The Words of Others Which Feed My Soul – complete with links


Good afternoon, readers.

I’m sitting at the spare desk in my Mom’s office at Camp, because this is where I write the blog for Camp.  It has a big window, overlooking the lake, and what a stellar view that is to look out at every single day.  It’s great, at least for me.  I’ve been blogging all summer long, almost every day (I avoided Saturdays because I thought I deserved at least one day without having to write anything, and normally they’ve been transition days, so there’s not much interesting news to share anyway).  If any of you have blogs of your own, I imagine you’ll know what this is like — when you’re done writing yours, you’re quite content to crawl around the internet, looking for the writing of others to absorb and swallow up.

I read once that a writer who doesn’t read the writing of others isn’t a very good writer at all, and I would tend to agree.

I follow many blogs.  Many of them get delivered whenever a new post is published, right to my email inbox.  Sometimes I read them right away — those are the ones where the writer seems to speak the words that don’t even quite come out of my soul well enough, and I wonder if they know how clearly they speak right to me, and see right through me.  Sometimes I leave them sit in my inbox for days, and I read them when I remember, usually having starred them to move them to the top of my inbox, and it’s funny how it always seems to work out — the ones that sit in the top of my inbox for days always seem to pop into my vision right when I need to read whatever’s in them.  I always seem to find that delayed read far more encouraging or challenging than I would have when it was delivered.

I thought, on that note, that I would put out a few of the links to the various blogs that I follow and read regularly.  This is in no particular order, though there are a few that I have to read the second they come into my mailbox — Ruthie Dean’s, Jen Hatmaker’s, Megan Gahan’s, and Sarah Richardson’s (sometimes screaming helps) being those.

And so, as I link up to all of these blogs, if any of you wonderful writers happen to follow your ping back and check out MY blog as a result, please know that your words have blessed and challenged me so many times, in so many ways, and that you guys shape me as a writer all the time, all in different ways.

I encourage any of you who are regular blog followers to check out any of these, because they’re spectacular.  Also, thanks to Bren who is responsible for hooking me on AT LEAST half of these.  Legit.

1. — again, in no particular order…..  So I don’t follow The Bachelor at all, but apparently this girl is a former Bachelor’s sister… Sean?  Check out Shay’s Blog at Mix and Match Family.  Shay talks about her family, infertility, adoption, and just things that tug at my heart.  Adoption is a huge one, and I will soak up any Godly wisdom on the topic as others go through it as I can.  I’ve just started following recently, but I’m a little in love.

2.  Sometimes Screaming Helps.  This one is Sarah Richardson, that I mentioned above, who speaks right into my soul.  I found her on shelovesmagazine.com, which is fantastic!!  I can’t remember how I stumbled upon shelovesmagazine… but I know I found the Love Letter To My Body idea on there, and then wrote my own based on it…. which is how I found Megan Gahan, who I’ll talk about later.  But anyway, Sarah is single, and not ashamed of it, embracing it, even sometimes loving it, which I love, because that’s where I’m finding more days than not, that I am… I love hearing it from more than one person.  I love her writing style, it’s right to the point.

3.  Megan Gahan… Another one of those who just digs deep down and says the words I can’t find sometimes.  I found her blog when I stumbled upon the Love Letter to my Body that I cited above, because she wrote it, and the impact that writing my own has had on my own self esteem and the way I look at myself, and the things I let myself get away with thinking when I catch my reflection in the mirror…. all of that has been deeply profound.  And so I started following her blog, and it’s great.

4.  A Holy Experience.  Oh, Ann Voskamp…. what a change of perspective, focus, everything…. what a change of everything I experienced last summer after reading 1000 Gifts.  I started journaling my gifts, I was facebook status updating them and pushing them to Twitter, and I found this whole new lens to look at everything around me with — gratitude.  Not just in the great things, but in everything…. and then I kind of fell out of the habit, and I’ve noticed the difference.  I need to fall back into the habit… perhaps it’s time to resurrect the iPhone App I found last fall… because who can’t use a little more gratitude in their life?

