Will You Like Me?

There seems to be an interesting epidemic running rampant throughout our society. Walls are built, dreamers are silenced, dancers are handicapped, lovers are separated, children are abandoned, and an entire world is dying because of one little word: Insecurity.

Out of curiosity, I decided to see what Websters dictionary defined “insecurity” as:

  • not adequately guarded or sustained
  • deficient in assurance : beset by fear and anxiety

I struggled with insecurity my entire life. Now, I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but I can remember being 4 years old and feeling a wave of insecurity because I overheard someone refer to my belly as a “chubby baby belly.” Those words produced fear inside of me and ever since, I had been in a losing war with my body…or so I thought.

All throughout my years with bulimia, I used to think that if only I looked like a celebrity, my life would be perfect. Counselors, therapists, and Doctors all tried to tell me that the reason I was hurting myself was because I hated who I was on the inside, but all along I thought they were wrong. I thought that I loved who I was. I was sarcastic, funny, and a self-professed “B” word. All I needed was the perfect body and my life would be perfect.

I’ve shared my story about how God radically delivered me from bulimia and my fight to sustain it. It took hours, days, weeks, and months of pursuing recovery and really believing that I could overcome this; and I did. But once my drug of choice had been taken from me, I discovered that addictions really are just that: a drug. Something that numbs. Turns out, all those counselors, therapists, and Doctors weren’t lying to me. I really didn’t like myself.

I’ve been in recovery for 17 months now and it’s been interesting to see how all the ways I have managed to keep people out of my life by hiding behind the bulimia.  It’s always a scary feeling when you are venturing out into the unknown, but in reality it’s the best place I have ever been because God can finally clothe me with what I was created for. Love.

As children, we all played hide and go seek. The goal was to find the best hiding place where no one would ever think to look. If we found a really good spot, we would find ourselves stuck there for what seemed like an eternity as we listened to others trying to find us. What started out to be fun begins to get frustrating as we hide there alone, because the thrill comes not in the hiding, but in being found.

I spent my entire life hiding, hoping that someday I would be found but too afraid to step out alone. God never stopped his pursuit of me and the most beautiful part is that as much as I was happy to be found, his excitement and joy surpassed anything I could have experienced.

So let us love what we were made to be because God is the master designer and he isn’t going to make his first mistake on you.

Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence. I Corinthians 10:12

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Puppies, Chocolate, and Kindness. What do they all have in common?

We all love an everyday hero.   The stranger buying a single mom’s groceries at the market.  A student offering to buy a homeless man a sandwich.  The couple that pays for another families meals at dinner. The ones that don’t necessarily wear a cape and fight crime, but they still manage to make the world around them a little brighter.

Kindness is love in action.

Jacob and Ted Thatcher are just two boys from Indiana who have taken the initiative to change the world one act of random kindness at a time. They, along with three others, started a non-profit just over a year ago called ARK Project Now. ARK is an acronym that stands for Acts of Random Kindness. Their mission is to change the world one act of random kindness at a time. Kindness is love in action and for every kind act dished out, the recipient is asked to “pay it forward.”

The project has grown very quickly over the past twelve months and they are now planning a 6,000 mile road trip across the United States. They will be traveling in an RV and have created a scavenger hunt list of kind things to do along the way. As they travel they will be filming each act to create fun videos and a documentary.

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I thought that this was a great idea and so very Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie of them (minus the dozens of child adoptions) and so they challenged me to do the same.  I spent hours trying to think of the greatest way that I could pay it forward.  I imagined myself in a nail salon, dishing out the latest celebrity gossip and winning the affections of everyone around me.  I would then win the entire salon’s approval and affection as I blurted out, “Pedi’s on me, ladies! ‘Flowa’s’ all around!”

