[Eat,] Pray, Love

Roughly three years ago, a book came out and seemed to (at least temporarily) revolutionize our static American culture. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert was a gutsy self-help-esque book centered around the idea of “doing what you need to do to be happy”. (You know, standard “Oprah’s Book Club” stuff…)

On her journey to “finding herself” Elizabeth exposes her darkest secrets to her audience, and after ripping her own heart out and allowing it to bleed all over the pages for a while, she eats a lot of Italian food, takes a trip to India, and is suddenly able to sew herself back up, and viola! After a divorce, a family feud, and a few bad relationships, she is magically fixed!

Now, if you’re thinking that I sound skeptical, you would be 1,000% correct.

During the time that this book was all the rage, my life had essentially caught on fire and everything (and everyone) that I valued had either disappeared or had been removed for one reason or another. Everyone except the gentleman (hardly…) that I was dating at the time.

I was desperately seeking happiness and figured that if Elizabeth Gilbert was able to find happiness in her journey, that I might be able to get some happiness by proxy if I read her book.

I bought it, kept it in my purse, and struggled to enjoy the first third of the book. But there was simply nothing about her journey that seemed to bring me any joy; In fact, I only seemed to be slipping further down the rabbit hole of “blah”.

In an effort to speed up the process of rediscovering my happiness and myself, I decided to buy the movie when it came out on DVD (I’m an American, what can I say? Instant gratification is what we’re all about, right?). But even the movie put me to sleep– literally. I’ve tried to watch it on several occasions and have never made it past the second section when she’s in India.

For months and months, I continued to struggle to find some source of happiness. It wasn’t until I was given no other choice than to give up my comfortable lifestyle with my then-boy-toy and try to stand alone that I completely shattered.

If I was unhappy before the split, I was barely human after it. When my life had crumbled around me for the previous year, I had poured myself into making my relationship work. His friends became my friends. His interests became my interests. Heck, I even began reading the same books as him, simply so we would have some common ground amid our dysfunction.

After the break-up, I did the logical thing: I looked where society said that I would find happiness and I went after that. To my dismay, Eat, Pray, Love was still what the world was telling me would “fix me”. So I gave it another shot.

Pathetic and broken, I sat on my back patio and forced myself to re-read the book when this nifty quote jumped out at me for the first time:

“Moreover, I have boundary issues with men. Or maybe that’s not fair to say. To have issues with boundaries, one must have boundaries in the first place, right? But I disappear into the person I love. I am the permeable membrane. If I love you, you can have everything. You can have my time, my devotion, my money, my family, my dog, my dog’s money, my dog’s time—everything. If I love you, I will carry for you all your pain, I will assume for you all your debts (in every definition of the word), I will protect you from your own insecurity, I will project upon you all sorts of good qualities that you have never actually cultivated in yourself and I will buy Christmas presents for your entire family. I will give you the sun and the rain, and if they are not available, I will give you a sun check and a rain check. I will give you all this and more, until I get so exhausted and depleted that the only way I can recover my energy is by becoming infatuated with someone else. I do not relay these facts about myself with pride, but this is how it’s always been.

Some time after I’d left my husband, I was at a party and a guy I barely knew said to me, “You know, you seem like a completely different person, now that you’re with this new boyfriend. You used to look like your husband, but now you look like David. You even dress like him and talk like him. You know how some people look like their dogs? I think maybe you always look like your men.”

It was like Elizabeth Gilbert was reading my mail!

I had become so much like all of the people around me that I literally lost “me”. Sitting in my backyard that day, I began to wonder who “I was” before I had gotten invested in all of the people in my life.

The first thought that came to my mind was “I was a follower of Christ” and the second thought almost made me sick to my stomach– “I was…”

I had been so busy following other people, tending to other people, trying to love other people (many against their will), that I had stopped following, loving, and pursuing Christ.

The years since that revelation have been rocky, but now as I sit here and think about my life, I can see that I have lost myself in someone once again… People think I’m crazy, but I am in love.

I am head over heels for my Creator and I am working everyday to give him everything that I have. My time, my devotion, my money, my family, my dog, my dog’s money [Sorry, Charlie], my dog’s time… I am working hard to ensure that all of it goes to furthering His Kingdom.

My previously non-existent boundaries still don’t really exist, but I care less about that now. I have a peace that passes all understanding. I have the joy that I was so desperately seeking in other people. I have a wonderful, flourishing relationship with Christ and through Him, I have found my worth and my joy again.

I’ve still never read, or seen Eat, Pray, Love all the way through (and I likely never will) but I’m grateful for the bizarre way that God used it to pull me back into my relationship with himself.

All of this to ask my question of the week:

When people look at you today, who do they see? Are you reflecting your spouse? Do you look like your dog? Or are you a mirror of your Father in Heaven?

Who have you lost yourself in? And are you happy with that decision?

~

 “I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.” (~Elizabeth Gilbert)

Maybe Elizabeth Gilbert was onto something there… It all sounds so familiar…

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~Romans 8:38

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.” ~Deuteronomy 31:8

Need I go on?

Learning to be Content on my Continent

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In the last year, God has brought me an entirely new group of friends. These people hail from all over the United States, have different backgrounds, interests, and stories, but we are united under one commonality; our love for our Lord, Jesus Christ.

God has used my new friends to heal me of deep wounds, break me for new people groups, and re-ignite a fire in my heart for knowledge, travel, and community– needless to say, it has been an emotional roller coaster of  a year on my end, but I have loved every single moment of it because these wonderful people have been by my side through it all.

