Seasons, Chapters & Changes

Whether it’s marriage, a new baby, or retirement, we always hear, “enjoy this new season of life”, or “what an exciting chapter ahead of you”. Ultimately, all anyone is trying to say is enjoy the journey – but that is often easier said than done.

Not every season can be Spring, and not every chapter will be the happy ending. We also face times of uncertainty, anxiety, unemployment, illness, death of loved ones, and so much more.

All this to say that using the words “season” or “chapter” make change sound a little less scary. Because let’s be real, change IS scary. It can be good or it can be bad, but the fear is real either way.

Ryan and I find ourselves facing a lot of changes right now. Including a new season of home ownership and a new chapter called marriage. It’s a lot, and as excited as we are, it’s still terrifying.

As I was thinking about seasons, chapters & changes this morning – this popped up on my Pinterest, and it just fits so perfectly. Immediately my anxiety evaporated. All of my life, in every season – He is still God. Can I get an amen?!

For me – it makes change a little less intimidating when I know that the next chapter of my life is already written by the One who calls me His child.

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Observing Lent

Lent is the season of preparation for Easter, observed by most Catholics and many Christians. While I was growing up, giving something up for lent was something fun I did with my youth group… because everyone else was doing it. I never really grasped what Lent is and the significance & purpose of giving something up for 40 days.

This time is meant to be marked by intentional awareness of what is coming – Jesus’ death and the celebration of his subsequent resurrection. By giving up something you rely on, it pushes you to look towards him, to reflect & pray.

This year, the Lenten season means a lot to me. There’s been so much going on the last few months and so much that is happening this year that I feel as though I haven’t focused on my relationship with the Lord at all. Aside from the “time” excuse, something that has been choking my prayer life is is my anxiety and resulting negative behaviors — primarily revolving around my enemy;; FOOD. As I’ve mentioned several times throughout my posts – I have never had a normal, healthy relationship with food. Lately, comfort food has been the biggest obstacle to everything else that I’m trying to accomplish. Instead of doing positive things to improve my life, I just go straight to food when I’m uncomfortable, sad, anxious, angry, ashamed, lonely, etc.

So, for the next six weeks I am giving up my comfort food. For me, this means soda, sweets in general, popcorn, ice cream, pizza, bread… Etc. (Foods I really shouldn’t be eating anyway, but nonetheless…) I’m giving up all of the foods that I immediately turn to when things aren’t perfect. It’s not okay to be looking to food of all things for comfort. The only true peace comes from God, and that’s what I need to seek. These next weeks will be challenging, but I can’t wait to see the ways that He works in my life and in my heart. I want to remember how out of balance I feel today, and look forward to a freeing a peace in my heart on Easter that I haven’t felt in some time.

Happy Lent!

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Thanks Mom.

This year, I’m keeping it positive. I’m tired of the negativity; both from my surroundings and from my thoughts. So for awhile my posts are going to be thank you posts. I’m going to be counting my blessings, and at the top of the list are the people who keep me motivated through this thing called life.

Up first, of course, is my Momma.

I don’t quite know how I can put into words how thankful I am for this woman that I am forever indebted to. My mom raised twins by herself for the most part. We both had our moments – but of the two of us I know I caused her more sleepless nights than my brother. I wasn’t an easy kid, and I certainly wasn’t an easy teenager. But somehow my mom managed to keep me in her prayers and say “I love you,” every day without fail. Being older and having seen people I love do some self-destructive things, or even say that they’re thinking about hurting themselves, I cannot even begin to fathom how much pain I caused my mom. She had to see the aftermath of suicide attempts and years of self-harm and bulimia. She had to see her daughter, in her house, trying to hurt herself, and trying very hard. I can’t even imagine. Honestly, I can’t even say that I would take it back because everything that I’ve gone through has made me who I am – but I certainly wouldn’t be here if she hadn’t stuck by my side all of these years. I know people who went through less than I did whose parents gave up on them. But here she was; paying for therapy, visiting me every day in hospitals, doing everything in her power to get me into an inpatient rehab program before I turned 18… she saved my life. My mom literally saved my life, and it’s not something that I acknowledge enough. Thank you Mom. For not only putting up with me, but for loving me through the most difficult days. Thank you for always being a phone call away, even at 3 am. Thank you for continuing to encourage me and for being my inspiration. Thank you for being a faithful prayer warrior.

