Friday, August 29, 2014

You Know You're a Parent When... {Part 3}

{Part 1} {Part 2}

+ You can recite Goodnight Moon from memory. And also Hippos Go Beserk!, and Time for School, Mouse, and, and, and....

+ You're willing to shell out $200+ on a carseat. Plus a noggle. Plus window shades.... It's a lot of money, but when you're talking about the safety of my baby (and comfort--that's important, too!), it's worth every penny!

+ The thought of having to pour breastmilk down the drain hurts your heart.

+ You find yourself humming and singing kid songs throughout the day. Lately I've been having an internal jam session to the tunes of Big Bugs Band. It's so catchy!

+ You cannot stop staring in awe and love at your sleeping baby. I think I have at least 20 pictures, if not more, just of Grayson sleeping!

He was only a few days old here...obviously this has been an obsession of mine from the start!!
+ The protective mama lion in you comes out in unexpected ways... Daycare, if you give my child rice cereal I will write you a verbal b*slap of an email, filled with emotions, documentation, and research...rivaling the length of a novella. Yes, I'm that mom and I'm not ashamed!!

+ You don't really bother with exercise because you figure you get enough of a workout from chasing your child, picking up and carrying your child, squatting repeatedly (often while holding your 20+ pound child), doing hurdles over baby gates, and having impromptu dance parties.

+ Videos like these make you cry...

+ You obsess over decisions like when to take away the paci, when to switch to a sippy for milk, and when you'll stop pumping at work...

+ You're permanently exhausted, but you just really love life! And coffee. Also that! :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Reminder...

Today I read back through some of my old journal entries from last year. Journaling is something that I've missed terribly since having Grayson. I used to spend 20-30 minutes each morning praying, reading the Bible, and journaling. Scott would do the same. We were together, but we were having time with God independently. Since having Grayson, my morning routines look a little different. We found the best way to still have time in the Word is to read it together and discuss it together. This can be done while I'm feeding myself or Grayson, and doesn't require my hands (since Scott usually reads)! In a way, I prefer the way we do things now. It's such a sweet and wonderful time, and I really love talking with Scott about scripture--hearing his perspective and bouncing ideas off each other. He helps me grow, for sure. And I love being cuddled up in bed with my two favorite people, talking about Jesus! But there is a still a large part of me that misses that time of sitting quietly, pen to paper, talking to God or reflecting on what I'd read. I still do it occasionally, but it's usually in the rare times that I'm home alone and Grayson is asleep. The term "quiet time" has never been more significant!

So, today I was reading through last year's journal entries because it's enlightening and interesting to see how far I've come in just a year. And it's also a great way to relearn some of the things I read last year. And, perhaps my favorite reason for rereading journal entries, it truly shows God's faithfulness. I can see how he brought me through things, and how much stronger I am today because of it.

I want to share with you my journal entry from November 10, 2013. Grayson was 1-month old and I finally had time to write something. Before then, I was too much of a mess and had my hands full--literally! This entry is a reminder of the phases that God has helped me through so far in Grayson's life, and reminds me that He will continue to help me through the many, many more phases yet to come!

(This was written after reading 1 Corinthians 1)

I have a 1-month old baby now! It has been anything but easy. Now, more than ever, I have to rely on the Lord in all I do. I need His strength and His rest just to make it through each day. I need His wisdom and discernment in all my decisions. I need His comfort when fear sets in. I need His love when I feel like I'm being leached of all of mine. I need His patience when my limited supply is spent. 

It's times like these that I'm so thankful to be one of the "foolish" ones who look to Christ for everything. He is my hope and salvation. And though it's impossibly hard, this sweet little boy is my constant reminder of how good God is. He is my little miracle! 

How about you? Do you journal? Do you ever reread old entries? 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

12 Years a Slave


I recently watched the movie 12 Years a Slave.
I want to say something, to respond in some way, to express how I felt watching this movie.
But I'm having a hard time putting it into words. 
Forgive me for the somewhat unstructured spattering of emotions to follow.

