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My deepest wound

In my deepest wound I saw your glory, and it dazzled me.

-St. Augustine

I used to hate my body. Somedays I still do. I was never one of the pretty girls, to this day I struggle to fit into that crowd. My wild red hair danced around my acne covered face. My smile gave way to braces, my waist was never tiny, my thighs have always rubbed together and there was always, always dirt under my fingernails. Every year February would hit me like a sack of bricks and I would retreat into myself. My bones would ache and my spirit would suffer. This always coincided with the end of the school term making it near impossible for me to truly succeed at school. “You are so bright,” my teachers would always say “I just don’t know what is going on with you.”

I was used to being failed by my body. So I learned to live outside it. I sought after God in sunsets, thunderstorms, and starry skies. I looked for spirituality in books, music, relationships. Anywhere but my body. By the time I was nineteen I was convinced that my body was evil, vile, ugly. I was sure that no good could come from it. I longed for the days of Heaven, when I would be with Jesus and this earth wouldn’t even be a memory. All the teasing, all the failing, all the times I didn’t measure up would simply wither away and I would finally see what God was doing with my spirit.

This theology worked for me. It was comfortable. It demanded my attention and let me avoid all my questions, doubts, and insecurities. Until a dinner conversation with some trusted girl friends challenged me to think outside my own box. The truth and conviction stayed with me throughout the next few weeks and the remainder of the season. The truth is this. Jesus came to earth, fully man so that He could engage with our physical bodies. He didn’t descend as a voice, or a philosophy, He came in a robe and sandals. He touched people, attended parties and died a physical death.

Over the course of a few weeks my theology began to feel less and less like truth and more like a lie that I had told myself to let myself be happy. Yes, God cared about my spirit, and He came to redeem my soul, but those are all just parts of a whole. A whole which isn’t complete until I include my physical form. It occurred to me that my relationship with my body was intensely broken, and it occurred to me that maybe this was the piece of the puzzle that I had been missing all along.

I have long agreed with the fact that magazines, TV shows, and movies do nothing to inspire self-worth or positive self-image for everyday girls like myself, and yet I was so under their spell I didn’t know where to start in my effort to untangle my truth from my lies. That’s when someone encouraged me to break a piece of pottery and try to put it back together. Although I was hesitant at first, something about it appealed to me. I went to the store, bought a piece of pottery, took it to my back yard and threw it at the concrete.

Seeing all the pieces laying there, sprawled out on my patio didn’t scare me or overwhelm me. They were simply broken pieces of pottery laying in a safe and peaceful environment. As I swept them up and laid them out I noticed that bits of dirt and sand came with them. I painted a canvas with oranges, reds and yellows on it arranged every single piece of pottery and dirt that I had collected. It was a joyous exercise and in it I began to see God as a joyful, boisterous creator. It felt as though repairing and redeeming my brokenness was not just a chore that God “had” to do, but rather a process that he enjoyed and one that held for infinite possibilities.

One of my greatest wounds in my adult life comes from ignoring and neglecting my physical body. I know that I have a long way to go to rebuild and restore what has been broken, but in the midst of this brokenness I have been dazzled by the glory of God. A sculptor, visionary and artist, who knit me together the first time and will do an impeccable job this time around. Our bodies are gifts from Him, and play a bigger role on this road to heaven than we might think. Embrace your body, for all of its flaws and perfections. Use it, find God in it. He is there.

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For the unbroken, for the whole.

A love letter to the unbroken.

You are enough.

You are not too much. (You are never too much.)

You have permission to dance through this life.

Don’t shrink so that others might be magnified.

Don’t waste your days, your incomparable beauty, or your dreams by picking at wounds that have learned to heal.

You are bold, emblazoned, chosen and set on a hill as a luminary to guide the wandering to safety, to bring them home and to lead them to stillness.

Don’t shrink.

Don’t trade your brightness for safe shelter.

Some may try to take it (your light, your chutzpah, your power)  from you, but only because your brightness scares them and makes them face the days when they traded brightness for comfort and easy passage.

Live in the midst of your wholeness, dance in your redemption.

Turn from your broken ways and rejoice.

Embrace your wild heart, let it run free.

You are not too much. (You are never too much)

You are enough.

Always enough.

