Dear Younger Me,

Dear Younger Me,
You’re huddled in your closet, gripping your stuffed bunny rabbit, trying to tune out the world. You have no clue what is going on or what’s to come. And for the latter, I am glad.

Dear younger me, you want to be so strong. You detest the brokenness that’s seeping out from your little heart. But I want you to know it’s okay to be broken. And it’s okay to admit you’re scared and need a hug. A seven-year-old is never meant to carry the weight of perfection. No human on earth can bear that boulder.

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Dear younger me, middle school is a train wreck for a lot of people. You aren’t the only one trying to discern who you are, while simultaneously spending all your money on Hollister sweatshirts. But what’s branded across on your chest isn’t nearly as important as what’s branded on your heart. And you, child, have a beautiful heart, washed by the blood of the Lamb. So when those girls tell you, you can’t sit with them, it doesn’t mean a thing about who you are. And when families fracture to the third degree and you’re left scrambling to pick up the pieces, I want you to know: It’s not your job to fix it all.

Dear younger me, I want you to know that as scary as it is, letting the world see your imperfection is a stunning strength. Because Friday nights aren’t supposed to be spent doing crunches and crying alone. They’re meant to be lived, with friends, with Jesus, with transparency. You don’t have to spend years in the cage of anorexia and anxiety. And Hannah, you don’t want to. It’ll break your heart.

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Dear younger me, you’re huddled in your closet, gripping your chest and trying to stifle the agony that comes in waves. Because a smile only hides so much. Because you hate your body. You hate what you’ve done and you hate where you’re going. I know. I also know that someday, you won’t grimace at the thought of eating a bagel. Someday, you’ll remember the mean words that high school girls said about your body, and they will no longer make you bitter. There is a Light. You may have to go through hospitals and therapists and failure to get there, but the good Lord will carry you through.  Your heart rate will rise, and so will your weight. And you’ll start to breathe again.

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Oh younger me, I wish I could save you from the pain that’s coming your way. I wish with all my heart. And yet, I know that the pain and the heartache will stack, moment by moment, to form the foundation upon which you will stand. And with Christ as the Cornerstone, you will emerge and it will be the sweetest freedom you’ve ever tasted. You’ll run and eat and explore the world, and fear will have no dominion over you.  In fact, the most bizarre thing will happen. There will be frequent occasions in which you’ll be doing something monotonous- silly, even- and you’ll suddenly be overwhelmed by tears. You’ll excuse yourself from the church service or classroom or wherever you started making a scene, and you’ll find somewhere private. And there, you’ll let you heart burst within you. You’ll cry for the little girl who once thought she could carry it all, and you’ll cry in disbelief at the goodness of the Lord. You’ll cry because you didn’t deserve it, but somehow: Life has found you.

As my man Clive (C.S Lewis) once said, “there are far greater things ahead than any we leave behind.” So let the tears dry and the dust settle, and then: Fight on. Younger me, you and I are not those who shrink back into perdition, but those who persevere to saving of our soul (Hebrews 10:39). And as you persevere, you’re going to realize: It’s all been worth it.

Love,

(Older) Hannah

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Getting saturated with Scripture

Last night, we were talking at Athletes in Action about how we can let the Word of God truly impact our lives today. Now, my little disclaimer is that I’m far from perfect.  Sometimes my time in the Bible isn’t the quality or quantity I’d like it to be. But we are all imperfectly striving for more of Jesus, and some of you can probably relate. I’m betting I’m not the only one who tends to value worldly junk over the Bible at times.

See, we humans are a lot like clay (Fun fact: Jesus was using that metaphor long before I thought of it. Just check out Isaiah 64:8). We conform to the environment we are in. So if we are living it up with vulgar movies, disrespectful friends and hateful co-workers, we will easily get pulled into likeminded behaviors. While we’re able to control some of those external factors, we can’t control them all. So we must counteract them! The best way to do so is to get the Word of God deeply rooted in us so that we conform to His will instead of the will of the world or ourselves. So ,without further ado, here are five quick ways to live a more Scripture-focused life:

1. Just read it!

This is the simplest way to become more like Christ, but it’s not always the easiest. The Bible is far more valuable than any Bible study or commentary, but it is easy to let it collect dust if we set our priorities on homework and friends and television, just name your vice. So try to establish a morning or bedtime routine that includes some time in the Word. And the more you read it, the more you will want to read it. That’s my money back guarantee!