I knew the movie would be hard to watch, and I was right.
I physically could not watch parts of it and had to look away.
I found myself crying within the first 15 minutes.
Even before anything especially gruesome happened,
when the kidnappers repeatedly beat the men across the backs and in the face shouting,
"You're a slave!"
I was already in tears.

I'm horrified, horrified that evil like this exists.
This type of violence, abuse, and neglect was prevalent just
150 years ago in our country.
Right here where I stand today, something truly evil could have happened.

 Even today, while no longer legal,
people are being mistreated to this extreme level.
Slavery still exists in all parts of the world.
People are still out there being beaten,
separated from their families,

The very thought of it makes me sick.
And though slavery is no longer considered commonplace,
that evil that fueled the practice of slavery
is still very much present in our world.
Maybe it's working its way out in different sins,
or maybe it's just simmering beneath the surface of someone's heart.
But evil didn't die when slavery was outlawed.

I hate that my baby has to grow up in such an
awful, fallen world. 

I used to think that verses in the Bible about Christians being called to hate the world were baffling and, quite frankly, a little harsh.
It seemed so contrary to the message of love I was accustomed to.
But the more I reflect on the ways of the world,
and how far removed it is from God and His character,
I realize it's not strange or unlikely.
In fact, it is pretty hard not to hate the world.

Please don't misunderstand.
I'm not saying I hate everyone and everything.
I don't hate the beauty of creation in this world.
And I know we are called to love others.
But when the authors of the Bible reference "the world,"
they mean the world apart from God.
The fallen and sinful.
The dirty and evil.
Those who have not been saved and redeemed by Jesus,
and who delight in the sufferings of others.

I get that.
I totally do.
After watching 12 Years a Slave,
I was reminded of how much I love God
and how much I hate the world.
And I just look forward to the day He delivers us from all that
and banishes evil for good.

Until then,
I cling to Him.
His goodness, His grace, His love and mercy.
As I journey through life and grow in my relationship with God,
He guides, encourages, and instructs me to become more like Christ.
And I do what I can to help foster that relationship for others.

Sometimes I feel like it's not enough.
Like I should be doing MORE.
Maybe I should. Maybe God will call me to do something HUGE.
Or maybe He'll just call me to love others, encourage others, show others the truth of His Word.
And maybe others will grow in their relationships with God and start becoming more like Christ.
And piece by piece, bit by bit, the world will become a better place.
And isn't that a pretty huge thing?
I am thankful for this movie and the truths it reveals.
This response is admittedly all over the place and a bit of a knee jerk reaction to the graphic details displayed in the movie.
But I think my ultimate reaction would be this --

For all those hurting in the world.
For Jesus to return and banish evil.
And in the meantime, 
for peace, comfort, and relief.
For instruction on how to raise Grayson to know God. 
So that he will always have hope, despite the fallen circumstances of his surroundings.
For guidance on how to act,
what ministries to contribute to and be involved with.
For opportunities to serve and love those who are hurting.
And to be a light unto the world, 
because this dark world needs an awful lot of light.

Have you seen this movie yet? What did you think?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Scenes from the Office...because not every post can be mind-blowingly awesome

Having a functional workspace can be so important,
and it's extremely important to me!
I need my surroundings to be not only practical,
but I also want them to create a sense of calm.
Working with college students can sometimes be an emotionally-charged job!
This is especially true when you're telling someone
they aren't going to graduate on time or they may have to sit out for a year due to a low GPA.
I also meet with students who are feeling overwhelmed and stressed just from the very nature of being a college student. 

Having a space where these students can feel comfortable and welcomed is essential to my job. 
And I need to feel that way, too!
Work can be overwhelming for any number of reasons.
Plus, I spend approximately 40 hours a week in this room.
I should probably make it as pleasant as possible!