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things fat girls aren’t supposed to say…

It is a universally held belief that every “fat” person longs to be skinny, That they are sad and miserable because they are overweight and that their lives would just miraculously get better if they dropped 100 pounds or so. Well, what if I told you that wasn’t true? What if I told you that reaching your goal weight wasn’t going to make you any kind of happy that will actually last?

Here’s the thing. Every January I do what any dreamer does and I write out New Years Resolutions. And every January I put lose 60-100 pounds. Which is doable if you work really hard and stay focussed. A noble goal I think, but not noble when it is done out of guilt. I have continued to waste my energy pretending that this would be the year that I would join the leagues of happy, beautiful, skinny people when in reality I believe that I am enough in my current state. I know that people aren’t supposed to say that, but that is how I feel and that is what I am saying.

Here’s the secret. I spend all day with people, some fat, some thin, some pretty, some ugly. And I want to tell you that skinny doesn’t aways equal pretty and fat doesn’t always equal ugly. And that sometimes skinny people are more miserable than fat people. It really is a game of roulette and you can’t judge a person by their outsides (this may be the oldest truth around). The fact is that I spend all day with thin beautiful people I don’t want to be any of them. Not because I don’t like them but because I love myself more.

Yes, I am overweight, and no, I don’t have the body of a runway model but I am strong, active and healthy. I am happy, I live a vibrant, creative life.  I swim, I ride my bike, I walk my dogs and I stand all day at work in two inch heels. I dress well, I smell nice and I enjoy going to the lake and am not ashamed to wear a swimsuit. I have lost so many of my friends on the path to becoming happy and thin and they have all turned into food-crazed, calorie-counting weirdoes who go out for dinner and whine about not being able to eat anything. They have forgotten that the goal for life should be healthy and balanced and not a starve-yourself-thin-like-your-life-depends-on-it way of thinking. In fact most people are more likely to develop crippling eating disorders after they have experienced dramatic weight loss than before losing weight.

Should we be making choices based on health and out of care for our bodies? Yes. Could I stand to make a few more healthy choices in my daily life? Absolutely. But what is wrong with loving the body that I am in? If I don’t like myself now then I will never like myself at 125 pounds and I will hate myself even more when I have gained any of that weight back due to lack or focus or out of control hormones or childbirth or old age.

My whole point is that not every “fat” person out there wants to be a skinnie-minnie and that is okay. We are all an individual set of DNA and personalities and to line us all up and judge us by one standard is futile and just plain silly. If I love my body, let me love my body. Everybody has flaws and it’s time to get over it. Stop reacting out of guilt and letting other people tell you how to live your life. This life to too short to waste it on what other people expect from you.

PS- A few years back I read an article in the newspaper about a university in the states that conducted a study on weight and its effect on relationships. The study found that men were happier and more secure in their relationships with overweight women than in their relationships with average or underweight women.

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the problem with this app

I don’t mean to be a hater. But sometimes things just make me roll my eyes in anger. Like this app for example. There I was just minding my own business, checking in on the goings on of the day for my pals on facebook when this pops up on my news feed. This app is a guaranteed photo editor that lets you “fix” your face so that you look like a magazine model. I don’t know about you but I have noticed that magazine models look kind of the same these days. They all have airbrushed skin, whitened teeth, skimmed waists and elongated legs and torsos. They are all interchangeable and all very flat. They are posed in ways that make little sense and tell me little about their stories, how they have fought for where they are and the make of their character. They are blank canvases made to look like each other and distorted from their original shape. Where are their laugh lines from family gatherings in back yards? Where are their freckles from days at the beach spent in the company of wonderful girlfriends? Where are the scars from funny adventures and pain conquered?

My point is, that all of our imperfections tell our stories. And some stories are funny and some are hard, but they tell of the sum of who we are. They tell of our thirst for adventure and our resolution to rise to the occasion. They tell of our fights and victories, of our discoveries and losses. To cover them up is to lose touch with who we are, it is to forget what brought us to this point.

Only China dolls have porcelain skin, and they are often kept behind glass. To be admired but never engaged with. You are worth so much more than that. Enjoy your imperfect photos, those are usually the ones that tell the best stories. You don’t want to look back at your photos and not recognize yourself.

That would be worst of all.

PS- Who said your face needed fixing anyway?