I could drive to the local dog pound and purchase every puppy to give to every sad child in the area! Good Morning America and Oprah would vie for my attention and interviews.  I imagined myself standing in front of the now empty dog pound, surrounded by puppies and children as a film crew documented me frolicking amoungst them while being licked on the face by a puppy as I laughed into the air! They would ask what inspired this generous act of random kindness and I would proudly declare that it was Ted and Jacob Thatcher and the ARK project! Oprah would donate a generous donation to the project and soon the Thatcher boys would have their own reality show on MTV that documented their good deeds and their hilarious and single friends (AKA me).

Yes! We would all be celebrities! Mariah Carey’s “Hero” suddenly began playing out of nowhere  as I leaped out of bed and slide across our wood floors in my pink, fuzzy slippers to my computer.  I opened my laptop to google “puppy pound” when suddenly reality hit me: I am an unemployed student.

Devastated, I was forced to put my puppy pound dream aside and think of a more realistic approach.  I racked my brain with ideas and it hit me, the only thing people love more than puppies is chocolate.  So, I went to Trader Joe’s and purchased a nice card along with some dark chocolate.  A friend and I wrote a few encouraging notes in the card and decided to give it to a random person. It was so simple and only cost a few dollars, yet someone’s entire day was changed and now she can pay it forward as well.

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Now, it’s YOUR turn! HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Their team has been working tirelessly to raise money for the trip and they want to be able to bless as many people as possible along the way. Right now they are in a competition to raise $10,000 through an opportunity with a company called KIND: Snacks. Each month KIND gives $10,000 away to the charity with the most “votes” in the competition they put on. That said, they NEED your votes to win! Each person is worth FOUR votes. 1) For the initial “vote” for the group via the link below 2) a share via FB 3) a share via Twitter and 4) a share via email.

Here is a snazzy 2 minute video that further explains the competition and project (Link to VOTE):

http://projects.kindsnacks.com/project/inspire-an-epidemic-of-kindness/

To find out more about ARKProjectNow head over to their website www.ARKProjectNow.com or email Ted directly at tthatcher44@gmail.com

Find ARK Project Now on FacebookTwitter and Instagram
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So there you have it! Please be sure to vote, share on FB and twitter and help change the world one Act of Random Kindness at a time!

At the Lowest Point on Earth

I’m so fat. I don’t want to be here. I’m so uncomfortable. I wish I looked liked those girls. It would be nice to be so pretty. I’d never be insecure if I looked like that. I can’t wait to leave and be alone and hidden.

Those old familiar thoughts that once made their home in my mind decided to swing by for a little visit.

It was a Wednesday afternoon and I was in Israel and had just finished walking through the wilderness where David had once wandered when he was trying to escape from Saul. The “wilderness” was breathtaking. Full of waterfalls and beauty. You would think that I would be busy taking in all the surrounded me, but I was focused on something completely different. Myself.

The entire time, my mind was panicking over the fact that our next destination would be the Dead Sea and I would be faced with having to wear a bathing suit.

People are going to laugh. They will look at me with pity because my love handles are so huge. They will see my cellulite and inwardly laugh at me.

Anxiety and dread filled my mind and I tried to convince myself that I wouldn’t be missing out if I just skipped the Dead Sea adventure. I tried to rationalize that I would be better off on the sidelines offering to take pictures for people and keeping from dehydration by lounging in the shade somewhere.

Finally, after a short bus ride we were at the Dead Sea and there I was, in the women’s changing room with a decision to make. To say that I wanted to burst into tears would be an understatement because what I was feeling felt so overpowering. I felt ugly.

Then, it dawned on me. Well, two things dawned on me. First, feeling that level of insecurity isn’t my norm. Not anymore. There was something much deeper going on that I hadn’t even realized. My entire trip to Israel, God had been speaking to me about joy and beauty and the enemy was trying to steal the very thing God was restoring in me. My joy and beauty. Second, who cares? Who cares if someone thinks I’m not beautiful or that I have too much cellulite? It doesn’t take away one ounce of my value and worth.

I immediately looked in the mirror and as the other girls were getting ready I said, “Wow, I am SO beautiful! Guys look at how beautiful I am.”

I will admit, at first I was saying it with a bit of a sarcastic tone (a form of self-defense) but it began to become authentic.

