God Moments: Stories of How God is Working in the Lives of Women of Faith - Series Introduction

God Moments: Stories of How God is Working in the Lives of Women of Faith - Series Introduction

What if we were to look at stories around us and find God’s faithfulness in midst of these stories just like we do when we open up the Word? … Looking at our fellow sisters in Christ and hearing their stories may just be the dose of perspective and inspiration we need to live the way we are called to.

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2019 - Done with Perfection

2019 - Done with Perfection

I am DONE chasing worldly perfect. I am DONE feeling guilty when things don't go as planned. And I am DONE with trying to do all the things to keep up with other bloggers. Instead, this year I am chasing purpose and progress over perfection. We have a purpose in this life, and that's what I will be chasing.

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The Ultimate Comforter

The Ultimate Comforter

While the levels and deepness of grief and sorrow vary from situation to situation – we all have experienced hardship at some point or another.

Jesus went 40 days and 40 nights without food or water (Matt 4: 1-11). While His body yearned for nourishment and refreshment; His mind experienced isolation. During His many years of ministry, He lost people He loved, He had friends betray Him deeply (John 18), He experienced relationship conflict (Mark 4:35-41), and loneliness. He got angry (Matt 21: 12-13), sad (Matt 26:37), hopeless (Hebrews 5:7), and exhausted (Luke 22:44).

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Hope: Nowhere to be Felt but Everywhere to be Found

Hope: Nowhere to be Felt but Everywhere to be Found

Why is it that falling at the feet of Jesus is so hard to do? Why is it – in the moments of exhaustion, hopelessness, and loneliness – giving Him those feelings feels impossible?

I’m not going to pretend to have all of the answers to my problems – but what I have realized is that the only place to begin is at His feet. So, I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know how the Lord is going to redeem this challenging season of my life but I do know, now, that I have to entrust it all to Him.  

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Not Good Enough - Self-Worth in College

This is Part 4 of a 9 Part Series "I Am Not Defined By My Weight" inspired by Rachel Hollis' book "Girl, wash your face".

I AM NOT DEFINED BY MY WEIGHT – Part IV College

If you have kept up the series, you are amazing! If you haven’t, but would like to start at the beginning, feel free to check it out here.

Recap

What inspired the series “I Am Not Defined By My Weight” was Rachel Hollis’ book “Girl, wash your face”. The premise of the book was to uncover a bunch of hurtful lies Rachel believed and one truth that set her free. The part that inspired me was not about fad diets or loving every single flaw, but instead, about putting work into finding out why self-love was an issue in the first place (p. 183).  

This meant I had to go way back, 20-something years, to hopefully find out the truth behind the struggle. In the first post, I discussed the Puerto Rican culture I grew up in and how that created an obsession with physical weight and appearance. Then, I covered those dreaded high school years and highlighted 6 things I wish I would have known. I had such little respect for myself that I was willing to be the other woman in a relationship. This lasted through my senior year of high school and well into my sophomore year in college.

The College Years

“Some things cannot be taught; they must be experienced. You never learn the most valuable lessons in life until you go through your own journey.”
― Roy T. Bennett

College is when things really got interesting.  Remember, Paul was the guy who had another girlfriend and initially lied about it. When I finally knew the truth, I continued the relationship because I figured it was better to be the girl he cheated with than the girl he cheated on.  At the time, I saw nothing wrong with our actions.  My immature brain and heart believed that he really wanted to be with me but didn’t want to hurt the other girl. I thought that if I waited long enough, he would realize I was the better choice.

I needed to win.

I needed to be the girl he chose, especially since I had compromised who I was, to be who he wanted.

Hindsight is 20:20

In hindsight, I regret being that girl. I can't imagine the pain I helped create. I was so naïve and lost, nothing could help me see the truth. I had some friends who would try to talk to me, but it was always in a judging manner. It felt as if they stood on the moral high ground judging my actions and thinking I was stupid for believing Paul could be a good person. 

It took way too long for me to realize I was worth more than being the "side piece". The straw that broke the camels back was when Paul broke up with his high-school sweetheart and started dating someone else. His excuse – long distance wouldn't work and my favorite—he didn't want to follow me in the military.

The light bulb finally clicked and I was over it. Done. Finito.

After Paul, I really started to define my self-worth by how many guys were interested in me.  If someone hit on me, my self-esteem skyrocketed.

If a guy bought me a drink or took me out on a date, I felt like hot sh*t. 

I "talked" to a couple of different guys throughout my college years. All very different yet always the same outcome. These guys did not want commitment. They wanted to reap all of the benefits of a relationship without any of the work and commitment.

I tried to trick myself into believing that I didn't want a commitment either. I didn't want to be tied down. I wanted to enjoy college. These were the mantras I held on to in order to keep myself together. I struggled with my identity so much, that it ruined friendships and left lasting scars that I am still dealing with to this day.

Encouragement

  • Do not tie your self-worth to things of this world - When your worth is tied to the things of this world, then it is easily defeated. That leaves you unstable and dependent on things outside of your control. You cannot control how others see or feel for you but you can control how you see yourself and feel about yourself. When your worth is tied to your good morals and beliefs, you will be resilient despite the trials you will experience.
  • Do not settle - Do not compromise your beliefs for the sake of a relationship. I was so hungry for a relationship, I settled for “talking” to guys even though my heart yearned for traditional boyfriend/girlfriend dating. There is nothing wrong with getting to know someone before committing to them, but there is a fine line between getting to know someone and getting all the benefits without any of the commitment. You are worth the commitment.
  • Be a good friend- If you have a friend who has fallen into the same trap I described above, love on her. You might not be able to talk her into seeing her true value, but you can be the example she needs. Sometimes, a girl just needs a friend who is honest, loving, but turns her in the right direction.
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Believer Not A Follower

Eventually, I decided to swear off all guys. College was just a hot mess of trying to figure out who would become my husband.  It took multiple heartbreaks and hitting rock bottom for me to realize that maybe God just wanted me to be alone and figure out how to love myself first. 

