Friday, December 13, 2013

An explanation.


It's not you. It's me.
Nope, this isn't some happy little Christmasy post. It's actually kind of sad (for me at least). 
It's an explanation. And a goodbye of sorts.

I've had to say goodbye to friends before. Sometimes its a move, someone's dad got a new job in a new city. Sometimes it's going off to college and the gradual process of growing apart. Sometimes it's a fight or an argument. This isn't any of those times. I feel like it would be easier if it was. I feel like it would be easier to say "I'm sorry that you're moving 1000 miles away and that our friendship won't be the same" than to say "I'm sorry, but I can't handle this right now. I'm not strong enough". I've tried several times to get around doing this. I've tried deleting my Facebook. I've tried deleting my Pinterest. But that didn't really help because it didn't get to the root of the problem. The problem was still there, in real life and online, and I had to face it every day.

I know that I can't completely remove all the triggers from my life. Sometimes I think it would be easier if I struggled with drugs or alcohol than with food. At least then I could avoid the thing that triggered me. But no, I have to eat. I have to face my trigger multiple times a day- and there's no way on earth to completely avoid it. I can see a dietitian and a therapist and try to come up with ways to manage the triggers, but that's all I can do- manage them. I can't completely avoid them. To make things harder, we live in a society where weight loss and looking a certain way is praised. We live in a culture the promotes the idea of "skinny"- at all costs. Please know that I don't blame any single one of you for buying into what culture says about beauty. But, I don't have to listen to you promote it.


A year ago, I weighed 20 pounds less than I do now. Looking back on pictures from last Christmas, I look quite scary. In a lot of ways, I'm "better" now. I'm "weight restored"- thanks to two months of drinking Ensure like it was my job. But, I still have a ways to go. I still struggle with the decision of what to eat, how much to eat, and what I should or shouldn't do after I eat. I still have that obsessive little voice in my head telling me that I need to loose weight. I'm not "fully recovered". I don't know that I'll ever be in a place where I'm fully comfortable with how I look and how much I weigh. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to eat "what I want, when I want" without worrying about it. But, I do know that I can keep progressing towards that goal. I can keep fighting with every fiber of my being. Progress, not perfection. But, I've come to the point in my recovery journey that I can now see that surrounding myself with messages of body hatred from culture isn't healthy for me. Sure, some people can buy the latest fashion magazines and read fitness articles and not be affected. Some people can go to the gym and work out and not be obsessed or triggered by it. But, I'm not there yet.

I hope this comes out grace-filled and nonjudgemental, but I'm afraid that it won't be interpreted that way. I've made the decision that I can no longer continue to surround myself with triggering people. If you post (or continually talk about) about weight loss, working out, so-called "healthy eating" or "clean eating", "good food vs. bad food", shaming others for not working out, or anything of that nature, I can not be around you right now. A comment here or there is okay. I can deal with the occasional post. I get that sometimes these topics come up as a natural part of conversation. But if literally everything that you do is discuss these topics, I cannot continue to jeopardize my recovery in the name of friendship.

Would you tell a recovering alcoholic about how you went out drinking the night before?
Would you tell a recovering drug addict about how you occasionally use cocaine?

Some of you are very near and dear to me and this makes me really really sad. But I really really want to stay out of treatment. I want to be able to get a job and have a family of my own and live a life of freedom! I know that there is no way that I can remove all triggers from my life. There are things I can't control (like Facebook filling up my newsfeed with diet and weight loss ads, for example). But for the few things I can control, I have to control them. I have to put myself and my recovery first right now. So if you have been unfollowed or unfriended, if I suddenly stop responding to your messages, please know that I still love you. I still wish the best for you.
I hope that someday you'll realize that you are so very worthy and you're not made more or less worthy based on a number on a scale.

I hope that someday you'll see your beauty and you'll understand the idea of health at every size. 
I hope that someday you'll know that being skinny won't solve all your problems and being at a healthy weight (or even overweight) isn't the cause of all of your problems.
I'm sorry.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

nope. don't want to hear it.

I feel like I'm surrounded by a world of dieting and fitness.
It's sickening really. It's sick what people will do to their bodies in order to achieve the ideal.

How many calories are in that?
Oh my God, I just ate two cookies. I feel so guilty.
I skipped my workout this morning and I think I'm going to gain five pounds.
Oh, I can't eat there. Their fat content is too high, you know?
I like salad. Really. I don't like dressing.
Skipping breakfast is a great way to cut calories.
I can't have desert. I've eaten too much already.
I'm so happy! I've almost lost 10 pounds...this week!
I work out three times a day.
You know it's a good workout when you puke.
I really shouldn't eat that.
That food is bad for you.

You know, if I said half of these things, I'd be called out for engaging in disordered behaviors. But, because it's in the name of dieting and good health and fitness, it's somehow...okay (No one seems to notice that the word DIE is in DIET).It's somehow okay for someone who is "technically" overweight or close to it (I don't totally trust BMI scales, I've been lectured far too much about them. It's about HEALTH guys, not a number) to try and subsist on the caloric requirements of a six year old. 1200 calories may be the "magic number" that MyFitnessPal tells you, but that doesn't mean that it's enough for your body to survive on for the long term.

There are no good foods or bad foods...it's food, guys.
Food isn't clean or dirty (unless it falls in a mud puddle)...it's food, guys.
(Sidenote: I read this article last week, and you ought to take a look at it, too)

I feel like I've spent the last year being told  that "no one food will make you fat" and that "it takes 3500 calories ON TOP OF WHAT YOUR BODY NEEDS to gain one pound". Guys, I've spent thousands of dollars...thousands of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama's dollars...learning this, and your posts on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and Google News make me forget. I get distracted and side tracked and it's toxic. It's toxic to read these.

