012 I took this past month off from my regular schedule of blogging. Maybe you noticed; maybe not. It felt weird to me to forego this regular habit that helps me process my thoughts. However, this hiatus was a needed break from pressure I put on myself – primarily so I could relax during our vacation without having as much hang over my head. But the break was also necessary in order to devote what time I did have to work on my second manuscript that is due in August while also preparing for the release of my first book Get Your Story Staight: A Teen’s Guide to Learning & Living the Gospel in October.

Throughout this publishing process and as October 12th nears, what I have decided is the path I am on is much like one of the hikes we just did in Colorado called Conundrum.

I don’t know if the reason it was name that is what I suggested, afterall a “conundrum” by definition is a problem or puzzle often too tricky to figure out, but I speculated it was because of the constantly changing landscape that left us unsure of what the next curve of the path would bring.

At points we were in the forest and then we would come out in a valley of flowers before ascending up over rocks to the next view. Every segment was different so we never knew what to expect. Some portions were harder or longer than other parts, but there was always surrounding beauty if we just stopped to take it in. And at some places the path was fairly visible up ahead while in other spots determing how to proceed was less clear.IMG_8477 This pretty much describes where I have been and where I am going with my writing. When I decided to lead a group of sixth grade girls in a Bible study seven years ago, I had no idea it would lead me to writing curriculum and especially not a book. I am not one of those people who has always wanted to write a book, but I am someone that saw a deep need and developed a growing passion for teens to know the God who loves them and is well-pleased, not because of their performance or perfectionism but because of His Son’s.

So I got on this unexpected path of becoming a published author without having any clue what that looked like. Now I know and when people ask, “What takes so long?” I know that answer too! I’ve learned having a publishing contract and a manuscript submitted does not mean the book is done! Actually, I think it just means things are getting started!

During the many months of the editing process, sentences, paragraphs and pages get scrapped or changed which means rethinking and rewriting. Initially seeing the red editing marks and critiquing comment bubbles on the computer screen panicked me. I wasn’t sure how I would be able come up with a better way to say what I thought I had already said well. But through the pruning process of being stretched in my writing, I feel confident the book is better for it.IMG_8456 Now I’ve entered the final stage (I think, at least) for this book. This is when the marketing begins and what you will be seeing lots more of in these months surrounding October 12th. Going hand in hand with the promoting and becoming a published author, I will be unveiling my new website – hopefully as early as next week! At that point this blog will be merged into the website and I will give you a new link. If all goes as planned all subscribers to this blog will automatically be subscribed to the new site and will then have the option to also receive my future monthly newsletter.

Again, a curve in the path. Not sure of all the details or what it is going to look like. Nor do I have any idea what this book or the next will lead to, though I am fairly certain I can expect things to continue to change. A conundrum that could make someone like me, who likes to control and know what’s ahead, crazy! But one of the biggest things God is changing in me is the ability to be at peace on the journey. To actually stop and smell the roses. To not try to sprint up ahead to see further up the path. And, to trust that the One who laid out the path and can see over the mountains and past the valleys will give me just what I need to follow where He leads. How thankful I am He is in the business of growing us in grace. For our good and His glory!IMG_8491 IMG_8470

What If…

FullSizeRenderLast week I walked into the kitchen to hear my kids doing their “What if” game, if that’s what you can call it. It’s really not a game, but a passive way of putting each other down.

One of them would say something like “What if (insert name of sibling) wasn’t strong?” to which another one would reply, “What if nobody liked (insert name of sibling)?”

After listening for a few minutes to this unwholesome talk, it was put to a stop. But the way it originally got started was not like this. It was simply from the constant barrage of “What if” questions – mostly related to sports – from my youngest that got the rest of us referring to it as his “What if” game.

“What if KD left the Thunder?”

“What if SMU never got the death penalty?”

“What if I get drafted into the MLB?”

That kid loves a story and has quite an imagination so in asking the questions he really just wants someone to dream of future realities with him. Today I want to ask you to play the “What if” game with me.

