Thursday, December 15, 2011

Living In The Present

So I as I sit in front of my computer today, I am completely distracted. My heart is filled with sadness, sadness for a friend who lost her father this morning. My heart is just breaking for her and her mom and her sister and all those who loved her dad. I find myself fighting off the tears and just thinking a lot about life and death and heaven. And I keep wondering how my friend is doing and wondering what I should be doing as her friend and can’t help but feel totally helpless in this situation. I don’t know what it’s like to lose a parent, but I can imagine that it’s one of the worst feelings I will experience in my lifetime.

I keep thinking about dying and I imagine my own death some day and wonder what people will say about me when I go. If I were to die tomorrow, would I leave this world having left any kind of mark? Who would come to my funeral? What would be my legacy? Would the fact that I have lived for thirty-three years on this earth really even matter? I don’t know. I know I’m excited to be in heaven one day and have a perfect body and to never battle with depression or issues with food and to be reunited with friends and family who are already there and to spend eternity with Christ and worshiping him. I know heaven will be glorious. However, I’m simply not ready for that day to come. There are so many things I still want to do here on earth. I want to do the things on my bucket list (shave my head, go sky diving, travel to Ireland – just a couple examples). But more than those things, I want to meet my husband. I want to have sex. I want to know real lasting love with someone. I want to give birth to a child. I want to see my niece and nephew grow up into amazing people. I want to love my friends fiercely. I want to write a book. I want to impact the lives of girls who struggle with their self image. I want to leave a legacy bigger than myself and the desires of my heart. And as I sit here, I wonder if any of these things will happen. What does my future hold? Who will be in it?

Tomorrow is not promised. And I find myself longing for tomorrow – for the future. And I don’t know why. Because that means I’m not living in the present fully. I need to be more intentional about being fully present in each moment I have. I need to stop holding back with my love because of fear and love with reckless abandon. I need to make life happen and stop waiting for it to find me. I need to make the most of every day I have so I can say that I have lived a full and complete life and have impacted the lives of others for the better.

“And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears. And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.” ~ Mumford & Sons

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Biggest Loser

I have really been in a struggle lately. Struggling not in loving myself, but in tolerating myself. I feel like I'm going backward. I worked so hard to get where I was and in a matter of eight months, I undid what it took me two YEARS to do. How does that happen? I'm not really sure. I know it started with feeling stuck. I had hit a plateau with my weight, the same plateau I always hit when I have lost weight in the past. And I got really frustrated with busting my ass at the gym and denying myself foods I really wanted to eat and not seeing any results. Couple that with stress at work, quitting my half-marathon training and being disappointed in myself, and losing my best friend and biggest supporter for no known reason. All of that lead to me giving up on myself. Allowing myself to choose sleep over the gym. Eat Taco Bell instead of a salad for dinner. Sit on the couch in my pajamas instead of going for a run. And now I am 24 pounds heavier than I was at the start of 2011. I have one less friend in my life. And I don't really like myself. And I'm not really sure where to go from here or what to do.

The other day my pastor preached a sermon about taking risks and being willing to fail. And that we need to be bold and step out and take risks to become more who God has intended us to be. But what do you do when that happens - when you risk and then fail? What then? I mean, I feel like I'm getting better at this risking thing. But what happens when it doesn't work? What am I suppose to do then? I think that's why I get stuck. I don't know what to do once I fail. So I start to beat myself up and reprimand myself for thinking I might succeed. And I get sad and retreat into what's comfortable, what I know best, eating my emotions and isolating myself. I know that's not healthy or what I should be doing when faced with failure, but what do I do instead?

And then there's this whole CB thing. I think it has solidified for me that in order for me to be married and have kids, I need to lose weight. {I know, I know. You're going to tell me how beautiful I am and if a man can't see that, then he doesn't deserve me. I know.} I've struggled with this concept my whole adult life. I want to be loved for who I am, just the way I am. But is that realistic? Is that fair to ask? Men are visual creatures. They were designed to appreciate beautiful things. And culture (sadly) defines what beauty is. And in America, thin is beautiful. And yes, there are many shapes/sizes on the thin spectrum. But thin is not a word that has EVER described me. So if a man is looking for someone (consciously or not) who is beautiful and healthy and is going tot bear children for him, he would not seek me. I may have a pretty face, but I have learned the hard way, that simply is NOT enough. So as I consider this, I feel like one of two things has to happen. I need to either figure out this weight thing and go full on and lose 100 pounds OR I need to let go of the desire to become a wife and mother. Where I stand, there are no other options.

And I don't know why this is my life's struggle. I don't know why I've been overweight my entire life. I don't know. I do know that I'm tired. I'm tired of the struggle. I'm tired of being overlooked. I'm tired of being judged. I'm tired of hating myself. I'm tired of feeling lost. I'm tired of being stuck in a holding pattern. I'm tired of rejection. I'm tired of knowing there's something more out there. I'm tired of being the girl with a pretty face. I am so very tired...so now what?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Unrequited Love

So, it’s been a week since my lunch date and I’ve heard nothing from CB. That leads me to believe I’ve been dealt the friend card yet again. Awesome.

I’ll be honest, I’m filled with a mix of emotions. Part of me is pissed! He couldn’t even bother to let me down easy? Nope, he chose to be a coward and just not say anything. That’s pretty crappy, especially because I was super vulnerable and put myself out there with him one hundred percent. And that makes me want to punch him in the gut and tell him to get over himself and to be a man. (Don’t worry, I won’t really act on that thought.)

Part of me, most of me actually, is devastated (but I’m trying to hold it together). My last post was so authentic to how I feel about CB. I really did feel so confident that he was my husband, that this was going to be the beginning of our future together. There were so many things that have happened over the last six months that lead me to believe that God has his hand in this and that I was finally finding my husband. And so I went all in – more so than I ever have with any man before. I allowed myself to hope and dream of what our future would be like. I let my heart long for him. And I was filled with so much joy each time I thought about him. I was giddy. And took a huge risk and leap of faith by putting myself out there and making the first move. So I went into lunch confident, confident that we would have a great time, that he would see what an amazing woman I am and how great we would be together. And lunch was wonderful. We laughed our asses off. We talked about all sorts of things and learned we have so much in common, both in our interests and in where we come from and want to go.

There was one strange moment at lunch, however. And I chose to let it go and not analyze it to death like the old Stacie would do. But now that it’s been a week with no call/text/email, I think my gut instinct was right….Here’s what happened. We were talking about church and being single and dating and he proceeded to tell me about a girl (who I know quite well) he was interested in not too long ago, and he was attempting to get a mutual friend to put in a good word for him. When that person did, this girl didn’t respond well and left CB with a bad taste in his mouth….And as he was telling me this, I thought, “Hmm, this doesn’t really seem like something you’d share on a first date, but maybe he’s just really comfortable with me.” But now, I think that was the moment the friend card was played. Shit. {insert tears here} And what’s even more devastating is I know this girl and she and I are very similar in A LOT of ways. But there’s one very big difference, she’s probably 140 pounds thinner than me. Awesome.

This makes me feel so very foolish. Foolish that I ever thought a man like him could ever fall in love with a woman like me. Foolish that I think that any man for that matter could fall in love with me while I weigh 250 pounds. Foolish that I went out and bought a new outfit to wear to lunch. Foolish for the hope and joy I felt. Foolish for taking my heart off the shelf. Foolish for asking him out. Foolish for being so confident. And so very foolish for telling so many people about it and having to now tell everyone I was wrong.

