Sea of Love

Hello again!

Long time, no talk. I've missed you guys!

Today I'd like to talk self-image. I know, I know. But hear me out. I’m not just talking physically here, I mean you entire self. Your heart, your body, your mind. You.

Before I dive in, let me give you a quick back story on a corner of my upbringing (it’s relevant, promise): my Mom was a single mother most of my childhood, and for the first several years it was just my Mom, me, and my younger brother. She worked her butt off to provide the very best life she could for us, and most of the time that looked like making sure we didn’t go without anything the other kids did have. Most days she was exhausted, worn out, and yet still managed to spread this overwhelming love on us,  every single day. All we ever saw was a gentle smile, breakfast in the morning and dinner on the table each night. My Mom is my hero.

Okay. Still with me? Good.

My Mom raised me in an environment where individuality and creativity were encouraged above everything else. It seemed almost nightly dinner would be served with a homemade batch of body positivity with some self-love for dessert. A safe place where I could try new things without feeling judged or embarrassed; she gave me the tools to constantly administer self-love and acceptance. I didn’t grow up insecure or ashamed of myself or body because she taught me not to be. As someone who has had severe depression and anxiety since I was a small child these are tools that I have been extremely grateful to have learned from her. Change was okay. Growing up or out or looking or feeling different than I did even yesterday was okay. Any time a lingering thought would present itself and negativity would try and grow, she’d squash it into oblivion with a comment like “Are you a damn fool? Look at yourself. Look at how beautiful you are. How will anyone be able to know your beauty if you won’t accept it yourself?” I was taught that different isn’t just acceptable it’s expected. This wasn’t always easy and definitely felt like I was swimming against the current sometimes, and yet I grew to not only understand what it means to love myself but to also enjoy that never ending process.

God made you by His design and in His image (check out Genesis 1:27). Now hear me out, if you struggle with self-image or insecurities this post is not to shame you or make you feel alone for having those thoughts. Rather, I am saying that whether you are a woman, man, wife, husband, friend, single, or in a relationship. You are beautiful. And even on the days that you don’t love yourself, God does. Always. He looks at what you consider imperfect, ugly, embarrassing, and He goes “I made that”. It is absolutely okay to have bad days. To get frustrated with insecurities or to feel self-conscious. Those feelings are what make you human. But let the authority of the Father and His never ending admiration and appreciation for every inch of you to condemn those thoughts. Let His view of you mold your own.

Psalm 139:13-15:
13
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

If I learned anything from my Mom regarding self-image, it’s that self-image has a direct relationship with our hearts. When you love yourself, you are in turn able to extend that love to others. Self-acceptance doesn’t start with physicality, it is not defined by your physical being or what is reflected in the mirror. Self-acceptance is all inclusive: body, thought, heart, your quirks, your mistakes and your struggles. Accept that all of this is you, and it’s the only you that you’ve got. Go easy on yourself. I encourage you to love on yourself so that you can accept the love of those around you, and give genuine love in return.

This all starts on an individual level. Love and accept yourself. Accept that maybe perhaps what you have to offer and put into this world is of value. Not due to any comparisons to what someone else is doing, but because it is something only you can provide. That is worthy. That will always be of the utmost value. Our diversity is what keeps us evolving, growing, and persisting on. God didn’t create us all to be the same. There’s a reason we’re different.

You are so beautiful and strong amongst your imperfections, friend, not in spite of them. Allow the love you have for yourself to be stronger than your insecurities. No bad days, just you days. The fact of the matter is, you shine regardless of whether or not you’re feeling yourself today. You have a heavenly Father that created you just as you are, and in His image. That fact alone removes all doubt in the matter. YOU are ALWAYS shining.

You are unique, you are cherished, and you are loved. Some days this is hard to accept, believe me I know it, but even on those days it is still the truth.

Here are some helpful tips on overcoming the stormy days that I’ve stumbled on in the past that have really impacted me:

-sticky note it!

This is one of my favorites. Go to the mirror you use most and write encouraging and positive affirmations to yourself, so that whenever you are getting ready instead of letting negativity take over, you are forced to read and see (and remind yourself) of how beautiful you are! Inside and out. I find doing this in front of the mirror is a major game changer, as it forces me to confront myself straight on.

-get those gears going!

If there is something out there you love to do and feel you excel at (playing an instrument, photography, writing, videography, anything really!) do that thing! I kid you not; doing something that brings you joy, that brings you to a comfortable place of familiarity can boost so many endorphins guys. It’s that secret weapon in the corner that whispers “Hey! I got this! Look how good I am at this thing!”

-accept the good and the bad

Loving who you are entirely does not mean you think you’re perfect or flawless. Self-acceptance doesn’t mean perfection. It means just that: acceptance. God didn’t create us to be perfect, He created us in His image, which means we are exactly who we are supposed to be. Inside and out. Using that as the initial stepping stone into self-acceptance was essential for me! We are human and there are imperfections. Accept that you will fail, and you will make mistakes. And love yourself amongst those times as well. Even amongst your failures, God loves you. And He created you knowing that you will fail.