Just for a moment or maybe throughout your day, let yourself think on this:

“What if we all lived out our calling to love others as we love ourselves?”

WHAT IF? 

I don’t even think we can comphrehend how this alone would change things in our marriages, families, relationships with friends, neighbors and strangers, our workplaces, schools, homes, communities, churches and world!

So let’s just play it out with a few scenarios.

What if instead of nitpicking our husbands about all the way he fails, we looked for ways to serve, encourage and respect? What if these simple gestures of grace made home – and us – a safe place instead of a place he wants to avoid because of the constant reminder of how he doesn’t measure up to our expectations of him as husband and dad? What if not feeeling so beaten down anymore led him to  initiate more family time and to show more thoughtful care and love toward you?

  • Do you think there would be less divorce?
  • Happier marriages?
  • More secure kids?

What if more secure kids meant instead of them constantly comparing themselves and worrying about what others think, they were satisfied with who they are? What if knowing and resting in their identity in Him instead of striving to be somebody else enabled them to take their eyes off themselves to see others in need of a friend. What if by befriending the one on the outside or noticing who was being excluded that person began to feel loved and significant?

  • Do you think that woulds start a chain reaction?
  • Do you think there would be more genuine friendships?
  • Less cattiness?
  • Less tearing others down to build oneself up?

What if we adults followed suit by making time for coffee with a friend going through a hard time or calling up someone we haven’t talked to in awhile instead of busying ourselves with own agendas? What if we weren’t so wrapped up in our own lives that we even knew a friend or neighbor was experiencing difficulty?

What if church members actually lived out the gospel they profess to believe by sharing their brokenness with one another instead of pretending things are perfect? What if by taking off the masks and letting others see our weaknesses and sin, it freed others to do the same?

  • Do you think there would be more forgiveness and grace?
  • Do you think that would build better, more transparent relationships?
  • Do you think this might even make us more content, joyful, thankful?

What if this wasn’t all just dreaming and by God’s grace we really lived…

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

How awesome to see how loving others better would actually impact and change our own corners of the world.

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A Thousand Words Not Told In A Picture

Have you ever tried describing a spectacular sight, perhaps a place you visited or maybe just the sunset, and your words just couldn’t get across the beauty in what you saw?

Exactly why it has been said “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

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Marvao, Portugal at sunset

But in a world where we no longer go develop film and then pick through the batch of often blurry, red-eyed or off-centered shots, our now cropped, edited and filtered pictures aren’t always true to the thousands words they seem to say. 

The problem is we still think they are.

We think in viewing the social media feeds of our “friends” that life is great for them. They are smiling, skinny, fit and fashionable often surrounded by friends in fun settings. Their little ones – all dressed darling and perfectly epitomize sibling love; the older ones – look to be the most perfect teen based on their string of successes and friends.  When we get a sneak peak into these friends’ homes, we see fabulous tablescapes, decor and gourmet meals.  And, we assume these picture tell it like it is, everyday, all the time in their worlds.

The irony is we post our own versions of our best self with similar scenerios though we know the truths behind the facade. We know we only post picture that have been carefully edited to camoflouge the wrinkles, the grey hair and the extra pounds. And the cute outfit and Kendras we have on, we know isn’t our norm. In fact, many days we don’t even get around to putting make-up on.

We also know about the on-going struggles and heartaches at home, the bickering kids  and the spouse we contantly nag, but the thousand words of our beautiful family picture say otherwise. Others see it and wonder why they can’t be like us. Ha!  If the only knew what happens behind closed doors. But too often we refuse to let others in and by the stories our curated photos tell no one would ever suspect life is not a bed of roses.

  • If this is all true about us, why are we so sure everyone else is perfect?  
  • Why do continue comparing ourselves and our lives to the facade?
  • Why can’t we be okay with the mess of who we are and see that everyone else is too?!