This quote from The Holiday, sums it all up for me:

“I suppose I think about love more than anyone really should. I am constantly amazed by its sheer power to alter and define our lives. It was Shakespeare who also said "love is blind". Now that is something I know to be true. For some quite inexplicably, love fades; for others love is simply lost. But then of course love can also be found, even if just for the night. And then, there's another kind of love: the cruelest kind. The one that almost kills its victims. Its called unrequited love. Of that I am an expert. Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other. But what about the rest of us? What about our stories, those of us who fall in love alone? We are the victims of the one sided affair. We are the cursed of the loved ones. We are the unloved ones, the walking wounded. Yes, you are looking at one such individual.”

So now, I get to put my big girl pants on, admit defeat and go about business as usual with this man. I am not sure how I am going to do this. Right now it seems impossible with how broken I feel, but there really is no other alternative.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

One & Only

Warning: This is probably the most honest and uncensored post I have written to date. Read at your own risk and withhold judgement:)

I just love this song - Adele's One & Only. Click here for the lyrics:
http://www.metrolyrics.com/one-and-only-lyrics-adele.html

This song gives me chills and makes me tear up every time I hear it. The lyrics (and Adele's voice) are so haunting. And when I hear this song, I'm imagining I'm singing it to two people. The first person I imagine singing it to is CB. This song encompasses my feelings for him and the possibilities that could be there with him. I think about him all the time and I close my eyes and envision a future together. I see us happy and in love and doing life together. Having babies and making our own family. I see our wedding and walking down the isle toward him, reading my vows and crying tears of joy that I've finally found him. I imagine kissing him passionately and never getting enough of him. I imagine lazy Saturday nights snuggled up on the couch together. I imagine adventures with each other and pushing one another to try and do things we didn't think possible. And when I think about him and our future together, I know he's the one I want to be with forever. And it makes me laugh because I've known him for more than a decade & don't know why I've never "seen" him before. God's timing is not our own, that's for sure! And I wonder what he's thinking about me/us all the time. Does he sit and wonder about me like I do him? Does he see a future?

But with all of this hope and promise and possibility - there's some lingering fear and doubt that creeps in. What if I'm jumping in and he doesn't like me? What if he's not attracted to me? What if he just wants to be friends? What if all I wind up getting out of this is a broken heart? What if he finds the idea of being with me ridiculous? What if this all blows up in my face? Am I strong enough for that?

The other person I imagine I am singing this to is me...I just love the line, "I know it ain't easy giving up your heart." That just seems to be the story of my life. I have been so heart broken so many times that it makes it so very difficult, almost impossible, to put myself out there ever again. I imagine my heart like this piggy bank I have. My great-grandma Parker got it for me when I was a baby. It's a cute girl pig who plays tennis:). She's been broken several times and then glues back together. So she's VERY fragile now. She can no longer be used for what she was created to do. She now sits on display, empty, scarred, fragile, and patched up. She's still a cute little piggy bank, but because she was broken one too many times, she's forever changed and now just sits on a shelf in my apartment collecting dust...This is my heart. I was too careless with my heart when I was younger and gave it to whoever I felt deserved it at the time. And they didn't protect it, but instead dropped it, bruised it, cracked it, and eventually broke it. And every time, I've eventually pulled myself up by my bootstraps and mended my heart so I could give it to someone else. This self-destructive cycle started in fourth grade with Aaron Lewis and ended three years ago. It was then that I realized my heart was severely damaged, too fragile and needed to be placed on a shelf and not used. So that's what I did. I put up walls to protect my heart from being broken again. I promised myself I wouldn't let anyone else in because if I did, I didn't know if I would survive being hurt and heart broken one more time. My heart has been so damaged and scarred because of the way I have so flippantly given it away, I just knew it couldn't take another person breaking it. So like my piggy bank, it's been sitting high up on a shelf where no one can break it, just collecting dust...

But I forgot something...my heart is not made of ceramic or glass. It's a living thing, which means it can be HEALED! It can be restored and renewed! And can be used again for it's original intent - to love and be loved. So over these last three years, my heart has been healing itself and being made new. There will always be scars there, but I'm glad for that. They remind me of where I've come from and what I never want to do again. They remind me that I'm human and make mistakes. And thanks to grace and mercy, I get to try again! And because God's timing is perfect, as my heart is healed and restored, a man comes into my life. A man who is truly worthy of my love. A man of God who possesses all the qualities of the man I hope to one day marry.

I can't help but laugh and cry at this reality. I've been searching and waiting for my entire adult life for what seems to be before me. And I can hardly believe it's here! But God is a God who fulfills His promises. And five and a half years ago, He promised me I would be married. It may not have been fulfilled as quickly as I would have liked, but with all of my heart, I believe this is it! So as scary and difficult as it is, I'm giving up my heart and putting myself out there to love and be loved. And hopefully tomorrow afternoon is the start of a bright and beautiful chapter of my life - filled with love and risk and joy and companionship. So I sit here overflowing with gratefulness - gratefulness for restoration and kept promises!

"You are so good to me. You heal my broken heart. You are my Father in heaven."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Risk

So I've never really been one to take risks. I personally prefer to play it safe and be predictable. That may not be very exciting to a lot of people, but at least I know what to expect and won't get hurt....That has always been my mindset. However, if you never risk, you can miss out on amazing opportunities. And if I have any regrets in my life, it's that I have always played it safe and held back in life for fear of rejection or fear of looking stupid. So I decided to change that! Yesterday was my 33rd birthday {insert jokes about being old here:)}, and I decided to give myself a gift by taking a risk. I almost chickened out. But because I know myself, I shared my plan to take a risk with some of my close friends. I knew I would have to do it because they would ask me about it later and I didn't want to have to tell them that I was too afraid to do it.

So I did it. I put myself out there. I made myself vulnerable. I risked rejection and looking stupid. I was so nervous and terrified.

BUT........

That risk paid off!!!!! And it was the best gift I could have ever given myself. I will never know what would have happened if I played it safe and didn't put myself out there. But I'm pretty sure and opportunity would have passed me by.

And because I chose risk, my life is going to change forever!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fraud

Fraud is defined as deceit, trickery, sham, poser, faker, impostor, misrepresentation, reckless disregard of the truth.

I am a fraud.

I walk around letting people think I have everything together. I go to the gym. I ran a half marathon. I lost sixty pounds. I walk around acting like I've figured this whole thing out and have conquered my battle with food. I even go so far as to get a big ass tattoo that covers my entire thigh and talk all this game about how it represents starting over and a new me and blah, blah, blah. All of that is a lie!

Since January 2011 I have gained seventeen pounds.

I am a foodie and have an unhealthy relationship with food. When I'm sad or angry or stressed, I turn to food. And this year has been really stressful. Work has been insane and very emotionally draining. I lost my best friend. I am still single with a deep longing to be married. I feel stuck - like my life is a holding pattern. I feel very isolated. So I turn to food. I eat fast food. I eat junk food. I eat lots of food. I just eat. I eat in secret. I eat brownies. I eat an entire pizza. Ice cream. Pasta. Bread. And it makes me feel better for awhile. I feel satisfied, comforted. But that feeling wears off and I'm left feeling terrible because of what I ate - both physically and emotionally. It's a vicious cycle. And I had a hold on it for awhile and was doing really good. But then I hit a plateau for about six months. I wasn't losing any weight. I was stuck at the same weight I always get stuck at. And I got tired. Tired of restricting myself. Tired of getting up every morning and working my ass off in the gym and not getting any results. Tired of being stressed and feeling all alone. And so I gave in. I started all my old habits back up, but continued to allow people to think I had it all together. But that simply isn't true.