2. Memorize scripture (Scripture Typer App)

imgres.jpgMemorizing scripture is so incredibly rewarding! It may seem daunting, but trust me: Your mind will soak it up once you get going. You can opt for the old-fashioned method of using notecards, or you can go hi-tech and use a phone app. I find both helpful, but have really benefitted form the FRE
Scripture Typer App, as of late. It’s free and fun, and allows you to practice scripture in those small breaks throughout the day.

3. Sing it

This might not appeal to everyone, but I believe we were created to worship, so it is beneficial for everyone. That’s why I’m willing to look like a fool cycling to class while singing every day. Whether it’s singing straight scripture- which I love- or singing Christian songs, singing is a proven way to absorb truths. And in case you didn’t know: The Psalms were written as songs. I like to sing the Psalms especially, trying to discern how David might have written them to sound. So, in a sense, I’m singing with David to the Lord. Pretty cool, right? Also, if you’re into Spotify: I’ve got a stellar playlist of hymns, so you should check that out HERE.

4. Make it the wallpaper on your phone

Here you go, this is a super quick way to bring the Bible to your attention throughout the day. Set a scripture as the background on your phone and/or computer. Once you’ve either memorized it or started to ignore it, change it to a new picture! I’ve also set my computer’s “idle” screen to a passage of scripture, which is really fun when I’m in the front of class and my computer goes to sleep. Everyone gets to read the verse! It’s a win win!

5. Use scripture as the password for online logins

My dad first gave me this idea when I started at Butler and the annoying security system began forcing me to change my password every six months. He suggested I start using scripture verses that I’m memorizing. It meets the weird character requirements (unless you choose a short-titled book like Acts) and is an awesome way to memorize a verse!

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There are just a few quick ideas that came to my head, but I want to know: What do you find effective in keeping the Word of God central in your life or memorizing it? Comment below so we can benefit from your wisdom! Together: Let’s be a people who pursue the Lord, unrelenting and steadfast. Let’s love the Word.

Love,

Hannah

(Scroll down for some neat scripture wallpapers)

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A Yearning for Jesus

The older I get, the more respect I gain for my parents.  I’ve seen how awful it is when people you love fight.  And I’m learning the art of navigating the minefield of work demands and adulthood.  That’s not to say I don’t occasionally call my dad, crying, though.  Because I did….last week  And when he asked what was wrong, all I could whimper was: “I-I… don’t waaaaaaant to be……poooor (This, coming from the same girl who proclaims: I’m going to have a career I love, and just be a poor nomad).

Ah life.

And so in the midst of my bi-weekly meltdown, I realized what I was really struggling with (again).  It was loneliness.  But the more I sat with that uncomfortable feeling, the more I realized that it’s not just loneliness.  It’s the feeling of abandonment.

I know I’m not alone when I say that I long for someone to come fight for me.  All around the world, people are aching for connection.  And behind every broken relationship; addiction; and act of isolation, is the fear that we are all alone.  Abandoned.

b8d8522a677a011aa30aba1e989f0345Now, this fear of abandonment is a direct result of the Fall, but the desire for a savior isn’t.  No, we were created with that yearning.  It is a yearning for the Savior.  The Rescuer.  We were created for Him.  If you’re anything like me though, you often shut out that yearning. I mean, school and work and family, they pull at us from every direction.  To be stressed is to be human, so it appears.  So we rush through, checking off bucket lists and grocery lists, to-do lists and to-watch lists.  And before we know it: We’re surrounded by a group of people, but we feel so alone.

