He’s Already Coming To Get Me [a follow up post]


It’s only been a little over 48 hours since I sat crying in my bed and published my last blog post, but wow, God is already showing up.

When I wrote that blog, it really wasn’t for my readers. It was for me. It was for me to be able to vocalize that God is good in the midst of it all. In the midst of my sadness and uncertainty, I needed to proclaim that God is good so that my heart could believe it. It was a reminder for me, no one else.

Oh, heart, believe.

I let that blog post become my faith declaration; my heart cry. My white flag to Jesus. Me screaming, “I TRUST YOU. I KNOW THAT YOU ARE GOOD. I BELIEVE THAT THERE WILL BE AN END TO THIS SUFFERING. BUT UNTIL THEN, I WILL PRAISE.”

I didn’t expect the darkness to lift any time soon. And if I’m being honest, it got a whole lot darker on Monday morning.

But God.

God hear my heart cry. He knew that I believed and that I trusted, but when I wrote that out for the world to see on this blog, he used that as my declaration of faith.

It’s as if God read my blog post and said, “Okay, she trusts me. She knows that I’m good and that I’ll save her from this eventually. She has that faith. And she is still choosing to praise me, no matter the timeline or outcome.”

And then God moved. 

By Monday evening, I couldn’t stop crying because of JOY. Pure, unexplainable-except-for-Jesus joy.

God moved mountains and opened doors that I had not even imagined or knew existed. He is just THAT good!!!

He knew my deep heartache, but he also knew my deep faith. And once I proclaimed his goodness over my situation, he moved.

That is just who our God is. Time and time and time again, he has proven that throughout all of history.

Abraham. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Without question, Abraham went. When Isaac asked his father where the lamb was for the offering, Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8). He didn’t know for sure, but he decided to believe that God would provide. FAITH DECLARATION. When Abraham goes to slay his only soon, God stops him. “Do not lay a hand on the boy. Do not do anything to him. Now I know you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (Genesis 22:12). And then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the bushes. GOD MOVED.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. King Nebuchadnezzar created a statue of himself and commanded all the Babylonians to bow down at the assigned time and worship him. They were all told that if they did not bow down, they would immediately be thrown into the blazing furnace. Yet Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, stood their ground and refused to worship any god except for God. Right before they are to be thrown in the fire, the king asks them if they believe that God will save them. They reply, “if we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18). Even though they knew God might not save them, they still declared him good. FAITH DECLARATION. They were thrown into the fire, and once the king and his advisers looked in, they saw that they were not burning, and that there were four people in the fire. Jesus showed up. Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego were taken out of the fire unharmed–“they saw that they fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them” (Daniel 3:27). GOD MOVED. 

Boy Possessed by an Impure Spirit. This is one of my favorites. A man brings his demon possessed son to Jesus, begging him to heal him. After the man expresses doubt of his ability to heal, Jesus sasses him and says that all things are possible for one who believes. The man then proclaims, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) FAITH DECLARATION. After the main’s proclamation, Jesus rebuked the impure spirit and it fled from the boy’s body immediately. GOD MOVED. 

These are just three examples of countless times over all of eternity that God has worked and opened doors after his people have declared faith. Sometimes faith is all we need.

I stand amazed at my God this week. Things have been SO hard and I saw no end in sight, but I trusted. I had faith. I proclaimed. And God moved in ways that I had no idea were possible. WHAT?! 

It isn’t over, but joy is there. There is sun again. I can’t stop dancing and twirling.

God is good.

He is faithful.

Time and time and time again.

Always good.

Always, always, always faithful.


He Won’t Leave Me Here

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It’s been quite a week. Quite a month. And if I’m being honest, it’s been quite a semester.

I am so incredibly happy with where I am right now–I have the best roomie, my boyfriend is great, I’ve been traveling and seeing all my people which has been SO good, and I absolutely adore my major and the path that my life is on–but the darkness is heavy.

So heavy.

It’s been a heck of a long time since I have felt such unshakable sadness. The kind of sadness that’s almost debilitating. The kind of sadness that has left me in bed for 75% of this past week. And it is so hard to feel like this again.

I don’t think I have felt this kind of sadness that has lasted this long + affected so much of my life since before Carolina House. Ouch.

No no no no no, I am not that girl again. I’m not. This sadness is dark and heavy and it honestly feels like it’s never going to end, but I am not that girl still. I’m never going to be her again.

