When your Mother says she’s fat

With every grimace at your reflection in the mirror, every new wonder diet that was going to change your life, and every guilty spoon of ”Oh-I-really-shouldn’t”, I learned that women must be thin to be valid and worthy. Girls must go without because their greatest contribution to the world is their physical beauty.

May we as Mother’s, take this to heart…

Dear Mum,

I was seven when I discovered that you were fat, ugly and horrible. Up until that point I had believed that you were beautiful – in every sense of the word. I remember flicking through old photo albums and staring at pictures of you standing on the deck of a boat. Your white strapless bathing suit looked so glamorous, just like a movie star. Whenever I had the chance I’d pull out that wondrous white bathing suit hidden in your bottom drawer and imagine a time when I’d be big enough to wear it; when I’d be like you.

But all of that changed when, one night, we were dressed up for a party and you said to me, ”Look at you, so thin, beautiful and lovely. And look at me, fat, ugly and horrible.”

At first I didn’t understand what you meant.

”You’re not fat,” I said earnestly and innocently, and you replied, ”Yes I am, darling. I’ve always been fat; even as a child.”

In the days that followed I had some painful revelations that have shaped my whole life. I learned that:

1. You must be fat because mothers don’t lie.
2. Fat is ugly and horrible.
3. When I grow up I’ll look like you and therefore I will be fat, ugly and horrible too.

Years later, I looked back on this conversation and the hundreds that followed and cursed you for feeling so unattractive, insecure and unworthy. Because, as my first and most influential role model, you taught me to believe the same thing about myself.

With every grimace at your reflection in the mirror, every new wonder diet that was going to change your life, and every guilty spoon of ”Oh-I-really-shouldn’t”, I learned that women must be thin to be valid and worthy. Girls must go without because their greatest contribution to the world is their physical beauty.

Just like you, I have spent my whole life feeling fat. When did fat become a feeling anyway? And because I believed I was fat, I knew I was no good.

But now that I am older, and a mother myself, I know that blaming you for my body hatred is unhelpful and unfair. I now understand that you too are a product of a long and rich lineage of women who were taught to loathe themselves.

Look at the example Nanna set for you. Despite being what could only be described as famine-victim chic, she dieted every day of her life until the day she died at 79 years of age. She used to put on make-up to walk to the letterbox for fear that somebody might see her unpainted face.

I remember her ”compassionate” response when you announced that Dad had left you for another woman. Her first comment was, ”I don’t understand why he’d leave you. You look after yourself, you wear lipstick. You’re overweight – but not that much.”

Before Dad left, he provided no balm for your body-image torment either.

”Jesus, Jan,” I overheard him say to you. ”It’s not that hard. Energy in versus energy out. If you want to lose weight you just have to eat less.”

That night at dinner I watched you implement Dad’s ”Energy In, Energy Out: Jesus, Jan, Just Eat Less” weight-loss cure. You served up chow mein for dinner. (Remember how in 1980s Australian suburbia, a combination of mince, cabbage, and soy sauce was considered the height of exotic gourmet?) Everyone else’s food was on a dinner plate except yours. You served your chow mein on a tiny bread-and-butter plate.

As you sat in front of that pathetic scoop of mince, silent tears streamed down your face. I said nothing. Not even when your shoulders started heaving from your distress. We all ate our dinner in silence. Nobody comforted you. Nobody told you to stop being ridiculous and get a proper plate. Nobody told you that you were already loved and already good enough. Your achievements and your worth – as a teacher of children with special needs and a devoted mother of three of your own – paled into insignificance when compared with the centimetres you couldn’t lose from your waist.

It broke my heart to witness your despair and I’m sorry that I didn’t rush to your defence. I’d already learned that it was your fault that you were fat. I’d even heard Dad describe losing weight as a ”simple” process – yet one that you still couldn’t come to grips with. The lesson: you didn’t deserve any food and you certainly didn’t deserve any sympathy.

