it’s time

Dear Ed,

For as long as I can remember I’ve been chasing after you. Seeking approval and hiding emotions. You’ve captured me ransom like a cat chasing after a tiny barn mouse or a puppet and it’s master. You the puppeteer and me the vulnerable rag doll. I’ve grown so acclimated to your presence that our souls seem to have merged into one like two young lovebirds reciting nuptials at the intricately decorated altar.

My identity stripped raw like a criminal confiscated from his clothes and presented with an orange jumpsuit. I’m a prisoner in my own body. My self worth drained dry like a cracked desert emptied down to the last drop.

Like any two acquaintances, our relationship has endured its various seasons. At the beginning of high school you and I restricted. Skipping lunch nearly everyday then returning home to lay near the toilet on the ice cold flood afraid I would throw up. I felt miserable and at times this only lead to bingeing. I gorged myself with food like a football player with an endless metabolism. What part of myself thought this was ok or normal?

The second half of high school took a slightly different path like an unexpected thunderstorm on a beautiful summers day. After school I would rush to the gym, ready to run away the stress. Hour one, feet hitting the rubber conveyor belt hard and upbeat rhythm keeping the tempo. Hour two, metal plates clashing as I pushed harder to leg press or any other weight machine. A strength training class often filled hour two on certain days. Hour three, ridiculous dance moves in Zumba class. Some days I put in two hours others were filled with three. But for five days a week almost every week this was my routine. I logged my food intake more frequently in this season. The compliments fueled my health craze fire. In a way, this season was addictive, boosting my physical health only to cover up my mental health.

College was a separate season of its own. It wasn’t very common for me to have three real meals a day. Others were spent with constant snacking like a pregnant mother unable to satisfy her hunger. Each day like a mystery eagerly waiting to be unfolded. Chocolate began to be my escape. Stepping into this portal blinding the harshness of my raw reality. An outing would be considered unsuccessful if at least one candy bar wasn’t purchased.

Growing older as the years passed you only intensified like a pounding migraine seizing to loosen control. You’ve embedded fear into my heart as I watched a loved one inject himself with insulin. I become uncomfortable in my skin when I pass obese people on the street. Eating cookie dough didn’t faze me as an unhealthy choice for breakfast. You pushed me after a disoriented representation of beauty and self worth.

I thought picking the skin around my fingernails was awful and considered it self harm but honestly what we’ve done is far worse. I’ve filled my body with extreme toxins and allowed the machine of a body I’ve been given to corrode. Unknowingly and unintentionally I made you an idol and placed you on a golden pedestal. As you became greater, Jesus became less. And that’s not the life I wish to chase after.

It’s way passed time to separate myself from you. You don’t deserve to be my lifeline. There is a whole other life out in this big world that I’m desperately eager to experience but can’t with you weighing me down like a boat’s anchor welded deep into the ocean’s floor. Just like depression nor anxiety claim my identity neither do you. You are a part of my story and my journey but by no means are you my soul existence.

Sometimes it’s comforting to walk hand in hand with you but I know you’re not from God. You only started when Adam and Eve sinned but will be destroyed when I completely trust Jesus. You wrap me up in loads of bondage, baggage and chains. It’s going to be a process but over time Jesus will take one link of those chains off at a time.

It’s time. Time to press into the Truth of who He says I am rather than what the world and the enemy tells me I am or am not.

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silent night

This morning I woke up to the sound of drizzling rain, steadily beating on the roof top. The weather has finally begun to cool and signs of fall have grown clearer. A gray, dull canvas covers the sky and the atmosphere appears gloomy. But laying in my queen size bed with one too many pillows, I embrace the stillness. Fighting a sinus infection and a stressful week has drained my energy. A deep, dense fog wrapped tightly around my brain. It’s intoxicating. I feel my stature sink deeper into the quicksand as the weight on my shoulders grows heavier.

After a bowl of cereal, I muster up enough energy to take a shower. As the warm beads of water meet my skin, I can feel layers of buildup melting away. I felt refreshed and willing to dry my hair. Maybe looking halfway decent won’t be too terrible today. Sometimes the most basic personal hygiene tasks can be like climbing a mountain for someone with the ugliest of monsters. Today marks a year and a half self harm free and my heart holds hope. My mood has stayed leveled up until this point.