NO, I don't want to know how to burn 100 calories in 10 minutes.
NO, I don't want to know how you can turn a banana into "ice cream" or zuchinni into "spaghetti".
NO, I don't need to read about the new meal replacement shake you've discovered.
And NO, I really really don't want to hear about how you lost 25 pounds in 2 days on NutriSystem.

Sidenote: it doesn't really work...you can restrict and exercise and do all that nonsense, but all you'll end up with is lost hair, a slowed metabolism, and a bill for rehab. been there, done that.

Eating should be about nourishing and feeding our bodies.
Exercise should be about helping our bodies grow strong.

Listen. I'm not trying to say that everyone who diets or works out has an eating disorder. Please don't take this post that way. Eating disorders are serious, psychological illnesses. But, from one gal to another- quit the diet talk. It's okay to try to eat healthy and give your body what it wants.
It's okay to lose weight if it's recommended by a doctor for health reasons. 
It's okay to eat salad and drink green smoothies and work out daily. 
But don't let it become an obsession. Recognize that yes, sometimes your body wants salad- but sometimes your body wants a cookie! Sometimes your body wants to run five miles, but sometimes your body wants to rest. Stop the obsession. Stop the compulsions. It's okay to indulge every once in awhile. It's okay to take a break. It's not going to kill you to eat a cookie (unless it's a peanut butter cookie and you're deathly allergic to peanuts...then I'd avoid that one).

It's part of finding free. Getting free from the diet mentality that controls and consumes us. Getting free from the self hatred and the body hate. EMBRACE WHO YOU ARE. We're not all meant to be skinny...but some of us are. We're not all meant to be fitness fanatics...but some of us are. We're not all meant to be short or tall or whatever. We're meant to reflect the image of God- and image that comes from within, from the heart. Rather than obsessing about the shell, let's look at the heart.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Christmas Bucket List


I feel rather silly doing a Christmas Bucket List. I mean, I don't have kids, so it's not like I have an endless list of Christmassy things to do with them- like going to see Santa! There's a few special Christmas traditions that my family has (like decorating our tree, going to see the Christmas lights, going to Christmas Eve service) that I really enjoy, but as I get older, I really want to start creating memories and traditions for myself. In this awkward stage of life, I CAN still create traditions. Yes, Christmas is about Jesus and family and all that- but it can also be about me exploring what holidays look like as a big girl! And that? That's exciting!
  1. Bake Christmas cookies.
  2. Watch all my favorite Christmas movies (Eloise at Christmastime, Charlie Brown, typical ABC Family fare)...and then some!
  3. Set up my Christmas tree in my apartment.
  4. Make a Christmas wreath.
  5. Decorate my mantle (with stocking!)
  6. Move Charlie in.
  7. Read Ann Voskamp's The Greatest Gift.
  8. Find and buy a nativity set! 
  9. Make an ornament for my tree.
  10. Bake a meal- a real one (not including chicken fingers!)- and invite someone over!
  11. Drink lots of hot chocolate.
  12. Make a Christmas playlist- and play it all season long!
  13. Wrap cute presents for the family.
  14. Try the whole gingerbread house making again.
  15. Get a soy Gingerbread Steamer at Starbucks!
What's on your Christmas bucket list? Any fun exciting things I need to add to mine? 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Community

Ladies (and Dad), we were created for community.
We were created for community. Let that sink in for a moment.

A lot of the time, I think of myself as an island. I think "Oh, I can do this myself" or I think "I don't need help/want help/Nobody really will want to help". But, in reality- this isn't true. We need each other.  Why would we be given the body of Christ- the church- if we didn't NEED this community? If we could all do this on our own- why would we need the church? Why would the church exist? Why would Jesus have recruited disciples?

I'm reading a wonderful book called Do You Think I'm Beautiful by Angela Thomas. In her book, she writes,
I can assure you that the journey should be shared. Moses' arms were held up in his weakness. Paul's letters reflect a strength that came from knowing other believers shared his journey. You and I have been given to the body of Christ so that they may be the arms of God to hold us, the feet of God to guide us, and the heart of God to love us.
I don't know about you, but this speaks volumes to me. The body of Christ was created to be God to us. I think so often we put ourselves in that spotlight role- of being Christ to the world. But, we have to also remember that God gave US the body of Christ, too! There are people out there that want to help you, that want to guide you, that are called to love you. When we are weak, HE IS STRONG. He strengthens us through other believers- by being a part of community.

This past week, I've really begun to see how much being a part of a community can strengthen my faith. I've started going to a new church (that I really like!!) that seems to fit my current needs better than the church I grew up in. "My church"- as I like to call it- will always hold a special place in my heart. But, I've really become convicted that I need to find a church home of my own- a place that I can blossom and grow into a spiritually mature woman of God.  A place where I can find community with people of my own age and life circumstance. This is a really hard, really awkward process. Like really hard. But since going to church on Sunday, I've joined two small groups. Two very different groups that both provide me with community- a community that I've been longing for. I've been praying for a group of women that would mentor me and guide me- since forever ago. And guys, I've found it. I've found the place of community where the body of Christ can fully display all it's glory and splendor. I've found other believers to "share the journey" with- and I'm so thankful for it.