But I was wrong, Mum. Now I understand what it’s like to grow up in a society that tells women that their beauty matters most, and at the same time defines a standard of beauty that is perpetually out of our reach. I also know the pain of internalising these messages. We have become our own jailors and we inflict our own punishments for failing to measure up. No one is crueller to us than we are to ourselves.

But this madness has to stop, Mum. It stops with you, it stops with me and it stops now. We deserve better – better than to have our days brought to ruin by bad body thoughts, wishing we were otherwise.

And it’s not just about you and me any more. It’s also about Violet. Your granddaughter is only 3 and I do not want body hatred to take root inside her and strangle her happiness, her confidence and her potential. I don’t want Violet to believe that her beauty is her most important asset; that it will define her worth in the world. When Violet looks to us to learn how to be a woman, we need to be the best role models we can. We need to show her with our words and our actions that women are good enough just the way they are. And for her to believe us, we need to believe it ourselves.

The older we get, the more loved ones we lose to accidents and illness. Their passing is always tragic and far too soon. I sometimes think about what these friends – and the people who love them – wouldn’t give for more time in a body that was healthy. A body that would allow them to live just a little longer. The size of that body’s thighs or the lines on its face wouldn’t matter. It would be alive and therefore it would be perfect.

Your body is perfect too. It allows you to disarm a room with your smile and infect everyone with your laugh. It gives you arms to wrap around Violet and squeeze her until she giggles. Every moment we spend worrying about our physical ”flaws” is a moment wasted, a precious slice of life that we will never get back.

Let us honour and respect our bodies for what they do instead of despising them for how they appear. Focus on living healthy and active lives, let our weight fall where it may, and consign our body hatred in the past where it belongs. When I looked at that photo of you in the white bathing suit all those years ago, my innocent young eyes saw the truth. I saw unconditional love, beauty and wisdom. I saw my Mum.

Love, Kasey xx

This is an excerpt from Dear Mum, a collection of letters from Australian sporting stars, musicians, models, cooks and authors revealing what they would like to say to their mothers before it’s too late, or would have said if only they’d had the chance.

All royalties go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Published by Random House and available now.

“Body image lies women believe: And the truth of Christ that sets them free”

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I don’t like to admit it, but I have struggled with body image issues and still sometimes do. That lie surfaces that “I’m not good enough.” I have wondered if this was an issue for other women and as I’ve traveled around the US and even internationally speaking out on this issue I have found it is.

These statistics speak for themselves.

And the pressure is all around us to look a certain way. Abercrombie and Fitch has been in the news lately for not selling over a size 10. I walked around a clothing store last night and literally felt sick to my stomach as I saw shorts that looked little more than underwear, skimpy tank tops and string bikinis that are barely more than strings. We are told we need to display our bodies for all to see. And what if we don’t fit in those clothes and sizes? Then, we don’t feel like we measure up.

However, who we are is so much more.

The reason I have written and published the book “Body Image Lies Women Believe: And the Truth of Christ that Sets Them Free” is to tackle this difficult subject of body image. I did so by having women of every shape and size share their struggles, the lies they believed and the truth of Christ that set them free.

And their stories are powerful.

Join me in taking a stand for true beauty!

Download your copy of the book today here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B9MZIEG

    “And then you will know the truth and the truth will set you FREE.” John 8:32

-Shelley Hitz

I love reading stories of deliverance and Christ’s life-changing power.
I highly recommend this book.
About real women.
Real stories.
And the One who changed them.

Before I was a Mom…

Before I was a Mom
I made and ate hot meals.
I had unstained clothing.
I had quiet conversations on the phone.

Before I was a Mom,
I slept as late as I wanted
And never worried about how late I got into bed.
I brushed my hair and my teeth everyday.

Before I was a Mom
I cleaned my house each day.
I never tripped over toys or forgot words of lullabies.