There’s really no point to this post except to say that sometimes life is hard. And sometimes you cry upwards of 10 times a day. That’s okay. It isn’t for forever.

I think in this past week I have journaled/vocalized to my roommate/texted my support system this very question about a gazillion times: “When is it just going to end?”

I don’t know when it’ll end. I don’t know when the tears will stop or when life will feel yellow again or when the sadness will finally go away, but here’s what I do know:

Jesus is good.

Jesus is good and he is faithful and he will not leave me here.

He’s never left me here before, and he’s not going to start now. That isn’t who my Jesus is.

Last night I journaled, through a heck of a lot of tears, “My Jesus, you are good. So good. Let me see that and say that in the midst of it all.”


Let me see your goodness and let me proclaim it EVEN IN THIS SADNESS.

Currently I want to go get Psalm 27:13 tattooed over every inch of my body because it is my heart cry right now.

I will remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13


My confidence and my only hope right now is that there is an end to this sadness. But even until then, I will praise Jesus because he sees me in this valley. He sees me and he knows me and he calls me his.

This season might not feel good, but he is good. And that is enough.

My Jesus won’t leave me here.

I don’t know when this sadness will end, I don’t know how many more tears will come, I don’t know how many more times I’ll beg for it to just be over already.

But he is here, so it is well.

This song is my anthem right now. Give it a listen, let it sink into your heart, and believe it. Peace be still.


Be Your Best Self


WOW, hello!! I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been absent from this little space of the internet for a couple months now. It’s been a whirlwind since coming back to school, starting a new job, getting a new treatment team, and just simply trying to settle back into a new semester. I definitely hit the ground running, but I also finally fell flat on my face.

It’s been a BUSY semester. On my busiest day of the week, I leave my dorm at 7am for Dwell fam breakfast (shoutout to the highlight of my week!), and don’t return to my dorm until 8 o’clock that night after work (well, I return to my room once during the day to change into long pants for my forensic science lab, but spending three minutes in my room doesn’t really count). So easy to say, it. has. been. crazy.

At first I was thriving. Seriously. I loved having a planner that looked like an [organized] hot mess and had writing on every line. I liked staying busy. BUT I’m 10000% an introvert. I have to have alone time quite often, or I’m not my best functioning self. So the joys of feeling productive + busy 24/7 quickly faded, and I was left feeling overwhelmed, unhappy, and just not in love with life anymore.

Finally, after a week of sobbing almost everyday, I realized that I wasn’t being my best self and that I needed to fix that. Being my best self means that I’m being the best version of myself possible. I have to be actively pursuing myself so that my glass can be filled up enough so that I can continue to pour into others.

So. How have I chosen to actively pursue myself? There are a few things that I have intentionally decided to do in order to be my best self. These are things I have simply decided to do for me. I’m not saying that they’re gospel or that it’s what you need to do to be your best self. Find what you need to do and chase after it. 

Quit the job.

If you know me, you know that I have been working a ton as a nanny this semester. Unfortunately, the job was leaving me feeling more drained than filled, and I realized that it has been weeks since I last actually hung out with my friends or boyfriend. As a college student, my job shouldn’t be taking over my life, so my support system thankfully encouraged me to turn in my two week notice.

Delete your Snapchat.

Or Instagram. Or Twitter. Or all of the above. For me, I found that Snapchat was such a negative resource. Most of my Snapchats between friends and me consisted of us complaining about things, which just isn’t cool. So I decided to peace out of that extra source of negativity, because nobody got time for that. Yeah, I miss out on funny stories and seeing what my friends are doing, but if I really wanna know what’s going on in their lives, I need to reach out to them personally instead of waiting for them to update their Snapchat story.

Wear that yellow.

Honestly, I don’t have much to add to this. We all know that I’m obsessed with the color yellow. But my day gets at least 10x happier when I’m wearing something yellow, so I’m trying to be much more intentional about wearing my yellow items of clothing because sometimes my mood just needs a lil bit of extra sunshine.

Buy those pastel highlighters.

If it makes you happy, go for it. I found pastel highlighters in a random Buzzfeed article last week and they just came in the mail today and I am SO stoked about them. Pursue you, gf, even when it means sometimes spending money on silly little things that make you happy.

Create all the things.

