Celebrating 3 Years

I wasn’t sure whether or not I was going to write this post.  Last Wednesday (June 26th) was mine and Jordan’s 3rd wedding anniversary.  I wanted to document a little timeline of our 3 years of marriage and the events that they have held, but last week was a difficult and sad week for my side of the family.  It almost felt irreverent to celebrate in the midst of mourning.

But I realized that both are a part of life.  We celebrate and we mourn.  And sometimes, as unfair as it may seem, the two happen simultaneously.

And both will be a part of marriage.  “For better or for worse.”  Or maybe it’s “for better and for worse” which seems more accurate.   Surely every marriage will contain both.

So today I decided that I will write a belated post to celebrate our 3 years of marriage.

3 years feels both really short, yet so full.  A lot has happened in our 3 years together!  Here is a (much abbreviated) timeline of our 3 years of marriage:

On June 26, 2010, Jordan and I vowed to love and serve each other for the rest of our lives.

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About a month into marriage, we had an apartment fire (in our own apartment) that left us living in hotels and with friends for over a month.  It was the busiest time of year for us to be newly married and displaced.  Both of us were employed by InterVarsity as full time Campus Ministers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Jordan with the undergrad chapter, and me with the Greek (sorority and fraternity) chapter. We were gone (separately) many nights of the week for various events where we were welcoming new students to the campus and getting them plugged in with our groups.  It was a hard time for us to fight for time together, but it was also sweet in strange ways.  I think the fact that we were the only two people who really understood what the other was going through created a strong bond between us.

A couple of months later (after a lot of processing with the Lord and with each other), we decided that I would leave my job in full time ministry.  I would finish out the school year, but would be completely done in June.

I will pause to say that we spent a lot of our first year being cheesy and in love (sweet honeymoon phase).  But we also went through a.ton.of.transition.  Jordan had just moved to a new city, started a new job role, a new marriage, had the whole fire drama, had some of his staff team leave, we decided that I would quit my job, and then… well, more transitions happened that are listed a bit further below.

That fall, since we had so much going on, we went on our first married getaway (other than our honeymoon), where we stayed at a beautiful little B&B in Asheville.

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Our first married Christmas was so much fun! We really enjoyed buying our first tree and decorating our first home together. 

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Then that winter turned out to be a bit tough for us.  Jordan started wrestling with some hard stuff, and I was having trouble finding a job and figuring out what to do next career-wise.

I didn’t know what God had up His sleeve.

On March, 2011, we found out that we were pregnant!

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Career decision solved!  We had always wanted for me to be a stay-at-home mom once we started having children (which was actually my lifelong dream, and what I would have majored in, had that been a choice in college.  Strangely, Elon didn’t offer it as one… ;-)).

At the end of the school year, we decided to move to Durham for more space and better cost of living.

We spent our first Anniversary at another beautiful B&B in Blowing Rock, NC while we were there for the wedding of some dear friends.

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And found it funny that we were pregnant on our first Anniversary.

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In the beginning of the summer, we found out that we were having a girl!

We I spent the rest of the summer hot and uncomfortable and froze Jordan out of our apartment.

On November 8, 2011, we welcomed our daughter, Riley Grace Maroon, into the world 🙂

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Then we lived the “Parents of infants” life for awhile.  Which translates to: “not much of a life outside of diapers, feedings, spit up, sleep deprivation; and a whole lotta lovey dovey googly eyes at this amazing little being, that you are so obsessed with that you take 29380282 pictures.  Per hour.”  I mean we did a few other things during that time, but mostly just that :).

June, 2012, we moved back to Chapel Hill.  Our new place was (and is) less than 10 minutes from campus, close to our church, across the street from some friends, and walking distance to several grocery stores and restaurants.  Score!  We love it.

We spent our 2nd anniversary in Nashville with 7 month old Riley and some close friends.

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Then that next year included so many milestones for Riley (1st words, crawling, walking, turning 1, weaning, etc), our sibling’s weddings (my sister and Jordan’s brother both got married!  Not to each other though.  To other awesome people 🙂 ), a lot of travel (visiting family and accompanying Jordan at several of his staff conferences and meetings), and even a couple of getaways just the 2 of us!