I like the way author Kay Wyma asks the question in her new book, I’m Happy for You {Sort Of… Not Really}:

“Has comparison-living hijacked your life?”

This issue of comparison is causing us to feel less-than and robbing our joy. Sadly it’s as true for teenagers as it is for adults. But, if we adults don’t get outside of ourselves to see it for what it is, we are only going to add to the unrealistic pressure our kids already feel. From the teen survey I’ve been conducting their level of stress is already averaging at a 7-8 on a scale of 1-10. The cases of depression and the ways in which they are dealing with it are devastating.

So what do we do? Where do we start?

Answer: Our own hearts.

We must ask the Lord to help us admit our struggles and to see where we are buying into the lie. If our own hearts are discontent and distracted we won’t be able to see where and how are kids are falling prey to comparison too.  We must taste and see what the Word says is true about where “life” is found and not be deceived by the so-called perfect lives behind the pictures we see.

Very practically to undo the lies, let’s focus on the joys. As Ann Voskamp advocates, let’s instead count the One Thousand Gifts of joy and thanksgiving and blessing. We are trying to do this more in our own house by deliberately looking for the daily graces He gives and the little reminders in our days that He is near and that He is good and that in Him there is life – true “life.” 

Looking to the One who was perfect for us is where we must go to reboot our minds and be filled with what His words say about us. It is in Him we are fully loved, accepted, declared righteous and made perfect. The thousands words of the cross is the only picture we need and must see as truth!IMG_7884

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A Lesson for the Busy from the Man with the Remote-Control Airplane

In a recent post I mentioned briefly the man who flies a remote-control airplane in the park. I have seen him numerous times and even laughed out loud the first time I noticed him. How odd I thought! 

What grown man flies a remote-control plane without any kids? Why isn’t he at work? Doesn’t he have something else to be doing at 9 AM?images

But as I turned out onto the street and caught him in my rearview mirror this last time, a thought pierced through the judgment. A thought that actually caused me to cry! (I  know, you are probably thinking not what is wrong with him, but what is wrong with me?!)

There is something wrong with me, but I don’t think it’s just me! Maybe he knows something in a deeper way than I do – maybe than most of us do. Granted I’m speculating, but whether it’s factual or not isn’t the point because God used the man and his remote-control airplane to speak to me all the same.

What if this man comes out to fly his airplane in the morning sun to start his day with a clear head?

What if he uses the time to reflect and pray?

What if what looks like wasted time to people like me he sees as time to just be free from the worries of the world?

What if the joy he experiences flying his plane, even for just that short-time in the park, rejuvenates him in a way that impacts the rest of the day?

It made me think about how in our busyness, self-reliance and stress we push forward trying to manage it all. We complain of being exhausted and of our ever-growing to do list – especially it seems in the month of May.  The irony is it doesn’t have to be this way! Christ offers to carry our burdens for us. We weren’t meant to tackle life on our own. Yet, we can’t stop or slow down enough to see.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

If God’s Word and His Sabbath Rest were given as gifts of grace meant to put us back together and to hold us together, why do we consistently dismiss it?  Why do we think we are too busy for the eternal things – His Word and His people, His church – (the things that will actually renew us), but try to cram everything else in?

If you are like me, just thinking about giving my valuable morning time away to mindless moments flying a plane stresses me out. But, what amazes me again and again is when by God’s grace I stop for focused time to pray, to read and to reflect, He meets me there. The same is true on Sunday mornings and on the slower Sunday afternoons. He calms my heart and reorients my mind to His truths. And when I am tethered to Him, there is Rest … even admist the fast-paced days, life’s struggles and the burdens we bear.

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Not Alone in the Wasteland

For those of you who know me pretty well personally, you know I am normally even-keeled, not particularly emotional or too easily rattled. Well, three times over the last week I have spilled tears in public places.

The first time happened while sitting at a bar with my husband. We were talking about all the upcoming graduation parties when tears started streaming down my face just thinking about our daughter graduating this time next May.