Literally my biggest piece of advice. CREATE. I am the most free and at peace when I’m doing something creative, whether it be blogging or painting or crocheting or whatever. You don’t have to be good at it. It can be a complete mess. But just do it. I’m sure there’s some scientific fact somewhere that says creating makes you be a better person. And I’d back that fact up 100000%.

Basically, PURSUE YOU. It’s only been a few days since I’ve decided to intentionally start pursuing myself again, and it’s already the best. I already feel more like me and I’m definitely falling back in love with life again. This life thing is hard, y’all, so be gentle with yourself. Give yourself time and space. Learn how to be your best self, because not only will everyone around you thank you for it, you’ll really thank yourself for it.


Recovery Q+A


Hey friends! I know that eating disorder recovery can be confusing to people that have never experienced it. BUT luckily someone suggested I do a recovery Q+A, so here we are!!! I’m answering most of the questions that I received, but if you don’t see yours on here or you think of me, feel free to leave a comment or message me through my contact page. Love y’all wowowow!!

Q. When you were in your disorder, was your view of your body distorted? Like, did you see yourself as fat when in reality you were actually skinny? And is that part of an eating disorder or a separate thing that a non-eating disordered individual can experience?

A. YES, my view of my body was extremely distorted. Looking back at pictures now, I can see how sickly I looked, but in the moment, all I saw was fat. I saw fat on parts of my body that didn’t even exist. Body dysmorphia is a common part of eating disorders that most (but not all) individuals suffer from. However, there is a disorder called Body Dysmorphia Disorder. While many eating disorder individuals claim to have BDD, it is not possible (according to the DSM-5!) for the two disorders to co-occur. BDD is essentially the same thing that many eating disorder sufferers experience, but just a separate diagnosis specifically for those without eating disorders. So yes, it is possible for non-eating disordered individuals to experience distorted body image. While I can’t say that every person who has bad body image has BDD, it is definitely a possibility.


Q. What are some tips for dealing with a changing body in recovery? Specifically when you are “weight restored” but your body is still changing.

A. Girl, I still struggle with this! Weight restoring is hard, and then it’s still hard when you body continues to change and fluctuate. However, that is SO NORMAL. Weight fluctuates all the time. It happens to everyone, not just eating disorder individuals. So for me, I’m just learning to trust my body. Our bodies are SO smart, and they know what they’re doing. So when my body changes or fluctuates, I just remind myself that it is normal and I choose to trust my body, even when my eating disorder is screaming no. I also fact check with my dietitian a lot! I tell her what I’m experiencing and she always tells me that it’s normal and we discuss how I feel about it. I suggest reaching out to your treatment team because they can validate how you feel but also give you the facts!!


Q. How do you balance the demands of college while maintaining stable recovery?

A. At this point in my recovery, it feels normal to me to balance the two, but when I started my freshman year, it was so overwhelming. BUT FLEXIBILITY IS KEY. College is demanding and your schedule gets crazy hectic, but you have to make room for snacks and meals. For me, sometimes this means eating in class or at work. You can’t use your busy schedule as an excuse to not eat. You have to be proactive and make a plan for the times that you’re busy! When signing up for classes, I always make sure to have a break in between classes to have lunch. Figure out what works for you, and stick with that! Reach out to your friends and let them know what’s going on so that they can keep you accountable. If you’re struggling, make sure to always go to the dining hall with friends. Work with your school to get some accommodations if needed. It’s challenging, but as long as you stick to what you know you need to do, it’ll become second nature!


Q. What are some things that are helpful and supportive to say to a person recovering from an eating disorder as opposed to the well-meaning yet destructive comments?

A. Thank you so much for asking this question. I know it’s really easy to say, “Wow, you look so healthy!” or something of that nature, but to someone in recovery, their eating disorder can twist that to mean “Wow, you look so FAT!” It’s best to stray away from commenting on the person’s appearance. Tell them that you’re proud of them. Acknowledge that recovery is so so hard, and validate how they feel. Offer to help them in any way that you can, whether that be meal support or accountability or distraction. Acknowledge that you don’t understand what recovering from an eating disorder is like, but always be willing to listen to them. Remind them that they’re worthy and capable and that you believe in them. Most of all, just be there for them!!