That’s about how my week went.  And towards the end of it- but before my little cryfest- I realized that I was feeling alone and abandoned not because I didn’t have any friends around, but because I just needed Jesus.  I needed Jesus like when you need a big gulp of water on a hot day, like finding your car keys when you’re running late.  Only, multiply those by 1,000.

The temptation is to pacify the yearning with the things of this world with romance or friends or just about anything we can get our hands on. It’s a deep issue, far too deep for a simple blog post. My point then, is this: We must learn to acknowledge our yearning.  As Christians, we need to pay careful attention to why we’re doing (or not doing) things.  We need to gauge our lonely level.  Because the longer we go with untouched feelings of abandonment, the more likely they are to leak out like the Midas touch into every area of our lives.

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I found this stump while hiking in Colorado. It reminds me how God is always with me, no matter where I am.

So we take a break from the lists.  We sit and we listen to God.  Really listen.  We come to Him without an agenda, carrying only a broken heart that needs Daddy.  Sometimes, it doesn’t even seem like anything is wrong when we are overcome with this ache.  That’s normal, normal for a child of Christ living in a broken world.  But when we come to Him, He fills the yearning like nothing else can. And this is how loneliness is quenched, how abandonment is healed.  Bad days melt into peaceful nights and we feel a sense of belonging that this world lacks.  So my friend, if you are feeling that ache tonight, close your eyes and picture the Father’s arms wrapping around you.  Let your heart yearn for Him and let it be satisfied in Him alone.

 

Love,

Hannah

22 things I learned in 2016, my 21st year of life

I’m not sure how to preface a post such as this.  Let’s face it: The more time we spend on earth, the more we realize we don’t really know.  Enjoy this sporadic list of things I didn’t know/know very well until this past year.  I’m turning 22 in a few weeks, so I kept the list to 22 things.  Enjoy! And comment below if you can relate or have wisdom to share.

  1. You can’t put foil in the microwave.
  2. You can choose to have joy even when life isn’t pure bliss.  That doesn’t mean you are are okay with it.
  3. It is possible to truly love a body that isn’t what society (or the running world) deems perfect.
  4. When you “grow up,” your siblings become an incredible nuisance, your best friends or both 🙂
  5. If you shut friends out when you are hurting, it denies you both one of the most beautiful aspects of friendship: Bonding through adversity.
  6. You will rarely regret spending a few hours to read a book.  You will, on the other hand, regret spending a few hours, watching mindless television on Netflix.
  7. To be twenty-one and never have been kissed is not something to be embarrassed about.  It is something my future husband will highly value.
  8. Going off #7: I don’t need to find that dude!  Seriously, I obsessed over that for so long.  It was so distracting and anxiety provoking.  Instead, I can make the decision to redirect my heart.  I can cling to the Lord and enjoy this season of my life!
  9. Going off #8: The aforementioned statement is not always easy.  Actually, it can be really hard.  And that’s okay.  That’s human.
  10. When running is stripped away: I do not crumble.  This was such a difficult year for me with injuries, but each one drew me nearer to the Lord, further breaking the tie between running and my worth.  With every injury, I found greater peace and contentment.
  11.  I am slightly allergic to cats.
  12. I actually don’t hate cats.  But I’ll never get one.
  13. (I learned) How to change spark-plugs in a car.
  14. Jennifer Aniston and Sandra Bullock are not the same person.  That sounds incredibly stupid to say, but I had no clue.
  15. I learned that an orange is called an orange because it’s orange.  It makes sense now, but I never connected the two.
  16. Being a semi-adult is stressful and expensive.  But Jesus always provides.
  17. Tracking the prophetical words/pictures the Lord gives, is a fantastic way to see His faithfulness over time.  I started a Prophetical Journal this year! Woo!
  18. You can always find a gift on Amazon.com. You might waste three hours looking for the perfect one, but it’s there.
  19. (I learned) How to make my mom’s amazing vegetable soup!  Now I’m kinda-sorta a cook.
  20. Brokenness is not to be despised, but cherished.  Jesus was broken for us, and through His brokenness came the redemption of humanity.
  21. Going out to eat with friends is fun.  After years of anorexia, it is still a bit scary, but it gets easier and more enjoyable every time.  And it’s absolutely worth it.
  22. The Lord has me right where I need to be.