I don't want to be a fraud anymore! My name is Stacie Lynn Brown. I weigh 250 pounds and I have an unhealthy relationship with food.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Giddy

Has something ever happened to you - something small, insignificant - to make you giddy? It's a feeling that you carry with you throughout the day. It makes you feel like you're walking on air, that you're invincible, and you have this grin on your face that you can't seem to wipe off. Everything just seems to be better. Well, that just happened to me today! All because he smiled at me and waved when he saw me this morning....I think I'll be floating on this moment for a couple days:)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things...

Do you remember having your favorite toy when you were little? Maybe it was a teddy bear or a dollie or a blankie or a book - whatever it was - you carried it EVERYWHERE! Your mom had to pry it away from you because it was covered in dirt and needed to go through the wash. It was a comfort to you. It was your friend and you loved it more than anything else you owned. I don't remember having a favorite toy growing up, though I'm sure I had one or two. My brother Jesse had a bunny blanket that he took everywhere and rubbed the satin ribbon on it for comfort. My brother Dustin had a stuffed Big Bird that he carried all over, everywhere he went. That thing was so tattered and worn. It had to be washed many times. The eyes on him were worn off. My brother loved his Big Bird well. He loved it so much, he never wanted to be without it. My friends Paul & Melissa have a daughter named Annie. Annie just turned four and she has had a stuffed bear named Bear Bear since she was a baby. She cannot go to sleep without him. She takes great care of Bear Bear, but he has become worn and tattered and has a little hole in him. He's not very cute anymore. Paul and Melissa feared the day that Bear Bear was lost or was ruined, so they scoured the web searching for a replacement Bear Bear and found one! They purchased it and Annie received it as a gift last year. New Bear Bear is beautiful! He is very soft and fluffy. His fur is very pretty and he doesn't have any holes. He's a great little teddy bear, but Annie doesn't like him. He's not HER Bear Bear. He may be more beautiful and newer and softer and less tattered, but he's not her friend who has helped her sleep every night. He's not her companion. So, for now, new Bear Bear sits on Annie's dresser. She plays with him from time to time, but she still totes around Bear Bear and still takes the tattered, old Bear Bear to bed with her at night.

As I think about Annie and my brothers and their little stuffed animal friends, it makes me think about relationships and how we hold them. I have a lot of friends - people I love and care about. But of my friends, there are only a few who I consider to be my close friends - the ones I share my whole self with, the ones who get to see the good, bad and ugly parts of me. For me growing up, I had lots of toys to play with and I loved them all, but I always spent my time playing with my Barbie dolls. They were my favorites and I spent a lot of time dressing them and brushing their hair and making up a whole world for them. And that's how I view my friends. I have a lot of them and I love them, but my close friends - they are my Barbies. They are my go to, my "toy of choice," my favorites. And as I think about those select few who are my favorites, it's a very diverse group, just like my Barbies. I had lots of different Barbies growing up and was always drawn to the ethnic Barbies because they had dark hair and eyes like me. And my close group of friends is a melting pot of men and women, young and old and everywhere in between, gay and straight. Blondes, brunettes, baldies and gingers are represented. There's all sorts of walks of life everyone comes from, different cultures and races, different religions and family values. Everyone is very unique. And that is why I love them so very much. But as I think of the length of my relationships, I don't have many "old" friendships. I have one close friend yet from high school (18 yrs). I have two close friends from college (10 yrs). And the rest of my friends are people I have know for seven years or less. And as I said in my last post, when I love, I love big. So it seems a bit odd to me that I don't have a lot of "old" friends. And as I reflect on that and why that may be, it's because even though they may have been one of my favorites, I wasn't one of theirs.

I have what I call, "Second Best Syndrome." I become someones friend and we are really close, outsiders would see us and think that we have known each other forever even if it's only been a few months. We would share the deepest parts of ourselves, laugh together, cry together, comfort each other. We would be each other's Bear Bear. But then something happens. A new Bear Bear comes along, and instead of the new Bear Bear being put on the shelf, I am the one who is cast aside to play with later. I don't even know how many times this has happened to me over the course of my life, but as I reflect on it now, it has happened to me ever since I was a little girl and knew what friendships were. I honestly don't know if I've ever been anyones favorite. I'm not the favorite child or the favorite aunt or the favorite grand-daughter or the favorite co-worker or the favorite friend to anyone. And as I graduated from college and began looking for teaching jobs, I was the second choice a half dozen times. And in my romantic life, I have been the second choice at least three times to my knowledge. And as far as friendships go, I don't think I've ever been considered someones best friend. And if I wasn't placed second to another person, it's been to other things (work, school, sleep, depression, comfort, etc). I know this probably sounds silly, but I ache to be someones favorite. To be the first person they call to share good news or bad news. The person who they want to laugh with and cry with. When I am seventy, I want to be able to have a friend I have walked through life with closely. And I'm not sure what it is about me that always puts me in second place.

There is one person who will always put me first and that is my Father in Heaven. Like Annie, he sees the beauty in the tattered fur and holes. He sees a priceless value on our companionship and walking through life together. With God, I will always be first and He will never put me on a shelf or cast me aside because something newer and better and prettier came along! And for that, I am forever grateful. But as I walk in that truth, there is still a void, an ache in my heart to have that sort of companionship here on earth. And maybe I won't ever know that, maybe I will never be anyones "favorite toy." Or maybe the only person I am meant to be favored by is my husband (when I finally meet him). I don't really know.

And who knows, maybe second place isn't so bad either...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Friend or Foe

Friendship. It is defined as a person known well to another and regarded with liking, affection, and loyalty.

I LOVE my friends. Friday I was able to spend the entire day with people whom I like & have affection for and whom I am loyal to - and it was a glorious day! I started the day off by having coffee with a friend I haven't talk to for about three years. We chatted and laughed and had real deep conversation for two hours. It was wonderful to reconnect and just "be" with one another. And then I went and played in the pool with "my girls" from the gym. We soaked up the sun, laughed ourselves silly, and just spent time chatting and sewing into each others lives. These ladies are like my big sisters/my "moms" and I adore each and every one of them. And then I met my friend and her son for dinner and laughed myself silly and just enjoyed a time of just being totally comfortable in my own skin and free to be myself and speak my mind freely without judgement. And as I was driving home from dinner, I was thinking how I always feel really beautiful when I'm around this specific friend, and I wondered what that was about. And I think the preceding sentence sums it up. I feel beautiful when I'm around her because she loves me for me and allows me the freedom to just be and not worry about what she will think. I know that she is a safe person to be the authentic Stacie Brown with, and I am so grateful for that!

And as I think about this relationship and how life giving it is, I think about other "friendships" I have that are not life giving at all. They are actually the opposite, which would mean they are killing. And I think about a couple relationships in particular that I am for some reason trying so desperately to cling onto. And I'm not sure what it is I'm trying to save because there really isn't anything worth saving about these relationships. These friendships, seem to me, to be friendships of convenience and I only hear from them when I am of value to them - they want a favor or advice or affirmation. And they sew into me until they get what they want, and then they are gone. And I'm left feeling jilted and tossed aside. Hurt. Wounded. Rejected. I always feel like I'm trying to prove that I'm worth loving. But for some strange reason, I am a glutton for punishment, and even though I know this will happen each and every time, I allow these friends back into my life and the story always plays out the same way. And I don't know if it's because I have this hope that things will end up being different or what it is. One of my friends always tells me I give people the benefit of the doubt too much, that I need to be more realistic sometimes. And maybe she's right. All I know is that I have deep love for these friends I have just mentioned. I love them to my core and ever since I met them, I imagined them being in my wedding and playing with my kids and always being an integral part of my life. And it brings tears to my eyes (literally) to think that that may not be the case.