A few days later as I was driving away from the gym I saw the man who flies battery-operated planes in the park and started to cry. That is a story in itself that I will explain in a future post so stay tuned!

The third time was during the Compadres concert this past Thursday night. We were having a great time, enjoying our friends and the incredible performance by my new favorite artists when the words to the NEEDTOBREATHE song, Wasteland, perked my ears.IMG_7698_2

“All of these people I meet
It seems like they’re fine
Yeah in some ways I hope that they’re not
And their hearts are like mine
Yeah it’s wrong when it seems like work
To belong all I feel is hurt”

The anguish in these lines resonated well as we live life with teenagers and see so clearly how the struggles we think are unique to us are true of those all around us. They may look perfectly put together so we have no idea they are barely holding on, thinking the world is against them too.

And then the chorus came: 

“Oh if God is on my side
Yeah if God is on my side
Oh if God is on my side
Who can be against me”

I had just posted earlier in the day my last blog When God Seems Against You and quoted the same verse from Romans 8:30. These words echoing through my head felt like God affirming what I had written. 

Yes. Kristen. I AM with you. I know intimately everything going on and have you in the palm of My hands.

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Then the music broke back in through my thoughts and with these next lines I started to weep:

“Yeah in this wasteland where I’m livin’
There is a crack in the door filled with light
And it’s all that I need to get by
Yeah in this wasteland where I’m livin’
There is a crack in the door filled with light
And it’s all that I need to shine.”

Yes, Lord. You are the Light and only hope for this sinful broken 
wasteland we call home. Help us to see you even in just a sliver 
coming through the cracks. Illuminate the darkness so we know you 
are here. So we know you are on our side.

I love how music can speak so deeply to our souls and in that moment standing by my husband, the words became a prayer and the tears my surrender. Only God can burst through the darkness to expose and change hearts. But even so in the midst of my own wasteland He shines His truth through the words of a song and I know He is drawing near.  

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Grace Admist the Noise

While there has been silence in my writing from the house of hatton this week, our true House of Hatton has been anything but silent. It hasn’t been “noisy” like households with younger children, but the noise of chaotic activity and emotional frittering has kept me from processing. And for me writing helps process. That is why I continue blogging. It’s like my own therapy.

So this week while we had two “snow days” my husband has been on the sunny beaches of Cabo which meant I was the one primarily in charge of our 4 1/2 month puppy. This extra responsibility alone, mointoring where he is and what he is grabbing or chewing on, consumes way more time than this non-dog lover want to give. 

How cool is this Sea Lion that came up on my husband's fishing boat?!

How cool is this Sea Lion that came up on my husband’s fishing boat?!

This picture was taken about 20 lbs ago. At not even 5 mos. he is now about 50 lbs!

This picture was taken about 20 lbs ago. At not even 5 mos. he is now about 50 lbs!

I also got to shovel my driveway so we wouldn’t be too iced in to make an appointment on the second snow day. And, I (the one who can barely keep her eyes open until 9:30pm) had to stay awake until my daughter got home at night. Never mind that twice, I accidentally locked up the backdoor and didn’t hear her banging on it 🙂

If only my husband had a picture as evidence of me shuffling the driveway!

If only my husband had a picture as evidence of me shoveling the driveway!

But there was grace this week, too. First, because of the snow days my boys’ sports were cancelled on the night I was most stressed about how to get them both to where they needed to be. There was grace in my kids helping extra with household chores. Grace in having slowed-down time at home with them. And even more grace as I’ve been faced with and thinking about the issues my daughter has been struggling through.

If you are a parent, isn’t the hardest thing when your child hurts or is struggling and you not being able to change it?

That’s where I am. I want to control what I can’t. I want to fix what is broke. I want to make right what is wrong. I want to speed a slow process of change. And the reality is, I can’t do any of it.

But this is where the grace comes in. As hard and as hopeless as things feel sometimes, I praise God for some personal experiences enabling me to identify with my daughter and know first-hand there is hope. I also praise God, as hard and as mixed up as it sounds, for her struggles (even though they make me cry). 

