#pictureperfect

pinterest. facebook. instagram. twitter. everything in our world is filtered, tweaked, cropped, and angled to look beautiful. my morning coffee can be taken just the way to represent peace, serenity, calm mornings, and the epitome of fall. what.

when did everything normal begin to look extraordinary? I am all for enjoying the little things. I do agree that little moments in life should be treasured and saved, instead of hurriedly rushed through. but in a world where things are more perfect then they really are, and normal is boring, the flaws that we have, the brokenness that we experience, really have no place. there is no place for my ugly days, for my tears, for my mid life crisis. there is no place for relationship struggles, self-doubt, that extra pudge, burnt meals, and the messy house. all that untidy, imperfect, and disorganized mess that is my life at times must be tucked away, or cropped out of the image that is how the world.

I have always struggled with the duality of my life. from a young age I have gone through a series of traumatic experiences, and because of social, cultural, familial, and even personal standards, have become a pro at showing different sides of me to different groups of people. when I need to have it all together, be the easy going survivor, I can do it. when I need to make light of hard situations and just show the smile, I can do it. when I need to mask the pain and be the perfect wife, daughter, sister, and friend, I can do that too.

the funny thing about marriage is that you have very little time, energy, or space to put on these different faces or identities. my husband has been such a lesson to me; he has taught me so much about God’s love, forgiveness, acceptance, and pushing forward in these past two years then I have ever learned in the past. He sees my good, bad, and ugly. He appreciates when I do have it all together, and I am genuinely happy, feel beautiful, and do have instagram-worthy meals on the table. he also loves me and cherishes me when I just had a major breakout, have no energy for make up, and barely muster heating up soup for dinner. when I try to fake the happy- he doesn’t want it. he would rather have my genuine woe than my fake happiness. because the fake happiness, the fake filters, and the fake smiles- its empty. its meaningless. there is no substance.

as my birthday is approaching, I am trying to really strip off the duality, the multiple personalities, and the different faces for different occasions. I am learning that sometimes to be authentic and genuine, disconnecting and plugging into real interactions is vital. this year I hope to grow in that. grow in comfort with my flaws, and improve realistically, not quick fixes, not cropping out the unpleasant, but accepting and loving the whole. because all of it is my journey. all of that pain, ugliness, and disorder, in combination with the beauty makes my story worthwhile.

#chaos

“He brings our chaos back into order, he makes the orphan a son and daughter…”

My husband and I are taking this AMAZING class (by taking I mean auditing, and getting to pretend to be a cool college kid with Starbucks coffee cups and new highlighters) that delves into middle eastern culture, specifically culture of the early old testament biblical peoples. its amazing how words, meanings, and depth get stretched, lost, and morphed when put into English. one particular mind blowing class dealt with chaos.

In the early times, the word “yom” which roughly translates to “salty walters” or “ocean” was meant to represent chaos. Chaos that threatened our way of life, and land-ultimately a representation of destruction. Chaos was constantly nipping at the world created, the same way the ocean hugs the shore. When Elohim created the world, he separated the waters in two to create land; he divided the chaos, and ordered it in a way that we could survive.

The Ancient cultures viewed Chaos, or Yom as constantly trying to take life as we know it- our order, our community- and destroy it. Community was defined as living interdependently- independent, but always with an open hand. You lived to take care of those around you, and your community was your family.

It’s funny to think that in this day and age, we look at having our own individual lives in order. We are so bound up with the idea that our own homes have to be a certain way, our jobs, family, and even bodies have to fit a standard- but none of this is for the betterment of our community. We let chaos into our personal lives, we don’t even realize the chaos that is ravaging our communities.

#toobusyforlove

I have been blessed with an amazing husband. he treats me so well, he pampers me when I need it, babies me when I need it, is understanding when I don’t have the energy to cook, clean, or do household stuff, pitches in with running the house, and he still is so affectionate with me.

the other day when I was putting away food, I realized that when guests come over, I go all out. I cook great food, clean up the house, dress nicely, and sparkle. but on a daily basis, with my wonderful (and hot) husband, I barely throw together a meal, and def don’t sparkle.

I am an avid reader. I love romance, love stories, and happily- ever-afters. now that I have my happily ever after, I do not want to be too busy for my love story. too busy for the romance, for the date nights, for the glamour.

heres to putting in the effort, trying harder, and making my every day love story epic!

#struggle

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I struggle so much with discipline. disciple to walk away from places I should not be, to look away from things I should not see, and stop listening to things I should not hear. I lack discipline to stop speaking when I should, to not embellish stories, to not speak white lies. I lack discipline to not talk myself up, slightly put others down, stop gossiping, and harness my tongue. I lack discipline to consistently pray, seek his face, and read his word. I lack discipline to walk away from sugar and snacks. I lack discipline.