“I have an amazing healthy body. There are people who wish they had my body. My body just allowed me to experience Israel! I am beautiful and Jesus is enthralled by my beauty!”

There I was. At the lowest point of the entire earth fighting what had once led me to the lowest point of my life.

It may seem insignificant, vain, or strange to some people, but for me something shifted. I realized that insecurity is just a giant waste of time that tries to steal my joy.

The Dead Sea ended up being one of my favorite moments on the trip not only because we got to act like little kids and play in the mud, but because for the first time in a long time, I punched insecurity in the face and I enjoyed every minute of it.

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His Beauty for My Ashes

I arrived back home from Israel early Friday morning after 30 hours of traveling which consisted of two flights, 5 movies, half a novel, 3 naps, 2 terrible airplane meals, and a three and a half hour bus ride.  Upon arriving home, I laid in bed exhausted and nauseated from my travels.  My mind began to retrace the memories that had just been created and I began to cry as I became overwhelmed with all God had done in Israel. Truth be told, I am still in the midst of processing everything that happened.

There are things that happen that are ordained by God and I truly feel that this trip was one of those things. 

When I was a tiny little third grader, my teacher visited Israel and brought us all back stories as well as bookmarks which featured a picture of the Jordan River. I decided that when I was 27, I would go to Israel and be baptized in the Jordan as well. Years passed and I still held unto that dream until I was about 21.  At that point, 27 was only a few years away and my life showed no sign of being able fulfill that dream.  I wasn’t even going to church anymore at that time and I was living in what was some of my darkest moments.  I was severely bulimic and had just finished 5 months of inpatient treatment and I still showed no sign of actually being able to recover from it.  One of my therapists actually had told my parents that I may never recover.

I was hopeless.

A few years later, I was 24 years old and I had somehow managed to get myself even more entrenched in the eating disorder.  I laid in bed on one particular night that I will never forget.  I began to pray, beg, and plead with God to save me. Just then, I had a vision. In it, I was deep within a cave and covered in ashes.  Jesus was searching for me in the cave and I kept pushing myself further and further away from him and deeper and deeper into the darkness.  Finally, I stopped pushing myself away and he found me.  He knelt down and looked at me in the eyes.  I saw him take his hand and he wiped it across my face, removing the ashes. He then wiped the ashes on his own face as I wept in his presence. He did this until my face was completely clean saying “I’m giving you my beauty for your ashes.”

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisonersa crown of beauty
instead of ashes…” Isaiah 61

Over the next few years, that verse became a life source for me as I began pursuing a life free of the eating disorder that had tried to destroy me.  I spent countless nights walking around, declaring that promise for myself for hours on end when I felt powerless to the bulimia.  I would cry myself to sleep some nights with that verse resonating within me.

Finally, the power the eating disorder had over me was broken and I was set free.  A ten-plus year battle had been won and I no longer had to live with it’s sickness hovering over me.  I began coming to life again and old dreams were starting to re-bloom, even dreams that I had given up on or forgotten about.

Last November I received an email that stated I was accepted to go to Israel with a Bethel team.  I was 27.

A few short months later, there I was. In Israel. The land where Jesus walked and where I had longed to be for so many years.  We were visiting a synagogue that had be built over one of the original synagogues that Jesus frequented when one of the leaders approached me and asked if I would read something from scripture for the group. They wanted me to read from Isaiah the same chapter Jesus read out loud in the very synagogue we were standing over.   Isaiah 61.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
  and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.

The very verse that Jesus had spoken to me in the vision, I was now reading for a group in the very place he also read Isaiah 61, where he first publicly announced his ministry.  My mind raced back to that vision and I began to cry at the thought of how strategic that moment was. I left the synagogue to sit on a bench to process what had happened and I felt as if Jesus was sending the message that he hasn’t only restored me back to my beginning, but to His.

I find this hard to write as I feel that there are no words to really express what happened in that moment., but I felt that something in my life shifted.  A door was officially closed and another opened before me.

Jesus never forgets his promises. Not even if we forget.

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