We spent our 3rd anniversary more low key (which was exactly how I wanted to spend it last week).  First, Jordan cooked the most delicious dinner (honey crusted salmon with a garlic, butter, and brown sugar or something sauce on top and roasted vegetables).  As much as I normally love to cook, I realized that there is something I love even more than cooking: my husband cooking!  So, we’re going to have to make that happen more often.  He doesn’t know what he just dug himself into… ;-).

After dinner, we drove over to Nantucket Grill and got a (HUGE) slice of their savory cake to-go, and came home and ate it with a glass of wine.

It rained the whole evening, which also felt perfect.

Once we finished the cake, we went to the Chelsea Theater, a little independent movie theater that I have always wanted to go to but never had.  We saw the movie “Much Ado about Nothing,” based on Shakespeare’s classic, and it was SO GOOD.  So good.  And a fun experience too.

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My parents were awesome as always and watched Riley for us overnight, so we were also able to sleep in and drink coffee together the next morning.  Such a gift.

I would say this past year has been the best.  Though not un-marred by pain, it has included Riley’s best and most fun ages, more confidence in this parenting thing, deeper community and friendships in the area, sweet time in our marriage, and enjoying the area we live in.

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So happy Anniversary, Jordan!  It has been an incredible (and eventful) 3 years.  At the end of the day, there is no one who I would rather say “good night” to (even if it hasn’t been a good night), and no one whose hand I would rather hold through the good, bad, beautiful, and ugly.

Lucky I’m in love with my best friend…


KM.

Proverbs 31 Mom

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Have you ever read about the Proverbs 31 woman in the bible? If you’re like me, you have read this passage many times, attempted to memorize it, have at times felt motivated to strive to be like this Proverbs 31 woman, but then realized that she is impossible to live up to.

I think that many women can relate.

A handful of months ago, I read a blog post by Jen Hatmaker that has been running circles in my mind ever since, about the Proverbs 31 woman (you can read it here).

Basically she has an excerpt from Rachel Held Evans, who talks about how her Jewish friend radically changed her understanding of Proverbs 31.

Evans says that when she mentioned Proverbs 31 to her Jewish friend, her friend told her that in her culture, Proverbs 31 is a huge blessing to women! It is not something that is seen as a standard to live up to, but rather a celebration of all and any of the things that women do.

As a matter of fact, their husbands read (or sing) it to them on the Sabbath day saying, “Woman of Valor!”

Her friend talks about how it is not a checklist to fall short of, it’s a celebration of the things that you are doing!

So I’ve started thinking about this in terms of Motherhood lately.

I think it’s easy to fall on one end of a spectrum when it comes to other moms and the way that they do things. Either we judge them because they do not do things the way that we do or we think is best; or we feel insignificant and insecure because we feel like we just can’t seem to hold things together like they do.

But what if we approached it from the Jewish woman’s understanding of Proverbs 31? That each thing a mother does well is a celebration! We all have different and unique gifts to offer our families (and the world). We each have different passions, areas of interest, and personality. So what if instead of treating motherhood like a competition with select winners, we celebrate the different successes, achievements, personalities and gifts?

I imagine it would look something like this:

Organic mom: we celebrate you! You are passionate about feeding good and healthy food to your family. You have put extra time into researching what food is best for your family, have extended your budget, and exercised self control in your meal provision for them. You are blessing your family with this gift.
We do not judge you. We are not insecure around you or take this to reflect poorly on us. We simply celebrate the ways you are serving your family through food!

Craft mom: we celebrate you! You are creative, thoughtful, and provide such fun activities for your children. Your home looks like a Pinterest board and your kids are having a blast. You love it. You have drawers filled with craft supplies and random odds and ends. Your home is filled with homemade paints, monogrammed toy bins that you wood-stained and painted yourself, and you have 2 million uses for mason jars. Not to mention, the coolest handmade party favors.
We do not judge you. We celebrate you! We refuse to feel bad about our one craft project gone disastrous or the fact that we don’t even have glue or popsicle sticks in our possession. Your gift is your gift and we will not let it make us insecure. We celebrate your creativity! You are blessing your family with your craft activities.