5.  Jen Hatmaker.  Dear Jen Hatmaker, if you ever, and I mean EVER read this blog, could we please be friends?  Because I feel like if you didn’t live in Texas, and I didn’t live in Canada, we totally could be BFFs.  Moving on.  Brenna introduced me to Jen Hatmaker by loaning me her copy of 7:  An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  If you want your world to be rocked, and if you want to be upset by this life of gluttonous comfort we live in, and then challenged to do something differently, please read it.  I assure you, this girl’s writing will change.  your.  life.  She’s hysterical.  But she’s challenging in this make you laugh and then question your life choices kind of way.  Also – her blog slays me.  I’m not kidding.

6.  SheLovesMagazine.  This is an online magazine compilation of a bunch of different writers writing on all sorts of topics, and I just find it lovely.  I’m signed up to get each and every new post, which is how I’ve found a lot of these bloggers.  Each time they blog for shelovesmagazine, they get a bit of a bio at the bottom that gets to tell a bit about themselves, and usually where they blog as well.

7.  Avoiding Neverland.  This girl is a teacher, kind of a nomadic one, who bounces around and switches schools and jobs and towns fairly regularly, but all the while her WHOLE PURPOSE is to love on and seek out the best in the teens whose lives she touches.  She challenges me with EVERY post to be a better, more compassionate teacher, and to see the absolute best in every single student, regardless of their behaviour or attitude, because there’s more to every kid than that.

8.  Kindred Grace is a mish-mash of topics, writers, and themes, and is one of those ones that seems to show up or get read right at the right time, every time.  Often times, whatever the theme of a Kindred Grace topic was that particular day will not seem like something I need to read right away, and then it’ll disappear until a few days later, when I see it sitting at the top of my inbox, starred, ready to be read when the time is right, and it is.  Check it out.

9.  Ruthie Dean.  Ruthie, you are another one that I wish could be a dear friend of mine.  I have her book, which is co-written with her husband Michael, on pre-order from Amazon (my Amazon addiction could be another post in itself, I legit need help).  It’s called Real Men Don’t Text, and I don’t think it needs much more of an explanation than that.  It’s basically about how to get ourselves out of these ruts where we’re waiting around for a guy who hasn’t made a commitment but is content to non-committedly text or send flippant IMs or emails.  I suspect I’m going to love it.

10.  Last One. Remember how I said Brenna likes to give me links to things she thinks I’ll love?  I was about to start writing Number 7 when I saw a Facebook notification, so I clicked on it.  Brenna had sent me another link.  She linked me up to Annie Blogs.  The post she wanted me to read?  One where Annie talks about how we help a girl like Miley Cyrus, who, if you’ve been on the internet anywhere close to a social media site in the last 24 hours, you will probably know has turned into the latest topic for discussion on what’s wrong with this world.  All day, as I’ve been seeing these posts go up, I’ve been wondering what kind of brokenness must be in that girl’s heart to lead her to such a display on the outside, and I’ve struggled in my heart with knowing what to say when I hear people talk about the performance, or when I hear people bashing her.  Annie has answered those questions for me, and I feel like her blog will quickly become a favourite, even with just a quick glance at some of her other posts.  I’m now following it, and I hope that maybe you will, too.

Alright, that’s it for me!  10 Blogs that I follow, the authors of which have all impacted me in some way or another since I began following them.

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I don’t know what to call this.


Recently, ok… a couple months ago… I read a blog post called “A Love Letter To My Body.”  I can’t remember if a friend posted it on her Facebook or if I found it stumbling from one blog that I read to another, to another, which inevitably always gives me new blogs to read.  (like this one!  I found it today, because I finally wrote this!) I love it.  But something about it really hit me.  It really got to me that this girl identified all the lies she’d told her body, and then apologized, and told it all the things she loved instead.  If you’ve read anything else I’ve ever written, you’ll glean that I go back and forth with body image issues.  Some days I love myself, some days I loathe myself.  Some days, like today, when my stomach hurts because I’m positive I ate too many carbs (yay Camp food!), I feel like I should be mad but I can’t because I was finally starting to feel like I was losing weight DESPITE the Camp food!  And that’s an accomplishment in itself.

So I put this exercise off, over and over again, because well, report cards.  And then… Camp.  I’ve been writing full time for a Christian Camp in Northern Ontario, blogging daily about everything that’s gone on, and taking not less than 2-300 photos per day on average for the entire month of July.  August has started to slow down, because we’re into a different type of camping, and so I can stop being sorrowfully neglectful of my readers here.  And I can finally write this.  Because it has. not. left. my. brain.

