Saying goodbye

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post entitled “Baring it all.  It was by far the most read post I have ever written.  Prior to that, on a good day, I had maybe 100 to 150 people read any given post, and after that post, pretty much I am lucky if I even hit 100 (with a few exceptions here and there).

Not that any of this matters really because I genuinely write for myself more than anyone else. It’s my way of decompressing and at times even processing what is happening in the world or in my own life.  Of course, it’s always a bonus when my writing impacts people too.  I want to inspire, impact, and challenge people with my writing, but I know there are many writers out there doing that already and probably doing it much better than me.

What was just shocking to me, and really still is to this day, about that particular post was just how it really struck a chord with my readers. I had people that I hadn’t talked to in a really long time writing me and sharing about how they too had long struggled with finding beauty in how God had made them.  It was a really incredible experience for me, and what I find really ironic is that I have never thought less about a post as I did that one. 

The day I wrote that post it was because I was just DONE with how I had been feeling…done with trying to pretend like I didn’t feel the way I did deep down and done with trying to teach other young girls about good body image when I was in this deep, dark pit myself.  I needed to just get it off my chest.

And I am so glad I did. I found so much freedom with that post.  It was like the chains had been broken, and I had been set free.  This lie had no hold over me because I had suddenly let hundreds of people in on my secret.  It was amazing.

Last week, though, I wrote another post that touched some on the situation in Syria but also just on the prejudices that I think deep down we all have and don’t acknowledge.  You can read it here if you are so inclined.

It was a piece I was really proud of. I wept while writing it, and I felt so fulfilled having had the opportunity to speak a truth that I don’t think is always readily accepted nor appreciated even.  But hardly anyone even read it.  It was one of the least read posts I have ever written, and to be honest, I was starting to get really upset by that. It wasn’t so much that I needed approval or praise of others.  It also wasn’t that I only find value in writing when others also applaud it. 

No, it was none of those things.  I was upset because I couldn’t quite figure out why a piece on body image was more impacting to people than the refugee crisis that is happening all over the world (Syria, Iraq, Africa, Latin America just to name a few).  Why do people respond more to my confessions of not feeing beautiful or feeling overwhelmed by life more than truly painful and horrific things that are happening in the world? 

I just really wanted to understand.

Feel free to enlighten me if you have any thoughts on this, but here is where I arrived just yesterday.  I think there are probably several reasons, but for time’s sake, I will just name a few.

1.  I think that other people (like Ann Voskamp to name one) are writing way better stuff on the topic.  They are writing better researched and just all the way around better pieces about this, so really I am not adding much to the conversation.

2. I think that by nature we respond to authenticity.  When someone is willing to “bare it all” so to speak and just let us into their dark spaces, we feel freer to do the same too.  Sharing our truth invites others to share their truth too.  So when I wrote that piece about literally never feeling pretty ever in my life, I think that spoke to people.  They thought, “Hey if she can feel that way, its okay that I feel this way too, and it's okay for me to speak out loud for others to hear my truths and struggles too.”  This is good.  Let’s keep being truth tellers.  We empower others when we are willing to come out from behind the masks.

 3. Finally, I think that some of you are just feeling tired of reading about all the pain and suffering.  You know its there.  You feel sad its there, but you feel completely helpless against it.  My post was just one more of many reminding you that life is hard and that we should be more thankful for how we have it…blah, blah, blah.  I so get that sentiment.  I feel exactly like that some days. I want to just bury myself under a blanket with a warm cup of joe and watch back to back episodes of Gilmore Girls.  I want to pretend that the way they live in the idyllic town of Stars Hollow is how everyone lives and that the only bad thing in life is running out of coffee.  I so hear you because this is a struggle for me too.

But as I was doing all this heavy thinking yesterday, I was simultaneously getting ready to leave.  So I was standing in the mirror, only half dressed, blow-drying my hair, and I just kind of had an epiphany.  I was looking at myself and thinking back to how I looked last summer around the time I wrote that famous post on body image.  Honestly, I don’t look a lot different.  I have lost a little bit of weight since then.  I certainly have toned some areas, and I have developed a few better habits, but physically speaking I really look about the same.

So I took a picture. I took a picture because I needed to once again get vulnerable with you guys.  Here I am in just some leggings and an undershirt…it’s the least amount of clothes I will ever wear in a picture that will be posted on the Internet.  There is no filter…it’s just me.