This summer I have said many temporary good-byes as my amazing new friends set off to change our world. From Chile to South Africa, North America to Asia, we have spread ourselves thin, searching for new experiences and longing to meet and love our current and future brothers and sisters in Christ.

To say that I’m proud of my adventurous compadres, doesn’t even being to cover it. But I must confess that I have been sorting through some level of jealousy and longing to be in their shoes.

My soul longs to be out of this country, feeding the poor, counseling young women who have suffered abuse, building wells, playing volleyball in the streets of Peru again… anything for His Kingdom… anywhere but here.

But today while I was sitting on the patio of one of my favorite coffee shops, I heard Him whisper somewhere in the depths of my “longing” soul. “I have you exactly where you need to be. Do not long for someone else’s journey. Your journey is equally beautiful in my sight, that is why I created it, just for you.”

How often do we wish we could be in someone else’s shoes?

How often do I envy other’s lives instead of taking the time to simply appreciate the one that He has given me?

While I may not be spending my summer wading through swamps along the Amazon to bring food to the needy or counseling victims of genocide and war on the other side of the world, I am making an impact here on American soil for my King, and I need to keep that in mind.

Taking my students out to lunch is making an impact in their lives, even if it is only a small one. Dedicating my weekends to fellowship and uplifting my fellow believers here in ‘Merica is just as important as doing the same thing in Scotland. There are homeless, hopeless, and needy people right here at my doorstep; this is my summer to serve them. Maybe next year God will have something else in mind for me… maybe not. Either way the cards fall, I’m working on being content with where God has me.

So I leave you with this thought:

Where is God using you this summer? How are you making yourself available to Him exactly where you are?

~

“For there will never cease to be poor in your land. Therefore, I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.”

(Deuteronomy 15:11)

 

A Letter to a Five Year Old…

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Dear JR,

Five years ago today, my world changed.

I was driving back to Denver after a missions trip to the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico, when I got a text message from your mom that read something to the effect of “GET HERE NOW!” with a picture of a teensy tiny baby boy tangled in wires and tubes– you had just been born, a month early.

I frantically drove home as quickly as I could and my first stop once I was back in the city was Children’s Hospital. You were waiting for me in a small incubator with an orange tag reading “Isaac Maurice Martinez, Junior” taped near your feet. Tiny and perfect you opened your eyes and I was in love for the second time in my life.

The doctors told us you might not make it, or that you would be in the hospital for months on the off chance that you did… But you were a fighter and were out of the hospital and into the world in seemingly no time at all.

I used to sit on the sofa in your mom’s house & rock you back and forth late at night, trying to create some comfort in your insanely turbulent world. You were never fussy, even in the midst of the screaming and chaos that took place in your home. You would just lay in my lap and smile at me with your bright green eyes and rosy little lips, and I would melt. I pray that today, five years later that you still have that same beautiful, calm disposition. I pray that God has brought you into a new family where “abuse” never becomes a part of your vocabulary and 911 aren’t the first numbers that you can string together.

Today I might not be able to give you a birthday cake, a present, or even a hug, but I can (and will) send a bundle of prayers up to the Big Guy for you, as I have everyday since you and Mary Ray left my arms. I don’t know what you’re “into” now; maybe you still love animals, maybe you’ve become more of a car guy… Either way, I hope your new family is spoiling you rotten today.

I hope you know that no matter how dysfunctional our tiny family has become, or how many miles we are separated by, that I love you to the end of the universe and back, and that is why I made the choice for you and your sister that I did. I had to give you up so that you could have a chance to make it to your 5th, 10th, & 50th birthdays; I had to give you up even though it just about killed me.

Happy 5th birthday baby. I’ll be loving you always…

Forever,

your Momma K

Light My Candle

Somewhere along the line, someone blew out my candle. To them, I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, [wo]man enough, whatever… So they decided to extinguish me.

I’m not sure when it happened, but one day I opened my eyes and realized that I had been living in darkness, that I had allowed my candle to be extinguished, that I had merely become a shell of the person I once was and the person that I had hoped to be.

On that day when I opened my eyes I realized that my heart had been eaten away by the lies that had been told to me and that I was so broken that I didn’t believe that I deserved Light in my life.

But I was wrong.

Years later, I am proud to say that I am well along on my journey to loving myself and re-building my life in the light. So much about my life has changed over these last five years; one of which, is that for the first time in a long time, I have found my fight and darn it, I am going to fight for who I have become.

All of that to say, this is me…

I don’t like to wear shoes. I love the color orange. I’m learning to be a morning person, but still don’t favor breakfast. I am easily excited, over ambitious, and hungry for more:

More knowledge

more depth

more travel

more of God

just more!

I like to use big words and adore reading.

I’m a pro at change and a rookie at being okay with that.

I want to be superwoman, but don’t look good in a cape.

I make bad decisions occasionally and occasionally can’t spell occasionally right.

I am an educator and a student of my craft.

I would love for things to make sense, but that’s not quite how this world works, now is it?

All that I know is that I’m a hot mess, but that is the way that God has created me and with Him as my shelter, I know that no one is going to be able to blow out my candle again.

This blog is a conglomeration of the moments that have made me, me. So kick off your shoes, grab a cup of tea, and stay a while. This is the journey of a lifetime; my journey back into God’s beautiful Grace & Light.

~

“You are my lamp, O Lord; You turn my darkness into light.”

(2 Samuel 22:29)