-embrace the compliments

I don’t know about you, but accepting compliments used to be one of the most awkward things for me. It had nothing to do with the person or the compliment and everything to do with me. I’d always find myself thinking, “That was so nice! Crap, now how do I respond? Thank you? I guess? Is that right or does that make me cocky?” Wrong and wrong again! You ARE worthy of compliments! Your thoughts are valuable, your opinion is appreciated, and your smile is contagious! Accepting those things when others see your spirit is absolutely okay and is actually healthy for you.

Let me know if any of these help or strike a chord in you, if you’ve tried them already before, or if you have suggestions of your own! And as always, I am just an email away and would love to talk, listen, or pray for you.

xo

Blooming Hearts

It’s no secret that I am a lover of plants. Growing up I preferred to spend my time in the trees instead of on the earth below, reading and writing until the mosquitoes would pressure me back indoors. My family used to buy me empty hardcover books that I would spend hours writing stories in, adding my own illustrations and fine details. All whilst leaning back in my tree, not a care in the world and so many words to share. I’ve always felt like Alice in Wonderland in that way. Curious and yet, content.

Now into adulthood, even though I spend less time in trees and more time on the ground, what hasn’t changed is the fact that I am always writing and I love being surrounded by green! There is so much to love about having your own plants. The variety, the choices, the air quality, finding new nurseries to go to. It’s all so exciting and fun! Truly though, I think the most rewarding part for me has got to be how close it makes me feel to Jesus. I have a passionate heart and a vibrant thirst for life, and sometimes this creates a lack of patience for the slow lane. Truth is, I don’t have a whole ton of patience at all, and if you’ve had plants you know how patient you have to be sometimes before you can see any difference in those babies. But then somehow and out of nowhere, that changes. One seemingly random morning after you’ve grabbed your cup of coffee and wiped the sleep from your eyes you look over and see a flower start to bloom or a bud start to sprout and your heart kind of skips a beat; whatever else is going on kind of halts. It’s magic. Well, no, it’s not magic. But it is Jesus.

I’ve been praying the past few months for God to meet me; to teach my impatient heart rest, to teach me to see the beauty of this earth as He does, not in a measurement of time but in a measurement of awe alone. And while I’ve been planting for a while, I have been paying more attention lately to the actual actions that are caring for each plant. Taking the time to water them and make sure each one is positioned just right for the sun to reach them with ease. I take care of my plants, and eventually they bloom. They grow. It’s not about the time it takes or how long it’s been or what I’m doing wrong. It is neither fast nor slow. It just is. And even though I might not see it or feel it, they’re growing. And that is beautiful.

I know I’ve said this before, but I love having plants because they remind me that I’m growing as well. Just like Jesus is expanding their roots, pushing them to grow and reach for the sky, aiding them in their bloom when the timing is just right. And not my just right, but His just right. Jesus is doing the same in me. And I may not feel it, and I may not notice it, but it’s happening. I am always growing. And He waters me, and places me just right in the sun, and He watches me grow. Just as He does everyone and everything else. When you trust in the Lord it doesn’t matter how fast or how slow things are happening. Because it is all happening in His time, which is due time. All you need to do is be willing to grow. It’s almost like you can hear God whispering, “now watch as you bloom”.

Jesus already knows what you’re struggling with. He knows what keeps you up at night, what is causing those knots in your stomach, and ultimately what is keeping you from living the life He has planned for you. Fear is not of the Spirit. Fear and anxiety start from whispers of the enemy, and work to distract your heart from Jesus. But Christ is well aware of exactly what you’re going through and everything that is storming in your heart. And He’s catching your tears. He’s crying with you. He is both the comfort and the peace. With Jesus, you don’t have to worry anymore. You don’t have to rush, you don’t have to stress. God only places before you what He knows you can handle. He doesn’t promise a life without struggle but He promises a way through the struggle. So please, friends, lean into Him. When you are scared, pray. When you are weak, listen. Allow yourself to be loved and cherished by the one who created you, by the one who knows you. Jesus is waiting for you to give Him your aches, your fears, your pain. To give up the things you were never meant to endure or experience. Allow the Holy Spirit to ignite your growth and live the life He has planned for you.
-
xo

 Five verses on growth & trusting Jesus:

Isaiah 40:8

"The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of the Lord stands forever.

Psalm 119:114

"You're m place of quiet retreat, I wait for your word to renew me."

Proverbs 3:5-6

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him

and He shall direct your paths."

2 Kings 20:5

"I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears.

Behold,

I will heal you."

1 Corinthians 3:7

"So neither the one who plants  

nor the one who waters is anything,

but only God, who makes things grow."

Hope In The Madness

I still have sad days.

Sometimes I lose focus. I look with my eyes both at the world around me and within me and despite constantly blinking to adjust my clarity I can’t seem to register what it is I’m doing. Blurry, like a lonesome morning in January that started too early, those moments when it’s cold and the rest of the world hasn’t woken up yet. Foggy. My thoughts are deceiving, I try to grasp something real and ignore what I know to be true as it exits my brain and tickles down my spine, the threads of my reality unraveling, “what is this?”