Q. How do you start a relationship with God, and how does that affect/play into your recovery?

A. You start a relationship with God like you do any other relationship. You spend time with him. I started doing this by starting a prayer journal, which is just a normal journal, but you address your journal entries to God as a prayer. For me, that was an easy way to begin my prayer life because I was doing something that I’d normally do, but I was making it a spiritual practice. And reading your Bible is so important! I recommend starting with the Gospels so you can learn about who Jesus is and what he did for you. Feel free to comment or message me for more book suggestions! Get plugged in with a good Christian community, whether that be a youth group or Bible study or whatever. Most importantly, just push through and put in the effort to get to know God, even if you can’t feel him! The more you learn about him, the more you’ll be able to feel his presence.

My faith plays a big part of my recovery. I feel like the two go hand and hand. For me personally, I don’t think I’d be in recovery if it weren’t for Jesus. Knowing Jesus gives me a purpose and a reason to not live a miserable life of self-destructive behaviors. The more I know Jesus, the more I want to live for him and in line with what his Word says. Jesus is the most important thing to me, and if I want to live for him, I can’t live for my eating disorder.


Q. For you, what is the most rewarding part of recovery?

A. The freedom that I experience. Recovery is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I am the happiest that I have been in years. Being able to eat and laugh and live life without ruining friendships or isolating or feeling guilty or as if I’m drowning all the time is the best feeling. I’d never give up on this journey because recovery offers me so much more freedom than my eating disorder ever did.


Q. Do you believe in full recovery? And if so, how do you know when you’re fully recovered?

A. I do. I don’t/won’t believe that we’re made to live in our eating disorders for the rest of our lives. We’re made to live in full freedom, and I believe that that is possible after a lot of hard work. I think full recovery comes when you don’t hear your eating disorder’s voice all the time anymore. I think when the voices do come (which they will from time to time because #dietculture), recovered is being able to immediately combat the eating disorder voice as lies without thinking and without urges to act on behaviors. It takes a while to get to fully recovered. It’s a gradual process, but one day you’ll realize that you haven’t had thoughts or urges in so long and that you eat whatever you want without a second thought. I don’t know how long it takes. But I do know that I’m over a year into this journey, and I’m still not recovered. But I’m getting there. And I fully believe that it will happen one day, and I don’t think that that day is too far off.


Q. As a Christian, do you believe that you can be fully 100% healed from a mental illness through the Holy Spirit?

A. I think so. I had a pretty instantaneous moment of healing from self-harm, so I do know that the Holy Spirit can heal mental illness or self-destructive behaviors. As I mentioned in the above question, I believe that full recovery is possible. God doesn’t always heal through prayer and the laying of hands; sometimes God heals through doctors and therapists and other treatment providers. I wouldn’t be in recovery if it weren’t for going to Carolina House, but I believe that God worked through that treatment and is still working through my continual outpatient treatment. It’s a hard question to answer, and I’d love to talk one-on-one if you’re interested! But short answer, I believe that 100% healing//full recovery is possible. Healing can obviously come to those who are not Christians (SO many people from other religions are fully recovered), but I do believe that the Holy Spirit can bring that same healing, whether instantaneous or by working through worldly treatment. In this blog post, I talk about my instantaneous healing from self-harm and how I feel like God is still a big part of my eating disorder recovery, even though I did not experience the same instant healing through prayer.


Q. What is your favorite DBT skill?

A. Opposite action. As much as I hate it sometimes, it’s the most useful skill in my opinion! When my eating disorder says no to pizza or ice cream or whatever, I force myself to say yes and eat it anyway BECAUSE SCREW MY EATING DISORDER. I think recovery is basically summed up as opposite action because you never feel 100% ready, but you choose to recover anyway.


Q. What is your favorite self-care activity?

A. I’m a huge introvert, so I love having alone time. Whether that’s reading or painting my nails or watching Netflix (or all three!), I love having a night to myself to decompress and let my emotions level out without overflowing.

This was so fun, y’all! Thanks for sending in such great questions. 🙂 Feel free to comment if you have any thoughts or opinions to any of my answers! And feel free to contact me if you have anymore questions. Thanks for being so awesome!!!


Why You Should Watch “Feed”


Okay, y’all. I know that To The Bone is getting a lot of mainstream coverage right now, but in my humble [eating disorder survivor] opinion, let’s forget about that movie and focus on the one that should be getting all of the attention: Feed.