I wouldn't say that my office is inherently nice. 
It's very small.
It's old.
It doesn't have windows.
It's tucked away in the back of a very old, drafty, slightly mildewy building.
When I first starting moving into my office, 
my coworkers and my husband were all very sympathetic.
They felt bad that I was being sentenced to this work space.

But I was determined to make this space my own and to make it nice!
So, I've added lamps (that no one else in my department wanted. They aren't the cutest, but they provide the desired effect of soft lighting and I can do away with the harsh florescence!
I've hung various things on the wall that speak to my identity and serve as a source of encouragement for both me and my students. 
And I just kind of love it here. :)

So, here it is...
my not-all-that-impressive-simple-yet-sweet office space!
(sorry...they are mostly blurry! Soft lighting and iPhones don't really mix!)

Bulletin board/white board

I periodically put up new quotations from the book 1001 Things Every College Student Should Know, along with corresponding quotations from historical or literary figures.

This piece of paper has clearly seen some loving! I used to pull it out during my counseling appointments while doing my Practicum in grad school. Now it's  hanging out in my office. I don't reference it much, but sometimes it's fun to ask students to identity how they're feeling. I think students actually respond to it more now due to the current craze of emojis.

A relevant quotations for everyone, but particularly my English majors!

This is the wall above my computer.
The 30 Day Ab/Squat challenge I'm working on

GSU pride!

My book shelf...slightly messy, but oh well!

I'm way too in love with my new planner!

More stuff!

My diplomas - BA in English and M.Ed in Counselor Education

My awesome CLASS Advisement Center tote bag! :)

 Thanks for taking a tour of my tiny office. Thrilling, I know.

Happy Friday! :)


Thursday, August 14, 2014



 I think I'm one of those sadistic people who thrive on being busy. Like, just a little too much on my plate and I could legitimately lose it at any point but I manage to tread water and keep it together kind of busy. I am incredibly busy these days, and yet here I am, furiously pounding out a blog post during my lunch break.

I think there is a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in successfully juggling several different responsibilities that I just don't get from any amount of peace and restfulness. I wonder if I've just conditioned myself to be this way because I was so busy for so many years? It's really the way of our world, isn't it? Even children these days are having to pencil activities into their packed schedules. For the time I was in graduate school, I often juggled the responsibilities of a part-time job, a part-time internship, school, church, friends, and family. I discovered that the art of piecing together the puzzle of fitting X amount of responsibilities into 24 hours was actually somewhat exhilarating. Call me crazy, but I actually like feeling a bit frazzled from time to time. I think it makes all the things I'm doing feel more important or something.

Maybe this attitude is not always the best. I certainly don't want to be one of those people who can't take a break, relax, unplug, and rest! And I don't think I am. My gosh, do I love sleep! And I cherish evenings with my husband, on the couch, watching TV. I look forward to quiet moments to read a book. One of my favorite parts of my weekend is sharing a nap with Grayson, usually on Sundays after church. But I find that having a running to-do list and a lot of commitments is actually a good thing for me. A planner with lots of notes, scribbles, and highlighted items (which means completed) gets my inner nerd all revved up! :)

In this season of life, I'm keeping quite busy. At work, I'm preparing for fall advisement which will soon be just shy of all-consuming, I serve on the academic advising training committee and help plan and manage professional development opportunities, I co-lead an office book club, I'm teaching an orientation class, and I'm trying to keep up with random other issues and departmental relationships necessary to complete my job. This week, I also have to work on Saturday for our final orientation. At home, I'm a mom, which comes with all sorts of obligations, including but not limited to: playing with Grayson, reading to Grayson, generally watching him to make sure he doesn't swallow some non-food or crawl into the fireplace, feed him both with solid food and by breastfeeding, give him a bath, snuggle him, rock him to sleep, and wake up 1-3 times a night to nurse him. I also must prepare bottles for the next day and wash bottles from the current day. Plus, working to keep the house tidy and cook meals. THANKFULLY, Scott is the best husband and daddy in the whole wide world (I'm pretty convinced!) and he shares every single responsibility with me. I cannot imagine trying to tackle all of that without him. I'm not that in love with being busy! ;)