“What is going on inside of Maddie?” The question circling through my head like a race car driver fighting for first place. I write the seven words in the margin of a blank piece of notebook paper. The black ink uglier than my typical purple pen. Although I need to be practicing mindfulness more, it’s not often that I’m left completely alone with my thoughts. And boy was it scary.

As I was scribbling words onto the paper, my hand couldn’t catch up with my brain. Suddenly the tears were streaming. Then the cry turned into a hard sob. I was hot and sweaty and in full blown distress. My chest tight like a rope pulling two sides oh my body together. The importance of today was thrown out the window and replaced with strong urges to pick my fingers and pull my hair. It was the kind of meltdown where I sat cross legged on the floor with my hands thrown in the air to avoid self harming. I couldn’t stop. I had reached the point of hyperventilating crying. The worst kind there is. My mind had taken over and honestly, I think this is the worst meltdown I’ve had since I was in treatment.

Reaching out to my therapist, I was past the point of using the skills she suggested. Instead it was the kind of meltdown that I had to listen to “Silent Night” seven times. Seven. Times. That’s nearly thirty minutes of trying to come back down. Laying on the floor with my hands reached above my head, I’m doing my best to breathe.

It’s been over a hour. My eyes are swollen like puffy marshmallows and the house is so silent all I can hear is heavy breathing. I sit and stare at the white baseboard in my room. The adrenaline rush gradually dissolving. As the moments creak by, tension seeps out of my body. My energy is completely drained. I grab my blanket and cocoon myself before I lay in bed. Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath and feel grounded again. It was an intense roller coaster ride in such a short period of time.

I feel disgusting and shameful. I’m embarrassed that I would allow my mind to take over this way. I should’ve been stronger. But just as Jesus’s timing couldn’t have been any more perfect, He spoke truth through my best friend. She said, “You can’t help it. The mind is powerful and sometimes we can’t control what it wants us to do. You can’t help that it was taking over today. Sometimes that happens. That’s part of mental health and healing. It’s all okay.” My little angel.

Maybe I needed to have a “meltdown” in order to really allow myself to keep pressing into my ED recovery. Since I’ve had a hard time expressing about ED recently, maybe this was my body’s way of letting it out to start breaking down the walls I’ve built. It’s natural for my body to behave the way it did. Jesus designed me specifically that way. It’s ok as long as I don’t wallow in that dark hole. This isn’t the end. It’s only the beginning.

“Perhaps the butterfly is proof that you can go through a great deal of darkness yet become something beautiful.”

– unknown

God can bring beauty out of ashes. – Isaiah 61:3

release

“One of the most courageous decisions you’ll ever make is to finally let go of what is hurting your heart and soul.” – Brigitte Nicole

{release :// to free from confinement, bondage, obligation, pain, etc.; let go ; to free from anything that restrains, fastens, etc.}

There I sat, indian style on the lush green grass. My black yoga pants with a brush swipe of white paint on the knee and royal blue oversized T-shirt. “Shriners hospital for children,” printed in the top left corner. Hair thrown up wildly in a sloppy ponytail. The humidity seemed suffocating which lead to feeling gross and sticky. It’s the first day of fall but there were no signs of crisp wind or chunky sweaters anytime soon. That’s the south for you though. Airplanes roaring by like thunderous storm clouds and cicadas creating that distinguished sound. The day’s makeup nearly smeared completely off. I am an utter mess.

There was this clear pictured painted in my head. Matching colored balloons, each holding pieces of various letters inside. Atop the mountain overlooking the magnificent view right as the sun setting. With my best friend capturing the moments as I released the helium filled latex. It would be perfect. Full of symbolism and faith. A joyous moment filling me with pride.

Except this is nothing how it went. Grass smooshed between my toes, I took my mismatched balloons and plopped down in the side yard. I was angry and disappointed. Plans had fallen through and isolation was settling in. The image sculpted in my head was breaking down piece by piece. Part of me didn’t want to release anything anymore. I didn’t care about moving forward in recovery. Subconsciously, I was clinging to the discomfort and despondency created by my father, sister, ED and the monster. Emotional mind fogging up the view of wise mind. Tears began to fall. First gently then more aggressively.