For so long, I've thought I could do this God thing on my own. But I'm realizing that I was created for so much more than the island life. I was created for community- and you are too.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

#wiww: october 2

pleated poppy


I decided it might be fun to jump back on the What I Wore Wednesday train! Now that I have a place with a full length mirror, it makes things a lot easier. (Note, the room looks empty because it's my "spare" bedroom- but it's soon to be Charlie's room!). Here we go!

Sunday (after church)
Tank from TJ Maxx, Leggings by UnderArmor
 Monday
Shirt-Thrifted, Leggings from Kohls (on sale for $4.99!)
 Tuesday
Shirt-Thrifted, Maxi Skirt-Target
 Wednesday
Sweatshirt and pants- Thrifted
I look like a bum today, but that's okay, because I'm spending the entire day (once I get done here) studying for the MAT. I'm super stressed out about it and I'm taking it TOMORROW!! I keep reassuring myself that it will all work out, but getting into grad school is quite stressful. When I applied to Alabama for social work, I didn't have any tests to take, but now that I'm trying to go counseling somewhere in Montgomery- it seems like they all require the GRE or the MAT. So, I'm just studying and taking practice tests and praying for the best!

{Edit: Since I have therapy this afternoon and church tonight, I figured that I might actually get dressed. So, here's Wednesday afternoon!}
Wednesday Afternoon
Shirt: Thrifted, Pants: Kohls

Monday, September 30, 2013

I know

I don't know. I don't know. I don't know what you're doing, but I know who you are.

These words stuck with me on my way home tonight. I'm at a place in my life that I don't really know what God is doing. I know that I have a place to lay my head at night. I know that I have a family that loves me. But, I'm 23 years old- unmarried, not in school, no job. It's hard not to feel like a failure sometimes. While I know that I needed to seek treatment nine months ago, it put some important things to the side- like finding a job or grad school. While I know it was necessary for my physical, emotional, and spiritual health-- it's hard looking back.

I feel so lost and confused...I don't know who I am anymore. My identity is in shambles. The rock I built my life upon- the pursuit of perfection- has shattered. I am in a spiritually dry desert right now. I pray and I cry out to God, but as hard as I try- I can't hear that voice anymore. I try going to church, but I end up having to leave due to anxiety and panic attacks. The place I once felt most at home and most at peace scares me. I know that it's the devil trying to attack. I know that this isn't of God. But it is so hard for me right now. I'm scared. I'm like a lost little girl that doesn't know where she's going, where she's being led. But I'm holding on. I'm holding on to the hand of God, just like I used to hang on to my Daddy's finger. Just like I trusted him then, I'm trusting God now.

Even in this time of darkness, I know who God is. I know that he is faithful. I know that he is true. I know that he is powerful. I know that he fights my battles for me. I know all of this because the Bible tells me so and I believe it. So even when I'm worried about grad school (if I'll get in, the entrance exam, etc) or living on my own, or recovery, or going to church, or whatever...I'm going to keep going. I'm going to keep trying. Even when it doesn't work one time, I'm going to try again. Even when my prayers for healing from this awful disorder seem to not be heard, I'm going to keep praying. Even when I have to go home from church for the thousandth time, I'm going to go back the next Sunday and try again. Grant me patience, please. It's a hard process I'm going through. But, even though I don't know the next breath I'll take or the next move I'll make...I know who God is.

Friday, September 13, 2013

life is better than skinny feels.

It started with this.
Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.


Can I just tell you that that is a big fat lie?
So much tastes better than being skinny. 

I'm inviting a little controversy over to the blog today. You see, I'm tired. Tired of seeing "fitspo" posted all over my Pinterest account. I'm tired of looking to find recipes...and finding half naked girls that just make me feel inferior. I'm tired of this being viewed as "okay". I'm tired of this being encouraged. I truly believe that this whole "fitspo" thing is just the new form of "thinspo"- which is really just the girls' version of pornography. Yes, I just said that. 

Thinspo- Short for thinspiration. Often used by the pro-ana (pro-anorexia) and pro-mia (pro-bulimia) groups as inspiration for crazy diets, exercise routines, and purging behaviors.

Fitspo- Short for fitspiration. The new, more acceptable form of thinspo- that still encourages some of the same destructive behaviors- but especially focuses on "clean eating" and excessive exercising.


Both of these can be horribly destructive. It's awfully hard to put these pictures on my blog. I don't want you to see them. But, I want you to know what is out there. I want you to know what to stay away from. I want you to know that there is a life better for you than all of this. There is a God that loves you the way that you are and you don't have to be pretty or fit or skinny for him to like you and accept you. There's so much more to life than restricting. Limiting yourself to 1200 calories a day is considered a starvation diet. 1200 calories is what a six year old girl needs to survive. Think about how much bigger you are than six year old you, how much taller you are. Would you deprive her the calories she needs so that her body will function? Think about how many more things your body does now. You know what happens when your body goes into starvation mode? Let me tell you.

Your body gets tired. You want to sleep all the time. Your hair starts falling out, which can be really weird if you share a shower with your two brothers and they wonder why the drain keeps getting clogged. You'll start feeling cold all the time. You will feel faint, like you are going to pass out- and you just might. Your heart will slow down. If your a girl, you might lose your period. Your digestive system will slow down and try to hang onto every calorie it can. Forget about being strong and working out- you'll be too weak for that. Mentally, you won't be able to think as well. Your work and school will suffer. Heart and brain function will be compromised. If you starve yourself long enough- death may occur. It's not a fun thing. I can tell you this from first hand experience. Anorexia is a horrible, horrible disease. You may think that you're just cutting back or dieting, but messing around with starvation diets is a dangerous game to play. Thinspo is just one aspect of the pro-ana culture.