Trendy mom: we celebrate you! You always dress so cute, it looks like you walked out of an add in Elle magazine, with a baby on your hip. Childbearing/rearing has changed your life in many ways, but it hasn’t changed your style. You love pairing cute handbags with matching scarfs, have brightly painted toenails, and could pin your own hair tutorials. You may drive a minivan now, with cracker crumbs on the seat and nursery rhymes playing in the CD player, but you have kept your closet and still look like you know your way around Nordstrom.
We do not judge you. We will not feel insecure about our gym shorts and pony tail, sporting spit up or pb&j stains on our t-shirt. We celebrate your style! We appreciate your love of fashion and admire your ability to put effort into your wardrobe and appearance. You are a gift to your family.

Fit mom: we celebrate you! You always make time to workout. You were the one who did pre-natal yoga and still went running or exercised throughout your pregnancy. Based upon your fitness, one would never know you carried and gave birth to children. You take advantage of opportunities to walk places, with one child strapped to you in a carrier, one in the stroller, and maybe even one holding your hand. You make friends at aerobics classes, and love being active.
We do not judge you. We do not feel insecure about our muffin tops or feel ashamed if the way we break a sweat is by lifting the stroller out of the trunk, rocking our babies, or strapping kids into their car seats. You are blessing your family by keeping yourself healthy, increasing your energy levels for them, and teaching them to be active. We celebrate you!

Scheduled mom: we celebrate you! You keep your kids on a schedule. Nap time, bed time, snack time, and meal times are always on time. You plan playdates months in advance, and make sure any travel plans work around the routine you’ve got going on. You believe consistency is key, and your children can know what to expect on a daily basis.
We do not judge you. We will not feel insecure about the fact that our children have been taking car naps, have gone to bed late, or don’t have a consistent meal schedule. Your consistency is a gift to your children, and we celebrate your ability to stick with it!

Un-scheduled mom: we celebrate you! You are go with the flow, spontaneous, and always up for an adventure. You babies may not get on a schedule until they develop one themselves, and even then it may be different each day. You’re always up for doing new things and meeting new people, and your children get to experience that with you. Your home environment is relaxed and stress free.
We do not judge you. We will not get down on ourselves or worry that we are not fun enough or laid back enough. We salute you! Your personality and ability to roll with the punches is a great gift to your family, especially in a culture that can be so over-busy and uptight.

Technology free mom: we celebrate you! You won’t let your children under the age of 2 watch television. You are committed to limiting screen time. You leave your phone in your purse and are determined to live in the moment, giving un-divided attention! You may miss a lot of calls or take forever to text someone back, but you are busy with the kids so you don’t feel bad.
We do not judge you. We will not roll our eyes at your discipline and self control, nor will we feel insecure about the fact that we don’t know how we would make it through the day without allowing some screen time. You are a gift to your family. This is something you are passionate about, and it is a blessing to those around you! Not many people in our culture today can do this, so we say “well done, mama!”

iPhone mom: Well, you know how I feel about all that 😉

Hands-full mom: to the mom’s out there with 4+ kids, we celebrate you! You have opened your womb, home, and resources to more children, viewing them as a blessing rather than a burden. You have accepted chaos and have been willing to serve and sacrifice so much for these little humans. Your job is not an easy one, but it is oh so very valuable and honorable! We admire you. Keep your head up. You may feel like it’s all you can do to feed your kids a hot dog, get dressed (or even showered! Novelty!), and have any semblance of order on a day to day basis, much less worry about organic eating and crafts and schedules and fashion and fitness. Keeping everyone fed, clothed, and alive each day feels like a victory. It is. You are a hero.
We do not judge you. We do not feel superior for “having it more together,” nor do we feel inferior for not being able to do what you do or not having the gift of so many kids. We celebrate you! We bless you! Your love and service to your large family is an incredible gift. Your hospitality and selflessness to your growing family is like water to this thirsty, selfish generation.