Aside from being an angel in my life that I don’t recognize enough… I’m so thankful that we share a passion for horses, a passion that you ignited in my heart before I can even remember. Some of my fondest memories are going to barrel races with you growing up, and our traditional McDonald’s chicken nuggets afterwards. ūüôā Thank you for always doing everything you possibly can to support my passion and my dream.

The thing is, though – I know it’s not just me whose life you have impacted. You are a beautiful person inside and out. You are always there to help friends, family, strangers – you have the biggest heart. Your smile is infectious, your sincerity is noticed, and your love is unconditional.

Thank you for being you, Mom. You are such a blessing to me, and I definitely don’t say it enough. I love you.

‚̧N.O.

New Year, New Story

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It’s a New Year; in fact, I can’t believe it’s already five days into 2016.

Normally this is where I, and everyone else in the world, would reflect on backthe previous year, but¬†too much of my life has revolved around the past.¬†For me, 2016 will be a year of no looking back – ¬†just moving forward. It’s okay to glance in the rear-view mirror sometimes… but nothing good happens when you can’t take your eyes off of the places you have already been.

The focus of my 2016 will be bettering myself so that I can selflessly love those around me.

Some of my resolutions include:
-To be & eat  healthier so that I have more energy to focus on the things and people that actually deserve my attention.
-Complete 200 hours of community service.
-Hike mountains and trails across Arizona (checklist to come).
-Apply to Graduate School (and hopefully decide what I want to do when I grow up).
-Place in the 2D in a local barrel race,,, my horse and our career is more of a priority for me this year than ever before.
-Go somewhere I have never been.
-Find a “home” church and attend regularly.

More than anything, I need to focus on all that I’m blessed with instead of focusing on the negative. This year, I have a new position at work that I will continue to excel in. I have some amazing, genuine friends. I am actively involved with the Crisis Text Line and the National Eating Disorders Association – two organizations that literally save lives every day. I am in a¬†healthy,¬†wonderful relationship with an incredible man. I have a faithful and prayerful family who I can always rely on.

I am so blessed, even on the darkest days.

There is so much that I want to do this year, so many expectations and hopes and dreams. But, unlike every other year of my life – I’m not going to beat myself up when I don’t perfectly stick to all of my resolutions or meet the goals I’ve set for myself. I know I’m going to fail, but I will continually remind myself that¬†every set back is a set up for a come back.

So, whether 2016 means ¬†a “New You” or consists of finding the real you. Remember that the past is the past, but your future is an adventure just waiting to happen – and guess what? It doesn’t care about what happened yesterday.

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Happy New Year!

-N.O.

5 Years of Fighting

It’s been more than 10 years since I first began struggling with poor self-worth as a young girl.¬†Things only got worse as I got older. Low self-esteem developed into self-hatred, anxiety, depression, self-harm and an eating disorder; all of which progressed until I lost the girl I once was. My mom finally saw through the fake smile and was determined to not lose her daughter entirely. 5 years ago today my mom, quite literally, dragged me kicking & screaming to Remuda Ranch in Wickenburg, AZ (now Remuda Ranch at the Meadows) – a residential treatment facility specializing in eating & related disorders. Little did I know at the time that my life would never be the same. I met some amazing people who changed my life for the better; people I will never forget. After I was discharged 60 days later, I had it in my head that I was going to be okay from there on out; that I was recovered, and I wasn’t going to let my illness control my life anymore. A few months, a relapse and a hospitalization later – I¬†realized I still had a long way to go. I could go on about how I wish I was farther along in my recovery than I am, and how I think 17 year old me might¬†be disappointed to see where I’m at today – BUT, I’m not going to. I have spent 5 years fighting for my life. I could have been in and out of treatment centers and hospitals. I could have dropped out of college and given up on myself entirely – but I didn’t. 5 years later and I’ve graduated college, landed a good¬†full-time job, returned to my love of horses & barrel racing,¬†and been able to be okay living on my own and supporting myself; none of which would have been possible¬†without my desire for recovery.