He is making the broken, beautiful.

I am watching it happen before my very eyes. He is growing and transforming her to see her great need and dependence on Him and there is nothing better. This is exactly what I want for all of my children – for them to know they are weak, but He is strong. And with only 1 1/2 years to go before she goes from us, I am confident what she is learning now about herself and about who God is for her will help her abide and help me to trust Him when she is even more outside of anything I can control.

Grace, He is giving her through the trials and grace He is giving me.

Grace is what I needed most this week. Actually what we all need most all the time! But sometimes with all the noise we don’t see where God enters in. We stay focused on what we lack instead of what He gives.  In our obsession with ourselves and the here and now, we too often miss seeing how He is at work for our good and His glory – all the time.

Freedom From ED

My last special guest blogger for National Eating Disorder Awareness week is Victoria, a new friend and Executive Director of the Oklahoma Eating Disorder Association. As with the other posts: Giving Up the Fight: The War on Eating Disorders, Breaking Up with ED and I Had No Idea: The Secret Truths of Eating Disorders I hope her story encourages you. Whether your struggle is with food or something else, I pray you find true freedom in Christ.

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images-1I will never forget the day I overheard a couple of my “friends” say I was ugly and fat. I had been teased about my appearance before, but this hit a whole new level. As I slowly removed myself from the situation I threw their wounding comments on top of the pile of damaging things I already believed about myself. Over the years I had compiled a significant amount of negative thoughts and these last comments caused the mountain of negativity I had accumulated to collapse around me.

Like any young girl I wanted to be pretty and accepted by my peers. At that moment the burden of trying to live up to what others perceived to be beautiful was too much. The only way I saw fit to make a change, to be beautiful, was to lose weight.

From that moment on I worked harder than ever before to be “healthy.” I quickly lost weight and was praised for it. To my dismay the weight loss didn’t satisfy the longing in my heart. The control I felt over food led to an intensified focus to control other aspects of my life and obtain a “perfect appearance.”

I cowered under the power of the unrealistic expectations I had made for myself and withdrew from social situations as well as important relationships in my life. Before I knew what was happening my identity had became solely what I ate, how I exercised and what I looked like in the mirror. I had fallen so far that I didn’t know what to do, except to keep pretending I was ok and to hide my damaging behaviors.

One day, completely exhausted I broke down. Six years of living a life that from the outside seemed to be a put together, disciplined and healthy was a complete images-1facade. I was falling apart.

I realized that I couldn’t bear to continue to live in bondage. Broken and confused as to what to do I cried out to The Lord for help. This certainly couldn’t be the way God wanted me to live for the rest of my life.

For so long my shame and guilt had kept me from reaching out for help and believing I could conquer this alone. Instead the behaviors of constantly fighting for control, comparing myself to others, and worrying about my appearance became so engrained in my everyday life and ruled over my every thought. I had pushed God and everyone else out of this part of my life for so long that all I knew to do was have faith and trust that God would lead my way.

There were hard days, and easier days, but with the help of my family, close friends, counselor and a whole lot of prayer I fought back against this oppression and pressed into God. Psalm 145:18-19, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them” became one of the main truths that kept me going through out the ups and downs of my recovery process.

Letting go and allowing The Lord to heal this part of my life was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. I can now confidently proclaim that the things of this world (food, exercise and my appearance) cannot fill the desires of my heart. My heart longs for something more than what this world can offer. Something only a Christ can fill.

Through this process God has shown me a glimpse of the depths of His love, grace and healing powers. I now have the freedom to celebrate my worth and identity in Christ regardless of outward appearances.