The sun was ready to turn in for the night and I was still gripping tightly to the white strings. Salty water droplets streaming steadily down my freckley cheeks. Clicking open the Pandora app, I choose Hillsong United in hopes my stubborn monster will shut up. Attempting to clear my mind the best I could and grow present in the moment, my heart is filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus relit the fire inside my soul but I could feel the enemy seeking to suffocate the red orange flames. The world seemed to be spinning slowly, like a snail searching for food, yet the worship songs were adjusting momentarily. As the tears continued to roll, I allowed my heart to open up fully to embrace the complete rawness and brokenness. The moment my Heavenly Father was anxiously waiting for.

Staring intensely at the mismatched balloons, subconsciously I think, “this shouldn’t be this hard.” Thirty seven minutes had passed and as I was on the verge of giving up, “I am not alone” by Kari Jobe blares out of the iphone. The angelic words capture my breath.

When I walk through deep waters

I know that You will be with me

When I’m standing in the fire

I will not be overcome

Through the valley of the shadow

I will not fear

I am not alone

I am not alone

You will go before me

You will never leave me

In the midst of deep sorrow

I see Your light is breaking through

The dark of night will not overtake me

I am pressing into You

Lord, You fight my every battle

And I will not fear

You amaze me

Redeem me

You call me as Your own

You’re my strength

You’re my defender

You’re my refuge in the storm

Through these trials

You’ve always been faithful

You bring healing to my soul

Keyboard notes filling the atmosphere. It’s as if the song was written specifically for me in this treacherous battle. My mind closes off the rest of the chaotic, monster filled world. It’s only me and Jesus. All that I could ever need in this moment. Swirls of orange and pink braid into strips of grey. “I am not alone” resonating deep within my soul. Gazing up at the jet black, sunshine yellow and violet purple balloons, with glossed over eyes, timing seemed just right. Taking in a deep breath, I slowly unwrap my crinkled hands.

As if staying in path of my year of transition, a wave of relief washes over me. Ten balloons filled with shreds of paper drift off into eternity. Dusk has fallen over the country pumpkin town and I’m embraced with a sweet blanket of peace. The sliver of the moon greeting me with its warm white glow while the sun states its final goodbyes for the day.

This is the ultimate transition. I feel that Jesus has been brewing this one for awhile now. Probably the hardest yet but also the most elegant and charming. Moments like this shift my perspective. My Heavenly Father doesn’t care how many Instagram likes I get or how perfect a Facebook post is. Instead, He wants my authentic, pure, broken self. While I see imperfections and unworthiness at times, my Father looks at me with the brightest smile and claims that I am chosen and holy. He welcomes my brokenness with open arms. He calls me beautiful one and vastly loved.

They say, “the best view comes after the hardest climb” and this was my climb.

i love you more

Tucked into the corner of the bedroom, cross legged on the floor with my journal and Bible sprawled open. Cup full of colorful pens and a stack of index cards to the side. Bright sticky notes in various shapes and sizes. The light brown bookshelf caddy cornered filled with romance novels and inspirational stories. Golden light shines brightly from the antique lamp. This is my retreat, my safe haven.

The monster has captivated me hostage for the past couple weeks. Drawing me deeper into an endless hole, like my feet slipping away in gooey quicksand. Trapped with no escape. Crawling out of bed has become more difficult and nights have grown restless. My emotions walking on a tightrope, ready to break at any given moment.

After long, stress filled work days I come and rest comfortably in the safety of my cozy corner. The single place where my undivided attention is centralized on Jesus. A place where the Holy Spirit is alive and present and the enemy is unwelcomed. I’ve cried tears of thanksgiving and also desperation in this space. Worship music has floated effortlessly in the environment but I’ve also basked in the utter silence. Only allowing conversion between my Father and I here. Freshly painted finger nailed hands lifted high absorbing His presence. Kneeling in prayer and pressing into The Truth. This is my “war room.”

Lies cultivated by the enemy fill my already vulnerable brain. Unworthy. Alone. Unwanted. Broken. Impossible to love. Each slowly stripping away any signs of life. The fear of shutting down struck my mind. This is what the enemy wants but I can’t allow myself back down a treacherous trail. Jesus is my lifeline.

Clinging to Him, I reach for my purple pen ready to spill my mind and heart out. Something catches my attention. Looking down, my tattoo seems to move to the forefront of my mind. My mind easily gets distracted and sometimes it’s hard to remember the truth behind it. An alluring butterfly on my right wrist. The same wrist I would attempt using a stick or scissors to numb the pain momentarily. An elegant design created by my art therapist at the time. The body, a semicolon, representing the life I chose to continue living. Wings spread to remind me that the life of a caterpillar was nice but living as a butterfly is incomparable. The most valued part of all, the words “I love you more” curve up the one wing.

