We will persevere.

2016 has not been what I expected it to be. It has not been my year. It’s been full of heartbreak, but much like life, it’s had its share of good times too. As a sit here and write this I have so much swirling through my head. My heart is hurt from the recent loss of what I thought were lifelong bonds and y’all, I’m really struggling with this one. It’s never easy to loose someone that you thought would be your friend forever but just like the year, all things have its season. I was diagnosed with cancer this year and that by far, was the most devastating thing I experienced. It’s changed my life in the course of a year. I think after hearing those three words, the very cells that make you are completely altered. My course of treatment has been decided, I will continue on the Megace and I will be having bariatric surgery sometime in the near future. I’m hopeful that this will save my fertility. My oncologist at Duke really thinks this is the way to go. It’s hard to really discern the right course because of my age and it being so rare in someone so young. I’m thankful for my cancer though, I don’t think I’d ever have the courage to change and to speak my mind if I didn’t have it. My relationship with my mom has grown by leaps and bounds this year, she is truly my best friend. This year has been an eye opener in that respect, I’ve really seen people’s true colors. My faith has grown deeper. I could not do this without God and would not be here without him. The outpouring of love and prayers from my community for me in this season has been the biggest blessing. We would not make it through without y’all. I don’t really have any insightful things to say to you about this past year. I think it just really sucked for all of us. But we know this to be true: God is on the throne and he is always good. Forgive me for being random and my prose not as flowing but my point of all of this is that we will persevere. That as long as we have breathe in our lungs, it is not too late to chart a different course. May 2017 be a year of great things.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:37‬

Life and little bit of this and that.

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I wish I had some big, verbose thing to tell you but I don’t. I’ve just been thinking recently about cancer, life, boys, and God and how I have changed. It is entirely by Gods grace that I’m not the same person I was not too long ago. I fought hard to become this person I’m becoming, but cancer, it sucks. It kinda puts a stopper in any kind of progress. As my dad would’ve said ” it has a way of knocking you on your back so you’ll look up.” So  I have. I’ve found God in all the corners of my life lately, it’s a scary time at its core. I put on a brave face, but cancer is a cold-blooded killer and I’m not ready to die. I feel amongst all the yucky-ness of this that there is a silver lining waiting to be discovered. I truly believe everything happens for a reason and in the words of one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott,

“Sometimes when a lot of things around you start going wrong all at once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born. In other words, perhaps it needed you to be distracted so it can be born perfect.”

I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future and He makes broken things beautiful. My life has been so broken the past four years and I saw how He worked in dads life and I saw how He works in the messiest times of grief. I choose to believe that He’ll show up and work in all the brokenness of this season. Speaking of brokenness, I recently had several encounters with dating in this modern generation, and they all sucked. Guys these days are quick to want to hook-up, play little mind game, and be terrified to catch feelings. Well, my heart has been cracked and I’ve omitted pieces of myself to fit what their looking for and I’m done. Life is far too short and too precious to waste on that. In the words of my homegirl Bey,

“middle fingers up and tell em’ boi bye.”

I’m worth being pursued and worth some effort. I’m too old and mature to play stupid little games. If you like me, tell me. I’m worth a man that can stand his ground and sees me for more than an object. Yes, I like the skin I’m in, but you should see my brain. It’s far more sexier. My life is spent taking it minute by minute. I’m going on with everyday life, including college because I have no intentions of dying this soon. So they’ll be plenty of time to check off my bucket list. Plus let’s be real, who has money to do that when they have cancer? Do they know how much it cost!? If anything, cancer has certainly made me more introspective. And let’s you know where your priorities lay…

A diagnosis.