I have moments when I do well, and I am consistent, and I love the benefits.  love feeling healthy, love feeling closer to God, love having strong relationships based on truth. but then the sin creeps in. yesterday was horrible. I fell in one area I have been trying so hard to control. and I realize 1. if I am control I will continue to fail and 2. the sin I am committing causes others to sin. after doing said wrong deed, I told myself I would spend time in prayer to repent. I could not even bring myself to do that. I distracted myself with mindless tv and slept. I couldn’t bring myself to sit and reflect on my struggle.

this morning’s devotion focused on Potipher’s wife- we see her as the temptress, the seductress- the sinner. but I can be like that, I can tempt others to sin in small ways, and yet its so easy to demonize her.

 “Joseph recognizes sin as rejection of the one true God. The God who was with him in the pit. The God who was with him when his brothers sold him into slavery, and the God who will be with him when he is thrown into prison as a result of the lie Potiphar’s wife tells her husband. Because Joseph loved God and knew God’s love, he was able to escape and run from evil.”

Joseph RAN and escaped. Give me the strength to run Lord. give me that fear when I approach sin that I want to run and hide, not curiously draw near. help me to find strength in you. doing it my way only causes failure. over and over again.

Fasting Prayer Week

#speaktomeplease

For the past few weeks I have been in a constant dialogue with God. I want to hear from him. I want to hear his voice, I want new gifts, I want to see movement in places that have grown stagnant. And I saw a change. When I actively sought him, I hungered to read the word, I woke up at 6 to pray, and things were just filtered through HIM. it was awesome. I was preparing mentally and spiritually for a church soul care retreat, and I thank God for what he is doing. we were able to speak to so many youth, but more than that, I realized how far I have come since my first soul care session.

I loved that feeling of being so close to God, involved in church, and at peace, but getting immersed back into work, planning church events, and social calendars have broken that connection. I have that yearning to wake back up, but physically I am so exhausted. its so hard to balance everything! I do know that I do not want to go back to where I started, but push forward to a more connected relationship.

#intimacy

when we first meet someone that we are attracted to, the first few months as the relationship develops is priceless.

the butterflies, the anxiousness to see one another, the joy of discovering new things. i don’t think hanging out at ihop or going to the park was ever so vividly beautiful and breathtaking as when my husband and i went when we were dating. i distinctly remember waking up and being so surprised that he was actually there, waiting outside, just to have breakfast with me!

as we moved out of the dating phase and into marriage, things changed. we are still affectionate in public, but true intimacy was developed in private, and has developed and grown from the first days of our meeting.

it is still awesome that in public my husband has no problem holding my hand, kissing my cheek and acknowledging me.but it would be devastating if in private we didn’t grow. i would be heartbroken if the kisses and love only happened in public on set occasions, and in private, we never developed.

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the devotion that i have been reading on She Reads Truth went into the topic of intimacy and our walk with Christ. In our church, and in our family, when talking about God, the terms “father like”, “loving”, “protector”, “friend”, are often used. and these are ALL true, and amazing roles. but delving deeper into the intimate role of a relationship with Jesus, and the meaning behind the metaphor of being the “bride of Christ” opens up a whole new depth into what a relationship is, especially after being married.

do i only show “pda” on sunday mornings and then act like a cold lover at home during the week? am i that girl who only calls when she wants something? only smiles and spends time when i need a favor? ouch. that makes me the girl looking for a sugar daddy.

its so easy to distance how i am, and how i should be, especially when thinking about a relationship in a comfortable zone. its easy when i am the one that should be loved, i am the one who has needs, but what am I giving in this partnership? time is the hardest thing to give, although it technically costs us nothing.

i don’t want to be a selfish partner, a cold friend, or a distant acquaintance. i don’t want to only engage in public. i want to have that relationship where i run to my prayer closet to pour out my heart. after years and years of growing up in the church, experiencing highs and lows, i feel like i am now beginning to develop that true desire of wanting more. of not being happy where i am.

moving to the next level takes action. actually scheduling time. making a decision and creating a space to grow. i didn’t date my husband while i was doing and committed to everything else. things were so easily put to the side because i wanted to make him a priority. How much more should  I make my relationship with Jesus a priority? What type of marriage am i developing now?

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#dislike

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I am generally a happy joyful person. I love people, and i invest in them. it doesn’t matter what your background is, what you’ve done, i am pretty open to talking to and getting to know new people. i was judged a lot when i was younger, and i try not to do that to others.