I kid you not.  Two months.  It just keeps popping back into my head…. “you need to write this.”

And so, here goes nothing.  A love letter to my body.

Dear Body,

When I look at you, I’ll admit, I’m not usually very nice.  I stand and critique; I judge; I compare you to others’ bodies, even though, knowing what I know about my Western Culture and its pervasive frenzy over perfect, thin, lean, sculpted bodies… I’m sure those I compare you to are doing the very same thing.  I’m positive.  Many of them, at least.

I look at your legs – the ones that carry me up and down stairs, the ones that work every bit the way they’re supposed to, the ones that have run two races, and are aching to train for the one in a month.  I look at those legs, and I sigh because I normally see cellulite, and I have never seen a thigh gap.

I look at your tummy – I see the chocolate and the candy, I see the carbs, I see the junk.  It’s hiding there.  In pretty plain sight…. But that’s not very fair, is it?  Because I often overlook the temporary home for my future babies, and the place where you digest all of my food… and even though I don’t always make great choices, I have to say when I think about it, I’m pretty thankful for no major allergies and restrictions, and that’s because you work the way you should.

I’ve resented your weakness because I rolled our ankle in December, and it never healed quite right.  I’ve lamented how hard that’s made it to run, and I’ve let fear of rolling it again stop me from doing what I know I should be doing.

I’ve said many bad things about you.  I’ve judged you harshly and unfairly.  I’ve called you huge, weak, and disgusting, and I’ve walked away from mirrors sad.  I’ve tried to do too much, too fast, without training properly, and then I’ve given up because you failed me and we got hurt.  I make jokes about you that seem harmless enough, but every time I make them, I believe them more and more.  I’ve listened to the lies that others have told me about you.  When they wrote on the bathroom stalls in high school that I was a fat, ugly cow… I blamed you, not them.  When boys went for prettier, smaller girls, I blamed you then, too.  It never seemed to matter to me that they weren’t nice boys, and they didn’t treat those girls well.  That wasn’t important.  They didn’t pick us, so I was mad.  I’ve listened to the lies the media tells us… all of us… that no matter what we look like or what size we are, we’re never quite good enough.  There’s always something better.  I almost let those lies trick us into an eating disorder.  I almost believed that a size 10 was still fat, and that I still needed to drop 20 pounds.  What was I thinking?  Now, I’m thankful for the Camp Food that saved us from that disaster…

But here’s the thing.

I’m done. I’m done calling you names behind anyone else’s back.  I’m done staring you down and finding the bad things to say about you.  And I’m done believing the bad things anyone else has to say about you.

And I’m sorry.

What I should see when I look in those mirrors is a beautiful, loved-more-than-anything Child of God.  And I will.  Because when I really, really look… when I ask God to help me see truth, I see legs that are strong.  Legs that power through races, even if they don’t do it as quickly as I’d like.  That’s not your fault, I never pushed them hard enough or trained them well enough.  I will run.  Not because the world thinks we’re fat.  Who cares what they think?  Because running is fun, even though it’s hard, and because we both benefit from it.

I see eyes that sparkle and love life and find humour in silly, ridiculous things.  I see energy and passion exude from you.

And so I make you a few promises.  Covenants, even, because it’s a bigger word, it’s more powerful, and somehow, it feels like it holds more weight.  A Covenant between me, you, and our Creator that….. I will push, and train, and push again.  I will watch what I put into you, treating you with the respect that you deserve, because you’ve taken good care of me, and it’s my job to take good care of you.  I will make our muscles hurt, but we’ll both love it.  You remember what the burn feels like, right?  I will love you, and treat you with respect, knowing that we will never be this world’s version of perfect, and that’s ok.  I will not expect that out of you.  I will get us healthy, and I will be happy with that.  And after being heavily convicted this past week to let my yes be yes, and to not back down from the things I said I’d do, and to not say I’ll do things I have no intention of doing, I will let those close to us challenge me and keep me accountable to all of these things (when done gently and in love).  But most importantly of all:  I will trust our Creator to pour into me the truth of how He sees us, so that maybe in time, what anyone else thinks pales by comparison, and fades into nothingness.  I will trust Him for the strength to see you for your good.  Every day.

Love,

Me.