I love you more. Four simple words with an immense power. At times the monster’s voice is louder than usual distorting my thoughts and reality. These four words speak truth and wisdom. I remember that my Heavenly Father loves me more than I can imagine. My sisters and family pop into view. All of my treatment team from Atlanta. The sweet circle of sisterhood and even daily interactions with complete strangers. A concoction of such a diverse yet pure cluster of souls reminding me of a wonderful gift.

Various bible verses pop in mind. Jesus’ love like a warm cup of tea and a thick snuggly blanket on a dreary winter morning. First, Romans 5:8. He has loved me at my darkest. In the black hole, vegetable state; He still loved me. Zechariah 2:5, “And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will be its glory within.’” Jesus protects and shields me from the enemy. Also, Zephaniah 3:17, “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Wow. Let all of that sink in. Jesus takes me exactly as I am. Flawed yet still worthy. He loves and takes me for who I am, the authentic Maddie Rae. Not what society thinks I am or what the monster tries to tell me who I am. Jesus takes the raw, no makeup, messy bun, cluttered brain Maddie and still loves me for more than I can fathom.

He loves me more.

dear ________,

dear ________,

Using your name seems unnatural but it seems even more unnatural to say, “dear dad.” I’ve never considered you as a father figure. You were never there. Even if you were psychically there it still didn’t mean you were actually there. We could be in the same building but couldn’t be farther apart. It was like two separate worlds.

Disappointment and anger are my mind’s instant reaction. There’s a buildup of hurt and deep pain. I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around what would posses someone to do the things that you did. How can someone be so self centered and loveless?

For so long I’ve craved a sweet relationship with a Daddy. A daddy to dress up elegantly and escort me to daddy/daughter dances. A daddy to build the perfect little tree house so I could play family with my baby dolls and have campouts under the starry black night. A daddy to eat snow like powdered donuts with surrounded by other cool dads at “Donuts for Dad.” A daddy to practice sports with me on Saturday mornings then share warm fluffy pancakes for breakfast. A daddy to carry me to bed when I had fallen asleep on the couch and tuck me in with sweet forehead kisses. A daddy who would be there to wipe salty kisses away with every breakup and heartache. A daddy to protect me like a knight looking after his castle. A daddy to be a role model and instill good morals into my heart. A daddy to love me unconditionally and wholeheartedly. A daddy to kneel beside me as we leaned against the bed, hands clasped together reciting our prayers.

Growing up the enemy had blinded my heart and corrupted me with corrosive thoughts. I was deprived from The Truth. Ed, the monster and of course the enemy all joined forces to team up against me. It was like a jet black filter that only allowed the negative to seep through. I began to believe that all men were monsters. You were a monster in my head.

Trust issues arise. Neglect and unworthiness. A wave of isolation and emptiness. Slight pinch of disgust. Hatred and shame entangled in. How could one person cause so much emotion to arise? You let me down. Every standard for how a daddy should be completely thrown at the window. Effort to mend a broken relationship wasted. You are the most egocentric and sadistic person to ever step into my life.

Because of you, I had reoccurring nightmares that for so long my brain couldn’t make the connection it was you. Because of you, I faced severe ptsd that took years for me to seek the truth. Because of you, I spent part of my freshman year of high school and entire summer unable to stay home alone because I was terrified you would show up. Because of you, I almost didn’t go to my cousin’s wedding because you’re her uncle and I was certain you would be in attendance. Because of you, my relationships with males tend to fail. I could probably continue to trail the list on but at this point there’s no reason to.

Despite the unpleasant interactions and disgusting memories, there also came beauty. I never thought I would pair those two together but as I’ve continued to travel on this journey of recovery I never fail to surprise myself. You haven’t physically been in the picture for many, many years but there’s still been a sense of control. My life is better without you.