 

Love,

Hannah

 

 

A Courageous 2017

Everyone goes somewhere when they are afraid.  When I was little, it was the depths of my walk in closet.  Outfitted with pillows, blankets and candy; it felt more like today’s tiny houses on HGTV.  And in that tiny house, I could shut out everything that brought tears to my eyes.  At least, that’s what I thought.  But even my rope-pulley candy system wasn’t enough to hold back the floodgates of divorce and death in my family.  So the doors of my closet, and my heart, became increasingly closed.

I started this blog back in 2013 with the goal of documenting all blessings the Lord has given me.  However, it has grown into a project of spiritual growth like I’d never expected.  Amidst the articles about running and travel, I weaved in yearly-themes that the Lord highlighted for me.  After a Grateful 2013, I was led to pursue a Presence Filled 2014.  I wanted more of God and less of me.  With His presence giving me strength, I endured through the most difficult and rewarding year of my life.  So when 2015 rolled around, I felt a resounding urge to declare it the year of Freedom. In all honesty, when I reflect back on that initial proclamation, I laugh at my own naivety.  Did I really think the freedom would come without cost?  Without pain?  Without sacrifice?

I learned that year that freedom requires all those things, and I wasn’t always willing to give them.  As the year rolled on- and I rolled out excuses- I began to hate my chains more and more.  And freedom came in blissful shards of brokenness, as my facade dripped away.  So much so, that I was awestruck by the faithfulness of the Lord- which then became my driving theme for 2016.  I saw it as my chance to draw nearer to Him and break from the last of the chains that had held me.

So why then, am I not completely free?  Why do tendrils of the control and perfectionism still choke the very breath I long to give the Lord?  I chalked it up to laziness, not wanting to put forth the effort.  But as I prayed this past week, I came to the realization that laziness has nothing to do with it.  It’s fear.  Just like a six year-old hiding in the corner, I am closing my own doors because I am so afraid.

I was deliberating between a handful of words for this year, but God kept bringing me back to this one.  “But Lord,” I said, “I really feel like this is the year of pursuing you, of throwing off everything else and search of greater intimacy with you.”  He responded: “And what do you need to throw off?”

Fear.

Fear of losing control.  Fear of what people think.  Fear of dying along.  Fear of not being beautiful.  Fear of being too much, and yet: Not enough.

It has entrenched itself into every facet of my life, and I’m just not cool with that anymore.  What’s more: Neither is the King.  So this is my year of throwing off fear and grabbing ahold of courage.  A year of running whole-heartedly towards Christ.  I invite you to join me as we dare to live out a year of courage and conviction, for the cause of Christ.

image-1Love,

Hannah

 

 

New Year’s resolutions we can all get behind

  1. Eat more chocolate. 
    Why yes, I can do that. I accept the challenge. Chocolate chips, chocolate protein bars, chocolate pancakes…..
  2. Google more questions. 
    You know that feeling when you’re in the middle of something and a strange query pops into your head? And you want to search the answer, but you tell yourself “later,” and end up forgetting. In 2017:  You have permission to stop whatever you’re doing and satisfy that strange curiosity. “What is a pumelo?” “How long does a capybara live?” The questions must be answered!
  3. Buy an ornament for the special moments this year
    Vacations, gatherings and achievements deserve an ornament of their own. Don’t forget about that just because it’s July and you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail. TIP: Key chains make excellent ornaments.
  4.  Play on more playgrounds. 
    “I’m an adult” is NOT a valid excuse for refusing to go on a swing set. That’s silliness! Did you suddenly stop liking playgrounds because you turned 18? Heck no!
  5. Wear onesie pajamas more often!
    What is more fun and comfy than the heavenly-ordained matchup of pajama and slipper?  And why have we, as adults, abandoned the onesie when it offers nothing but warmth and love? I declare 2017 the year of onesie.  Follow me if you want to have an awesome year.
  6. Throw away that ugly _____ from grandma.
    Yes, that _______ (doll, painting, sculpture, etc.) is from your great aunt or your great grandma. But you have held on to way too much of that stuff because you feel to guilty about throwing it! Here’s an idea: Take a picture of the less important childhood/old stuff and throw it out! Great Aunt Tina’s memory is what’s important, not the creepy clown doll she gave you for your 5th birthday.
  7. Buy a good pair of jeans.
    Seriously: Find a pair of jeans that make you feel positive and pretty.  Find a pair of jeans that make you feel like a supermodel, and wear-the-heck out of them this year.