Before I was a Mom
I didn’t worry whether or not my plants were poisonous.
I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom
I had never been puked on
Pooped on
Spit on
Chewed on
Peed on
Or pinched by tiny fingers

Before I was a Mom
I had complete control of:
My thoughts
My body
And my mind.
I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom
I never held down a screaming child
So that doctors could do tests
Or give shots.
I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn’t want to put them down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces
When I couldn’t stop the hurt.
I never knew that someone so small
Could affect my life so much.
I never knew that I could love someone so much.
I never knew I would love being a Mom.

Before I was a Mom
I didn’t know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.
I didn’t know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.
I didn’t know that bond between a Mother and her child.
I didn’t know that someone so small
Could make me feel so important.

Before I was a Mom
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night
every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay

I had never known the warmth
The joy
The love
The heartache
The wonder
And the delight of being a Mom.
I didn’t know I was capable of feeling so much before I was a Mom.

~ Author Unknown

An Open Hand

As the rays of dawn broke over the horizon, a figure of a man loomed in the shadowy light. He saddled his donkey and loaded it down with wood, preparing for the three days of travel that lie ahead.
In the stillness of the morning, he took his son, his only son, and two servants and set off on the journey. His gait was confident. Not that of someone who had a distressing task ahead.

This mans’ name was Abraham.
That dawn-lit morning, he started out on a journey to one of the greatest acts of faith and obedience ever recorded in history.

Earlier the day before, God handed Abraham a test, not to trip him up and watch him fall, but to deepen his capacity to obey God and consequently develop his character.

God called him, “Abraham!”

Oh, Abraham knew that voice well. Over time, he had cultivated his heart to listen for it.

“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”

Then the test was presented.

“Take your son, your only son – yes, Isaac, whom you love so much – and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering…” (Genesis 22:1-2)

It doesn’t give us a glimpse of what goes on in Abraham’s heart after that, but I can only imagine.
Or maybe not.
His faith seemed much greater than mine.
Sacrifice my son?
My only son?
Obviously, I did not just hear that right.
This son, who through a miracle was born unto them in their old age.
They loved him. So much.
Surely the Lord would not have me then sacrifice him!

But you see, in times past his faith had faltered.
He wavered.
He had been weaker.
But not now. He knew the God he served. He knew exactly what the Lord had promised to him. He now had faith. A faith that could not be shaken.

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. (Hebrews 11:17-19 a)

Weary from the journey, they arrive a little ways from their destination.
The man and his boy walk together to where God had told him to go.
As they walk alone together, the boy wonders out-loud where the lamb is for the sacrifice?
The man confidently reassures him that the Lord will provide.
They continued on in silence.
Once there, Abraham builds an alter of stone. He places the wood upon it.
Then with a heart full of faith and obedience, he ties his sons’ hands and places him on top of the alter.
That moment as he held the knife high above his head, ready to plunge it into his son, the familiar voice shouted to him. An angel of the Lord.

“Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”
“Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son.

God came through for him. He didn’t doubt for even a moment.

But why did God direct Abraham to carry out an act of human sacrifice?
Heathen nations practiced human sacrifice, but God condemned this as a terrible sin. (Leviticus 20:1-5)

God did not want Isaac to die, but he longed for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac in his heart so it would be apparent that Abraham loved God more than his promised and long-awaited son.

Sacrifice.
To give up. Let go.
God showed me this with my own son.
I had him held in my hand with such a vice-like grip.
Afraid to let go.

Then a message my husband preached, spoke words I needed to hear yet again.

    God could give to Abraham because he had made such a wide opening into his life. God can only give into an open hand. This hand was open wide.
    Let this be your rule. Give all He asks, then take all He gives, and then the cup will be joyously spilling over the brim.
    Beware of every hesitation to abandon everything to God.

I stretched out my trembling hand.
Tears forming in corner of my eyes.
Slowly my fingers unfolded revealing to God my open hand.
And there on that day in my heart of hearts, I sacrificed my son.

We all have ‘things’ we need to sacrifice on the alter of our heart.
And believe me, that hasn’t been the only alter I’ve ever built.
I can become so sentimental and attached.
But God is patiently teaching me to loosen my tight grip.
To live my life with an open hand.