I try to workout occasionally, though I haven't done as much lately as I would like. I have been doing the 30 Day Ab/Squat challenge (on day 25!). I also serve twice a month at church and Scott and I lead a small group once a week. Once a month I host a group for working moms. And of course, I like to spend time with friends and family which is a time commitment, especially when it involves traveling and dedicating a full weekend to the occasion.

Life is madness. Sometimes it's overwhelming. It's often tiring. But I still LOVE it! I couldn't do it without God and His unfailing strength and the rest I find in him. Waking up in the mornings and doing Bible study in bed with Scott and Grayson fuels me for my whole day. Well, that and a cup of coffee! ;)

What about you? I know we're all busy these days, but do you love it, hate it, or wish you had more time to rest?

Now, time to get back to it!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

10 months!

Daddy just did his first 1/2 marathon! Woohoo! :)

Dear Grayson,

People often ask how old you are, and I keep telling them that you'll be a year old in two more months. I keep telling them, but I hardly believe it. 1-year old? That doesn't sound right. I have a baby, not a 1-year old! Not a toddler! A baby! I'm not quite ready to let go of that idea.

For some reason this month it's hitting me harder than before--this concept of aging and the ridiculous speed of time passing. It's always the same. Cheering you on as you reach each new milestone. Waiting eagerly for you to do the next big thing. At the exact same moment, I'm mourning the loss of your infancy. I look down on you in wonder as I hold you in my lap and you cover my body with yours. I try to visualize the days when you were so tiny, when I needed a pillow to support my arm because I was being so careful to elevate your little head and perfectly cradle your sweet body. Now I rest my arm on the side of the chair and you sprawl yourself across my lap. No need for support. You are your own support. You can hold your head up, pop up into sitting, and then pull yourself to standing in my lap. You lay across me by choice now, which carries it's own form a sweetness. But a large part of me misses those days of being your everything. Your blossoming independence and adventurous personality is a bitter sweet thing. 

You are so busy these days! It's all Daddy and I can do to keep up with you! From the moment you wake up, you start exploring! You rapidly crawl around the room, pull up on every piece of furniture, curiously pointing to everything, grabbing toys and books and holding them out for us to see. You love to share your discoveries with us. 

You smile a lot and are laughing more and more. You have the best sense of humor! My favorite smiles are those you share first thing in the morning. I sit you in my lap and look into your eyes and ask about your night. How did you sleep? Did you have sweet dreams? Your eyes light up, just brightening from the soft glaze of sleepiness, and your mouth opens into an excited grin. It's the most perfect way to start my day. 

Some things that have made you laugh lately include Mommy and Daddy making snorting noises, being tickled, and Mommy and Daddy making crazy faces at you. You also think it's funny to crawl away, like you're going to leave the room, and then turning around and crawling back to us at lightening speed! We make sure you see how excited and happy we are about your return, which can throw you into a fit of giggles. Before we know it, we're all laughing! You brighten our home and bring it to life!

I love hearing your sweet little voice as you babble and form new words all the time. You've added to your vocabulary, your own variations of the words duck, star, dog, and even thank you! I was completely amazed this past weekend when Auntie handed you a toy, I said, "Say thank you!" and you said, "tank ku." Auntie and I were so thrilled, she said, "You're so awesome!" To which you replied, "tank ku!" It was perfect! I haven't gotten you to say it again yet, but I know you are brilliant and will be saying it regularly soon. :) Also, "dada" is starting to sound more like "daddy," and you've finally starting saying "mama," albeit sparingly!