BUT sometimes investing in people emotionally, and even spiritually can be painful. it hurts when you’ve opened up to someone, encouraged them, hosted them, and later on find out that person is not as genuine as you once thought.

i have been reflecting on my relationships these past few days and have noticed that i tend to work in cycles. i go through my phases of hanging out with different groups, and trouble usually starts when i try to bring people that i get along with together. i want my friends to be friends. it worked in college…it should work in real life right?

unfortunately no. i am starting to learn that it is okay if everyone does not get along, and it is okay to keep relationships separate.

i also can see myself slipping into a gossipy pattern- you start out “venting” to someone about someone else, and then you become that girl. that girl who talks about other girls. ewww. i am NOT that girl. i do not WANT to be that girl. so, in the spirit of fresh starts, that is ending NOW. venting does not always have to be to another person, and if it does, not to another woman, and done in a more constructive way.

as i am sitting with these thoughts and getting myself worked up and hurt, and judgmental to others rather than looking at what ive done to aggravate the situations, i read today’s meditation (well today meaning the devo I’m reading) on shereadstruth.com  and its about praying for your enemies.

praying for the mean girl. praying for the girl that’s talked about you. praying for the girl that is talking about your family. and not just praying for them blessing them. well then. i guess that is my message from above literally written out for me.

so more then just making resolutions to stay out of drama, to stay away and avoid, i now feel the nudge to proactively bless. easier said then done.

when you try to do this whole eat clean, live clean, be clean thing, the part when you realize its not just what you do but behavior and character changes have to also take place…that’s the hard part. to be the best version of myself means that i have to see the ugly parts, the petty parts, the mean parts. change not, cover up.

#delete

it was physically hard to delete that app. logging on after every meal, snack, cup of coffee to track calories for the past years is part of my routine. but I did it. it wiggled when I held down the little blue icon on my iphone as if to say “noooo don’t delete me” but I did. its been one day, and I am consciously trying to eat better foods, rather than play the number game of “what can I get away with”

the donuts brought to the office yesterday are still here, I still haven’t reached for them. deleting the app has not deleted my willpower…woo hooo

in a society that constantly looks at women’s size, hair, color, makeup, skin, and sense of style, its a little exhausting trying to live up to everyone’s expectations. its even scarier when those outside voices become internalized and you constantly nitpick yourself. this morning it was nice not getting dressed in front of the mirror. I put on clothes that were comfortabl, made sure my hair was okay, and off I went. and it was fine. no one said anything, still got compliments. the world didn’t end.

#calories

for the past two years I have been obsessed with the app myfitnesspal. I use it to track my meals, look up calories before I eat, and monitor my eating habits. and in the beginning it helped a lot. it made me realize I didn’t need 4 tablespoons of cream, 4 slices of pizza, and 2 heaping tablespoons of sugar. it helped me realize what I was putting into my body.

but now I feel stifled. I feel like I have not been getting any more fit although I workout, and I am in a constant struggle with food. im starting to really understand that all calories are not created equally, and my addiction to sugar is probably real. I crave….yearn…for sweets!

I truly truly enjoy food but I struggle between my want for being healthy and eating terribly. now that I have been inspired to be healthy, I want to try and make that push to stop calculating each meal, and try to eat healthy- take away all the saturated, fried, and fake sugars, and eat whats good for me.

#consistency

ugh. I struggle with this so much. I get excited about an idea, project, concept, or routine, and then after a few weeks of pursuit, I fall off the wagon.

in the beginning of this year I was so gung ho on eating right, exercising, and being healthy, and I’ve done pretty well, but I noticed in the last few weeks, I have slowly let bad habits creep in. when deciding to do what everyone isn’t doing, you face opposition. it could be as simple as slight teasing, to long justifications about why another person doesn’t care to do what you are doing. its funny because I don’t make it a habit to advise other people to lose weight, or eat better, when asked why I am NOT doing something, I simply say “I am just trying to be good today, or work on making healthier choices today” that usually incites a “wow you’re being good” or “well that’s easy for you, because you don’t have to worry about ____” in a sarcastic tone. I am not sure if this is because my choice to try and eat healthier points out that someone isn’t eating healthy, or because it seems like I am going overboard?

my personality as a whole is one that likes to please. I do not like to upset people, corner them, or make them feel pushed. so over the years I have compromised a lot of myself. whether that be in romantic relationships, family ties, or friendships, I give ALOT. ironically, the people that normally get the benefit of this, feel that the person I am now is “different” and not who I used to be. this is true. while they may take this as a negative thing, I finally feel free. I finally feel that I make decisions based on what I want, and what I feel to be right. I feel that I hold my ground more even when that isn’t the most popular.  my husband once said ” if you love someone, you are more real with them” poor guy, I love him so much and he gets the realest version of me- good bad and ugly. and I love us. I love that with him I can be myself, and its ok to say no, and make choices based on what’s good for us, and me.

so walking around between this inner struggle of trying to be healthier overall, but feeling like ive fallen off the path, I decided to make a decision this weekend. I can do this, I can be healthy, I can mentally be healthy, and push myself. today. now. despite what events are going on, what my schedule is like, etc. if I make excuses now, I will ALWAYS have an excuse. it started with something as simple as a colorful new journal, but I feel like a got a jumpstart. so here’s to a second wind and moving forward!