During this time, I believed that if my heart was in the right place and if I was a good person, then I was a good Christian as well. I believed in God but was not a follower. I didn’t even know there was a difference!* 

I remember thinking that the next person I would date would be my husband. I also decided that I would start being honest with myself. I wanted a real relationship. I wanted the official title of “girlfriend” and the next guy would have to be okay with that.

What I didn’t realize was that I still struggled with how to love myself. I thought that making this commitment of honesty was enough, but it wasn’t. In order to have a healthy relationship, I would have to learn how to love myself. During these years, I did not love myself. I grew up learning I was chubby and that idea was reinforced throughout middle school and highschool. Then, when I started dating, guys also reinforced the notion that I was not enough. I attributed the lack of commitment and insensitive comments to my weight. I was too big to deserve better.

In some ways, ROTC also exacerbated the self-loath and made it really difficult to understand what a healthy relationship looked like.  Not only did I believe I was unattractive and fat, I was reminded of it day in and day out for ROTC.

In the next post, I focus on my time in ROTC and how physical fitness/weight-loss affected my relationships and self-worth. It was during my senior year of college when I realized that I had tied my worth to my weight and it almost cost me my marriage.

* If you don’t know there is a difference between being a believer and a follower of Christ, don’t feel bad. I promise that I will dive more into that topic in the near future.*

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Grace In The Postpartum Season

It’s almost been a year and a half since I had my first child and I have yet to achieve and maintain my pre-pregnancy weight. I hit that pre-pregnancy weight once and then, life got in the way and I gained a few pounds back.

I didn’t really think about it while I was pregnant because I loved being pregnant. For one, I no longer had to suck in my stomach for pictures. Instead, I highlighted the big belly. My boobs were bigger and I just felt amazing, beautiful and powerful. Yes, I was at my biggest, but there is something special, something different about carrying life inside of you.

I also didn’t focus too much on the scale. The only time I really thought about it was right before a doctor’s appointment.

Then, after Natalie was born, everything was different.

My postpartum body was different.

My feelings towards that same body that carried life were now different.

First, I could no longer hold my pee for very long. Once I had to go, I HAD TO GO. And try doing jumping jacks…. yea, not happening.

I could no longer suck in my stomach either... You know, when you stand in front of the mirror sucking it in to see how skinny you can get?

And that dag on lower belly pouch!

What once brought awe and admiration now brought disgust and shame.

I started to believe that in order to have a joyful and happy life, I needed to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight… my pre-pregnancy body.

But that was all a lie.

We Need Grace

In truth, I don’t need to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight to find joy. Instead, I need to give myself grace.

God designed every aspect of our body. He designed the hair on our head, the color of our eyes, even the size of our boobs! Trust me – as a child, I prayed for bigger boobs and that obviously was not in Gods plan.

Just as He designed our individual gifts, He knew what our specific trials would be. Instead of allowing the suffering to be in vain, He used it for His glory and His purpose. There is hope in those trials. There is hope in our suffering. There is hope when we look at our bodies and see how imperfect they are.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
— Romans 5:3-5

He knows our struggles, even the struggles we have yet to encounter. He knows how we will react and despite everything, He promises to be there with us.

He is not the one who put the stipulation to only gain 15 lbs in pregnancy. He is not the one who said anything greater than a size 12 is too big. He is not the one who said my body is not enough.

I am.

God has just asked us to glorify him through the caring of our body.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
— 1 Corinthians 10:31

Our Humanity

Have you ever thought about some of the reasons why we hate ourselves?

Is it the evidence of humanity? The evidence that we are not God? That’s exactly why we hate our bodies because we see how imperfect they are. And it kills us.

But He gives us grace. He loves us no matter what. He’s called us to love him, and in doing so, to love his creation - which includes us.

So when you look down and see that lower belly that won’t go away. Know that God still loves you. He’s still there in the midst of your self-loath. He wants you to run to him so he can comfort you. He knows that it’s hard here on earth and he has a present for us when we join him.

When we step on the scale and see that atrocious number. Know that it’s just a number. It does not define who we are.

God defines us.

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God Strong

He knew you would struggle to lose weight. He knew that you were going to hate that scale. But he hasn’t left. He calls us to him every time. We alone are not enough, but He is. He is in the midst of this trial. He is using this time to mold you like a lump of clay that has yet to be formed. Every opportunity is another opportunity for him to create the beautiful masterpiece he has envisioned.

Even Paul struggled with some of his physical imperfections.

…Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
— 2 Corinthians: 7-10

He was given a thorn in his flesh, a tool Satan used to torment him. God could have healed that ailment, but instead, he offered grace. God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.

Momma, don’t lose heart. Don’t focus on how imperfect or ungodly you are. Don’t allow Satan to use your postpartum body as a tool to pull you away from your heavenly father. Instead, run to Him.

Yes, God could have prevented you from gaining 50+ lbs. Yes, He could have ensured your skin was elastic enough to not be permanently scarred. Yes, he could have created your baby to have a smaller head to prevent 2nd or 3rd degree tears. But He didn’t. Instead, He is calling you to return back to Him during this season, to comfort you and show you that you are made perfect through Him.

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Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
— James 1:2-4

God is here to love us despite our humanity.