Two years, two days and an ocean of gratitude

 

I don’t talk about anorexia very much anymore.  And I don’t think about it as much, either.  But this time of year, I cannot help but come to a freezing halt.  In the midst of the holiday joy and peaceful silent nights, I feel a broken ache rise from deep within me, and an incredible gratitude for the daily moments I now enjoy.  The frosty windowpanes, the dark nights, the warm tea by the fireplace; it gives me perspective, reminding me how far the Lord has brought me from Christmastimes before.

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On December 26, 2014, I begrudgingly scraped off my car windows in the dark and headed to The Center for Balanced Living, to start the partial hospitalization program for anorexia nervosa.  Even as I write this, I can feel my own terror– and shame– on that dark morning.  I’d argued with my my parents about it, begged them to let me wait.  But, thankfully, they hadn’t obliged.  Thankfully, December 26 was the day I began to finally let go (RELATED: Let’s Talk About Eating Disorders).

It was all a blur at first: The names, the schedule, the skills.  But by the second week, I was cautiously advancing, letting the Lord take over.  And I remember New Year’s Day.  After lunch, we all bundled up and went outside.  We walked through the woods and into a clearing.  We stood in the silence, and the reverberating beauty of nature muffled the fear in my heart.  “This,” Dr. Hill said, “is the start of a new year for you.  Let this be your best year yet.”  In that moment, her words were far from cliché.  They resonated with me, like flickering avenues of light in my heart.  Before that Christmas, I had little hope that my life would ever be marked by freedom.  I had faint recollections of such a reality, but I was merely a child.  I hadn’t a clue how to function without an eating disorder, without the barriers of control.

So in that moment, I whispered what little hope I had, and I offered it to God.  And I closed my eyes.  I promised I’d never forget that moment.  And I haven’t.  In memory of that Hannah, I keep December 26 as my own little holiday.  Like the Israelites claiming the Promised Land, I have set up this memorial stone so I do not forget the radical goodness of the Lord.

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As soon as we wave goodbye to Christmas, conversations have already turned to losing weight and eating healthy and all kinds of resolutions for 2017.  Frankly, I hate it.  At the same time though: I get it.  I understand that glimmer of hope that we can somehow reach these enormous goals with a little New Year’s magic.  We get so focused on the future and its endless opportunities, that we forget to look back for perspective.

We have to look back to move forward.  Otherwise, we get so doggedly focused on the next steps that we miss the memorial stones.  We miss the chances to glorify the Lord for the steps we have already taken.  This year, I challenge you to let God decide what resolutions and goals you should strive to reach. As I found out multiple years in a row- there’s little point in setting goals on your own.  They turn out to be the wrong goals or too difficult to stick to without the Lord (RELATED: The timeline of God’s goodness in your life).  So why not let Him direct you in the first place?  When I finally surrendered my goals of control and seclusion, I heard His whisper of freedom on that chilly New Year’s Day.

img_6655I share my story with this encouragement: Remember what the Lord has done.  Remember the pain and sorrow He has carried you through, the joy and blessing He has showered upon you.  Remember the ways He has brought you nearer to His side.  And with that in mind: Ask Him how He wants you to approach the new year.  One year, one memorial stone at a time: We will grow in gratitude and godliness and we will be more awestruck than ever before.

(RELATED: An Awestruck 2016).

Love,

Hannah