I have a long way to go still.  I am still overweight. I still need to practice better control over my eating habits.  I still make excuses. 

But on the inside I am totally different.  I am not battling like I was last summer.  I feel so much more peace about who I am and how God made me.  I see myself for what I am…a woman that still needs to do some work but is beautiful because she is exactly the way God wanted her to be. 

I was reflecting on that change, and I realized that it happened when I stopped focusing on it.  I started becoming more passionate about other things.  I dove head first into my life here and just trying to invest better and more fully into the people God has placed in my life here in Guatemala.

I started reading more news articles in both Spanish and English so I could be more informed on what was happening in the world, and I started praying about those things and talking about those things in conversations. I started trying to find ways to be a part of the solution instead of a bystander. 

I began reading books that inspired me and challenged me.  Instead of being intimated by the success of others, I started looking to them as an example and asking God to instead show me how He could use my unique gifts instead of wishing I had those of the one next to me. 

And little by little as I started caring more about my tribe and my people as well as the world I am living in, I cared less and less about the fact that I am never going to look good in skinny jeans.  It didn’t matter that I would never be able to rock certain styles because of my curves.  I realized that I found MYSELF more beautiful when I was less focused on my flaws and more focused on how I could be an inspiration to those around me. 

In a phrase…it became way less about me and way more about them.

On the way to caring more about others and truly learning how to love others better and more fully, I found a peace and contentment that I had long been searching for.  I had found freedom when I gave a voice to my fears, but I found joy when I decided that they were no longer important.  When I realized that God could use me to be a blessing to others no matter the size of my pants, I suddenly no longer cared what that size was anyway.

So yesterday I decided that I didn’t care if you don’t feel as moved or impacted by the refugee crisis, abortions, poverty, the breakdown of the family…or whatever else I am passionate about but really isn’t important at all to you.  Your passions may not be mine either.  It doesn’t matter because our journeys are never going to look exactly the same.

But, what I can tell you is that if you are looking for freedom from that inner turmoil and struggle, I suggest that you start looking up and out.  Once you start focusing on others and their needs and just pouring yourself out on their behalf, you find a gift that no self-help book could ever give you. 

You find passion.  You find joy.  You find peace.  You find fulfillment.  You find inspiration.  You find a voice.

I will take passion, joy, peace, fulfillment, inspiration, and a powerful voice over size 4 jeans any day of the week. 

So here’s to saying goodbye to that girl of summer’s past and embracing the woman that I am today…every single beautiful part of the me that God wonderfully made.


It could have been me

The last few weeks have been filled with a bunch of that annoying “life” stuff that I am sure fills many of your days and weeks too.

But, I can honestly say that I am good with that.  The grit in life is what makes the beauty that much more lovely.  I am really fine with taking the bad with the good.

Today, though, I just feel like all of my so-called grit is a joke.  Truly I feel like all of those “troubles” are nothing more than inconveniences. 

Because today the only image I have is of a little boy washed up on shore. 

I see a sweet little boy with a once bright smile, who is only a few months older than my own little boy, lying lifeless on a beach.

Then there is the image of his grief-stricken father, who lost is wife and two boys all in one fated night. 


According to all of the articles I have read on this story so far, this precious little boy’s aunt was working on trying to get him and his family to Canada but their paperwork was denied.  That’s what led to that night and them falling off of an over-crowded ship and drowning while trying to flee war-torn Syria. 

And the thing that is just gnawing at me is I feel like that we in the Western world are now becoming so accustomed to hearing these kinds of stories that we are almost numb.  It seems so far away and so unimaginable, that the picture may be a little heart breaking, but then we move on to talking about how Kanye West wants to run for President in 2020 or whether or not the Pumpkin Spice lattes have come out at Starbucks yet.  Now I love Pumpkin Spice lattes as much as the next person, and last year when they were finally available in Guatemala, I felt like angels were singing when I took that first sip.

The problem isn’t pumpkin spice lattes or pop culture. What is wrong is that little by little I start to care more about those things than the fact that a little boy and his brother and mother died while trying to escape war, death, and destruction in pursuit of freedom.  It is wrong when my thoughts and my conversations are occupied by the frivolous more than by things that matter. 