Feed  is a film written by Troian Bellisario, an actress most known for her role as Spencer in Pretty Little Liars. The movie is based off of Troian’s own experience with an eating disorder during her high school and college years. In an interview, Troian discusses how the movie is not the exact events of her life (she didn’t have a twin brother who died), but is more to help audiences understand what it “sounds like and feels like” to live with anorexia.

Y’all, I’ve seen a lot of eating disorder movies during my time (holla at all the old school Lifetime movies (so triggering omg I do not recommend)), but I am confident in saying that I think that this is the best movie about eating disorders that I have ever seen. It addresses the reality of living with the disorder without romanticizing behaviors and it accurately shows what the process of reaching recovery is like.

** Warning: spoiler alerts ahead!! **

In the movie, Troian plays Olivia, the 18-year-old twin to Matthew. Olivia and Matthew are inseparable. They do everything together, they have the same friends, and their dreams are connected. Olivia is extremely smart and has a lot of pressure on her to get accepted into Yale and keep up her valedictory status. Her eating disorder had already begun on a smaller scale, but became more rampant when Matthew suddenly passes away in a car accident.

Now this is where the movie gets confusing/realistic/the best thing ever. After her brother dies, she continues to have visions of him being with her and talking to her. At first I was confused by this because “ghost Matthew” gets increasingly meaner and meaner to Olivia throughout the movie. At first, Matthew is there and it’s simple “I miss you” conversations, but it quickly escalates to him yelling at her when she tries to open up to people and coercing her to jump off her balcony. He was also then with her constantly while she was inpatient, telling her that it was her fault that they were stuck there and that he wanted to leave. I was honestly weirded out by this, but then it hit me. GHOST MATTHEW IS ACTUALLY OLIVIA’S EATING DISORDER.

Okay, now you’re probably even more confused, but bear with me. Matthew was a safe person for Olivia. They studied together and helped carry one another’s burdens. They never did anything alone. So after Matthew was gone, she needed something to fill that void. To help carry her burdens and be her friend and her best coping skill. So boom. Eating disorder. An eating disorder often takes the figure of being something safe and comfortable. A voice that can seem so trustworthy and safe that ends up being so extremely toxic. It often cloaks itself in a disguise as something else, which I think Feed showed really well by portraying Olivia’s eating disorder as her deceased brother. She wanted to trust him and do everything he said for so long, but finally during one of her counseling sessions while she was inpatient, everything snapped.

During her session, Olivia is trying to make a revelation to her therapist, but her brother (eating disorder) is screaming at her to lie and say that she’s fine and that she’ll gain weight and that she’ll do whatever her treatment team wants. He tells her that she will be nothing without him and that he hates her, which sounds a lot like Ed tbh. Finally ghost Matthew tells her that he will take her away with him, but through her sobs she says, “You’re not. You’re not. You’re not because you’re not my brother.” YES, GIRLFRIEND, YES. And then her “brother” walks out of the room with his head down like shoot she found me out she knows I’m Ed not Matthew. HECK YEA. She had lived her entire life with her twin brother by her side, but now he’s gone and she had to find something to feel like he was still there. So losing her eating disorder is so extremely painful for her because it feels like she’s losing her brother too. She finally made the connection that it wasn’t really her brother’s voice, but that it was her eating disorder disguising it self as something trustworthy.

This is the reality for a lot of eating disorders. Granted, most eating disorder sufferers do not have a deceased twin brother, but the story is still the same. The eating disorder takes the form as something comfortable and trustworthy, which makes it even more painful to let go of it. And you can’t even recognize it as a problem yourself because you trust it so much. It’s such a big sticky web of misplaced trust! And I think that Feed did a really good job of accurately portraying it in an artistic way. No other movie (that I’ve seen) has touched on this idea in that way, so I think that its unique approach is what makes it so incredibly accurate, even if slightly confusing at first (because hey, Olivia was confused about it all too! We were kinda living in her brain with her).

One other thing that I loved about Feed was that it didn’t focus on behaviors or numbers or weight loss or her body or anything like that. Yes, it shows Olivia restricting meals and going on runs, but that is not the main focus of the movie by any means. The focus of the movie is on her relationship with ghost Matthew, aka her eating disorder. I like this focus because it focuses on the part of the eating disorder that everyone can relate to – the voice inside your head. Everyone has different struggles with behaviors and weights and whatnot, but we all struggle with the eating disorder voice. So I think it was really cool to just kinda throw away all the “symptom” stuff and focus on the actual root of the disorder.