You are more beautiful than you think

As part of the Dove series on natural beauty, they had women describe how they look to a forensic artist, and then had people who loved them, do the same thing. The difference in how women perceived themselves vs. how others viewed them was immense.

I was so struck by the truth of this.

I think we have all perceived ourselves differently than others view us.
How many times has a friend of mine pointed out an imperfection she thought she had, and I stood there scratching my head, not even noticing what she is saw.
I try to reassure her that she is beautiful, but I can tell she doesn’t believe…truly…that she is.
I am also guilty of this very thing!

I sound like a broken record when I say this, but there is a great need for us as women to see ourselves as God does.
Beautiful.
Perfectly created.
Loved.

As you go about your day today, remember God sees you and looks down with fondness at what he created.
You.
He loves you, and you are beautifully His.
Never forget that.

Order for my helter-skelter schedule

I groan and roll over in bed after having slept in too late. Again.
I come eye to eye with my son Bradley, who is standing beside the bed. He chirps way too loudly in my ear, “Wake up Mom! It’s morning time.”

I had every intention of waking up earlier. Getting a head start on my day before Bradley woke up, but once again, I hadn’t fallen asleep until the wee hours of the morning, making it nearly impossible to wake up on time.

I stumble out of bed shuffle around for something to wear, rub my puffy eyes and head downstairs to get breakfast for the hungry, growing boy.
He picks out his favorite cereal.
He calls it ‘Squishy cereal’.
I get him situated in a chair, pour some milk into the bowl full of cereal, and head back to the kitchen.
I grab my biggest mug and fill it to the top with coffee my husband made before he left for work.
A wonderful Honduran blend. Black. No cream. No sugar.
I remember I hadn’t packed his lunch for that day. I silently wonder what he found to eat. I groan, feeling like a failure.
I make a mental note to try and make a meal plan later.
My mind swiftly changes gear, and I grab my bible and settle down on the couch with my coffee.
“MOOOOM! My milk just spilled!”
I set my bible aside and rush to wipe up the accident.
I return to my bible and coffee. I get a few verses in and one sip of coffee before I am interrupted again.
“MOOOOM! My bib is off and milk is getting on my shirt. Help!” He makes it sound like a real emergency. I have to smile at his dramatics.
The situation is fixed and I try reading again.
Two minutes later.
“MOOOOM! I’m done!!”
And so am I. Setting my Bible down, I promise myself I will read it later when the time is more convenient.

With a start like that, my day feels disorganized.
Helter-skelter.
And I feel like I can never quite catch up.
Everyday I am determined to make a schedule. Wake up while it is Peaceful. To seek God in the quiet of the morning.
Like so many times before, the day ends with no schedule planned. No meal plans written. Real time with God rushed through, or forgotten in the busyness of the day.

The cycle I’m in seems to spin wildly out of control.
A vicious cycle that doesn’t seem to have an end.
So, I try harder. With more earnest.
Only to fail in my own strength.
Then the words come again.
Words that ring so true.
Words that touch every area of my life.
“For without Me, you can do nothing.”

    I cannot be the beautiful person He created me to be, without Him.
    I have no power to forgive, without Him.
    I am not able to reach the lost, without Him
    I am not capable of running a smooth, peaceful household, without Him.

So I sit down pen in hand.
I start small.
Bedtime for Bradley. Bedtime for me.
Wake-up time for me. Wake-up time for Bradley.
Then a week of meal plans.
It’s not much, but a start, and hopefully from there I can move forward.
I pray over my puny list.
I pray for grace to see this through.
Strength when it gets hard.
And a fully relying on Him.

This all still feels so raw and fresh, but I also feel an amazing change.
Some hope for this un-organized girl!
There is finally a small amount of order for my helter-skelter world! :-)

You…yes you…are beautiful.

She walks into the room. Thin and with a perfect figure. Her clothes coordinate and fit perfectly, and her shoes are so cute! Her personality is bubbly and when she enters, everyone is drawn to her. She makes her way around the room, effortlessly talking to those around her.