5 years later and I do still struggle. Some days depression, anxiety & panic still take hold of my life. I’m still in therapy, I still have a fragile relationship with food, and I still don’t love myself like I should. But I am also alive, and¬†that is something I am proud of.¬†5 years ago I was forced to look at myself and realize that the life I was living wasn’t truly living, and that I needed to make a change. Although these past 5 years have been some of the hardest of my life, I have learned so much about myself.

5 years later I’m still learning that I am worthy of love. 5 years later I am still learning that there doesn’t have to be an explanation behind “no.” 5 years later I’m finally working hard to take back my life from the men that took it from me years ago. 5 years later and I’m still struggling, but I am fighting. I am a survivor, and I always will be. No one can take that away from me. Recovery is a process, and maybe my process is longer than others. Maybe I’ve taken more steps backward than others. But my recovery is my own, and theirs is their own. I can sit here today and be proud of the woman I am. I am learning to set boundaries that were torn down long ago. I am learning to accept and love myself as I am. I can finally begin to see my worth through the eyes of my Heavenly Father, not through the mistakes of my earthly father.

If I had it my way, I wouldn’t be here today. But I thank God everyday for saving me, and for this wonderful life that He has blessed me with. I am so thankful for my family, my friends, and the countless professionals who have gone above and beyond to show me that my life truly is worth living, and that I really am loved.

My faith is what has gotten me through my lowest lows, and sometimes the only peace I am able to find from my anxiety is through Jesus. I’m here to tell you today that there is always hope even when all you can see is darkness. There is always someone who loves you¬†and who would give their life for you. Never give up – there’s a reason you are here.¬†While at Remuda I found a verse¬†that has meant more to me than any other words I’ve read in the bible, take it to heart:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.                       -John 14:27

5 years later and I am still fighting, and I will continue to fight. My scars, both inside & out, will always be there to remind me how far I truly have come. This war may¬†never be over, but I’ll count each day I wake up as a battle won.

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‚úĆN.O.

Lessons from a Horse

I recently became a horse owner again, an unexpected and wonderful blessing. I could not be happier about it, but there is something about longing for an event, person, place or thing for so long (I had been without a horse for about 2 1/2 years) and then finally getting it; we often forget that most of these things come with their own unique challenges, difficulties or conflicts. While dreaming about barrel racing again РI had seemingly forgot about all of the hard work it will take to get my horse ready to race.

My horse, Scooby, has already found her way into my heart. She is the sweetest little girl with a big heart and a fun personality. Scooby has had an interesting life though – for the majority of her 9 years she has been running free with no authority of any kind. She has the mindset of a youngster, even though she isn’t. While riding the other day I just kept asking her and hoping that she would just stop worrying, trust me – and give me the reins instead of fighting me. I love her, and want nothing but the best for her – but I know that there are going to be lots of baby steps to take before we really go places.

I tend to pray while I ride – it’s where I am most at peace. I guess I was just asking for a little guidance for both myself & Scooby. But I usually feel guilty after I pray because I don’t do it often, and it seems I only do pray when I am asking for something… something that I want. I have tried so hard¬†to convince myself that my life is going how God wants it to – this would mean that I both have control and at the same time I am allowing God’s will to be done.

After my session with Scooby was over I got off and was grooming her when I got to thinking… Scooby & I are alike in many ways.

I believe in a God who has loved me even before I was a twinkle in my momma’s eye; a God who longs for me to just stop worrying, trust Him –¬†and give Him the reins instead of fighting Him. He loves me and wants nothing but the best for me.

How ironic is it that I’m asking this beautiful creature who has known me for only a short time to trust me with her life, when I can’t even release control of my own life to the One who created me? Quite ironic I think.

As I go back to the basics with Scooby so that we can work our way towards a fully trusting relationship, I’m also going to go back to the basics with Jesus so that I can work towards a complete relationship with Him.

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Jesus Take the Reins

-N.O.