My days seem to cloud together lately. If I’m not at a doctors appointment, then I’m at home thinking about a million different things at once. I don’t have a lot to say right now. My emotions are on hyper-drive, I go from laughing to crying. Some days I’m so bored and want to get out of the house, others I don’t even want to shower. Most of you want to know what’s going on, I saw the oncologist on Monday and my cancer is stage 1. However, we don’t know how far it’s moved into the myometrium. If it’s farther in than 50%, surgery is the only option according to Dr. Kelly. To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about him yet. He listened to everything I had to say but I feel like he’s not giving the weight loss and hormone therapy a 100% and those of you that know me well, know that I go full force until I know I’ve exhausted that option. I know it’s risky and it’s not foolproof, but I’m young, I want more than anything to be a mom. He started me on a high dose of progestin and then will reevaluate at the appointment in a week. I’m worried about mom, how’s she’s dealing with everything and work at the same time. Money has always been sparse, but if she doesn’t work she doesn’t get paid and most doctors appointments are an all day affair. I’m not working right now, so I haven’t been able to contribute. I’m considering online classes for the fall, as I had planned on going back to finish up my associates. I’m struggling with all this and my faith. Everything is in a precarious place right now, it’s a hard pill to swallow.

The blog I wish I never had to write.

I’ve racked my brain trying to find the words to write but I keep erasing them because they seem false. If only that was the case. I have Uterine Cancer. I appreciate everyone asking how I am but I’m not ok. I’m in quite a bit of pain from the surgery. My world has been turned upside down. I’m angry, so angry. What did I do to deserve this much grief in my lifetime? Did I bring this all in myself? It’s not fair… I don’t have any answers for you. We don’t know the stage or grade yet. I don’t know what they’ll want to do moving forward. I see the gynecologic oncologist on Wednesday, the 20th. I appreciate the concern and ask for prayer, for healing, for faith, for strength, for answers.

Blooms.

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I’m in a barren season in my life. I’m not producing much and honestly it has me depressed. I’ve delt with these health issues for so long that normally they wouldn’t stop me, however, when you throw in low blood counts and a lower back injury it’s pretty much a complete k.o. I’m so far removed from pretty much everyone these days, having one car and mom needing it more takes priority. My depression is at an all time high and I feel like most days I’m just barely hanging on. I read a post by Jen Hatmaker recently where she elaborated on a quote that says “Be patient with your self. Nothing in nature blooms all year.” That summarizes my life these past 7 months. I’ve bloomed so much in the past 3 years, loosing dad showed me just how much I had been losing out on precious time. But now I feel stagnant and stuck. How do I be ok not producing anything? How do I not lose my sanity while waiting to bloom again. Am I the cause of my solitude or is this all part of the season? She goes on to say that it’s ok to be hidden away, but is the solitude what is necessary? Friends, I would appreciate your prayers for this season of my life.

 

Honestly, don’t hate me for it.

My heart is so heavy. My soul feels crushed. Money is tight, but I’m making it. I don’t see my friends anymore, I’m angry and jealous that they have lives. I’m in pain all the time. I went to a new doctor recently and they asked how many hours of sleep I was getting, I lied. I told them 5 but really I sleep 12 out of 24 hours mostly in the daytime because my anxiety at night is so severe. I haven’t been to church but one time in months, I feel like God is too far, that my panic and worry and fear strangle out anything from him. I feel listless and jaded. We’ve been sharing a car for months. I have people telling me that I’m obviously lazy and am letting my mom do it all, I can’t make anyone hire me. My family has drama going on. I haven’t seen my 92 year old grandmother in weeks because I’m part hurt and ashamed to see her. I spent the better part of the day trying not to bleed to death, sitting in the shower while blood flowed like a faucet. Chronic sickness is invisible to the naked eye, yet I feel like I’m slowly dying and who knows, I might be. Grief is a heavy burden. My mom is still in a stage that I can’t understand because it’s entirely different from mine. I know there’s good in my life, but it’s eclipsed by this all consuming feeling of emptiness. Where do I find peace and a sense of ok-ness again? How do I get better when there are so many hurdles and not enough money? I’m not looking for pity. I just want someone, somewhere to understand. I sit here typing this, debating on whether to post it or not. Will it make someone mad or hurt feelings? That’s not my intention. My heart hurts from this heavy burden. Where do I find some peace? Honestly, this is my heart. Don’t hate me for it.

As you are.