The lack of relationship with an earthly father provided me a key to an even sweeter connection with my Heavenly Father. All of those times I craved to have you there He was far more present. My desire to be closer to Him only grew stronger as you continued to fade. Thank you for that. Without Jesus, I don’t think I would’ve made it this far. He has been the only stability in my ever changing journey. Regardless of the heartache you caused me, I don’t think I would’ve changed anything.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I forgive you. In order for me to press on I must put this chapter behind. This was part of His plan all along. He opened my eyes to see the kind of strength I carried to forgive someone who isn’t even sorry and accept an apology I’ll never receive. There’s only one person who holds the title of Maddie Rae’s daddy and that’s Jesus. I’m sorry you missed the opportunity to love and grow with two exceptional young ladies. But you can’t help the way you are. I pray that one day you will come to know Him and unfollow the enemy. I pray that my little half brother doesn’t ever experience the same trauma as I did. I pray that my heart will continue to heal and forgive. I pray that I continue to chase my Daddy and love Him unconditionally. My worth is only found in Jesus.

Sincerely,

Madeline

jumbled laundry

Wishy Washy. Like a load of dirty laundry floating in soapy lukewarm water. Swishing back and forth. Back and forth. There have been some decadently sweet moments but also some utterly sour moments. For the past couple days the wheels have been swirling like a rapid tornado. I’ve been teeter tottering between various pieces trying to comprehend why it was so easy to begin letting the hurt and pain out. This week seems to be different. I’ve barely written. The only thing screaming to come out was emotion.

There was the fear of unknown causing a shoulder tensing stress. Last night tears strolled down my face, fogging up my purple rimmed glasses because of a movie. Reaching back into my memory, I don’t think I’ve ever cried during a movie. Extreme hatred towards my body and how I look. An emptiness, unsure of how to repair the black hole inside. There were moments of numbness with a hint of fear that I was drifting back into the vegetable state. Other moments where I couldn’t text my sister fast enough expressing my overwhelming thoughts. Sadness mixed in like a key ingredient of a recipe. A pinch of hopelessness and burdensome worry. Self destructive urges peaked up. Regret. Why did I eat that, when I knew better? Jumbled into the mix, there were times when I couldn’t really place my finger on a specific feeling or emotion. Moments that took a little extra power to get out of the coziness of my bed. There were also times when I wanted to throw in the towel, throw up my hands and say, “ok, monster and enemy, you win right now!” It seems to be a whole laundry list of rancid feelings. Dull colors. Boring and lifeless. Bland.

But underneath there seemed to be another load. A glimpse of sunshine and paradise. Brighter colors. An incredibly, breathtaking solar eclipse. The glowing smiley face from the tiniest of littles when catching fish from the blue green lake with the petite fishing pole. Sweet, pure surprises from a secret sister. Creating unexpected friendships in the nail salon. Messages filled with wisdom and truth. Receiving a book that was eagerly waited on. Movie nights with the one whom my soul loves. Hugs that were a little tighter. Jubilant birthday surprises. Ridiculously corny jokes. Encouragement and mighty power from irreplaceable sisters. Compliments catching my completely off guard. Happy and thankful tears.

Jesus never failed to show up. He heard my cries and carried me through the vulnerable times. The bad could easily outweigh the good but I clung to hope and faith. This part of recovery is so unbelievably difficult but Jesus is working in me. Scooping out the gunk and instilling a rawness that hasn’t been experienced before. I can’t expect to magically heal over night or force myself to write about a distasteful history fully in one sitting. Casting Crowns, “Praise You in this Storm,” and Dave Barns, “Carry me Through,” have played randomly in my car several times this week. Each time, the words strike my soul a little harder.

There’s a mountain
Here before me
And I’m going to climb it
With strength not my own
He’s gonna lead me
Or the mountain beats me
Carry me through
Carry me through

My Heavenly Father is and, will continue to, carry me through this storm. He’s filled me with the strength similar to a mighty warrior. Transforming my heart and mind. His timing is impeccable and sometimes it’s challenging to fathom such an overwhelming, selfless love. I will continue to fix my chocolate brown eyes on Jesus. I will strive to trust in Him more and more with each passing day. As I continue to travel on this path, I look forward to what will unravel and how my eyes will be opened to newer, fresher things. Some days I will need to remind myself that I am not alone and that there’s no shame to my story a little more frequently and that will be ok. No doubt will there be more cloudy, rainy days but that is part of the battle, as long as I don’t fester and start to live in those black hole moments. I will continue to cling so tightly and hopefully to Romans 12:9.

Jesus, help me to cling to what is good.

