No, this isn’t a recent picture. In fact, it’s from MAY if you can believe it! Although, I thought it a great representation of how we’re feeling today. It’s nice and chilly in Richmond, as I sit at my computer desk with a steamy mug of tea…
First things first – holy moly can you people make a person feel surrounded, seen, loved and uplifted. You all graciously allowed me to “dump” all that we’ve struggled with these past months in my last post, and the responses we received via comments, texts, emails… was overwhelming! So much love was passed our way, and I hope that even as I share our story you feel the deep deep love I have for each of you. Truly…
As promised, part 2 of our lives recently is here! And, in my opinion, its the sweetest, most unexpected part. I have found that even in the midst of the hard, God remains – and because He is a good God, His very presence oozes goodness in very real ways. I have experienced this first hand. So without further ado…
What’s been a blessing?
Postpartum helped me confront the brutal facts about my relationship with my body & food:
For the majority of my life, I have had a love/hate relationship with food. I don’t think our culture has done a good job of empowering women to love, nourish and appreciate their bodies. Starting in childhood, I learned food was something to be restricted, controlled, manipulated for a specific “end goal” – being at a good weight. I never felt safe to indulge, feast or even properly feed my body because I had voices whispering constantly “You can’t eat that, it’ll make you fatter than you already are. You’re not like other people who can metabolize those foods, so you shouldn’t eat that.”. I had no clue, at that age, that those voices were in fact lies, and that those lies were heaping layers and layers of shame on an already vulnerable heart. Adolescence is typically a season of self-discovery, and it’s hard enough without having to combat false truths about who you are or what brings you worth. Consequently, I grew into an adult having no clue how to truly nourish my body. And the stress of graduating college, starting my first “career” job, meeting and dating my future husband – took a toll on my body. It began to just shutdown, and I was helpless to fix it with any “quick” remedies. Thus began my journey of healing, but like with most seasons of healing – sometimes things get messier before they get better. My digestion was wrecked, I had a systemic case of SIBO & no foods felt safe. I went on a pretty severe restriction diet to try and detox my body from the bacterial imbalance/overgrowth. I didn’t want to mask symptoms any longer, I wanted to get to the root of my issue and allow TRUE healing to occur. Little did I know that the Lord meant for this season to get to more than just the root of my digestive issues. I lost a lot of weight, and I do mean a lot. I was severely underweight (at my lowest being 100lbs at 5’6″), but truthfully I didn’t care – the agony I was in on a daily basis was more consuming than the way I looked. If I’m being completely honest, I think I found some relief in that. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t body conscious! But with the weight loss came the loss of normal cyclical hormone regulation. Many things contributed to the return of my cycle, one of them being gaining some weight – and walking through that was harder than I ever imagined. For almost 3 years I was free of the voices – and suddenly as I began to heal, and weight slowly started to return, so did the voices. It created a war within me, one that would send me running back to my safe, restrictive, healthy diet. What I thought was fighting the issue, was actually the luring of the enemy to return to the imprisonment of my body insecurity. If he could keep me fearful of food, fearful of gaining weight – I’d stay insecure, self-hating and unable to release myself to enjoy life. Postpartum made me come face-to-face with this issue. For the first 6 months, my weight wouldn’t budge no matter how healthy I ate, or how often I worked out. While a hard issue to face, I am FOREVER grateful that it surfaced. I did and continue to do the hard work of learning how to accept my body in ALL of it’s divine glory and human limitations. I’m learning how to eat intuitively for what my body needs and craves week to week (like some weeks – I couldn’t seem to eat enough butter!). I’m also learning to indulge and celebrate – and for that to include treats! There is still work to be done, but a blessing from this season nonetheless!