I fallen off the tracks. I’ve forgotten how to see myself. I’ve let other dictate how I should look or feel. It’s been a roller coaster of ups and downs the past 6 months. I thought I found my new normal, living life without my dad here. Missing him but moving forward. Then as quick as the new normal came, it all shattered with news of a diagnosis. It seemed as if my life fell apart in that instant, all over again. Many things happened all at once and continued to pop up over the course of time. I suddenly didn’t have the job I loved, I couldn’t workout because of the pain, I lost new connections that had been made, I turned to food because it was a comforting old friend, I gained back all the weight I lost. I turned back into the ugly ducking. I am back a square one. I started avoiding mirrors because I didn’t like how I looked. I want the approval of men because they are where I held my value. I stopped going to church because it was too hard to worship a God who let bad things happen and takes away your dad. This has been my normal for the last 6 months. I pride myself on being authentic and open, on being my own person. Yet, I’ve lost sight of what that really is. I’ve looked to men for approval on how I look. I’ve been ashamed of myself when I go out the door. I put my value in how many miles I walked or the amount of calories I consumed. I let my crushing fear of not being good enough ruin precious time. My value isn’t in a person, a number, or any material thing. My value doesn’t decrease because of a person who doesn’t have my body positive views or feels that they or anyone else needs to look a certain way. My value is in the one who died for me on a cross. I am who God says I am and He says I’ve more precious than rubies. He says I am fearfully and wonderfully made, handcrafted and the mold shattered after I was created. It’s so hard to live in a word where if you don’t fit in you’re automatically cast aside or counted out. It’s hard being an advocate for a movement you believe in when you hold value in how you appear to others. I lost sight of what the body positive movement is. It’s not about working out or being conventionally beautiful. It’s about loving yourself exactly how you are, where you are and extending that grace to everyone. God doesn’t care what size your pants are. He care about how big your heart is and how you’re living this precious life He gives you. I’m not saying I’ll never worry about how I look. I’d like to eat better and see if I could do some light cardio but if my body isn’t ready for that, my value doesn’t decrease because of it. I recently read this quote,

“Was who she was, who she really was, really enough?… This is perhaps the greatest risk any of us will ever take: to be seen as we truly are.”

But the thing is, that you are enough. I am enough. Exactly as we are right now. It’s a risk worth taking because it is the most freeing thing in the world to know you need only be who you are.

I’ll leave you with this Litany that has become the prayer if my heart:

From the desire of being praised, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of comfort and ease, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being criticized, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being passed over, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being lonely, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being hurt, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering, deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours.
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, strengthen me with your Spirit.
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, teach me your ways.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart,
help me put my self-importance aside
to learn the kind of cooperation with others
that makes possible the presence of your Abba’s household. Amen.

Adapted from a prayer by Rafael,
Cardinal Merry Del Val, 1865–1930

 

6’2 is my favorite height.

If-You-Can-Be-Anything-Be-Kind-Coloring-Page     We live in a world where society and media portray one body type and one extravagant love story as the gospel. We play with Barbies that are tall, thin, and perfectly proportioned. We watch Disney movies where a pretty princess gets rescued by the handsome, chiseled prince, so naturally most of our impressionable minds carry this mindset throughout our whole lives, I certainly have. Growing up I was always the bigger girl. Genetically and biologically, it was predestined. I had family that I spent those formative years with that was obsessed with their bodies and the newest diet fad, at school I was bullied for being the tall fat kid. However, with my parents I was told I was beautiful and perfect and I could do anything I set my mind to. Unfortunately, the former situations won out. The year before my dad died I spent so much time trying to lose weight, trying various diets and pills that I spent my nights crying myself to sleep because I wasn’t getting skinny and y’all, I finally had a come to Jesus meeting where I got so damn sick and tired being at war with myself and my body. I found the Body Positive community on Tumblr and my life changed. Three years later, I’d say 70% of my days I look in the mirror and love what I see. I am so much more than the weight. I like the person I’m becoming because I fought to become her, but sometimes I get caught up with appearances and outside views. I’m human and I still live in a world where these things are praised and worshiped daily. The last year or so I’ve been obsessed with finding Mr. Right and what I want him to look like or traits I want him to have. I even went as far to join a dating sites, since no one I knew in everyday life was interested. One of these sites bases matches off your first impression of the other person looks and I find myself judging a guy over his hair color, of his jaw line, if he looks good with a beard, if he’s average size. My point isn’t that these sites are bad but that they buy into what society is selling. You can’t tell if he loves God more than himself, loves his momma, or respects his daddy, or is kind to people, or if he gets along with his siblings, or if his eyes light up when he sees a dog, or if he gets invested into the books he reads, or enjoys taking in the beauty of a sunset, or how he treats a waiter or store clerk, or how he will treat you, if he’s kind, sincere, passionate, imaginative and the myriad of other important traits. I’m not down playing the importance of physical attraction but merely saying that those traits and the ones you value are truly what make a person attractive. I recently saw two videos that led to this post, one being on the body image front from my friend Whitney Thore, who has changed my life immensely in the year that I’ve known her. In this video, Whit talks about loving yourself and that projecting and attracting the right guy and this music video by Marie Miller, which is the song of my heart and the whole meaning behind this post. I have these things I’m physically attracted to but yet say “God, you can send me the complete opposite of that ” or “Lord, I’m going to be patient, but could you send him before I turn 25?” I guess ultimately I’m not trusting Him to send me my gentle giant. I think it’s time to stop waiting for Mr. right and to say “I really don’t care what he looks like.”