 

 

Romans 12:9 :// Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

 

temple

As I sit here staring at the screen I'm filled with aggravation and pain. I've written countless blog posts and journal entries but this is by far the hardest thing for me to write about. Part of me doesn't understand. I don't understand how I can write about a tornado and trauma with my father but can't even think to begin to write about this. It feels like it shouldn't be this difficult. I've been hiding from the truth practically my whole life.

All I can think about is an alcoholic reaching for his next cold one regardless of the situation or time of day. That's how I feel with you, ED. You're far worse than an abusive relationship. You're there when I wake up, when I'm happy, when I'm sad or anxious, when I'm trying to go to sleep. You're there every minute of every day. Quite frankly, you're exhausting. It's always one extreme or the other. I eat too much or I eat way too little or not at all. I spend over two hours in the gym or don't do anything at all. There's no in between. You make me so mad. I feel like I've done everything yet still can't get rid of you. I want to blame it on my father since that's when it seems you decided to first come around. I was so young and so vulnerable. There would be weekends with no food or water. What kind of parent doesn't care to properly nourish their own child? Anger arouses. The enemy had swooped in and already taken control.

Then I begin to think how could anyone allow their self to skip meals and in turn lay on the bathroom floor crying because it felt like they were going to be sick? But I allowed it. It was a coping mechanism. ED, you teamed up with the enemy and filled my mind with lies. My heart hurts and filled with cheerlessness.

I've allowed other people to walk all over me because of you. I believed that I was ugly and fat and can barely look in a mirror now be because of it. The people I love the most and look up to would ask, “Are you really going to wear that?” Or “Do you think you should eat that?” Now I hide in dark, looser clothes because I'm embarrassed and broken.

Hopelessness and fear. Anger and jealousy. Sadness and pain. Regret and shame. Restraint and burdens. I feel trapped and a failure. All strong and powerful feelings and thoughts swirl in my mind as I begin to allow myself to experience something that I've never done before. It's completely outside of my comfort zone and honestly I don't like it.

The figure and shape on the outside can't even begin to represent the person I am on the inside. There's this picture in my head. A tall, beautiful girl dancing freely and confidently in fields of sunflowers and wildflowers. She radiates desire and grace. That's who I long to be.

I've prayed and continue to pray. I know that I can only experience complete freedom through Jesus. Without Him the enemy and Ed will continue to tear me down. I am reminded in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that my body's a temple and won't magically be built overnight. He has placed Godly women in my life to speak truth and wisdom over me when my mind begins to trick me in thinking I can't overcome this. As badly as I wish that my fairy godmother could wave her magic wand and all of this mess would magically be fixed, I am beginning to accept the challenge and time that it'll take. I've faced many challenges in my short life on earth and with each step I've grown in my faith and relationship with Jesus. I've watched one sister fight Ed and is now living out life in freedom. This is a gleam of strength and hope. I will continue to be vulnerable and trust that my Heavenly Father continues to take care of me. It's time for a new season in my journey. I know it won't be easy. It'll be hard. Very hard. But I've fought like hell to get where I am and I don't plan to stop until I can finally say I've broken up with Ed. With Jesus and sweet sisters by my side, I will overcome this.

bloom.

“Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is.” – unknown

{joy :// the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation}

A charcoal slate spilled across the sky as if someone smeared a piece of coal over a blank canvas. Cool rain pitter pattered on the metal roof. Tiny humans with their brightly colored rainboots splash around in the muddy puddles. It was the kind of weather where you just wanted to curl up in a corner with a warm drink in your favorite mug and read a cheesy romance novel. Typically on days like this the monster took full reigns. Instead, the young girl had bigger plans.

They say “April showers bring May flowers” and the young girl’s flowers were about to come full bloom. Grabbing her pink rain coat she heads off to work and surrounds herself with exuberant perennials. It's a rather slow morning but the young girl enjoys the learning opportunities with her manager. The first flower takes bloom.

Her work day wrapped up earlier than usual in order to prepare for the rest of the day’s events. The young girl scurried home to enjoy a warm tomatoey bowl of spaghetti before her facetime session with her therapist. Tiny, melody like tunes poured out of the phone. Climbing into the cozy bed the young girl picks up the phone and her therapy session begins. The young girl is all smiles and her second flower bursts wide.