Seeing the Lord completely transform my life has ignited a passion for cultivating positive body image, spreading eating disorder awareness, and educating others on the importance of early detection. I tell my story because I want others to know they are not alone in this battle. There is hope for healing no matter how hopeless you may feel. All you have to do is cry out for help. The Lord is listening and desires for His children to live in joyful freedom.logo

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

 

DSC_5320Victoria is an energetic and fun-loving senior obtaining a Bachelor’s of Science in Dance and Arts Management and a minor in Business Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma City University. As the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Eating Disorders Association she continues to pursue her mission of spreading Eating Disorder awareness and the true meaning of health. In her free time Victoria enjoys being actively engaged at Bridgeway church, traveling, dancing, hiking and anything that involves being outside!

If you are struggling with an Eating Disorder, please reach out for help. There is no shame, but lots of freedom to be found. If you need resources please send me a comment and I will do my best to direct you.

Giving Up the Fight: The War on Eating Disorders

If you’ve been following my blog this week you know I am drawing attention to National Eating Disorder Awareness Week through the stories of several friends. Previous posts include friend Martha Kate’s Breaking Up with ED and my own I Had No Idea: The Secret Truth of Eating Disorders.  Now today meet my dear friend Parker, who we met when she was an 18 year-old college freshman. Ever since she has been like a big sister to my daughter and close friend of mine and our family.

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I’ve sat down to write out these words several times now – each moment feeling more difficult than the one before. I tried to pinpoint the hold up on my heart, and this morning – of course while having a food-centered moment over my coconut flour pancakes – it dawned on me. How many people really know the details of my journey?

How many times was I told, “You don’t have a problem,” “It’s really not that bad,” or “It’s just a phase?”

While I’m transparent with almost every part of my life, the depths of my heart hold tight to the anguish surrounding my body. The battle for those corners of my spirit raged on, during the so called “best years of my life,” until I finally gave up the war and surrendered to the only One big enough to win it for me.

I feel like a lot of folks who in journeying an interesting road qualify their story with the phrase “I grew up in a stable and loving home,” as though an ideal setting precludes us from challenge. Well, news flash…the enemy has no favorites. Every heart has equal accessibility to trial.

The minute I turned inward for control, my heart was primed for a takeover. Between the ages of 15 and 29, my relationship with food was tumultuous at best. UnknownAs soon as I thought I’d reached a healthy balance, I would find myself staring back into the face of the enemy I’d spent so much energy willing myself away from. I would mark events in my life (college graduation, family events, our wedding, our first house) by “skinny time” or “fat time.” The memories illustrated in the photo would fade behind the noisy thoughts in my head criticizing every square inch of my body. Focused solely on myself, the shame attached to my pride only compounded the heartache.

My journey is full of marked moments of desperation. Between bottles of pills used to “balance” my food intake during college and extreme workouts that landed me in back surgery by age 23, I did everything to my body in pursuit of perfection. The breakdown? I allowed nothing for my body.

Let me pause here for a moment and ask you a question: Why should we care so much about this subject?

Personally, why does physical health matter so intensely to me?

One word answer for both questions: Freedom.

I longed for the emotional, physical, and spiritual space to love others, give radically, and live freely. My yo-yo years with nutritional and physical health have images-1taken up so much space, in my head and heart. For a while, it was centered on dropping pounds and losing inches. Ultimately, as my heart began to heal, it was about finding consistency in one area of my life to build the foundation for growth and impact in all parts of my life.

When we counsel others through eating disorders, we often hear “this will always be a part of your journey.” Or my other favorite, “this will always be your fight.” Living within that supposed truth kept me in bondage to this enemy for nearly half of my life. All I could find was temporary relief clouded by the harsh reality that this nemesis would show its face again. My story – the one that began with “this will always be your fight” – became my truth. It was my life banner, until my Creator intervened on my behalf to repaint that banner with His heart for me. In His grace, He rewrote my story. He gave me a new Heartsong.