In one corner of the room, there I sat. I look down and tug at my shirt feeling more dowdy as time goes on. I wrap my arms around my waist in an effort to hide my fluffy postpartum middle and try to sit a little straighter, while I silently wish I was more out-going. Thinner. Prettier. (And where did she find those cute shoes?!) The more I dwelt on my “imperfections” compared to this “amazing” woman, the more sullen and withdrawn I became, until I didn’t feel like myself at all! I was so “ME” focused.
Does any of this sound familiar?

I often wonder why we as women compare ourselves with other women. Thus gauging our worth. To feel insecure because we don’t feel we measure up in some way, instead of finding our worth in the One who made us so wonderfully complex. (Psalm 139:14)
Who knew us before we were even born. (Psalm 139:16)
The One who has the hairs on our head numbered. (Matt 10:30)
Who loves us. Enough to die for us. (John 3:16)
Jesus.
Without Him, I will never be enough, because in Him I am so much more.

I dare to write, because I feel like I have learned to embrace these truths. I honestly don’t think I could have written this two months ago.
Do I still struggle when I see a woman who seems to be perfect? Sure! But I have learned to realize my worth is so much more IN Christ. He didn’t make me for the purpose of imitating another woman.
This quote says it well.

    God made you an original. Don’t die a copy.

So often I had challenged God for the way He made me.
Why didn’t I talk more?
Have the right words of wisdom to give someone who was struggling?
Why wasn’t I thinner?
More beautiful?
It must have hurt my Lord to hear me complain for the way He fashioned me.
I was so inwardly focused I wasn’t even close to becoming what I was meant to be in Him.
That is, till truth slammed me like a ton of bricks. And in the right way too.
Just a simple,

    “You are enough in Me. For without Me, you can do nothing.”

I love this by Holley Gerth, in her book ‘You’re Already Amazing‘ She writes;

    I think the enemy tricks us into believing we are not enough because he knows if we discover the truth, we’ll be unstoppable.
    If you’ve embraced that lie like I did, then together we can start trading it for the truth. We are chosen, cherished, created women who have all we need to fulfill God’s plan for our lives. he has made us just as He wants us to be. We have something to offer no one else can bring.

To grasp this ladies.
The truth.
That we are His. Beautifully made. Loved with an everlasting love. Chosen by Him for good works. We will become unstoppable, and the devil is defeated. We don’t have to hide in the corner of our own insecurities and fear. We don’t have to doubt His design for us. There is so much more to life than that.

Dare to believe you are beautiful. Because you are. I believe you are and so does the One who made you.

A cause for celebration!

Today he turns four. What a cause for celebration!

Our Bradley Caleb Troyer
Born at 9:20 pm
8 pounds 3 ounces
21 1/2 inches long

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Wasn’t it just yesterday we held him with relief in our arms after an especially rough labor?
Wasn’t it just yesterday we found out with delight we were having a boy?
Seems like it was just yesterday, and yet it feels like he’s been a part of our lives forever.
From the moment we knew of the little life growing inside, our hearts were already captured. Never to be the same.

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These last four years our son has dramatically changed our world, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
I now have a better picture of what selflessness really means.
Of spending all night anxiously worrying about your sick child.
Of crayon marks on the wall, and objects in the toilet that aren’t meant to be in there.
I now know how it feels to want to protect.
To love someone so little so much.
Of sticky kisses, spilled milk, crushed cheerios and a purse turned into a toy box.
Of facing strong wills, tantrums and confrontations I will never want to relive. Thank you very much!

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My heart melts as my son runs up to me, wraps his arms around my neck and whispers, “I love you Mommy.”
“I love you too, Bradley. I am so glad God gave you to us!”
He smiles bashfully and says, “I know.”
We snuggle awhile, and I savor the moment.
Two minutes later he wriggles out of my arms and is off again at full speed.