Fitspo comes out of this culture. It's a new, more acceptable form of thinspo, like orthorexia is a new, more acceptable form of anorexia. Orthorexia is "characterized by an extreme or excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthful." It often involves excessive exercise, pushing the body to levels of exhaustion. Part of it is the idea of "clean eating". Since when was food "dirty"? If it falls on the floor in a pile of mud, maybe it's dirty. But, a food is not dirty because it has sugar or carbs. Your body needs sugar and carbs. The biggest portion of the Food Pyramid is grains- that's carbs! Your body needs carbs. Can I just say that one more time? Your body needs carbs. Depriving your body of foods that aren't clean and healthful is an eating disordered behavior. Working out all the time to "get skinny" isn't healthy either. Athletica nervosa, anyone? You can call it "obsessed" or "dedicated"- but that doesn't mean that it's good for you. Yes, exercise can be good for you. But, there's a limit. If you're "puking, fainting, or dying"- you are probably working your body too hard. Listen to the signals that your body is sending. Is it saying to stop? Then STOP!


The first image in the post is a famous pro-ana post. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. Ashamedly, that was one of my mottos during my eating disorder. But, I hope you can see that skinny isn't all it's cracked up to be if you are starving yourself to get there. I'd like to end by saying that alot of things taste as good as "fit feels". Carrots and lettuce and grilled chicken are good- but that doesn't mean that you can't indulge in a cupcake or brownie every once in awhile. Fried chicken won't kill you. Pasta won't make you gain 10 pounds. Life is more than being skinny or fit. Life is better than fit feels. Living and breathing is better than skinny feels. Being able to go out with friends. Being able to eat in public. Not feeling like you need to throw up because you ate carbs. Being able to live life and enjoy life is SO MUCH BETTER than "skinny" or "fit". 

Please don't degrade yourself because you see images of skinny, photoshopped women saying that you don't need to eat that or that you need to run 10 miles a day. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by a Daddy in heaven that loves you. Your Abba Father made you just the way you are and he loves you just the way you are. Your body is a temple. Love that temple. Love that body. Respect that temple. Respect that body. Remember that you are wonderfully made- being skinny and/or fit doesn't change anything. Life is better than skinny feels. 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Women of the Bible: Eve

I'm currently making my way through a semi-homemade study on women in the Bible. There's so many ladies in this great big book, and I want to know more about them. I'm using some of the She Reads Truth plans (past and present) to guide me through, but I'm adding some to the study (more on the history and what the bible says, in addition to modern day application) and adding some women that they haven't gotten to yet.

Today I'm studying Eve. Things seemed so great when she started out. I mean, she was the "first first lady!" She was made and created to be Adam's helper. Genesis 2:23 has Adam praising God for making Eve because "At last! This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!" She lived in the Garden of Eden, a beautiful wonderful home, and she was not ashamed. But then something happened. A serpent enters the story. He convinces her of all of these lies. She sees the fruit that she is offered and she thinks that it is good. So, she eats of it. And with that- sin enters the world. As punishment, her and all women throughout history will have pain during childbearing and they shall be ruled over by their husband. How did things go from so good to so bad so quick?

Here's the thing: We KNOW truth and we live it but the lies get so loud. We know what is good and pure and right and God-loving and obedient. We know it. It's in our hearts. It's in the Bible. But somehow we get tired. We get weary. We get confused. We get angry. Then we bite and we take the bait- just like Eve. I know that when I'm tired, I don't make very good decisions. It's easier to give in. It's easier to believe the lie. The lie seems so loud and we feel so powerless.

  • What are some lies that you are hearing?
  • How are you responding?
I like to fire back to these lies with scripture. I am far from powerful on my own, but with the sword of truth- I can fight a battle like a mighty warrior! For example, when I'm feeling down on myself- like I'm worthless, or not pretty enough, or not good enough, here's some verses I look at so that I can fight Satan with them:


1. God loves me for who I am on the inside, not the outside. 
1 Samuel 16:7 ESV- But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

2. My body is a temple of God and I should respect it.
1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV - Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?

3. I was dreamed up in the mind of God long before the day of my birth. He formed me and calls me wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:13-16 ESV- For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

4. I am created in the image of God and he calls me good.
Genesis 1:27 ESV- So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

5. God desires me. He is enthralled by my beauty!
Psalm 45:11 ESV- And the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him.

6. I am enough.
2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV- But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

7. I am a glorious princess.
Psalm 45:13 ESV- All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold.

So, what can you do to "fire back"? What can you do to combat the lies that are thrown at you daily, hourly? One of the things that I've learned in recovery is to take everything one day at a time. Sometimes it's more like one hour at a time, one minute at a time, one meal at a time. But I can do it, even if it's "just for today". Just for today, I'm going to fire back with scripture. Just for today, I can do this one more time. Just for today, I can drown out the lies. Just for today. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

life update

I guess that I kind of owe you all a general life update. I didn't really stick to my self imposed sabbatical, but that's okay. I didn't want to be legalistic and some circumstances changed. So, here's what I've been up to...

*I've been doing some writing for Yahoo Voices recently and one of my pieces just got published/approved! I know that it's kind of silly, but it means a lot to me. :) You can go here to read about five things that you shouldn't tell to someone with an eating disorder.

*I'm doing some design work again! You can go here to my shop to purchase printables and blog designs! Some of the printables are ones that I have previously offered for free on my blog, but in a few days, they will only be available in the shop! Also, I am loving the blog designs that I'm putting together. Here's one that I put up last night.


[Update: Use the code "findingfree" to get 20% off your order!]