Breathe.

Slow down.

It all becomes too much too fast, as if I'm stuck on life's merry-go-round and someone hit the fast forward button. All of a sudden I'm wondering how I've made it this far without breaking. To be forever caged in something as fragile as the body of a human being, the human heart, my body and spirit, my mind and soul. Sometimes it takes everything in me just to get out of bed, and as I start to wonder why this is or what's happening to me the answer presents itself. Time and time again.

My anxiety and my depression are a part of me. Not in a ball and chain sort of way, but in a "that's my middle name" sort of way. Like the signature prints on each of my finger tips or the birth mark on my rib cage. It is part of who I am. They have shaped my fears, and navigated my growth. That is not to say that I am grateful for these things, the fears and the darkness that they embody and possess. Too many nights have been spent curled into a ball, crying with such a force that my eyes become swollen shut at a pain so unbearable it causes me to turn on my own body and hurt myself, a pain that has seemingly no cause or trigger but a passionate hunger for destruction. My destruction. My anxiety was not something that could be cured by a pill or mastered on a sofa but something that was constantly surrounding me, reminding me, calling me. And despite valiant efforts to escape, and believe me I tried, you cannot run from yourself. That fact only fueled my anxiety. How can I try and fix myself when it is me that is broken?

The fact of the matter is, you can't. And while it may sound simple, it took me a whole lot of pain and a lot of sleepless nights to realize that.  I was a teenager. Crying in my bed, begging for it to stop. For the pain to stop. To not feel so alone anymore. Wondering what I had ever done to feel this way, why I felt nothing and seemingly everything all at once. Wondering why I was so overwhelmed, as if I was on the brink of a breakdown every second of every day, trying to keep it together and not knowing why I was on edge in the first place but being terrified to let that fear go and end up free falling. Holding onto guilt from mistakes past and afraid of repeating them, afraid of relying on myself and not being strong enough, unable to decipher my emotions and my truth, my brain and my heart. I was tired of losing the fight against myself. I was tired of being alone. I knew Jesus, I was very familiar with Him and I had grown up surrounded by people who loved and worshipped Him. I was taught at a young age that my relationship with Christ would be my own choice, nothing would be shoved down my throat or pressured upon me, because that's not what Jesus is about. It wasn't until that very night that I reached out to Him in my own doing, by my own choice, that I finally began to understand.

I got out of bed one night, a night like so many before, and fell to my knees crying out to Him,

"Jesus, please hear me, I call out to you. Please help me. God I can't do this alone anymore. Spirit please enter my heart, I want to live my life for you, to serve you. I can't do this alone anymore. I can't be alone anymore."

And immediately my tears changed. I continued to cry but it came from a place in my heart I had not yet explored, a foreign land to me entirely and yet it was there all along. He was there all along. Waiting, watching, loving, and caring for me. The reason I hadn’t fallen off of that cliff edge. I felt His overpowering love, His unconditional love shower over me, and from my knees I laid down on the ground and I wept. I wept because my burden was gone. My pain was gone. And my mind was quiet.

Jesus is the refuge for the lost, the comfort and the peace. And while my anxiety is a part of me, and my depression is a part of me, it does not rule me. It does not define me. I will never have to cry alone or feel lost again because I know my Savior is with me always. I do not need to fear tomorrow because my tomorrow is in His hands.

That's Jesus. He takes us at our dirtiest, our craziest, and our most shameful. When we are scared and afraid. And He redeems. He picks you up out of your misery, out of your mess, and reminds you of who you are. A human being, yes, but through Christ so much more! A child of God, the reason for the cross and the ultimate sacrifice, so that we may be forgiven and bask in the freedom that showers the earth every second of every day. Oh you are so much more than just a human being you are loved by a God that is as present as the air that you breathe as you read these words, a God that is constantly rooting for you during gray skies and sunny, a God that loves every single inch of you. A God who was there when you were first conceived and has never, not for a single second, left your side. A God that created you in His image, He who designed things as seemingly simple as your laugh to things as complex and overwhelming as the entire timeline of your life. And He cherishes you. The Creator of all of the heavens and the earth, all that you see and do, and He created you. And He chooses you. Oh you are so much more than a human being, you are His beloved.

Jesus wants to take your burdens and rid you of them. He is waiting to show you His unconditional love. Because of Christ you are forgiven and you can have forgiveness. Then, now, and tomorrow. He is with you now and forever, and He loves you in ways you or I can’t even comprehend. Please, friends, rest in His arms. Rest in His peace.
-
xo

Five verses on overcoming anxiety & giving your burdens to Jesus:

Phillipians 4:6

        "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation,

         by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,

         present your requests to God."

Isaiah 41:10

"So do not fear, for I am with you;

do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

I will uphold you with my righteous."

Psalm 94:19

"In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul."

Proverbs 3:5

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own

understanding; in all your ways submit to Him,

and He will make your paths straight."

1 Peter 5:7

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."

Hosea 6:1

"Come, let us return to the Lord.

He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us;

He has injured us but He will bind up our wounds."