One of my greatest traits is that I'm fiercely loyal. Once you have me, you have me forever. I would do anything for the people I love and am willing to make great sacrifices in the name of love and friendship. I'm very cautious about who I let in and who I choose to enter into deep relationship with. There actually aren't too many people who know the authentic me. But when I love, I love big. And my problem is, I expect big love in return. I expect sacrifice in return. I expect to get back what I give. I want love and loyalty.

And as I am writing all of this, I know deep down that these relationships need to end and need to be mourned. These women who I thought were my close intimate friends are not that anymore. They are merely drive-by friendships, and I was not made for that kind of relationship. So as I convince my head of this reality, I need to figure out how to convince my heart.

Monday, August 8, 2011

What's Faith Got To Do With It?

So it's no secret that I'm about to head into my 33rd year of life, and I am single. I have been single for a LONG ASS time! And it is my deepest desire to be a wife and mother. I don't even know if there are words that can express how much my heart longs for these things. I have faith that one day I will be married and have children with my husband, but I would be lying if I said my faith has never wavered. There are times where I am a "doubting Thomas" for sure.

Watching both of my younger brothers get married made me question whether or not I was destined to be single. And then seeing my brother become a parent twice over, caused that desperation to creep back up inside me. And it seems that everywhere I turn, people are getting married and having babies. And don't get me wrong, I have real joy for them, I really do. But at the same time, I can't help but desire what they have and wonder if I will ever have that for my own life.

When it comes to this area of my life, I feel like Sarah. Sarah had a deep longing to be a mother and as she got older, she felt that it was never going to happen. God promised her she would give birth to a son, but Sarah did not see a way this could possibly happen because her reality was not God's reality. Because Sarah's faith was lacking, she took matters into her own hands and made a mess of everything; all because she didn't trust God and his timing. And I have been doing this in my own life. I have been trying to fulfill God's promise for Him. I have met men who I knew in my heart of hearts were not my husband, but I pushed those feelings aside and ignored the things about them that I knew were not right for me because I want to be married so badly. Thankfully those relationships did not lead to marriage! But I see how I have been dishonoring God by not trusting Him and His word. And I have been spending so much time looking for my husband that I haven't been spending the time to focus on me and make sure that when I finally do meet him, that I am a woman who is in deep relationship with God and have worked out as many of my issues before entering into a marriage as possible (I know, I know, there are a lot!). And even though I never had sex with any of these men, I gave them a piece of my heart. And that is not fair to the man who will be my husband. I want to be able to love him with my whole heart!

So, I am committing to deeper intimacy with Christ. And as I spend time with Him, I will learn more about myself, who I am, and build up that faith muscle. I know, with every fiber of my being, that I was created to be a wife and mother. And I am sure of God's promise for me. I just need to learn to hold fast to the promise and not doubt God and His timing, for it is perfect!

And who knows, maybe by this time next year I will be planning my wedding?!?! God works in mysterious ways ;)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Too Much

So I went to see the movie "Crazy Stupid Love" Friday night with friends. I started the evening off in a great mood, as I had just gotten my hair cut into a really sweet mohawk, had a cute dress on and was feeling good. I was feeling very confident in who I was and we were laughing and joking & having the great time. Well, I'm not gonna talk about the movie, as to not spoil it for anyone, but I will say it's pretty dang funny. And anyone who knows me knows I have a unique laugh that can be pretty loud. Well, about forty-five minutes into the movie, the girl next to me leans over and says (in a not so pleasant tone), "Excuse me, but I paid money to come here and watch this movie, not to listen to you." I was taken totally off guard and said, "I'm sorry." And then she felt the need to repeat herself one more time. I again apologized. So I was officially that obnoxious person in the movie theater who ruined a movie going experience for someone. I sat there the rest of the movie and squelched my laughter as to not bother the girl sitting next to me any further. And I've been thinking about that experience since it happened.

One of my favorite books is "Captivating" by John and Stasi Eldridge. I have read it at least four times and it's all marked up, underlined, highlighted and has things written all over in the margins. Every time I read it, something new sticks out and really grabs me as a truth for my life. One of the things they talk about in the book is this battle that women struggle with. The battle of either being too much or not enough. And I struggle with the "too much" quite often. I'm too opinionated. I'm too independent. I'm too organized. I'm too sensitive. I'm too loud. I'm too nice. I am just too much. And my laughter in the movie theater was a prime example that I am too much. I laugh too loud and too often. And in order to "make peace," I had to squelch my laughter and "tone it down" so I wouldn't be too much anymore.

And the more I thought about this, the more upset I got. Why the hell should I squelch my laughter for a perfect stranger let alone anyone else? Why would I choose to deny my true self in order to save face? I don't know why I did that, but I did. And not only did I squelch my laughter, but I allowed that experience to steal my joy and bring back old wounds. Growing up, people would tease me about my laugh. They would call me the human vacuum and just be really cruel to me every time I would laugh. So I learned to both squelch my laugh and to be ashamed of it. I hid my authentic laugh for a long time. And some time in my mid-twenties, I let it creep out. And my pastor began calling me out in service for laughing. I now know he meant it in a loving way, but at the time took it as further disapproval. But as I began letting it out little by little, people began to tell me they loved my laugh, that it was contagious and joy-filled. And I learned how to embrace my unique and loud laugh. That is, until things like Friday night happen. Then I suddenly revert back to being teased as a kid for laughing and just want to run away and hide.

And then I wonder....what else am I squelching because I think it's "too much???"

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lovely

A group of us girls from the office went to a workshop the other day about body image and the media. Let's just say I did not leave there with warm fuzzy feelings. The workshop didn't inform me of anything I didn't already know. Society/the media in America says to be beautiful, to be lovely, you have to be tall and thin and white. Well, I am one of those things, so that must mean I am one third beautiful. After the presentation, there was a time for discussion. One woman, an overweight, middle-aged, black woman asked if men were really attracted to thin women. And several people spoke up and stated they didn't think men liked thin women, but preferred a woman who was thick. I believe this is the truth for those women who spoke up during this workshop, but it is not my truth.

My truth that I have known since seventh grade is that to be big (fat, curvy, thick - whatever you call it) is ugly/bad/wrong/unwanted. For as long as I can remember, I have battled my weight. I have gone on many diets. I have joined several gyms. I have bought the latest fitness gadgets from those ridiculous infomercials. I have watched The Biggest Loser every season wondering if I have what it takes to try out for the show. I have contemplated gastric bypass. I have lost and gained weight many times. I am currently down sixty pounds and am "stuck" at the same weight I always seem to get stuck at. I have been unhappy with how I look for so very long. It actually wasn't until January 2011 that I actually stood in a full length mirror, and for the first time, at the age of thirty-two, looked at my whole body in the mirror. And all I could do was cry. I hated what I saw. I felt disgusted. I began poking and pulling at my body and saying things like, "If my arms weren't so flabby and I could get rid of the two huge rolls on my stomach and I could have perky boobs and I could tighten my thighs, THEN I would be beautiful."