*I'm not going to grad school at Alabama this fall anymore. :( 
I decided that I'm really just not ready to move away/I still need my treatment team/I'm really not sure that I want to be a social worker. So I'm looking into a counseling program for next Spring here at home and I'm also looking into getting a part time job of some sort. It's really frustrating right now, but I know that God has a plan for my life. He's taken me this far and he will continue to walk beside me now and into the future.
And that's my life right now! :)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summer Playlist #2


Happy Songs
1. Overcomer- Mandisa
2. Beautiful- Ben Rector (free on iTunes right now!)
3. True Things- JJ Heller

Worship
4. Hurricane- Natalie Grant
5. Forever and a Day- Bethel Worship
6. Dark But Lovely- Sarah Edwards (background song in the video)

Guilty Pleasures (Yes, I'm totally a 13 year old girl)
7. Cups (When I'm Gone)- Pitch Perfect
8. Neon Lights- Demi Lovato
9. Come and Get It- Selena Gomez

Saturday, July 13, 2013

a big, ugly green monster

I've avoided writing on the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman skirmish for awhile. I don't want to be political and I don't want to get into the case. But, regardless of what people "say"- this case has become about race. As a society, we've done that. We have created an ugly vicious monster. And it hurts me. It breaks my heart. It breaks my heart that so many young men and women are dying in Chicago due to gang violence. It breaks my heart that this is happening in my area. It breaks my heart that some lives aren't valued- simply because of the color of their skin. It breaks my heart that one case overshadows the thousands that are killed. This isn't about self defense- that's a viable argument in my book. I wasn't there that night. I don't know what went down. But, I do know that too many people are dying and too few people are caring.

So, I'd like to share this essay that I wrote in high school about what racism means to me.

A mother is shopping in a grocery store with her five year old son. As they near the produce aisle you are shopping in, the child whispers, “Mommy? Is that one of the Mexicans that you were talking to Daddy about last night? The ones that need to go swim back over the river and quit taking over our government?” The mother looks at you, and then smiles at the child. They go on their way to the next isle without any apology.

Two Kindergartners are playing together, when a classmate comes up to them. He accuses the two children of being “boyfriend and girlfriend”. The little girl is fine with it, as is her “boyfriend”. Neither find anything wrong with the statement. They are friends and opposite genders. The classmate then tells the little girl, “He can’t be your boyfriend. He’s black and you’re white.” The little girl responds, “He’s not black. He’s brown. And I’m not white. I’m PINK!” The “couple” join hands and walk off.

Such blatant examples of racism are not unheard of in today’s society. All you have to do is walk into a grocery store to hear people talk unkindly about someone of another race. It has gotten so horrible that you hear children talking about each other in school. Racism is the belief that race determines a person’s traits and capacities, and that racial differences make one race better than another. But, racism is not limited to just the minorities. I have an adopted, younger brother who is biracial. Even though I am a “rich little white girl” who should not have any issues with racism, I deal with it frequently through him. Racism causes people to act in ways they normally would not. Even though he is only six years old, people still look at him like he is worthless. Whether it’s seeing people stare and talk about him, or knowing what they think of me, or fearing for his future, it can get rough. Racism is when people mistreat my family because of my little brother’s skin color.

It happens quite frequently. My family walks into a restaurant. As we walk to the table, heads turn. What is that little brown boy doing with that white family? People start speaking in hushed voices about the new development. The obvious fact that he was adopted is pushed to the back of their minds and they immediately think that there is something strange about my family. My parents must be divorced or one had an affair. He could never have been adopted. That would be impossible.

It makes me feel sorry for my brother because kids can be cruel. Children are not afraid to voice their emotions. They will look at him and ask their parents, “Why isn’t he white like the rest of his family?” Their parents rush to shush them, but the damage has already been done. Because the parents inadvertently push their views that one race is superior, by finding their children playmates that look like them and send them to homogenous preschools and private schools, they do not know diversity. They only know the world that they have been shown, and differences are looked down upon.

My little brother is my “run to Wal Mart” buddy. He’s the only one in my family who really enjoys going to Wal Mart with me, so we make runs to get things for my parents together. I hold his hand as he crosses the street, tell him not to run off in the store, and buy him dinner at McDonald’s on the rare occasion. It’s nothing a good big sister would not do. But, sometimes people like to misinterpret my actions into being motherly. As there are twelve years between us, it would be possible. We do not look anything like each other, so obviously I must be his mother. Do not pay any attention to my National Honor Society t-shirt and cross around my neck. Sometimes the stares are almost too much. I feel like I must have done something wrong, slipped up somewhere. But, all I am trying to do is be the best big sister I can be.  
Or on the flip side, I did not do anything wrong. People are smart enough to realize that I was not a pregnant twelve year old; it was clearly my parents. They must be divorced. My mother must have had an affair with an inner city gangster. I am a symbol of strength, hope, perseverance. They give me looks of pity and sympathy. If these people would think for a moment, they would see how ridiculous and nosey they are being. They have no business imagining my life in every intricate detail. I do not want their sympathy. I am his big sister; that is all.

As his big sister, I worry about him. 

Racism means so much to this “little white girl” who should not have to deal with racism. I should be the one to be doing the judging. But, my parents raised me better than that. Racism hurts everyone involved. Because it hurts my little brother, it hurts me. Racism may be the thing that takes my little brother from me. Racism, the belief that you are superior to someone else because of what color your skin is, has affected my life deeply and changed it forever. Skin color does not matter in the grand scheme of things. When we go see Jesus, do you think he is going to black or white? Do you think he is going to care what color your skin is? Do you think he will judge you on that? Do you think skin color will stop people from getting into heaven?