Same goes for Natural Birth mom. And Epidural mom. And working mom. And stay-at-home mom. And DIY mom. And Earthy Crunchy mom. And Sports mom. And Research mom. The list goes on!

All of these things involve Proverbs 31 stuff. And to all of you I say cheers! May you know that your work is valued, your passions and personality are gifts to your family, and you don’t have to be a different kind of mom then the kind that you are! Woman of Valor. We celebrate you!

KM.

Throwback Thursday: Outer Banks Getaway

Earlier this week, Jordan and I had the opportunity to get away for a few days (just the two of us) to the Outer Banks. The timing really could not have been better, after 3 weeks of feeling very disconnected from one another (with his 2 weeks of Rockbridge and the week of recovery/survival we endured after it). My mother-in-law was so sweet to come down here from Richmond to stay with Riley while we were gone! She and Riley had sweet time together, and Jordan and I came back feeling very refreshed and connected to each other again :).

Here is a re-cap of our getaway:

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We headed out early on Monday morning, in the rain, with our fingers crossed that the weather would clear up by the time we arrived in Nags Head.

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The weather did not clear up, and looked like it might rain the entire time we would be in the Outer Banks. Slightly pretty disappointed, we decided that if we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the beach, we would declare it a “foodcation!” and eat at the most amazing restaurants we could find :). This burger (topped with bacon, crabmeat, and gruyere cheese) and sweet potato fries was certainly not a bad place to start!

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As we were eating lunch, we noticed that the rain had (finally) stopped, so we tried to hurry, hoping we could get at least a little bit of time on the beach! So we stuffed our faces, headed out to the beach with our beach chairs and books, aaaaaand enjoyed about a good 10 minutes. Oh well. At least our feet touched the sand :).

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Thankfully, Jordan had done a lot of research on the area before our trip and had found a really cool, highly rated coffee shop where they roast their own coffee beans. Not exactly how we thought we’d be spending a beach vacation, BUT the coffee was delicious and the sound of the pouring rain beating down on the roof made for a cozier feel that made reading that much more enjoyable :).

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Finally, at 5pm, we were able to check into our quaint little Bed and Breakfast. It was located right outside the Outer Banks, in this small little podunk town with little to do but lots of charm. After dumping our suitcases, we cozied up on the front porch rocking chair and enjoyed margaritas. We couldn’t get over how much green was surrounding us (beautiful trees, grass, and flowers), and the light misty feeling that the rain had left behind, along with the sound of birds singing flooded our hearts with contentment. We sat and talked for awhile. I felt like we were about 80 years old and it was awesome.

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When we finally started feeling hungry again (lunch kept us feeling full for a long time!), we walked over to the only restaurant in the town open for dinner on a Monday night (I’m not kidding). It was called Mike’s Kitchen and it was about the most random (but delicious!) place I had ever been to. We were the only customers there. It had a bit of an old diner feel, but was also decorated with some bamboo and straw, reminding us that we were close to the beach. They had “Two and a Half Men” playing on a flat screen TV, and they specialized in fried seafood and Chinese food. Like I said, random. But we were surprised at just how tasty the food was!

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The next morning, we woke up to SUNSHINE!! And the most delicious breakfast. We enjoyed talking to the other guests over the big wooden table during the meal, all probably in their 50s and 60s. They were eager to learn about our daughter and tell us all about their grandchildren. It was sweet :).

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It could not have been a more perfect beach day! We literally stayed on the beach from 10:30am-6pm! We did a lot of reading, chatting, and dipping our toes in the water. I went on a fabulous run at one point, and Jordan collected seashells for Riley :). We only left the beach in the afternoon for lunch.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about foodcation for a second. Oh.my.word. did we eat well! For lunch I got a salad with a crabcake on top of arugula and tomatoes with an olive oil/lemon vinegarette that was perfectly light and delicious!