Here are the two truths of eating disorders: They are not preventable. They are curable. We are a community within a fallen world – crippled by sin and seemingly overpowered by societal norms. We cannot control what others around us see and hear. However, we can choose who we are for our community. We can be a soft landing for a hurting soul. We can speak in transparency and love. We can call the enemy for who he is and what he is – naming the lie and claiming the truth. And more than all of those combined, we can call on a Risen Savior. Christ needs not to fight the battle for us, because by His life, death, and resurrection…the war is already won.

In His victory is our freedom. 

pswParker is a seeker of human potential, finding God’s artistry in the possibility of others. Released from performance and transformed by grace, she strives to live (and write) with authenticity and boldness – and a deep gratitude for the beauty within failure.

Parker serves as a brand and marketing strategist, committed to developing businesses with a heartbeat. When she’s not ideating with colleagues or blogging in a coffee shop, she enjoys yoga, spinning, giant glasses of sweet tea, and anything on the water. A graduate of Baylor University and UNC Kenan Flagler Business School, she lives in Mount Pleasant, SC with her husband, Thomas, and golden retriever, Jasper.

Breaking Up with Ed

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post because it is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week I have invited three friends to share their personal stories with ED. Today, I am excited to introduce you to Martha Kate and her testimony to God’s grace.

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I lived with him for twelve years. He lied, cheated, nearly killed me and still I stayed. He made me lie to my friends, my family, and literally to everyone I knew. I was in elementary school when he moved in, so young, so innocent, yet so very broken. I lived by his rules and let them control my life. He was my best friend, my enemy, my dictator, all rolled into one.

imagesThe monster I am talking about is Ed. Ed stands for my eating disorder and for over a decade he had control over my life. My Ed was what I turned to when I was sad, mad, hurt, or frankly just needed any kind of reassurance. I was too ashamed and certainly too prideful. I didn’t know how to stop doing what I was doing and frankly I didn’t want to stop.

Ed twisted the way I felt about myself and others. You see for those twelve years I lived in secret, battling an illness that not even my closest friends and family knew I faced. It consumed me, my thoughts, my behaviors, my actions. Every minute was spent focusing around Ed. Ed was my best friend, my comforter, my confidant, my supporter. But, Ed was really none of those things because deep down Ed was a liar and he was destroying each day a little bit more. I lost more than I could count to Ed: time, money, friends, grades, family, and health. And losing it all, led to a lack of joy and beauty in my life.

I spent years trying to fight Ed alone, thinking I could beat him without anyone else knowing. When that didn’t work I came back to him. Because unlike every other person and situation, Ed was who I could control or so I thought. Once again though, I was lied to because the more I believed I could control him, the more he controlled me and eventually controlled my whole life. I was terrified of not having him in my life.

For those twelve years I lived with a mask on my face. It was a dangerous mask, a deceiving mask, a mask that was so convincing that I myself was almost unaware that it was a mask and not my true self. However, three years ago I took off the mask and never put it on again. The day I took off the mask and broke up with Ed was one of the very best and very hardest days I’ve ever experienced.

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As you can see Ed stole an abundance from me but what I learned as I began to recover from the years spent with him, was that there was so much life still to be held. Because as I ran away from Ed I ran into grace. Grace covered me with what Ed couldn’t. Grace gave me the ability to mess up and still not turn back to my old ways. Grace told me I was loved not because of what I have done but because of what He did for me. Grace gave me something I have never had before…FREEDOM.

This past fall I celebrated three years of recovery. I celebrated the decision to jump off the cliff into the arms of grace and say, “It is okay that I am not okay because Jesus is better than being better.” The most beautiful part is, embracing grace doesn’t mean that I am not still a mess. However, it envelops me in all my messiness and it allows me to be my messy broken self. Because Grace is bigger than my flaws. Grace is bigger than my mistakes. Grace is bigger than my guilt. And Grace is so much bigger than my shame.