Racism is a big, ugly, green monster that is trying to take my little brother from me.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

a sabbatical.

So, I'm taking a blogging break.
Actually it's a social media break.
No blogging, no Twitter, no Facebook, no Pinterest, no email, no cell phoning
for a month.
It's crazy, I know. But it's something that I have to do for my health.
I am more than my online presence.
I am more than these relationships.
So, if you know me and want to get a hold of me, sorry.
July will end soon enough and I will be back to the real world.

I'm approaching this time as a sabbatical of sorts.
I'm taking a rest from work.
I'm going to take this time to work on some personal issues that keep popping up in my life.
I'm going to take this time to read my bible
and allow myself to become fully immersed in the Word
Without any kind of outside distractions.
I'm excited. I'm nervous.
But, I'm totally at peace with this decision.
It's something I have to do to get my priorities back in order.
It's something that I have to do to get my brain back.
It's something I have to do for my well being.
I hope you understand.

I just didn't want anyone to worry if they didn't hear from me.
That's the problem with disappearing off the face of the planet for a few weeks.
Going off the grid.
Going back to the basics- the important things. Faith. Family. Myself.

This isn't goodbye forever. 
I will be back.
I will return stronger than I've ever been.
I will return in a better place.
I will return with so many stories to share of God's faithfulness .
I know that God can and will do great things over these next 30 days.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Getting to Know You Linkup!

If you know me, you know that I don't normally do linkups or blog parties. The thought of answering a billion questions just doesn't appeal to me. But, I decided that it was time for my sisters over at Alabama Women Bloggers to be able to get to know me a little better! So, if it's your first time or your fifteen hundredth time- WELCOME! I'm super excited to have you and get to know you! Let's get started.

Alabama Women Bloggers

1. What part of the state do you call home?
Right now, I reside in the central part of the state, near Montgomery. But, I'm moving to Tuscaloosa this fall for grad school, so if you're in that area, let me know so we can meet up!

2. How long have you been blogging?
I have been blogging on this blog since my Freshman year of college (2008). I dabbled in other blogging areas (Xanga, Myspace, LiveJournal, etc) many years before that. But, I've been a "blogger" for a little more than five years.

3. Why did you start blogging?
It sounded fun. I read lots of Mommy bloggers, but I didn't know any "college girl" bloggers. But, I've met more people my own age! :)

4. What is your favorite part of being a member of the Alabama Women Bloggers community?
I'm a new part of the community and not super involved yet, but I love the idea of getting to know other bloggers in the state and making friends. :)

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years, I see myself done with grad school, practicing as a social worker- hopefully as a therapist at an eating disorders treatment center! That would be my dream- to be able to recover and inspire others. :)

6. If you could choose an actress to play you in your life, who would you choose and why?
Emma Watson. She played Hermione Granger (who is my ultimate hero)- need I say more?!

7. Name 5 things on your Bucket List that you hope you’ll check off before you die?
Get married, Have kids, Get a cat named Kitty, Adopt, Ride a camel in the Middle East while dressed as Jasmine. :)

8. If you could be known for one thing, what would it be and why?
My faith. I want to have a faith that points to God and that is so evident that people can't ignore it.

9. Describe the best moment in your life.
I honestly don't know. Probably when I saw the last Harry Potter movie. It was kind of a "completion" moment. Harry was a great part of my childhood. So, seeing the movie definitely made me tear up- not that it was a perfect movie or anything- just the fact that that chapter of my life was ending. It was pretty amazing. Wow. That sounded incredibly nerdy. 

10. If you could “be” anything (no consequences, no fear), what would you “be”?
A Disney Princess. :)

11. What or who inspires you to blog?
I'm a huge believer in the idea of "story". Every one of us has a story to tell. We all have something special to share with the world. I think that we are made for story. We're created to share our story- and blogging is how I choose to engage in storytelling.

12. We’re headed to your neck of the woods… what restaurant would you recommend?
I'm so not the person to ask- I'm pretty much always going to recommend Chickfila! Haha!

13. What’s a southern tradition you and your family have?
We're not a really good "southern" family. I think that the best tradition we have is going around the tri-county area to look at Christmas lights in our pajamas, but I don't necessarily think that it's a "southern thing". Um...we eat grits?

14. If you could pick your favorite blog post from your blog this year, what would it be?
This one on being brave and finding free. It explains the meaning behind my blog and how secrets keep us trapped inside a cage of lies. It was a hard one to post (because it meant opening up and being honest), but it was totally worth it.

15. We all love social media, tell us your links so we can follow you!
Twitter: @laurenadam
Instagram: @laurenadam

Monday, June 24, 2013

Bucket List


I've added some things to my bucket list! Here's just a sampling of the things that I have on it.
  1. Learn Greek and Hebrew so that I can study the Bible from the original text.
  2. Visit a foreign country.
  3. Get married.
  4. Have kids.
  5. Adopt.
  6. Do something completely stupid, reckless, and crazy- but not immoral. :)
  7. Write Bible curriculum for kids.
  8. Recover.
  9. Share my story with others.
  10. Become a yoga master.
  11. Clean my room.
  12. Have a cat named Kitty.
  13. Read Augustine.
  14. Swim in the ocean without fear.
  15. Spend a day aimlessly meandering through the streets of NYC.
  16. Buy a meal for a homeless person.
  17. Find a place of ministry- whether it be vocational or volunteer.
  18. Ride an elephant.
  19. Pictures with all the Disney princesses.
  20. Get CPR certified.
  21. Read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books again.
  22. Send a message in a bottle.
  23. Build toy ships with cute kids and bring them to the beach to sail.
  24. Do a silent retreat.
  25. Hike the Appalachian Trail.
  26. Elope?
  27. Learn Spanish.
  28. Teach English.
  29. Learn to knit/crochet. I have all the stuff.
  30. Pet a giraffe.
  31. Memorize a Dr. Seuss book and tell it to my poor future children every single night.
  32. Plant a garden.
  33. Learn to like green things.
  34. Prove that mustard and pickles are related.
  35. Prove that Jagulars live in Alabama.
Do you have a bucket list? What things do you have on yours?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