Later that evening, we went to a very nice restaurant in an old, beautiful house called “Colington Cafe” (pictured below) where I got a very tasty glass of Sauvignon Blanc and “pepper grilled tuna with a tomato/cilantro dressing, bacon wrapped asparagus, and goat cheese whipped potatoes”). Note to self: always wrap asparagus in bacon, and always add goat cheese to potatoes from now on! Then Jordan and I split a coconut cream cake, which was quite possibly the best dessert I have ever tasted (also pictured below):

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The whole Colington experience was definitely one of the best parts of our trip. After dinner, we went for one last stroll on the breezy beach before heading back to our Bed & Breakfast.

One strange thing that happened: we hit a bear on the way back! With our car. And yes, I am absolutely positive it was a bear. I know that seems unlikely, but we were driving through a national wildlife preserve and there were bear crossing signs everywhere and even a “do not stop and feed the bears” sign. The bear was already dead when we hit it, and our car was surprisingly fine, but it definitely shook us up a bit! So weird.

The next morning, Jordan had grand plans of going back to the beach for a couple of hours and I had plans to sleep in, then enjoy the morning on the porch swing, reading and enjoying coffee. But none of that happened. Jordan didn’t wake up early enough, and I woke up as red as a lobster and sick as a dog! Maybe a mild form of sun poisoning? Needless to say, it was not the way we had planned on spending our last morning.

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Lesson learned: When spending a whole day on the beach, re-apply sunscreen. Often! Trust me, I am a strong advocate for sunscreen and usually wear a big floppy hat too! But I was foolish and did not re-apply much. It was a bit chilly later in the day and breezy on the beach so I didn’t feel like I was getting much sun and therefore just didn’t even think about putting more sunscreen on. Clearly I was mistaken.

Also? Don’t wear massive sunglasses in the sun all day. Those tan lines on my face are not cute, to say the least.

As awesome as it was for us to get away (and I would do it again in a heartbeat!), we could not WAIT to get home to our baby girl.

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We hope to take her back to the Outer Banks with us later this summer :).

Happy Throwback Thursday everyone!

KM.

My Nemesis: The “Evil” Bikini

Today in my scripture study of 2 Peter, I read this:

“They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” (2:19)

After reading, I asked myself the dangerous question, “What is overcoming me right now?” The answer came too quickly.

The bikini. The “evil” bikini.

Let me explain.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been really active. I have finally gotten over the wall of working out and am at the point where I enjoy it so much!

For the past 18 months of Riley’s life (ok fine, the past 12) I have struggled to try and get back into a good rhythm with exercise. Until now. Now, I’ve got my rhythm going on! I work out 6 days a week, and legitimately have to force myself to take a day off because I am loving it so much. My overall energy levels have increased by about a million percent! Ask my husband, there has been a dramatic increase in my energy. I feel great! I love moving. I’ve even been looking for extra opportunities to walk or swim or run around and play with Riley in addition to my daily workouts. I wasn’t sure this kind of relationship with exercise was even possible.

So that is great, right? I’ve been healthy and happy and free.

Until I decided to set a certain goal.

Jordan and I are leaving this Monday for a little getaway to the Outer Banks, just the two of us (!!!!!!!!). Since I had been in such a good routine of working out (and have been encouraged by the results from it), I thought hey, I should try to fit into a bikini in time for our getaway!

(Sidenote: I recently read that women who workout for their looks are less likely to keep their workout routine, whereas women who workout for the quality of life are far more likely to stick to it.)

There is nothing wrong with setting goals, setting goals is a good thing. For the most part. It really depends on what the purpose of the goal is. We must be careful when a goal threatens to overtake us, consume our thoughts, and eventually enslave us.

First of all, let’s talk about the fact that I didn’t really even wear bikini’s before getting pregnant (except for on my honeymoon), even when I was in really great pre-baby shape. That is a decision that is up to each person, it’s not something I judge, I just personally felt uncomfortable in one. I felt too naked and self conscious and just preferred to feel less aware of my body when I wanted to have a relaxing time at the pool or beach.

So the fact that this would be a goal for me is a bit strange. I just had this image of looking super, crazy hot on the beach with my husband on our little getaway.