Music: French poet and writer, Victor Hugo, says “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” I love this quote and have found it to be so true over and over and over again in my life. And this past season is no different, and the sweetest part – I really feel like the Lord hand-picked the perfect songs for me just when I needed them most. I had so many moments when I felt like my heart was so full of emotions it might burst, but my mind had no words to convey them. It was in those moments I’d come across a new song – one that would send me to tears – because it said what my heart needed or wanted to but my mouth didn’t know how. I would go for walks and listen to them on repeat – sometimes until they no longer became prayers or cries of my heart but declarations of Truth I actually believed and hoped for. I’m incredibly grateful to those who God has gifted to string words together in a way that dances beautifully with a melody that reaches deep into your soul and begins releasing healing and freedom into your soul. Hoping that by sharing a few of my favorites – they may also reach deep within you and do the same…
- Do it again – Elevation Worship
- Fullness – Elevation Worship
- There is a Cloud – Elevation Worship
- You came – Bethel Music
- King of my Heart – Bethel Music
- I have this Hope – Tenth Avenue North
- Thy will be done – Hillary Scott & The Scott Family
- Even If – Mercy Me
Friendship: While I do agree that making new friends for kids can be hard, it’s down right challenging to try and make new friends as an adult! If you’ve followed our story for any length of time, you know that building community has been one of the hardest things for us. 3 weeks prior to losing Caden, we had finally found the church we felt like the Lord had intended for us to commit to – but it left very little time to build friendships before entering into such a vulnerable season of our lives. After some time of hibernating, I knew I needed women in my life. Not being close to our families and friends (and they have been an UNREAL support system for us), I knew that finding community and family up in Richmond was not only needed but necessary. And yet, I had NO desire to pursue new friendships – I just didn’t have the capacity. I can vividly remember having conversation with the Lord, telling Him that if He intended for me to have friends He was going to have to send some who would pursue me, who would invite me into their worlds (assuming that this would never happen). And wouldn’t you know it was probably a week later that I met a sweet girl one Sunday morning, who introduced herself and asked if I was new because she’d never seen me before. I told her I was, that we were still fairly new to Richmond – and she immediately invited me to a girls Bible study that she and a friend were starting… The rest is history! Those girls have become dear friends who have listened, cried, comforted, empathized, prayed for & encouraged me along the way. They have never ceased to pursue me (and still don’t!). And even while our small group took a break over the summer, the Lord lead me to another group of women at a summer study at the church that have equally become close friends. What felt like an elusive dream, became a reality (and one of my current life’s biggest blessings) this postpartum season!
Adventure: One of our most FUN blessings during this season have been the adventures we’ve been blessed to experience. Our favorite by far was an Alaskan Cruise back in May! Neither of us had ever gone one a cruise together (we’ve done them separately) – and Alaska was a bucket list trip! We were blessed to splurge and use our tax return money for the trip. At first, my sensible, logical, practical and responsible self felt VERY irresponsible for spending this money on such a luxurious thing. Wouldn’t it be better to just save this money? Aren’t there “better” things we need to use for? And after spending more time trying to talk myself into it, the Lord seemed to whisper to me – Leash, take the vacation, release the fear, play, have fun, experience adventure and joy again. It will be good for you and Josiah. So we did! And, boy am I so glad! It was exactly what we needed, exacly when we needed it! Check out this photos to see what I mean :
Soul Healing: I’m beginning to understand more what James was trying to convey when he says
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its works so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
But if I could (humbly) make any suggestions to James, I think I’d tell him to flip flop theses verses! I think it’s so important to know that the pure joy you can experience when facing trials, is because you have persevered and have allowed the process of perseverance to prune, refine, rebuild and empower you to see that when the trial has done it’s complete work – you lack NOTHING! The strength of perseverance comes from God alone, and the process of perseverance through the suffering to it’s complete work in you isn’t pain free, and it may even leave a few scars. But I think one of the things I’ve learned during this season is that – when you yield to the Lord’s sovereignty through many of the trials He allows us to walk through, and you see the yucky in you that begins to get pruned away (kind of like me having to face my body image issues) and new beautiful things begin to bloom (deepening of Hope, enjoyment of life, a heart that burns to love people) – you begin to see that James wasn’t crazy! You can actually then consider them pure joy! Soul healing continues to happen (and it will until I breathe my last breath and get to meet Jesus face-to-face) – but I’m beginning to see the beauty of God’s maturation process in me, and to consider every moment that He has ordained for me, pure joy…
Once again – thank you for following along on our broken, crazy, unexpected, joyous and beautiful journey… Love you all. Pray you are well & if not, we’d love to pray for you – so please drop us a note!