Rain continued to drizzle down the spout as she threw last minute items into a bag and headed out the door. Atlanta would be the young girl’s home for the next few days. She could barely contain her excitement. It had been over a year since the young girl had seen most of her family from treatment. This family had a major impact on her recovery. A couple buds pop out the rich, chocolate soil.

There were only a few minutes left of her drive but it felt like an eternity. Hillsong United’s angelic voices played in the background passing through the young girl’s soul effortlessly. Two more songs passed and she was pulling into the parking garage. She calls her sister piecing together where the other was located. Similar to a game of Marco Polo. Stepping out of the car, her heart nearly exploding, the young girl and her sister have a jubilant reunion.

Her garden was growing rapidly. Sprigs of vibrant bellflower and cosmos perk up. Emotions were bubbling over. The young girl’s other sister and “treatment mama” would arrive momentarily. Dark wooden tables and cream colored chairs filled the hotel lobby. The business of people coming and going swirled into a blur around her. She wanted to soak up as much happiness that she could. It wasn't often that the young girl felt overwhelming pure emotion for more than a day.

After another beautiful reconnection the weekend festivities could commence. The young girl’s luscious garden was expanding. A new sense of life filled the hotel as the sweet sisters giggled and took shameless selfies.

Dinner was served at an elegant restaurant with an Italian like atmosphere. Mounds of crusty freshly baked bread and crisp greens topped with creamy dressing. Tucked in a semicircle booth it was difficult to believe this was real life. She had waited so long for this reunion and it was everything she dreamed of and then some.

After a refreshing nights sleep and a protein filled breakfast the young ladies headed to their old treatment center. It would be a day of celebration with a hint of nervousness. Psalm 91 written on her freckled hand. Sprouts of golden sunflowers and magenta zinnias were added to the euphoric meadow.

A plethora of reunions and re connections spread throughout the day. Some unexpected and some she waited months for. Either way her heart was flooded with a love the monster had been denying the young girl for awhile. Rich chocolate cake and energetic dancing snuck its way into the day. Tiny rocks with painted feathers, a gentle reminder of His powerful word. New restaurant adventures and FaceTime sessions with brother bear. The young girl couldn't help but be amazed of Jesus’ mighty work.

Saturday was for the girls. Overdue manicures and shopping sprees. New sign language skills and chaotic malls. Delicious ice cream with tiny cones courtesy of kind strangers. For the first time during her trip the sun was glowing bright and full of warmth. Pedals bursting open revealing their subtle colors. Yellows. Blues. Creams. Her world was ineffable.

The weekend ended with an amazing church service at Passion City. Jesus was clearly present. Pastor Louie’s message on the “Goliath must Fall” hit home for the young girl. The Truth mellowed into her soul. This was the icing on her cake. An incredible weekend filled with an abundant amount of love, fellowship and Jesus. It wasn't often that weekends like this came around but the young girl was going to cling tightly the best she could.

Her garden could barely be tamed.

washed by the water

“Your story is unique and so so different.. and NOT worthy of comparison.” -unknown

{wash :// to apply water or some other liquid to (something or someone) for the purpose of cleansing; cleanse by dipping, rubbing, or scrubbing in water or some other liquid. to free from spiritual defilement or from sin, guilt, etc.:}

Something had been off but the young girl couldn’t quite put her finger on it. She couldn’t tell if it was her monster or lies from an outside source. Brushing off unwanted funk the young girl tried to continue her days as normal as possible. Whatever normal was. It wasn’t until she had a full blown worship session in her car that it clicked. 

Pulling into the work parking lot after lunch the young girl noticed the sky shift colors and atmosphere vibes turn from bright and cheery to mellow. Like most young adults, she had failed to spend a few minutes being still. She constantly is consumed by the chaos of the world to take time and “be.” There were a few minutes left of her lunch break and a feeling urged the young girl to play “Washed by the Water” by Needtobreathe. 

Cranking up the volume, she lifted her hands up to her heart, palm side up, welcoming the Holy Spirit. As the young girl closed her dark brown eyes she knew her Heavenly Father was with her. Listening to the tiny water droplets bounce off windows. Comfort and peace swirled around as pure words fill her heart. 

The hectic world began to diminish as she worshipped unapologetically in the comfort of her little Kia Rio. The young girl is extremely cautious of the words making their way back to her ears. Certain words touch her soul deeper than others. 