I’m not a therapist or an expert, but as a recovery individual who has gone through treatment and the lows of an eating disorder and also the windy path of recovery, I highly recommend and endorse this movie. With all things, practice safe watching and self-care. It is an eating disorder movie, so there will be triggering parts to those who also suffer with an eating disorder. But I think it is done in a tasteful way that is as least triggering as possible with absolutely no romanticizing of the disorder or behaviors. Know yourself, and take care of yourself. If you know that you will be triggered by the movie, please do not watch it. If you are unsure, watch it with a safe person and have a plan in place to turn the movie off if it becomes overwhelming. Recommend this movie to your loved ones to help them understand eating disorders better. Get this movie out there. If there is any eating disorder movie that needs to be getting mainstream coverage, it’s this one.

In an article that Troian wrote for the NEDA website about the movie, she says, “Feed is meant to be a dark ride, and just the beginning of what I think is a very important conversation—a conversation that will hopefully lead to more people getting the help they deserve. Don’t get me wrong, I think it can be immensely powerful to shine a light into the dark, but maybe it can be just as powerful to walk into it and let your eyes adjust. That, to me, is how we find our own way out.” (PS, read the entire article. It is SO good.)

Feed is available to watch on Amazon or iTunes.


A Conversation With My “Little Sister”

Unknown.jpgLast week, I went into my dietitian appointment telling her all the lies that I was believing and speaking over myself. Lies from the enemy and lies from Ed, but lies that were growing in my mind and sprouting through my thoughts. She looked at me and said, “If you had a little sister and she came to you and said these things about herself, what would you say to her? I know you and I know that you would not let her speak such harsh things about herself.” She then challenged me to make one of my goals for the week (we set weekly goals; super helpful!) to notice who is talking and who is listening. That meaning, to notice my thoughts, and pretend as if my internal self is a younger sister who is telling these things to me. And if they are lies, to combat them with the truths that I would tell to a real little sister if I had one. Combatting lies for myself is hard, but I’d do anything for another little girl. So we’re going to practice this for a bit. Writing out my lies as if my little sister (or a younger me) were telling me them, and combatting them with truths. Here. Goes. Nothing.

I’m sitting cross-legged on the edge of my bed, scrolling through Instagram. My little sister had posted a selfie just a few minutes before, and when I see it, all I can think about is how beautiful she is. Her long, dirty blonde hair; her light blueish-gray eyes; her gorgeous smile. I go to comment on her photo, but when I do, I get a notification that the picture has been deleted.

Huh, I think to myself. I post pictures and then delete them a lot because I’m self-conscious a lot, but I’ve never seen sister do that. 

I keep scrolling through my feed, and then eventually put my phone aside when the comparison becomes too much. I get up and go to stand in front of the mirror.

Fat. Fat, fat, fat. So. Much. Fat. I pull at my stomach, poke at my thighs, and stare at my stretch marks. This recovery thing is great and all, but this recovery body is just a little too much over the top. 

“LUNCH TIIIIIIIIIIIIIME,” I hear my sister scream as she comes running down the hall. “Sarah Beth! I’m hungry! And Mom said that you had to come eat lunch with me, so come on!”

“Okay, okay, give me a second,” I say as I pull my shirt back down and put an oversized sweatshirt on.

“What were you doing in front of your mirror anyway? It look weird.”

“Oh nothing, just teenage girl stuff. I’ll race you to the kitchen!” I exclaim, trying to change the subject. She’s too young to understand. She’s nine, and she loves her body, just like she should. I don’t want to put any thoughts into her head.

Once we get to the kitchen, I begin to prepare my lunch. I check the nutrition labels on everything, trying to decide what I want to eat. Or I guess, what Ed wants to eat. Sarah Beth doesn’t check nutrition labels, but Ed sure as heck does.

I look over, and I see sister checking the nutrition label on the microwave pizza that she’s making.

“Sister, do you know what all that means?” I ask, surprised and confused.

She nods. “Yup! I’ve seen you do it before, so I asked my teacher in health class at school what all of it meant. She said that you’re probably reading the calories, and she said that too many calories make you fat. So she said the lower number of calories in a meal, the better!”