And as I reflect on that experience, it makes me so sad. Where did I learn to hate myself? When did I learn to focus on the faults I find in myself? I know this is learned behavior; that I learned being big was ugly. And I know I'm not the only one who learned that. Aaron Lewis, the cute redhead with freckles, the first boy I ever "liked" knew that and laughed in my face when I told him I liked him when we were nine years old. My classmates in middle school knew it when they tortured me for three years. Paul Flickenger, Andy McGuire, Dan Cox, Ben Knight, Orion DeSmit, Josh Conley, Chip Nightingale, Rick Jones, Robb Handy, Derek Meeker, Dave DeWitt, Chad Waterman, Matt Patton, Casey Fawley, Tim Bosworth, and every other man I have been interested in romantically has rejected me because they saw me as a friend or weren't attracted to me - aka, I wasn't beautiful enough. In college, I taught pre-school at KinderCare. One day, Ashley's dad came to pick her up, which only happened on occasion. Ashley saw her dad pull into the parking lot and was excited to see him. As I was helping her get her things together, she said to me, "Miss Stacie, my dad doesn't like you." Trying to hide the shock, I casually say, "Oh really, why not?" And she stated, "Because he doesn't like fat people." I contained the tears until she and her dad were gone. I cried, not because my feelings were hurt, but because a precious little four year old girl was taught that being fat was wrong/bad - at the age of FOUR! That just makes me sick. I often wonder about Ashley, she would be fifteen by now. I pray she loves herself the way she is.

And aside from all the personal messages I have received directly from people, there are the messages in the media. Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jessica Simpson have been called fat. HA! Wow, are you f*cking kidding me? Because they have curves, they're considered fat?!!? Amazing, no wonder so many women hate themselves. The standard we are to live up to is nearly impossible to achieve.

All of this to say, I want to love myself. Not just parts of me, but ALL of me. I want to feel beautiful, lovely. I long to be more than the girl with the pretty face. But with all these messages and all this pressure and all these scars from my past, how do I do that? How do I see myself as lovely when everything I know says that's not true?

There's this song by Sara Haze that I just love. Every time I hear it, I tear up because I long for this to be how I feel about myself. The song is titled Lovely. I looked up the definition of lovely and it is defined as: exquisitely beautiful; highly pleasing; having beauty that appeals to the heart and mind as well as they eyes. Below are the lyrics. May we all discover what it means for us to be LOVELY.


Lovely ~ Sara Haze

I don't wanna be her
I just wanna be little old me
I shouldn't have to think
Who am I supposed to be today
And what gave you the right
To tell me who I should be
Who gave you that right

Cuz, I feel LOVELY just the way that I am
Yes, I feel LOVELY the way that I am

I know you want the best
Yeah only good things for me
But you have to realize
I can't be all these things you project on me
Cuz I'm beautiful to me
Doesn't that mean a thing?

I feel LOVELY just the way that I am
Yes I, I feel LOVELY the way that I am

I need that to be enough for you
I need that to be enough for you
Cuz it's enough for me
It's enough for me

Am I supposed to give up everything I am
Just to make you happy?
I thought I was the one you always wanted me to be
It turns out
I'm just little old me
I'm just little old me
And that's fine by me

Cuz I, I am LOVELY just the way that I am
Oh yes I am
Yes I, I am LOVELY the way that I am

I am LOVELY, LOVELY
I am LOVELY

Monday, July 18, 2011

Great Expectations

Hmmmmm, I have a problem. Okay, I have lots of problems. But one of my problems is that I have great expectations - great expectations of myself and of others. Don't get me wrong, it's good to have standards and to hold one's self to them. And I feel like I do a great job of holding myself to the standards I have created for myself in my life. The problem comes in when I try to hold other people to those same expectations. This does nothing but cause trouble for me and the other person! I end up hurt and frustrated....but how do I lower my standards? Should I have to? Don't I deserve to get what I give? It seems like it might just be a lose lose situation here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sticks and Stones

We all know the saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." This is such a fricking lie! It should say, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will break my heart." In my experience in the past thirty-two years of my life, words have hurt me deeper than any injury I have ever endured. And not only do they hurt you, but they scar you.

The other day at work we had a training and we were asked to list words that people used to identify us or place us in a box. And one of my co-workers casually said, "Why is it we only remember the bad things people say about us?" What is is about the bad that sticks to us so well? I heard it said that it takes four positives to cancel out one negative. Why do you think that is? Why is negativity so powerful?

I know for me I grew up hearing so much negativity. I was not popular growing up, and was teased and ridiculed in middle school. I was told I was ugly, fat, a cow, a dyke. I was mooed at as I walked down the hall. Girls made up songs about me. I was shoved down, tripped, laughed at every single day for my entire middle school career. I also heard negativity at home, my brothers called me a "fat bitch" often and I was told more than once that I was lazy and didn't work hard enough. I heard these comments and variations of them so often, they became the background noise of my life. I grew to believe them and even allowed them to define me and who I was and who I could become. And I know that I didn't only hear negative comments growing up. I know I heard nice things from my parents and from friends, but I don't remember those. I remember the bad, what's up with that? I think for me, I'm naturally hard on myself and very self-critical, so to hear others being critical makes sense. And I also think that I heard so very many people say so very many negative things about me, that I just assumed that it had to be true. If it's the mass consensus, then it must be the truth. They say the truth hurts, and in this case it did. So I just accepted that all of these mean and cruel and limiting things that people said about me were truth. And if that was truth, then it meant that every nice or positive thing anyone said to me was a lie. Every time anyone said anything kind to me or paid me a compliment I wondered what they wanted and why they would lie to me - always questioning their motives and never believing what they said was true. How could what they said be true when there where so many people who said the opposite of what they said?

It is said that it takes FOUR positives to counter just ONE negative. So that means for every negative comment we hear from someone or every negative self talk or negative experience, it takes four positives to cancel it out! Wow! That's not the math I grew up learning!!! But it's true! And as I'm getting older and wiser and learning more about myself and who I really am, I'm learning that all of those things that I believed to be true about myself growing up are lies. All of those things I allowed to define me are not truth, they are simply false words that greatly out numbered the true words at the time. The true words are that I am smart and compassionate and beautiful and hard-working and funny and loving and caring and strong and organized and loyal (and many, many more).

And as I move forward in my life and one day become a wife and mother, this is a lesson I am going to carry with me. That each time I think about speaking a negative, as easy as it seems to take back later, when I realize I didn't mean it, it is NOT easy to take back. It is four times more difficult to erase that it is to say.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will leave scars! Words are so much more powerful than we think they are. My head and my heart and my sense of self are forever scarred from the words that have been spoken to me. And as far as I have come to know who I really am and what words are truth, those ugly words creep their way in from time to time. It's hard work to repair the wounds of words that hurt.

So remember the amazing power of your words and use them to affirm and love yourself and others!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Time Marches On

So if you know me, you know I am secretly married to David Cook, aka Mr. Stacie Brown. Totally joking! I do, however, find him irresistibly sexy and brilliantly talented. If you don't know who David Cook is - shame on you!!! Anyhow, his new album came out two weeks ago and I committed to listening to it as often as I can (at least once a day) so when he goes out on tour, I'll be able to sing along to all his songs. Don't judge me! :) His new album is superb and there are so many great songs on it.

One of my favorites is titled, Time Marches On. One of the lyrics in the song says, "I never thought I'd see myself down here/In the same damn place with a different year/Where the lines on my face never looked so clear." And the chorus goes, "Time marches on, right or wrong/Never waits for no one, no/Can't turn it off, won't make it through/Cause time marches on without you."