But then I started to notice that I wasn’t enjoying my workouts as much. I would have a bit of a runner’s high or feel the endorphins from strength training, only to sink and feel defeated as soon as I looked in the mirror afterwards and pictured myself in a bikini. I knew I couldn’t work much harder than I was already working (my workouts have been intense). I knew I was eating really healthy. So I would just kind of feel like a failure. Discouraged when I thought about being on the beach. (Umm, hello, I am going to the freaking OUTER BANKS with my husband JUST THE TWO OF US! Why should there be anything but joy and excitement and encouragement at that thought?)

Throughout the day every day I would find myself evaluating the reflection in the mirror, assessing whether or not I was “bikini ready” and wondering what other people would think when they see me on the beach.

So today, I threw out the goal of the bikini. I realized that my husband is super attracted to me already. I feel confident wearing anything in front of him. It’s other people I’m worried about. But what right do they have? Really, no one has the right to look at my body and evaluate it, or ascribe any sort of worth (or lack of) to it. No one. It is precious, and beautiful, and already taken (by the Lord and my husband). So why should I wear something anyway, that allows (or perhaps even invites) them to? I’m not theirs to judge.

The first part of the verse in 2 Peter. “They promise freedom…” It’s so true. How many of the things that we are enslaved to promise us freedom when in fact, they provide us with the opposite?

There is this dangerous, popular and prevalent lie in our culture right now that being skinny offers freedom. No matter how many times I think I have seen the lie for what it is and have moved past it, I still find myself buying it. Come on ladies, tell me you know what I’m talking about. “If only I ____________ (lost 5 lbs, toned up, fit in my skinny jeans, could confidently wear a bikini), I would feel so free!”

But it is a lie. There is no freedom in that. Even if we accomplish our goals. These selfish desires create an insatiable thirst. It overcomes us, enslaving us. And leaving us wanting.

I’ll be honest with you, I have pursued many of the paths that this world offers with the false promise of freedom. I’ve tried most them. And they do not deliver.

There is only one path that I have ever taken in life that has actually delivered the promise to freedom.

It is the path of a life given fully to Jesus. The path of surrender. Of realizing just how broken I am. How I need something… someOne to change me. The path of accepting the blood that was shed in my place, and worshiping the One who shed it. The path of peace, in being fully known and fully loved. The path of hope. The hope of all things being made new (Revelation 21).

That is truly the only place I have ever found freedom.

There is no freedom from being able to fit into a bikini. That is a lie, don’t buy it. It’s a trick.

I bought it. And I want my money soul back.

The truth is, whether or not I fit into a bikini on Monday, I am entirely known and entirely accepted. My life has been bought at the highest price, God’s own Son. The highest value possible has already been spoken over me. My heart, soul, and body are wanted. They are claimed. And they are satisfied in Him only.

Last week a new friend said to me, “You look great. I don’t want you stressing over being skinny.” I hadn’t said anything to her about my inner battle with the bikini. It was as if she just knew. As she is currently facing a battle in life far far greater than mine, I know that there is a clarity in her ability to see what matters. That she has the gift of seeing things for what they really are in life. And that there is truth dripping from her words. What a gift her words are to me.

I don’t know what I will end up wearing to the beach this week. But it doesn’t matter. I might as well wear a burlap sack! Anything I was hoping to accomplish through my goal, has already been accomplished through Christ. There is not one thing in this world, not one single achievement, that will ever bring me freedom. Freedom is already mine. I already have access to it. I just have to realize it and choose it.

When I fix my eyes on Jesus and stop buying the petty lies that the world offers me, I experience freedom so deep and profound, I dare not even attempt to describe it.

I pray that one day I will be an 80 year old woman sitting on the beach with a smile on her face. Not threatened by the youth surrounding me, but completely free. Free in knowing who I am and whose I am.

There is no other true freedom.

Now excuse me while I go gear up for a morning run! For the purpose of being healthy and honoring God with taking good care of my body, not so I can audition for Pretty Wicked Moms (I know, right?!). 🙂

KM.

Sidenote: In case there is any confusion, bikinis are not actually evil.

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