Oh. My. Gosh. I can’t believe her teacher told her that. Why would a teacher tell a nine year old that she’s going to get fat?! I had no idea that she was even watching me. I don’t normally check nutrition labels anymore, but I guess on my hard days she’s seen me do it.

I finally find words to say. “Sister, are you scared of getting fat? You know that calories don’t matter.”

“Well,” she says as she looks at her feet, “I wish I was skinnier. I have friends who are skinnier than me, and they seem to be more popular than I am. Like, I had posted a picture on Instagram earlier, but I deleted it because my cheeks looked too chubby.”

My cheeks flash red and I can feel myself beginning to get hot. How did this happen? How is this happening to my little sister?

She continues, “And my teacher said that watching your calories is important and a good way to lose weight. So I don’t know, it’s not a big deal. She told me everyone does it. You do it too, I’ve seen you.”

I look at her, my eyes big, trying to search her face. I set down the bag of chips I’m holding and go stand next to my sister. “Sister, I love you. Calories don’t matter. Remember how I went to nutrition camp last summer? When I was there I learned that a calorie is a unit of energy. That’s pretty cool, right? That means that the more calories you eat, the more fun stuff you can do! If you don’t eat enough calories, you’ll be tired. But when you eat enough, you have the energy to ride your bike and go to the pool and play in the backyard. And that’s what you want to do, right? Spending your summer outdoors is a lot more fun than spending it inside asleep on the couch because you don’t have enough energy in your body.”

“Wait, really?” She asked in disbelief. “Then why did my teacher act as if they’re little monsters who grow fat in our bodies?”

“Some people think calories are like that, but it’s not true. Those people have it wrong, unfortunately. But you know what you can do? If you hear someone say that calories are bad, you can tell them what I just told you. You can be their teacher! It’s really sad to live a life being afraid of calories, so it’s our jobs to help people live the same happy lives that we are.”

“That’s a good idea! I want to do that. I can’t wait to tell my friends when we go to the pool this afternoon!” She skips off with her pizza, going to eat it in the living room while she watches TV.

Crap, I forgot that I had to take sister and her friends to the pool. I haven’t gone swimming in a long time. I don’t want people to look at me. Okay, okay, no big deal. I can just wear a t-shirt over my bathing suit. And I won’t get in. I’ll bring a book with me and sit in a chair under the shade.

After I finish eating, I go upstairs to get ready. We have to meet sister’s friends at the pool in thirty minutes, and she is already getting ready in her own room. As I’m going through my bathing suits deciding which one to wear, I hear my sister crying in her room.

I walk down the hall and knock on the door. I find her in the same position that I was in just a few hours earlier – standing in front of the mirror and staring at her body.

“What’s wrong, sister?” I ask, trying to cover my concern.

“I can’t go to the pool. I just can’t,” she says through her sobs. “I know what you said about calories downstairs, but look at my belly. It is so big and round. And then my thighs become huge when I sit down. See, look, ” she directs as she sits down on her bed and points at her thighs. “They’re as big as Africa! I can’t go to the pool like this. I’m embarrassed.”

Tears well up in my eyes. Jesus, please not this. Not her. She’s beautiful! How do I make her see herself the way I see her?

I look at my sister. She’s sitting on her bed, her long hair pulled up into a messy bun. She put waterproof mascara on to go to the pool. She’s staring at her thighs with tears rolling down her face.

I walk over and sit down on her bed. “Look at me. You are beautiful. I know you don’t see it, but please try to listen to me. Your eyes sparkle when you talk. Your smile could light up any room. In fact, your smile is brighter than the sun. Seeing you smile makes me smile. You are kind, you are genuine, you are funny. You love others so well. You look for the outcasts and you befriend them. You don’t want to leave anyone out. Those things make you internally beautiful, sister. You have so much beauty inside of you that it leaks right out of you into the world.”

“But,” she looks up at me, “what about the rest of me? You said my insides were pretty, but I don’t care about that. My insides won’t make me popular. And yeah, you talked about my eyes and smile, but what about the rest? I want to be pretty.”

“Oh, sister. You are so beautiful and strong and powerful. Your thighs? They give you the ability to run and jump. You know how you can jump rope really well? That’s because your thighs are so strong! Your thighs are beautiful, but they are so much more than that. They allow you to do all the things that you love to do. And your belly! Sister, I love your belly. It is not too big; it is the perfect size. See?” I say as I pull up my shirt, “Your belly looks just like mine! I love having a belly that looks like yours. Because I love you!”