Oh how I can relate to these lyrics. So often in my life, I have felt like I'm stuck, that my life has become stagnant, that I haven't changed or grown at all. The years keep passing, but I'm still in the same place I was the year before and the year before that and the year before that...But as I reflect on that, that's total bulls*it! The reason I feel that way is because I tend to focus on the things I don't have (I don't own my own home, I'm not married and I don't have children) instead of focusing on the positives. Like: I have lost 60 pounds. I ran a half marathon. I'm amazing at my job. I have my own place. I pay my own bills. I have amazing friends. I love myself a little more every day. I am learning to be comfortable in my own skin and discover who the authentic Stacie Brown is...These are HUGE changes in my life, so time isn't passing me by at all!

Every time I hear the chorus of this song, I feel a little guilt. I can't even count how many times I have said, "I'll do it tomorrow." Or "I'll do it when I'm thinner." And tomorrow comes and goes and I don't do it. And I don't feel I'm thin enough, so I never commit to it. Living my life like this is not healthy and only creates opportunities for regret. The only thing we as humans are guaranteed is right now, this moment. We are not promised tomorrow. And I am so guilty of living for tomorrow instead of living for the moment. I have a deep desire to change this way of being. I want to be able to do something when I think of doing it and not talk myself out of it because I don't have time or I'm afraid of how I'll look. But how do I change this mindset? Hmmmm, looks like a new challenge for myself and maybe for you too ;)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Four Letter Word

I grew up in a home where there was lots of cursing. I consider myself a "cursing Christian" and am always happy when I meet a fellow CC :). I find cursing to be theraputic and actually once read an article in a health magazine that said studies show that people who swear are less stressed than people who don't. So that's a good thing! But the four letter word I am talking about today is not a "swear word."

Love is a four letter word.

It's amazing to me how something so amazing and precious and beautiful as love can also bring so much hurt and pain and devastation. There are so many people around me who are experiencing great heartache because of love. Relationships are severed. Strained. Longed for. Complicated. And sometimes, the cynic in me wonders if love is really worth it. Is it really worth all the pain and heartache?

We grow up (especially us girls) watching Disney Princess movies and having fairy tales read to us. And in all of these stories they have one common theme. The girl's life is terrible, but she meets a "handsome prince" and he rescues her, they fall in love and live happily ever after. So because we are fed this over and over and over and over again as we grow up we believe that this is how love works. That our life will be better when we fall in love and that we will be content and happy if we are loved and in love. WHAT A LOAD OF BULLSH*T!!!

Love is not about being happy all the time. It is not all about lust and passion and romance. It is not being swept off your feet and being rescued by prince charming. That is not love. Those things can be a byproduct of love, sure. But love is so much more than that. Love is hard work because people are people and that means that we all make mistakes, we say things we don't mean, we don't say things we do mean, we hurt each other from time to time. We all have baggage and issues! Love is not a cure for those issues. Love is about sacrifice. Love is fighting when you'd rather ignore the issue. Love is dying to self. Love is supporting someone in a time of need even though they've hurt you in the past. Love is forgiveness. Love is accepting someone for all of who they are - the good and the bad. Love is not easy. A dear friend of mine always says. "Love is in the details." And I so agree with that.

The definition of love is: a deep, enduring, emotional regard for another person.

To me, the key word in that definition is enduring. To endure means to suffer patiently. Ouch! Who wants to do that? But if we say we love someone that means we must not only take the good (romance, joy, friendship, connection), but we must also be willing to suffer patiently in order to have the good. As scary as this kind of love sounds - I want it! I want it in all of my relationships with my friends. I want it with the man who will some day be my husband. I want to suffer patiently for him and for him to do the same.

Love is a four letter word. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it hurts. But for the right person, it is so worth it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Journey Through The Pain

I am currently in the process of getting a phoenix tattooed on my left thigh. It's huge. It's beautiful. And as the artists in the tattoo shop continue to tell me, it's "badass!" :) I've spent nine and a half hours laying on a table while the BRILLIANT Steve Schram tattoos my leg and I have five hours to go. And oh my goodness, it's been painful! There have been parts that were just irritating and uncomfortable, but bearable. There have been parts that hurt like hell and I just wanted to scream (I've only said the f-word once so far). There have been moments where I've wanted to stop and be done because I couldn't handle it anymore. During these nine and a half hours I've had time to talk to Steve and get to know him and how effing amazing and talented he is, what a beautiful human being he is and what a loving father and husband he is. And I've also had LOTS of time to think and reflect. And this whole process of getting tattooed, the pain/discomfort on so many levels, just makes me think of my life at different times. Life can be very uncomfortable. It can hurt like hell. It can make you want to throw in the towel and just give up. And I think about this journey to a healthy me that I've been on and how hard it's been. How I've just wanted to give up because in the moment the pain seems so unbearable and so not worth it and it seems that the only alternative is to quit. And that's where I've been with my weight loss journey - I've quit. But as I laid on that table getting tattooed, I realized something...If I can push through the pain, find a way to get through it, then the reward is something so beautiful!!! And it's a reward that will last a lifetime!

All of that kind of ties into why I chose to get a phoenix tattoo. A phoenix is a mythical bird, that when it dies, it burns and turns to ash and out of the ashes, a new phoenix is born. In the Japanese culture, a phoenix represents feminine strength and beauty. This tattoo represents the last couple years of my life. When I turned thirty, I decided to get my life together. All my life I've just been this sad, lonely fat girl who just wanted to be accepted and to have people love her. So I spent thirty years living my life for other people, trying so hard to be who they wanted me to be, that I didn't even know who I really was anymore. And at thirty, I discovered running and found out so much about myself as a person and how beautiful and strong I really am. I also began my weight loss journey and the journey to feeling comfortable in my own skin. So this tattoo is a culmination of all these things and represents a new chapter in my life - a new beginning to the real me.

I have my third and final session with Steve on July 1st. It's going to be very bitter-sweet. I cannot wait for the finished product and to see this amazing piece of artwork on my body. But I'm also going to miss the process, miss hanging out in the shop, miss talking to Steve. But they say all good things must come to an end, so I'll just have to start saving up for yet another amazing tattoo!

Write A Book...Maybe

So, I’ve been told by many people that I write well and that I should write a book. I always laughed that off because I’m not an author, sure I was an English major in college, but that doesn’t mean I can write. And yes, occasionally I can spout off something witty or thought provoking after I’ve had an experience, but that would account for a few pages, not an entire book. And what would I write about? I don’t feel like I’ve arrived at anything and have no authority to give people advice on anything. But what if I did write a book? A non-fiction book. What would I write about? People say you should write about what you know. I know about sorrow, loss, heartache. I know about working my ASS off to lose weight only to have it come off very slowly. I know singleness, being an outsider, always feeling like I’m the only one bold enough (maybe dumb enough) to challenge things and ask questions about why they are the way they are. I know what it’s like to be the fat girl wherever I go and ALL the things that come along with that. I know what it’s like to be an aunt to two of the most beautiful little people in the world. I know what it’s like to grow up on a farm and what it’s like to use your imagination to play outside instead of being cooped up with video games. I know what hard work is all to well. I know what it’s like to have parents who did their best, but their best wasn’t always good enough. I know what it’s like to grow up in a home where you had to perform, where praise was void, where affection was absent, where feelings were stuffed because no one wanted to hear about it. I know what it’s like to live my life as a people pleaser who spends most of her energy trying to make others happy and becoming lost in the process. I know what it’s like to be a fighter, to cling on to hope. I know what it’s like to fail and fail big, yet eventually pick myself back up and try again. I know what it’s like to have desires, deep longings and not have them realized. I know what it’s like to be my own worst critic and never feel like I’m good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough, kind enough, loving enough, and the list is endless. I know amazing friendships that have forever changed my life. I know deep loss of those same relationships. I know laughter, laughter so good it hurts and makes you cry. I know giving up, throwing in the towel, settling. I know feeling lost, left out, isolated. I know not fitting in. I know being bullied. I know the overwhelming joy of finishing my first half marathon. I know crying myself to sleep. I know laughing so hard I peed my pants. I know getting up early. I know routine. I know solitude. I know me.