I feel as if we have become so engrossed in our own pursuits, in our own convictions even, that we have completely stopped the entire process of trying to “walk in another man’s shoes.”

We treat our privilege of being born into a certain family and in a certain country as our right and our right alone.  We begin to think that we did something to earn our spot into luxury and abundance and that by offering it to someone else it somehow threatens our access to it. 

We have stopped being empathetic. 

            Empathy says, “I see you.  You matter to me.  I want to walk with you.”

We have stopped loving.

            Love says, “I won’t stop until we find a way.  I will bear this burden with you.  I will have hope for you when you can’t find the strength to hope any more.”

We have stopped listening.

            A listening ear says, “I don’t understand but I want to.  Teach me.  Help me see the things through your eyes. Come to my table and open your heart to me.”

We have stopped caring.

            The one who cares says, “It’s not enough for me to have this.  I want you to have it too.  You are not alone.  I am in this with you.”

Our world has gotten entirely too small.

And I am just done.  I am done with that.  I can no longer go about my business and pretend that the fact that I am serving orphans and children in crisis in a third-world country is enough.  I have done my duty…leave the rest to someone else. 

I just can’t do that.

Because that little boy could have just as easily been mine…or yours.

You and I need to stop the bull and accept that truth.  You have what you have maybe in part because of hard work but a HUGE part of it is because of where you were born.  It’s a fact. 

And to pretend any different is just a lie.

We can say all we want that our gender, the color of our skin, our family’s socio and economic status, and our country of origin are nothing more than back stories.

We can say that so loud and so often that we begin to convince ourselves of its truth.

But it is a lie.

It is a big, fat, ugly lie.

Your gender, your race, your country, your family’s position in society, and a whole host of other details about your upbringing did and do play a role in your life and your future EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I am a white girl, from a stable, middle class family, in the middle of suburbia in the United States of America.

I went to church on Sundays. I played softball and basketball growing up.  I made good grades in school.  My teachers liked me, and I had a great group of friends.  I went to college.  My parents and the rest of my extended family loved me and always treated me with respect and kindness.

I am who I am today, and I have what I have today in large part because of all of those above-mentioned things. 

Did I work hard? Yes.  Did I struggle sometimes? Of course.

But, I never felt the sting of someone treating me less than because of the color of my skin.

I never knew the hunger pains of not knowing where my next meal was going to come from.

I never experienced the grief and fear of wondering if tonight was the night my house would be raided, or the gang would come and rape me and kidnap me.

I never had to run under the covering of the night towards a freedom in another land.

These are not my realities.

But just because they are not my realities does not make them any less true.

These are true, real life worries, fears, and experiences of people all over this world.

And, it has to stop.

I am pleading with you to help me make it stop.

As I said earlier today on my Facebook page, I don’t really even have the answers.  I do have some ideas that I will be following up this post with soon, but I can’t fix all the ugly and bad.  I can’t and you can’t.

But we can read and learn.  We can love and extend a hand.  We can stop judging and instead start listening.  There are hundreds of people out there doing this way better than me.  They are smarter and wiser and just have a much greater handle on this stuff, so lets start talking to them.  Let’s ask questions.  Let’s start writing letters or opening up are home or volunteering.  JUST DO SOMETHING!

I am just a girl…a mom…a sister…a daughter…a wife…a friend that is saying enough is enough.  I will not continue to pretend that my right to life, liberty, love, food, shelter, and freedom is my right alone.  I will not tell myself the lie that by fighting for others to have this right, I somehow null my own.

Wake up.  Open your eyes.  Open your hearts.  It could have been me or it could have been you.  So let’s stand in the gap for the one that it was and is.


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Some bits and bobbits about this blog...

This blog is mostly just ramblings by yours truly. I talk about my ups and downs being a wife, mother, and missionary in Guatemala. I have a tendency to get off on "soapboxes" as those who love me say but it is my desire that this blog can be a place of encouragement in each of your pilgrimages with Christ. At any moment if this blog becomes more about me than about Christ, than it will be done and please help me stay accountable. To God be all the Glory, Honor, and Power!

Books I am currently reading...

  • Eight Twenty Eight
  • Interrupted
  • The Connected Child
  • This Momentary Marriage
  • Unbroken

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