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Ahh, motherhood!
Full of treasured moments.
New discoveries.
Lots of grace.
And celebration!
But through each milestone and challenge, I marvel at the gift of our son. This precious life God has entrusted to us.
May I always remember to delight in every moment, for times passes so quickly.

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Today we celebrate the life of our special son.
Happy Birthday, Bradley boy!

Alive

After the cold and dead of winter comes the new life of spring.
Seemingly lifeless branches burst with new growth and life.
Flowers push their way through barren soil to display vibrant colors and beauty.
All around us is life.
Growth.
Beauty.

You see, I was there.
No, not spring.
Winter.
Barren.
Lifeless.

There are many seasons in life. We all know that.
And for me it was a reality not all that long ago.
I felt like a bare branch poking out of the ground. Barely clinging to the life buried deep inside. I was hurt. By people I love.
Relationships seemed to crumble around me. Accusations were flying. Hearts hurting. Including mine.
Misunderstandings.
Criticism.
Lies.
I couldn’t escape.
I couldn’t trust anymore.
Fearing rejection and more pain, I locked up.
Scarred.
Bleeding.
Wounds wide open and sore.

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14

There it was.
Conviction settled over my wounded heart.
Tears.

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:21

So it started. The process of forgiving. After all, if I didn’t forgive, God would not forgive me.
Sobering.
Not to forgive just seven times, but seventy times seven. Seemed so unfair. But necessary.

And it was there.
Healing.
A flicker of life from deep within.
A green leaf growing from the dry, barren branches.
A petal slowly unfolding in the warmth of the sun.

Forgiveness is not a feeling, but a choice.

It wasn’t my circumstances that changed. It was my heart.
I was no longer a bare stick poking out of the ground.
I was alive.

Broken, but beautiful?

I pushed my bowl of cereal away. It wasn’t even a 1/4 cup. And without any milk.
“I hate myself.”
“I’m so ugly.”
“Why was I even born?”
My mind screamed a horde of accusing thoughts.
Anorexia.
I had been diagnosed over a year earlier.
For as long as I can remember, I never thought I was beautiful.
Thoughts like, “You’re not pretty enough.” “You’re not outgoing enough.” “Why are you not more like so-and-so?” Would be the constant commentary running through my head.
Depressed.
Alone.
I spent most days in bed. Crying. Refusing to talk. To eat.
Doctor and hospital trips were becoming the norm.
The words from the doctor, “You are not able to drive anymore.”
Anger.
Resentment.
60 lbs lost, yet still when I looked in the mirror I cried.

But today?
I’m free.
Gloriously free.
Yes, my God is a God of miracles.

It happened one day. Lying in bed. Tired and weak.
My Dad walked in, placed his hands on my head and prayed.
I don’t remember his exact words, but instantly something in me snapped. I felt it. Was it hope? Freedom?
I went and drank a cup of skim milk.
And that was the beginning.

Sometimes the drive to be someone you aren’t created to be, leaves you broken inside. Hurting.
So you try harder. That voice whispers so taunting, “You’ll never be enough.”
You’re not thin enough.
You’re not outgoing enough.
And sadly, most of us believe the lies.
I did.
It controlled me.
My insecurities revealed themselves through my anorexia. But a lot of you hide it well. Trying. Yet failing.

I’ve been free from anorexia for almost nine years now.
When I wrote that down it shocked me. Nine years!
I am married to a beautiful man. He goes by the name, JR. He pastor’s a small church in town and is in love with God.
We have the privilege of being parents to our four-year-old son, Bradley.
God has blessed me. Blessed us.

It wasn’t until a couple weeks ago, after still struggling through years of insecurities, I realized. I am enough! In HIM.
What took me so long to grasp this? Why all those wasted years of trying to be someone I wasn’t created to be? Why did I not realize sooner He created me because He has a plan for me. A plan no one else can fulfill.
And I weep.
Revel in His love.
And He whispers, “My daughter, I love you. You are enough for me.”
I still have a long way to go. Still learning. Failing, yet striving.

Yes, out of brokenness comes beauty.