Finding The Smile

Finding The Smile
So there’s this blogger that I follow. His name is Ben Davis (bendoeslife.com) and he has lost 130 pounds after discovering a love for running. He has completed countless races and has even completed an Ironman! He’s badass, super funny and easy on the eyes:)!!! Once in awhile he will write something deep and thought provoking, and yesterday I came across one such post (see below). As I read this post, I felt like I was reading my own life - that Ben has been sneaking into my journal and into my head. These last few months of my life have been filled with sadness and a rollercoaster of emotion. And the saddest thing about all of it is that I gave up on me. I decided that I wasn’t worth fighting for. I let the darkness creep in and take over. I allowed comfort to beat out sacrifice. I decided that being sad was easier than fighting to find the joy. I quit on myself. I lost focus. I decided to settle for comfort because it was safe. It didn’t matter that the comfort was sucking the life out of me. BUT…I’m back! I have rediscovered that fire in me, that fight, that inner badass! And I am learning how to fall in love with myself all over again. I am learning to take care of myself, to drag myself out of bed in the morning to let Erin kick my ass at the gym, to push myself beyond what I think I am capable of. And I know that I will probably slip up again. This isn’t a fight that is won only once. This is a fight I will have to win time and time again. But with every slip comes wisdom and tools to use to fight the fight harder and smarter. And that makes it easier to find the smile…

Finding the smile
It’s no secret that a lot of people in the world are sad. In fact, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that most people have some area of life that is unsatisfactory and, in many cases, it is bleeding through to the rest of their lives in the vicious cycle that has become the cliché of depression and unhappiness.

For some of us, this manifests itself in the form of sitting in front of a screen rotating between our email, blog, Facebook and Twitter. Over and over. We get sad, but we look around and there’s nothing else, so we hit refresh one more time. And again.

The hours don’t fly, they drip like molasses.

Others fill that emptiness with substances. Some use alcohol and drugs. Some find excuses to eat. Others simply sit and stew, waiting for the clock to tell them it’s time to go to sleep again.

The sad things we fill our lives with aren’t important.


What’s important is to understand that if we’re going to fix it—if we’re going to get better, whether it be through our own methods or professional help—we have to find something to replace the bad. That time can’t go unoccupied, because when it does, we allow the habits to creep back in.

I found races. But it doesn’t have to be running. It doesn’t have to be Crossfit or yoga. It doesn’t have to be working out at all. Get creative and make it fun. And make it worthwhile. But, whatever the cost, put a positive force into play where the negative used to be. Life can be exciting. Life can be fun.

Replace the bad with the good. It’s necessary.

All In A Day's Run

Some of you know that last year I trained for and completed my very first half-marathon. It was one of the most life changing experiences I have ever had. It helped me to realize that all my life I have allowed others to define me and that I didn't really know who I was as a result. All the training and completing the run was about proving something to myself. It was amazing! (See my note More Than A Run for more on that experience.) Well, I decided I was going to participate in the half marathon again this year. Training began a couple weeks ago, and I will complete the run on Mother's Day. I went for a six mile run this morning, and had a bit of an epiphany about my life. You see, when I do something once, I automatically make this assumption that I have conquered it/mastered it and if I do it again, it will be a piece of cake because I know what to expect. Well, I have ran the six mile distance hundreds of times, but today it was a real struggle to complete. And as I was on my run this afternoon, I was beating myself up. I was calling myself a failure. I was doubting my abilities. I almost quit - turned around and walked home. But about half way through the run Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtGY4G7II6s) came on my pandora radio. This song has meant a lot to me and how much I have changed as a person. This song is about freedom and writing your own life story and not allowing others to do that for you. And it pushed me to keep running. And then a few songs later, Pink's "F-ing Perfect": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3G5T9bIdYlE came on (this link it to the edited version!). This song too, just speaks to me and my struggles with loving myself and believing that I am worth it. So I continued to push myself to finish my six miles.

And as I completed my run, I thought about my life and how difficult and impossible it can seem sometimes. Sometimes I want to quit. Sometimes I want to just give up. Sometimes I doubt myself. Do you ever do that??? In spite of all my doubting today, I did it (and faster than I ever have before). I just needed to overcome myself and remember that I AM worth it. I CAN do it. I AM a fighter. I AM strong. I AM good enough. And when I choose to believe that, then I can preserver.

Please know beyond the shadow of a doubt that YOU are amazing! You have strength and abilities that you didn't know you had!!! May you find that song or that quote or that verse that can help remind you of this the way I did today!

More Than A Race

Well, it’s been one month since I ran in and completed my very first half marathon! And it’s actually really hard to believe that I did it or that it was even something that was in the realm of my abilities to do (due to my own personal demons and things I was told/experienced as a young lady about myself and who I was and was not). So I have to remind myself that I did actually do itJ. Completing this race was not only good for my body and physical self, but it was so good and needed for my heart and my attitude toward myself and who I am. And what is even more strange is that I’ve had at least a dozen people tell me that I’ve inspired them. It is so odd to me to hear people say that. I’ve never considered myself as inspiring. I’m very flattered, but again, I don’t often believe in my own abilities and impact. So that has been a big thing for me.

This whole process has changed my life! It was like my own little personal Breakthrough trainingJ. I never could have imagined how training for a run would have caused me to grow as a person. It was the hardest and most amazing thing I have ever done in my life to date!!! The only thing I can possibly think that could top it would be giving birth to my child some day. It really was a phenomenal experience. I find myself walking tall, speaking my mind more – having greater confidence in myself and who I am.

When I was thirteen years old, I had a coach/teacher tell me I could not be on the basketball team because I was fat……..That one moment totally changed me and my life. I allowed that one comment to dictate who I was, what I did and who I was going to become. That day taught me that I was limited. There were things that I couldn’t do, even if I wanted to. I was less than. I wasn’t good enough. My size dictated my worth. And shame on me for thinking I could be/do something I’m not. A fat girl is not an athlete. A fat girl is not beautiful. A fat girl is not confident. A fat girl is not popular. So after that moment, I learned to be what people expected of me. I allowed others to place me in a box. I became the quiet, bubbly, nerd who was smart and a band geek. That was who I was. And I have carried this around with me ever since. As I have grown into an adult, I am still effected by this one moment and continue to limit myself for the fear that someone will tell me I can’t do it because I’m the fat girl and fat girls shouldn’t do that.