Your favorite toys, shows, songs, and books haven't changed much in the past month. You've recently grown an attachment to a little stuffed black bear. You don't require him to sleep, but you love snuggling with him, chewing on his nose, and playing with him in your carseat. He has become a staple for traveling! We also discovered a new show called Big Bugs Band that you love! As soon as the intro music starts, you are hooked! Sometimes you even bob to the music and try to sing along! You also enjoy VeggieTales more and more, particularly the intro song. As soon as that tuba starts playing, you turn expectantly to the TV and sometimes even start clapping. 

Speaking of clapping, you do that a lot! Sometimes you amaze us at how close you can clap in-time with the music. I think you might have some percussion playing in your future! I know you are going to grow up loving music--and I will not be surprised if you're like your daddy and can play multiple instruments. Miss Tami at school already tells us you are great at the piano!

You love Miss Tami and Miss Mineko. You love school. This makes it so much easier for Mommy and Daddy to go to work each day, knowing that you are having fun in a safe and educational environment. Unfortunately, you are going through a phase of separation anxiety and you have started crying when we drop you off. I hope this phase is short-lived because it breaks my heart to hear you crying and see your little face scrunched up in sorrow as I'm walking out the door. I know you actually love it there, so I can still leave with confidence. But that doesn't make it easy.

You're eating more and more these days, which is great! Your very favorite food is black beans. You can eat them by the handful. You also eat puffs by the handful. And bread. And really anything. Sometimes we have to pull some food out of your mouth because you just stuff too much in there at once. Silly boy! You are also making us more aware of the state of floors. Vacuuming has never been more important as we have once fished a sliver of cat nail out of mouth (lovely) and watched you hold out a tuft of cat fur or piece of something and then shoved it into your mouth before we could retrieve it from you! Choking hazards have become a very real concern, and I'm constantly scanning the room for things you could swallow. 

We've upgraded you to a new carseat. You're still rear-facing, and will be for a long time yet. You seem to like your new seat, though it is a little harder to get you in and out versus the infant carrier. We also purchased a Noggle, so you have direct airflow now. AND we got the car windows tinted. You are riding in style!

You're working on your two front teeth on the top. One of them has already cut through the tiniest bit. The other you can feel when you push on your gums. Thankfully you haven't been too fussy as a result. But you haven't let us off the hook completely! You haven't been the best sleeper this week and you often end up in Mommy and Daddy's bed. But that's okay. We like to snuggle. :)

As you become more and more of a big boy, I'm realizing how many expectations of me are coming up. The questions have already started flowing in. It's as if everyone expects you to no longer have any characteristics of a baby once you are a year old. When are you taking away the pacifier? When will you wean him? Aren't you sleep training yet? You're not still nursing/rocking to sleep, are you?? Sheesh! It's all a little overwhelming and I can't help being a bit defensive. I don't like this restrictive time limit the world is putting on you and me. I'm content to let you take your time. Keep being a baby. There's still time to grow up. I promise I won't need to rock you to sleep in high school. It's going to be okay!

You still don't sleep through the night. Not even close. But I'm also not worried about that. Despite the expectations of so many, I know lots of babies who continue to wake during the night until they're closer to 3 years old. Sure, I want more sleep. If you feel compelled to sleep through the night, you won't see me stopping you! But I'm not stressed about adopting some sort of training method to teach you to sleep better. It will come when it comes. 

Last month you were still weighing in around 20 pounds and 28 1/4 inches long. Surprisingly, you haven't grown much since you were 6 months! I attribute it to all the crawling. But it's strange that the numbers haven't changed much, yet you're wearing some 2T clothes... !! You wear everything from 9 months to 2T. It varies by brand and style. So, I don't know how the numbers are the same, but you, my little friend, are definitely growing!!

Beyond all the updates of what you're doing and how you're growing, I want you to know one important thing. Daddy and I love you more than words can say. You bring such joy into our lives. And you've stolen my heart by, finally, saying "Mama!" And no matter how much you grow, no matter how many awesome things you can do, no matter if you no longer fit in my lap or nurse to sleep, you will ALWAYS be my sweet baby who I love with all my heart!