I never used to understand when people said that Jesus wrecked their lives but now I get it. He definitely wrecked mine and turned it upside down in the best way. He took everything I thought I knew about control and addiction and swept me into His arms. He told me I was loved when I felt unlovable and that I was beautiful in His image. He gave me scandalous, beautiful, amazing, grace. Today, I have the joy of working with college students and because of that. I have an opportunity to show others, specifically these students, that kind of love and grace that is scandalous and unheard of and it is because of my story of grace and the work of the gospel in my life, that I am able to do just that.

I would love to hear your story of brokenness and redemptive grace. Because when we share about the mess and the beauty of grace in our lives, that is when the gospel becomes real. My friend I pray you know there is hope in whatever situation you face. Buckle up, because if you are willing to jump, you are in for the best ride of your life.

MarthaKateStainsbyMartha Kate Stainsby is an eating disorder survivor and advocate. She spends most of her time in Waco, Texas where she lives with her husband Brett and works with Baylor University students.  When not working with college women, she spends her time sharing her story of grace, through various speaking and writing opportunities in order to build awareness of eating disorders and the hope found in recovery. Find out more about Martha Kate’s journey here: http://leavingperfectionlearninggrace.com

 

I Had No Idea: The Secret Truths of Eating Disorders

  • Did you know the mortality rate associated with Eating Disorders is 12 times higher than the death rate from other causes for high school and college age females?
  • Did you know over 1/2 of all teenage girls and nearly 1/3 of teenage boys succumb to unhealthy weight control behaviors?
  • Did you know between 1995 and 2005 the prevalance of Eating Disorder doubled among both females and males?  (Can only imagine where this leaves us now!)
  • Did you know hospitalizations for Eating Disoders in children under 12 increased by 119% between 1999 and 2006?
  • Did you know studies show social media amplifies behaviors associated with Eating Disorders?
  • Did you know according to the National Eating Disorder Association that Eating Disorders in the United States are more common than Alzheimer’s?
  • Did you know 4 out of 10 people struggle or know someone struggling with an Eating Disoder; therefore, it is likely you, a friend or family member is secretly struggling?

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No idea until it touched us personally. Now I know way more than the facts. I also know  about the intense struggle, overwhelming temptations, shame, worthlessness and the roller coaster of good and bad days. And I know about the freedom that comes in lifting the veil of secrecy, even when the battle is still being fought. (For more on our personal story click here.)

Our family’s story is why this week during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week I will shine the spotlight on Eating Disorders by sharing over the next few days the personal stories written by three of my friends.

You will hear about struggles with food, but more significantly the reason why food is never really the issue. You will hear about healing and help, but more importantly the hope found only in Christ. Knowing who Christ is for us is not just the solution to eating issues, but to all of our issues. All of our struggles and all of our sin. This is because he lived the perfect sinless life required by God for us so that when God looks on us he sees us as perfect!

This is amazing. This is what justification is: making us right! This is why theology matters and gospel truth must be understood for real change.

I love how Extravagant Grace author Barbara Duguid applies justification in a very real and simple way regarding her own struggles with food when she writes about food’s powerful hold on her loosening when she finally realized that Christ ate perfectly for her!

This is what it means practically to see who Christ is for us. He succeeded where we fail. He performed so we don’t have to. He gave up his glory in heaven so we could be made right and spend eternity in his glory.

This is Grace.

I hope you will come back tomorrow to hear from Martha Kate of Leaving Perfection, Learning Grace as she tells of her struggle with ED from an early age through college. Then Parker of A Daily Heart will share tales of her disordered eating and finally Victoria, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Eating Disorders Association, will give her story.

Whether your struggle is with an Eating Disorder or something else, may the Lord use the beautiful messy stories of these women to point you to Christ.  And when (not if, but when) you encounter someone in your life struggling with ED, you will be filled with compassion because you know what it means to struggle and to need a Savior!

NEDAwareness_2015_Shareable_Diet_0 NEDAwareness_2015_Shareable_Illusions_0 NEDAwareness_2015_Shareable_Athletes_0logoIf you are struggling with ED, please reach out for help. There is no shame. Christ came not for the righteous, but the sinners. And it is in our weakness that he is strong.