So eighteen years later, I allow my crazy friend Erin to convince me to train for a half marathon. And during the whole process, I was just waiting for the moment when I would fail, when I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore. But that moment never came!!! I did it! I really did it! I ran 13.1 miles. It took me three hours and twenty-one minutes and I may have been the last person to cross that finish line, but I did it! And I had such a great support system and all of my friends were there cheering me on and Erin was there running along side me the entire way. And the moment I crossed that finish line, I began to weep. Part of those tears were about the physical and mental exhaustion of what I had just done, but most of those tears were about something much bigger. In that moment, I took back my life!!! Eighteen years ago I gave it away to hate/judgment/ignorance. But when I crossed that finish line I proved to everyone, and most importantly, myself, that I am so much more that “the fat girl!” I am strong. I am brave. I am beautiful. I am an athlete. And I can do anything I set my mind to! So now I have a new moment to look back on that can help to shape who I am and who I become. That race was so much bigger than just running around the city of Kalamazoo. That race was about taking my life back and for the first time – living it!

Some Wonderings

Do you ever feel better about yourself/about life when you're around someone? There are people in my life who just make me feel good about who I am. I find myself smiling and laughing a lot more around them because their personalities are so infectious.

Do you ever wonder if you get in your own way in life? I wonder this a lot actually. Do my own fears and insecurities hold me back? Have I missed out/passed up some great things because I was scared or unsure? And sadly, I'm positive the answer to this is yes.

Do you ever wish you could get away with saying exactly what was on your mind? Gosh, I really wish I could do this….sometimes I don't say things I want to because I'm afraid of the way it might be received and sometimes I don't say it because it may be deemed inappropriate. And sometimes I don't say it because I'm too nice.

Do you ever just want to grab ahold of someone and kiss them? Man…I wish I was a little more bold and brazen sometimes!

Have you ever just wanted to do something really crazy and spontaneous because the person you're with makes you feel safe and brave? I love it when the people I care about bring out the sides of me I didn't know existed.

Have you ever been so enamored with someone you couldn't take your eyes off of them? Just watch them makes you happy. Seeing them smile makes you smile. Seeing them frustrated makes you frustrated. Words are not needed to share feelings between two people.

Have you ever, as an adult, been too excited about something to fall asleep?

Have you ever wanted to just touch someone? And not in a sexual way, but touching them makes you feel this spark, this connection. I can't imagine what the world would be like without physical touch.

Do you have moments in your life you wish you could freeze in time? Everything about a specific moment is perfect, the mood, the emotion, the company – and you don't want that moment to end.

Men And Me

I am going to begin this post with a disclaimer (which probably means I shouldn't be writing it, but I'm going to anyway)....The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are mine and mine alone. I am speaking only for me and not the enitre female population. And the paragraphs to follow are written with deep emotion (hurt, disappointment, frustration, fear, saddness, lonliness). So these are not always my opinions, just today:).

Okay, now that I've got that out of the way...... I have to say that I L-O-V-E, love men. I relate to men much more easily than I do women. I grew up the only girl in a family of tons of boys. Two of my very closest friends (people I would lay my life down for) are men. I trust them completely and adore them with my whole heart. Men are fantastic, really they are. BUT men can be big shallow, self-absorbed jerks sometimes too. What is that all about? Why is it a man can say that he wants a woman who's going to love him for who he is, who's funny, who's kind, etc, etc...but when she's right there in front of his face, she's ignored or rejected??? What is that about? Is it me? Is it bad timing? Is it insecurities? Is it shallowness? Is it fear? I'm asking because I don't know. And I'm at my wits end here. I'm 32 years old and single. All of my life my dream has been to be a wife and a mommy. I believe God has placed this desire in my heart, but sometimes I wonder if I will ever find my Boaz, my partner in crime, my best friend. I've been holding out for God's best for 32 years, and I refuse to settle. I am an amazing woman. I am beautiful, funny, creative, intelligent, compassionate, driven, selfless (I could go on, but I think you get the point). I am an amazing catch, any man would be lucky to have me. So why haven't I been caught yet? Can anyone answer this question? I guess what is really driving this frustration is two fold. One, it seems like everyone around me is getting engaged/married and having babies. This leaves me envious and a little scared that I've missed my opportunity somewhere along the way. The second part of my frustration is that I feel like I'm still single because men have bought into the worlds idea of beauty. And because I don't fit into that (I'm not 120 pounds), I'm passed up/looked over/ignored/rejected. And this is especially frustrating to me because the last several men I have been interested in (and found completely sexy and totally wonderful) are men who do not fit worldly standards. I saw their hearts and their personalities (and their humor) as more important than their physical appearance.

My heart, as well as the heart of every woman, is extremely fragile. And men act like a bull in a china shop most of the time, having no care or concern for the mess they leave behind. And we're left to try and pick up all the pieces and glue it back together. Have you ever broken a dish before and tried to glue it back togther? It's quite a process. You have to find all the pieces, put them back togther correctly, apply the glue, hold it together as the glue dries. It takes a long time and sometimes several tries to get it put back together. And you can never find every single piece. There are always little chips missing. The dish is never the same again. It's scarred and more fragile than it was before. This is like the heart. Each time it is broken, it becomes more and more fragile - to the point that you're afraid to use it.....

I know there's a man out there for me. I just pray that he's man enough to follow his heart/his gut/the prompting of the the Holy Spirit and pursue me. And to this man I say, thank you for being a man!

What's That on Your Foot?

I have a tattoo on the top of my right foot that's been there for about four years now. When people see it, they always ask me, "What's on your foot?" And I always say it's a heart shaped rock with the hebrew word, hesed, that means unconditional love. And they look at me strangely and I reply by saying that it's a long story, but I have the actual rock that is tattooed on my foot. So, I decided to explain my tattoo here...In the fall of 2005 I had my heart completely shattered. I had fallen in love with a man whom I thought loved me back. It turns out that he did love me, just not enough....basically it came down to this - he cared for me and another girl and had to make a choice and one week after my 27th birthday he told me he was in love with her and wanted to marry her (people work fast in the romance department around here!). I was shattered, broken, devistated. I cried for about three days straight. I didn't know what to do. I thought this was the man God has given me to be my husband, but I was wrong. One day I was walking down my driveway, crying out to God, asking Him why this happened and just pouring my heart out to Him. And I look down at the ground and see a heart shaped rock on the ground about the size of three fingers and the perfect shape. A few weeks later, I was walking the same path, questioning God again, and found another heart shaped rock. I have found four of them in all. Call me crazy if you like (you wouldn't be the first person to do so), but I really feel like God gave me these rocks as a sign - a sign of His love for me. He loves me so much and it pains Him to see me cry, so He gave me these rocks to comfort me and tell me that He loves me and that it's going to be okay and that He has an amazing man for me, but I just need to be patient......I have since healed from this heartache and am now really good friends with this man and his wife. And I know that God has an amazing man of integrity and compassion (and who's funny as heck) in store for me...so I got this tattoo to remind me of how much God really loves me. And the pain I endured for this is nothing compared to the pain Christ had to endure for me.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Food and I have quite the history together. It's really a love hate relationship - I love food, and it hates me and my body. I've realized how food treats me and have tried to end the relationship many times, really I have. But it's soooo hard. Food tastes so good, and it can be so comforting sometimes. I know that there are times when I eat my emotions instead of dealing with them. Sometimes sad and lonely is a plate of chocolate chip pancakes or pizza and stressed out is Qdoba and a candy bar....not good, I know. I've decided the only way I can end the vicious cycle is that all food needs to either taste like crap or I need to remove the tastebuds from my tongue....I'm just kidding, but life really would be a bit easier if food didn't taste so wonderful....But seriously, this is something I'm really trying to work on. I don't want food to rule my life, and I think I'm making pretty good headway on this one. And hopefully one day soon I'll be able to see the fruits of my labor...So Food, we're over...through....I'm done letting you rule my life. This relationship is over!