Friday, August 8, 2014


I think Fridays are a good time to do "Lately..." posts. Not as many people read blogs on Friday, for whatever reason, and even fewer people want to read heavier subjects on Friday. I guess it's like a buzz kill for the weekend? Personally, I always want to listen to more Ke$ha on Fridays. Just being real! ;) Anyway! Here is my most recent lately thoughts! :)

Praying for...
+ a friend who recently spent some time in addiction rehab treatment
+ a friend battling breast cancer and dealing with the unpleasant side-effects of chemotherapy
+ Mom group! We're starting back next month with a committed group of 10 ladies (myself included) and our little ones! It should be awesome!!
+ Thinking about doing something like this 31 Days of Prayer idea. Scott and I were just talking this morning about how we want to spend more time in prayer about "issues." People without homes, people who are being tortured, abused, neglected, people who are hungry, sick, or lost. I'm thinking of borrowing from that idea and doing a list of more general things, and really ask God to help people in those situations and guide me to any ways I can help.

Working on...
+ lessons for my orientation class this semester! Eek! :)
+ Selling a bunch of random things from our home that we were going to donate anyway. So far I've made about $170! Whoop!
+ Preparing for fall advisement
+ a list of baby registry must-haves for a friend who asked 
+ This 30-Day ab/squat challenge. I'm on day 19!

Hoping for...
+ A fun weekend of traveling to Chattanooga for Scott's half marathon and spending time with his mom and sister
+ A smooth drive to Chattanooga this afternoon... We've never traveled this far during the day with Grayson. We've traveled farther than this, but always at night so he can sleep. This will be interesting driving 5 hours while Grayson is awake. :/ Pray for us!!

+Visited my best friend and her family in Fort Mitchell, AL. Her boys are the sweetest! I love seeing them with Grayson. :)
+ Had a great small-group meeting, catching up on each other's lives and talking about Hebrews 12 and the discipline of the Lord. (interesting topic!)

+ The Bible - just finished Hebrews today! Not sure what we'll read next.
+ Home Front by Kristin Hannah...still! But it's getting SO good! I cry almost every time I pick it up! I wish I had more time to read it!
+ The Happiness Advantage still! We're about halfway through it in my office book club.
+ This awesome blog post about finding balance in your home life
+ This article about missing the village. Sometimes I wish I had a "village," but I think I have a sort of version of it. Mom group is also part of my effort to form a village! :)

+ Saving Mr Banks - loved it!
+ VeggieTales (though I think we've now seen all the ones on Amazon streaming!)
+ Big Bugs Band - it's this adorable little cartoon on Hulu Plus with bugs that play different types of music. Each episode is a different musical style, and they're only about 2-3 minutes long. Grayson LOVES it, and Scott and I end up with these little songs in our heads all the time!
+ The Good Wife Season 2
+ most recent season of So You Think You Can Dance
+ We have 12 Years a Slave right now...haven't watched it yet. I'm nervous!

Listening to...
+ Still mostly Pandora on shuffle...all kinds of randomness! 
+ Particularly into One Republic these days

Laughing About...
+ Pretty much everything written on the blog Love Morning Wood (Wood is the family's last's not what it sounds like!)

What are YOU up to lately?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Glamorized Sin: What Are You Really Losing?

Yesterday in church, our pastor Brandon Williams briefly mentioned that many people will make the argument that they're scared to give their lives to Christ because they are afraid of what they might lose. I can 100% identify with this. Throughout college, I struggled with a bit of a double life. I wanted to give my life to God. I desperately wanted his love and healing touch in my life. I yearned for salvation and redemption. But I also had this image of what I would have to give up in order to receive that. I thought of it as a sort of barter system. I imagined God saying to me, "Okay, I will save you, but only if you first give up the sex, drinking, parties, and any other fun activities. Thanks."