Even if the earth crumbles under my feet

Even if the ones I love turn around and crucify me

I won’t never ever let you down

I won’t fall

I won’t fall 

I won’t fall as long as you’re around me 

A mound of emotions and thoughts race through the young girl’s mind. These specific lyrics stuck out to her like a mighty bee sting. Her heart synchronized to the steady beat of drums. The young girl scrolls through her memory bank and reverses back to the day before. Unintentionally she shares her story of the monster and recovery with two coworkers. For the first time, the young girl did not feel embarrassed or ashamed. Texting her best friend, their relationship recently blooming yet it feels like years since they’ve met, to discuss the previous moments. Both girls agree that no one person should feel compunctious or humiliated about their story. A story is an incredible aspect to our world. Diversity brings such value and strength. The young girl lets the words and memories mellow into her soul.

The moment was so elegant and beautiful that it was difficult to put in precise words. It was like a Christmas gift perfectly designed in intricate paper. The funk she had been carrying slipped away. Her Heavenly Father swooped down to cradle His little girl. A gentle reminder, she too, was washed by the water. 

There was so much power in the young girl’s few minutes and she desperately longed for others to know it was ok to share their journey. It’s so easy to get consumed by life’s mess that the young girl forgot who is in control. Complete unshakable control. Her Father has carefully placed God fearing women in her life to bind her tribe together in the most holiest ways. The young girl was confident that her extravagant adventure was part of His way to shine the light. 

She only needed to be still. 

a guy that knows

“I am worthy of so much more than what I started to settle for” – unknown

 

{worth :// good or important enough to justify; usefulness or importance, as to the world, to a person, or for a purpose}

 

There was something in her soul and it needed to come out. She wasn’t sure where it was coming from or what exactly possessed her to feel this intensely about it. The young girl picked up her phone and began typing…

 

Let me just be real a second… all I want is a guy that knows…that I sing “forget you” at the top of my lungs to let anger out. That I listen to silent night when I’m distressed. That I can easily lose myself in a bookstore, especially in the children’s section. That the beach brings me back to myself. That I prefer sunsets over sunrises but think both are equally beautiful. That my sister is my ultimate best friend. That sometimes I just need a day out with my best friend, Al. That knows my past complete with every high and low but still takes me as I am and loves me anyway. That I am the most free when I’m driving in my car, singing at the top of my lungs with the windows down. That I have a heart made of gold but should be treated as a delicate flower. That I prefer to be behind a camera rather than in front. That sometimes I would much rather stay at home and watch movies than go out. That sometimes I don’t always know what is wrong and that I just need to cry. That I love to snuggle and it makes me feel safe. That the smallest things can make my day. That I don’t need to be spoiled in materialistic things. That I love surprises. That flowers always make me happy regardless of how I’m feeling at first. That I get my nails done not bc I’m a “basic girl” but because it’s a constant reminder of how far I’ve come and that I have the willpower to destroy a horrific habit. That sometimes writing is my own true escape. That sappy chick flicks get me in touch with my feels. That lavender oil helps me sleep at night. That hot tea warms my soul. That I love bath bombs. That each of my littles take up a large portion of my heart. That I believe there is a good in anyone. That I get slightly sad when I want Chickfila on Sundays. That sometimes a drink with Brittney is what I need. That I am very independent but will always want you too. That I aspire to be a world changer. That sunflowers make my face light up. That I think oreos and peanut butter are a wonderful combination. That Atlanta is also home. That I am always up for any and every adventure. That sometimes I snort when I laugh too hard. That I love little notes written on the bathroom mirror. That cleaning is a stress reliever for me. That I love watching football even though most of the time I’m not exactly sure what is going on. But most importantly I want him to know that I am me and I am not defined by anything.

 

After pressing send an instant wave of relief washed over her. It was kind of weird since she wasn’t really sure that the feeling had even been there. Then it made sense. She had found her worth. Through all of the chaos life had brought to her the past few weeks this was brewing inside of her. This was who she was. Just because others couldn’t see her for how great she was didn’t mean that she would start settling for anything less than she deserved. The young girl deserved her fairy tale. All of the hurt and pain from previous relationships would not take away the hope she had for future ones. Out there in the world was a guy who would know these things and then be able to create his own list one day. Her prince charming would come.

 

Psalm 139:13-14 For you created my inmost being;  you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;   your works are wonderful,  I know that full well