23 in 23

Since I'm turning 23 in 23 days, I thought I'd do something fun and exciting on the blog. And since my dear mother still has trouble figuring out what she should get me, I thought that it'd be fun to do a wishlist. Not that I'm getting everything (I'm totally not). And some are silly things that make me smile that aren't really serious. But, I thought that it would be fun nonetheless. :)

Birthday Outfit

20. Cat Measuring Bowls (don't ask me how I find this stuff)
19. Ninja Salt and Pepper Shakers (totally serious. I need these)
18. Cupcakes.
17. Pots (not "pot" as in the drug or as in things you plant things in. "pots" as in things to cook with)
16. A frying pan (for self defense, as well as cooking)
15. A toaster (totally forgot about that useful little tool)
14. A cupcake/muffin pan. 

This list is turning into "what I still need for apartment living"....oops.

13. Everyone could use a Mike Wazowski mug. Right?
12. This shirt from Downeast Basics
11. A trip to DISNEY WORLD!!!
10. Lunch with the princesses on that aforementioned Disney World trip.
9. A monogramming machine. I forget what they're called. But that would be totally awesome, because then I could monogram EVERYTHING! 
8. This is getting really hard. Um, I'd like this bag.
7. Or this one.
6. Or one of these. (Monogrammed of course)


5. A monogrammed necklace is always handy (just in case you forget your monogram?)
4. Pretty much anything from Lululemon. It's my favorite for looking like you yoga even if you don't.
3. An iTunes card is always nice. :)
2. This Chevron fabric is really cute. But, I don't know what I'd do with it.
1. A magic fairy princess wand that could make all my dreams come true. It'd be really cool if it came with a magic fairy godmother, too. Bippity Boppity Boo! :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer Playlist: 2013 Edition

  1. This Little Light of Mine- Addison Road
  2. Hello My Name Is- Matthew West
  3. We Won't Be Shaken- Building 429
  4. Strangely Dim- Francesca Battistelli
  5. God of Brilliant Lights- Aaron Shust
  6. Hurricane- Natalie Grant
  7. Brave- Sara Bareilles


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Real"

What is "real"?
What does that word really mean?
Merriam Webster's defines "real" as being "not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory", but that doesn't really help us much. We live in a society where so much of what we do is fake. We pretend that we're being "real" and "open" and "honest" and fifty billion other buzzwords, but we're really still hiding behind the mask of perfection. We try and hide our imperfections- but this just makes us less and less real. Eventually, we begin to forget who we really are.
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.
The Velveteen Rabbit is one of my absolute favorite books, and this passage is one of my favorite parts. Real isn't about "pretty". It isn't about "smart". It isn't about being all put together in a nice little box with a pretty pink bow on top. Real is about what's on the inside, more than what we put forth on the outside. It's easy to fake the outside. We can go on with life pretending that everything is prefect- but that's not really "real". It's not free. Part of finding free is letting go of the false ideas of perfection. Chances are, you will never be completely perfect. You'll always be able to find some flaw, some imperfection if you try hard enough. Being "real" means recognizing your strengths, accepting your imperfections, and knowing that all people (even you!) have equal value.

Those pictures in the magazines? They aren't real. In reality, most of them are Photoshopped. Even if they aren't edited, they still aren't "real". Models are posed, placed in special clothing, made up in a certain way- all to accentuate the positive and hide the "negative". I think we can even take this same concept into the world of social media. Your friend that looks like she has the "perfect life", that looks like she's got it all together? She might be falling apart. We tend to post the good things in our lives, and leave it at that. We don't want to tell everyone about our "messy things". Rather than sharing that we're struggling, we want to look "put together". You can't judge a book  by it's cover, and you can't really judge a person by their Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Mommy bloggers? They might look like they have the perfect life. They might just show you their super cute kids and all the fun arts and crafts they do and all of the fun veggies that they eat. But in reality? Their two year old probably screams just as much as yours. She's probably just as frazzled.

So, let's give fake a break. Let's stop hiding behind all of our masks and start trying to figure out who we really are again.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. - Theodore Roosevelt
Even if we fail, even if we fall- at least we fell while daring greatly (thanks Brene Brown for that one- if you haven't read Daring Greatly- I'm going to highly recommend that one). Vulnerability takes courage. It is hard stuff to be open and honest and share our downs along with our ups. But, I have to believe that by being "real", we are showing the world the grace and power of Jesus. I have to believe that God can use our bad times, along with our good. I have to believe that God can turn the "tattered fabric of my life into a perfect tapestry". 

You're turning the tattered fabric of my life into
A perfect tapestry
I just wanna be me
But you see the real me
Hiding in my skin, broken from within
Unveil me completely
I'm loosening my grasp
There's no need to mask my frailty
Cause you see the real me
And you love me just as I am
Wonderful, beautiful is what you see
When you look at me

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Plans for the Fall

I feel like I owe you guys an update on my life...

I know that I talked about going to grad school a little bit ago, but I haven't actually posted a whole lot on the process of getting to this point.