I’ll leave you with this secret I’ve learned on my journey, I have never met an unattractive person who was kind.

Awakening Love

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being single. I’m 23 and never had a boyfriend, in today’s society I’m as rare as a unicorn. At times when I think about this I feel like something is wrong with me. Friends assure me that I’m not repulsive and little old ladies tell me I’m beautiful all the time, but there is something to be said about a guy telling you that you’re pretty or pleasing to the eye. Guys see things differently than us ladies and I guess ultimately I’m seeking approval. However, I digress.

Back on topic.

I’ve been having the same conversation over and over lately about standards I have set for “that guy.” While it’s not a super complicated list, it hits the major qualities that I desire in that guy. I really have had the best possible example of what a man should be in my dad. He was the epitome of a what a man should be. He set the bare extremely high for that future man and I’m grateful for that. (Read this to see what I’m talking about.) But in a moment of weakness and if I’m being honest, loneliness I let those standards and examples go out the window and I forgot how worthy of respect I am.

I recently had a less than pleasant encounter with a dude on a dating website. While I was reading his messages to me It really hit me that he saw me as an object and not a person with thoughts and feelings and a heart. In the moment it seemed like complements but all I was really doing was devaluing myself. Proverbs 3:15 says

She is more precious than rubies: nothing you desire can compare to her.

I let all my self respect go for some praise from a boy. Of course this immediately brought on a flood of tears and text to my best friend asking her if something was wrong with me.

Am I the only person not content in my singleness?

I think its natural to want that one person to connect with on the purest level.

But my point in this is, am I harming myself by searching for this guy?

While reading Song of Songs after all this happened I read a verse that I know by heart but it never spoke to me the way it did then. Verse 3:5 reads,

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.

It hit me that I’m trying to force something that isn’t meant to happen right now and by doing this I ultimately will not end up with the right man at this time in my life.

While that is a hard pill to swallow, I know that it’s in God’s plan for my life. But I can’t help but ask myself, why do I have these strong feelings right now?

God works in funny ways. Who knows? Maybe He’s trying to teach me something with this.

Called to love

loveoneanother I’ve been thinking a lot about Caitlyn Jenner and her story. There is a lot of hate and judgment being passed around at the subject. I have my opinions, as I’m sure you have yours; but I’m not here to talk about that. I read a quote one time that said something to the effect of, I will stop questioning whether they are worth loving and simply love them. That’s paraphrased of course, but it’s meaning stands in this case. We forget that these celebrities and others that we may feel justified to judge, are people too. We forget that the same God that created the heavens and the earth, you and I, the stars and the sun created this human being also. That this is a mortal, living in a world of sin and judgement just as you and I are. Whether you agree with her actions or whether you don’t, God doesn’t call us to judge one another. He calls us to love one another. John 8:7 says,

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

This well known verse is speaking to the world right now. We throw stones, drag this person personal story through the media all for the sake of money and gossip. All we are doing is stopping to question whether she should be loved or not. The answer to that is a simple yes. Yes, she is worthy of love. Jesus died for her sin just as He did for me. We, humans, were never asked our opinion on whether what she’s doing is right or wrong. That isn’t up to us. We are simply called to love. I urge to think about that the next time you throw stones at someone.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. -John 15:12