First of all, that's not how salvation works at all. You do not earn your salvation. You cannot buy it with sacrifices. If you could, there would be no need for Jesus to die for you. Submit yourself to Jesus first and he'll guide and support you in anything else.

But if you think about it, what would you really be giving up? What is it that people are so afraid of losing? I think there are two major flaws in this line of thinking (aside from that not being an accurate depiction of salvation).

Flaw #1: The world is selling a lie and you've bought into it. Glamorized sin. You've watched a lot of movies and TV shows and listened to a lot of club songs. You see and hear images of people getting wasted, dancing the night away, making out with strangers, and having "liberating" sexual experiences with no strings attached. Or you've seen countless images of non-married couples having sex. And you truly believe this is reality. Whenever I imagined what I would be losing, it was never something I actually HAD. I would picture myself going to a party, dressed sexy and feeling confident, throwing back shots and dancing and laughing and having a great time. I would be surrounded by my friends and we would be having the time of our lives. Or I thought about my relationship with my boyfriend at the time. I would think about a handful of romantic and sweet moments we had shared and I would think that sex was an essential expression of this deep, powerful love that held us together.

This was not reality. The reality was that I would go to clubs or parties, feeling shy and awkward. Too self-conscious to dance or mingle, so I would drink. Usually in the form of chugging something or taking shots--the quicker the better. And usually I would drink too much because it's really hard to monitor your level of intoxication when you're drinking quickly. I would end up dancing like a crazy person, perhaps feeling sexy in the moment, but in reality being a hot mess. I know this from seeing pictures or videos of myself in this state. Usually my hair is a giant frizzy mess, I'm sweating, my makeup is smeared, and I have some crazed look on my face - distant eyes and an unnatural smile. And I would end the night groaning in my bed, trying to control the pounding in my head and swirling room around me. Once I even ended up in the bathroom, in a pile of my own vomit, unsure of how exactly I got there. Fun and sexy, indeed.

And that relationship? It mostly involved fighting, feelings of inadequacy and loneliness, and sex that mostly felt obligated and not desired. There was nothing fulfilling about it.

Why would anyone be afraid to give all that up? Why did I hold onto that for so long? Did I really think that what God had to offer was not as good as THAT? Which brings me to...

Flaw #2: You don't know Jesus. If you did, you would know that what he offers is far, far better than anything you might be losing. And I'm not talking about the prosperity gospel. I'm not saying he promises perfect circumstances of health, wealth, and happiness. But he does offer peace and joy through all of life's circumstances, if you trust in Him. And he provides unending love and mercy and grace. Living in His love means that you don't have to go to parties or bars to feel connected to people. You don't have to resort to alcohol to feel comfortable in your own skin. If you pursue Him and grow closer to Him, He will teach you to love yourself more. You won't need to seek acceptance and fulfillment from an empty relationship because Jesus will provide all the acceptance and fulfillment you need. Not to say community and romantic relationships aren't important, but you don't NEED them to be complete. They may build you up and encourage you, but they won't fill the voids your imperfect life has dealt you. Only Jesus will do that. If you knew Him, you would be running toward Him, open-armed, with wild abandon - you would eagerly throw that empty, ugly, life to the wayside.

My advice? Flip the flaws and address them in reverse order. Don't worry about what you're giving up. Start with Jesus. Get to know Him. Read God's word to learn more about his character. Talk to him through prayer/journaling and LISTEN through meditation/quiet time.  Once you get to know Jesus, He will reveal the reality of the rest. No longer will you see these things through the dirty lens of the media and society. Jesus will shine light on them so that you can see them as they truly are. Then, sacrifice things as you feel called. And look to God for strength and guidance in doing so. I promise, if you stop believing the lie of glamorized sin, and focus your energy on seeking God, you just won't worry about whether what your losing is worth it. I promise you will see that living for God is worth it. All of it.

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