A few months back (back when it was cold outside and you had to wear a coat), Mom and I went on a little visit to a special little town.
I know that these chimes are important, but I'm not exactly sure why.
I'm moving to Tuscaloosa in the Fall!
This is kind of a hard thing for me. After spending a year at Auburn, I kind of became an Auburn fan. I hated Alabama. But now? I'm going to be getting my Masters from there (it's the only place in the state to get an MSW).
For the longest time, I've said that I wouldn't get tickets this fall. I love college football, but I hate the crowds. Plus, I have this huge fear that I'll have nobody to go with and it will be lonely and boring. But, the other day when I checked, they STILL had one ticket package. It was for four games (2 SEC, 2 smaller ones), and I decided to go for it. I know that some of you probably think I'm crazy right now for not getting online the day that they went on sale. But- I did it. I got my tickets (So if you know anyone or have any tips for gameday- let me know). 

I'm still undecided on this guy. I think I called him "Satan" too long.
Another thing that I you can't see in the pictures is that I have an AU sweatshirt on underneath my Mom's jacket. Kind of forgot about it until I was talking with an apartment salesperson.Oops. I need to work on being a better Alabama fan.
So, I'm headed to Tuscaloosa in the fall. I'm really going. :)
This is where I'm living. It's a really cute complex...that's totally not built yet. Not that I'm freaking out or anything. :)

And that is "what I'm up to" and what I'm planning to do with my life! Yay!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Being Still.

I encourage you to take time to
slow down
today
so that
you can
fully experience the moment.

I think so often we're apt to busy ourselves
with things that really
don't need to be done.
We keep ourselves busy
so that
we don't have to "feel" these feelings.
It's kind of a protection mechanism.

The NASB translates Psalm 26:10 as
"Cease striving and
know that I am God".
Can you practice that today?

Can you allow yourself to
be still for
a moment
so that you can hear God
speak into your life?

Can you fight
through the uncomfortable
feelings that it may bring?
Can you stop trying so hard 
just for a day?

Allow yourself to
feel sad.
Allow yourself to
feel happy.
Allow yourself to
feel whatever 
you are feeling,
and run with it!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dear 17 Year Old Self,

Dear 17 year old self,

I know that right now life seems crazy and you feel overwhelmed. I know that right now you're wondering what the heck you got yourself into by deciding to go to Auburn. Well,  22 year old self is here to tell you that you're going to make it.


It's going to be hard. The next five years are going to challenge you. They might even be the hardest five years of your life. You may think that you have your live all planned out, but go ahead and throw away that color coded spreadsheet- you're not gonna need it. You may think that you're going to be some big shot lawyer or campaign manager, but that's not really your scene. Trust me. You'll change your major five times. You'll make some great friends at Auburn, but you'll transfer to two other colleges before you find your spot. You'll make some more great friends along the way- friends that will stick with you through hard times. In the end, you'll end up right where you started back in 8th grade- headed off to the MSW program at Alabama. Yes, baby girl- you're gonna make it.


Hard times. They are headed your way. You think high school and AP classes are crazy? You. Just. Wait. I know that you think that B in AP Calculus was the worst thing ever for your GPA, but I promise it will be okay. It's really not the end of the world. I know that you think that you have this stellar resume with lots of different involvements, awards, and such. I know that you think that your GPA is awesome and that you place so much worth in that number. But truthfully? None of that is really going to matter. You're already admitted to Auburn. Seriously girl. Loosen up a little. Live a little. Don't spend so much time worrying about the little things. You'll make two C's during your first year at Auburn. You'll think it's the end of the world, but I promise that it isn't (You'll actually be really happy about one of the C's- you're gonna think that you're gonna fail World Civ with that crazy Russian teacher, but you'll pull out a C and be happy with it). You are worth more than a number on a sheet of paper, don't let it define your worth. In the end, your college GPA will turn out just fine and you'll get into grad school.


I know that you're freaking out. I know that you are scared to death that you won't even be able to handle the three nights away from Mom and Daddy for Camp War Eagle. I know you're scared about not getting the classes that you need and how the whole roommate thing will work out. It's okay to be scared. It's okay to be nervous. It's okay to talk about how you feel about all of this change. You'll go home most weekends of college (and live at home for some of the time), but during your Freshman year, you WILL go a whole month without going home. Sure, Mom will visit on Thursdays- but YOU CAN DO THIS. You are strong. You are capable.
 

So, on this night of graduation- smile. Enjoy this moment. So what if things don't turn out "picture perfect"? So what if you lose your tassel when you throw off your hat at the end (Yes. That's really going to happen). Laugh about it. Don't be so serious and sad that it's all over. You really don't have to be a "grown up" just yet. Enjoy this time. Enjoy this moment. These last few years have been hard. This past year has been stressful with school. But, you've got your whole life ahead of you. Don't waste it by worrying about "what if". Don't waste your life. Make the most of each moment that you've got. God has a marvelous plan for you- one far bigger and far better than you could ever dream of. Big things lie ahead, baby girl. Don't give up.


Love,
Your 22 year old self

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

what i wore wednesday


Mom and I went downtown today to take some pictures for my "About" page (I also have a new one on the sidebar). It was kind of lacking in the picture category, and I don't really have any pictures of me that were taken since our Christmas card session. 


Top and Belt: Versona Accessories
Pants: Old Navy
Shoes: Target


I may have gotten a little silly at times...


We saw some wildlife, like this beaver...


And then we saw some bats under the bridge, so we decided it was time to go.

And that's what I wore today. :)