She giggles a little bit as she pokes my stomach and then pokes hers. “Are you sure? I just don’t feel pretty. My friends are prettier than me. Their bellies are flat and they have curly hair and they’re taller than me.”

“Their beauty is their own, but you have a beauty that is completely unique to you. You don’t have to be pretty like them because you’re already pretty like you. Comparing yourself to your friends isn’t worth it. You’re never going to be the same as them because you’re not the same. And that’s okay! Being unique is pretty cool if you ask me. Because guess what. Out of the seven billion people in the world, there is not another person that is just like you! That means that God thought you were so special and so cool that he only made on of you. Just be you, sister. You are worthy, you are loved, you are perfect just the way you are.”

“I don’t know…” she whispers as she looks back down at her hands. “Do you believe that about yourself?”

I look down quickly, but then look at her in the eyes. “I’m trying to. I’m not there yet, but I believe it more than I did a year ago. How about we make a deal?”

She nods.

“How about we change into our bathing suits, go to the pool, and then get ice cream after? We’ll do it together. We’re not in this thing alone. Sometimes it’s scary and sometimes we’ll be self-conscious, but we can remind each other of some truths.”

“I like that idea!” She exclaims. “But how will I know what truths to say?”

I stand up and walk over to sister’s desk. I open the drawer and pull out a piece of construction paper and a box of markers.

“Here,” I say as I hand her the materials. “Let’s make a list of all the nice things we want to be reminded of when we feel bad.”

We made a list:

  • You are beautiful just the way you are.
  • You are smart and capable of everything you put your mind to.
  • You are funny, and I will always laugh at your jokes.
  • You are unique. 
  • God made you just the way you are because he wanted someone just like you.
  • You are so strong and brave.
  • Your thighs give you the ability to run and your stomach allows you to have deep belly laughs.
  • You are kind and compassionate.
  • You are the perfect size. 
  • You are you and I think that is pretty great.
  • The size of your body does not define you, and just because someone’s body is different than yours does not make it any better or worse.
  • I love you, I love you, I love you.

We smiled at each other.

“I love you, sister,” I say.

“I love you too,” she says as she leans over to give me a hug.

I stand up to walk back to my room to get ready for the pool. This is going to be hard, but I need to teach her how to love herself. I need to be a good example and speak truth into her, so that means I have to speak truth into myself. If I won’t let her say these things about herself, I shouldn’t say them about myself. It’s going to be hard and uncomfortable, but if I’m not going to do it for me, I have to do it for her. 


I Never Meant to Tell This Kind of Story.


I never meant to tell this kind of story.


I never meant to tell the kind of story

that is secretly

(yet visible for everyone to see)

etched on to porcelain wrists.


I never meant to tell the kind of story

that curls around collarbones

and hides behind ribs

that try to fill up the emptiness inside,

but yet only stick out like swords

waiting to hurt anyone who

comes too close.


I never meant to tell the kind of story

that is confessed to an empty toilet bowl,

applauded with the cool


backsplash of water.


I never meant to tell the kind of story

that flinches,



at a mere hand on the shoulder,

because at one point

there were hands that were

not so kind.


But this is the story that I’m telling,

and I don’t know how I got here.

I don’t want to tell this story.


But I must tell this story.


I must tell this story

because I cannot stay prisoner,

I cannot stay captive

to the darkness that has held me under

for so long.


The story is screaming to be told,

and I don’t want to tell the story,

but I must tell the story.


I tell the story so that I have a voice.

So that I have freedom.

So that I can find peace.

So that I can close my eyes

and forget his face.

So that I can eat lunch

without the guilt gnawing inside,

or without the urge to discard of my food

after I have already consumed it.

And so that my scars

will just be scars,

not lines of embarrassment

and reminders.


I tell the story the story so that





I need to live.

I need to breathe.

I need to be set free from this story

that I have been writing on my body

for over half a decade.


This story will no longer be told

through my body,

but through my words.

I will speak them,

I will type them,

I will write them,

I will scream them,

I will get them out.


I will






I will live.

I will breathe.

I will be set free.


I will tell this story.


I never meant to tell this kind of story.

But this kind of story is meant to be told.