What being a youth leader has taught me

Well it has been nearly 6 (!!!) months since I decided to become a youth leader and it’s absolutely on of the best decisions of my life. I am very different than the person I was back then, and I’m proud of who I’m becoming. I wanted to make this post on some of the things I’ve learned since August.

I am trustworthy. The girls have said it. Kim has said it. My friends have said it. This is one of those things that I never believed about myself. I’ve always tried hard to be a good friend and listen, but I never considered me particularly trustworthy. I know I am now, though. All of the things the girls have shared with me wouldn’t have happened if they didn’t have trust in me. I’m so thankful because I wanted that so badly when I first started and i finally feel confident that I can.

I am worthy of love. The girls don’t have to love me and they certainly don’t have to love me. The thing is, they do. My heart swells every single time they say or do something that proves it. If these girls who had no force whatsoever to even like me feel this way, I can’t be as terrible as the negative thoughts say.

I can help others with my story. I was TERRIFIED to share my story with the girls. I remember all of the anxiety leading up to that day and how receptive they were, to my surprise. The small piece I told them about then is nothing compared to all of the other talks we’ve had since. Each time I share more about things I’ve gone through, we grow closer. They’ve even come out and told me that I inspire them because of my strength and that is purely amazing. It may be painful to think about but through my struggles I can help them overcome similar things.

I don’t have to be perfect. I remember my first few small groups. I wrote out everything I was supposed to say and practiced before. I always felt I had to look the part and spent way too long debating over what to wear. I never felt I could share my struggles because I had to be the perfect person to be a good leader. Boy was I wrong about all of it! Our best conversations have been ones where I either use only a few notes or just speak from the heart. I’ve babbled on and messed up words but they couldn’t care less. I don’t have to worry about what I look like anymore because they just want me to be myself, even if that means leading small group after bawling my eyes out at a session at camp. I have no shame in sharing my struggles now. The girls ask about how I’m doing and they want to know the truth, not sugar coated crap. They ask how I got through things in the past that are really messy and hard. They’ve told me that I seem so much more genuine and approachable since they know I’m not a perfect person. Instead of focusing on being perfect I my only goal now is to be the best youth leader I can.

I should have more confidence. C is constantly getting on me for this. Especially in the beginning I was second-guessing myself nearly every time I would do a lesson or share something personal with the girls. I was also focused on being perfect and that coupled with my lack of confidence made me anxious all the time. I would always ask them a thousand times whether they liked an activity or what I said. Each time they said yes, of course, but I wouldn’t buy it. After a lot of convincing from C in particular and Kim, I’ve gotten over this fear for the most part. I do have days when I have to sit and remind myself of all the ways they’ve shown I am doing a good job but it’s less frequent. I am a good youth leader and I can believe it (mostly).

I have a reason to live. Okay, technically four reasons ;). I wasn’t in a good place last summer when I took this on. I was in an even worse place before that. I still spent the first few weeks of being a youth leader wishing I was dead at times. Once I really started making an impact and loving doing it, everything changed. Those girls are the reason I fought and stayed out of FV. I know I would have ended up there again but always knowing I had to be there for the girls made me so much stronger. I couldn’t be there if I was really sick again. The drive to be their leader continues to push me to fight even on the worst days.

Sometimes the best thing is just listening. I’ve had every girl tell me so many different things. At times I have felt before that saying nothing doesn’t help, but listening is just what they need. I think by really honing in on what the girls are saying rather than continually adding comments I am able to better assess the situation and then give advice. The other thing I found is that getting it out rather than getting advice was what they were looking for.

I would do anything or those girls. ANYTHING. Any one of these girls could call me at 4 AM, while I’m struggling to finish a paper and exhausted beyond measure and I would STILL drop everything and find out what’s wrong. I love them something fierce. I hope they all see that and realize that there isn’t a thing they could say or do that would ever stop that.

God is using me in ways I never imagined. If someone would have come up to me this time last year and tell me I would be a youth leader, I would have laughed at them. I never thought I was a good enough person to have such an important role in girls’ lives. I was too broken and not a good enough Christian. I was too shy. I would never be liked by them. I couldn’t do it. All of these roadblocks I could make for myself have been proven false these past six months. God is amazing. He knew I was the right person for the girls and that I needed them too. I am beyond thankful and blessed that I am leading them in their faith and lives. I can’t wait to see what these next few years hold with them.

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Blessed.

I am blessed with so many things in my life. My family. My health despite the ED. The fact that I am still alive. My girls and the opportunity to be their leader. All of the people who love and support me. My church family. Being able to attend the #3 school in our state (#2 in academics!) next year. My Savior’s love, acceptance, forgiveness, and Grace. The invitation to be an Honors Fellow and acceptance into Honors College (even if I’m unsure about it).

The thing is, I don’t deserve any of it. Not even close.

I know God’s love for me is unconditional and never-ending, but I have never understood WHY. Why would He give me, a broken, imperfect sinner, so many blessings? How could He ever have a plan to use me in some way? If I can’t even begin to see any good in myself how does He?

I’m not going to pretend I know the answer to any of those questions because I certainly don’t. Although no amount of prayer and scripture reading will ever give me full knowledge of these “why’s,” I am trying my best to learn as much as I can about it. After all, I can see God’s work in others and how much they deserve His love. It’s the focusing on me that is harder.

Ephesians 2:10 says this: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” I have this verse highlighted, underlined, and sticky-noted in my bible. It’s one of my favorites, even if I don’t believe it much yet. I am hopeful that one day I will. One day I’ll be able to thank God for everything in my life and actually believe I deserve His love and grace and blessings.

Amazing, wonderful, spiritual weekend at camp

Camp was amazing. I am in awe of how great this weekend was and saddened by how fast it went. We spent so much time laughing, had good conversations, worships, dove deeper into God and faith, played games, and just had fun. Other than one girl getting sick and Ed popping up at times, I’m certain it couldn’t have gone any better.

I finally feel like I am a youth leader. Obviously I have been since September, but our time at camp cemented it and showed me thi is what I need to do. We had some really deep and serious conversations on Saturday. I am so glad I was able to help them through some of these things and really connect. I also shared more of my story (including the ED for the two who didn’t know). The girls told me they appreciated that because they don’t feel so alone in their struggles. I love that and I am thankful to be there for them. After our talk, a few of the girls told me how much they love me, that they want me to be their leader the rest of the time they’re in youth group, that they really trust me to share what they did, and that they love what I am doing for them. My heart swells so much every time I think about all of those things. I love them and I love how closer we grew this weekend. I can’t wait until NTS camp this summer so I get to be a camp leader again. I know God is going to use me and is using me in their lives. Even if they don’t fully realize it, they’re changing mine as well.

God was so present the entire time we were there. He was there in our worship time and sessions and everything we did. I didn’t expect it, but there was one moment in particular where I was moved to tears by what was said. The band lead singer was talking about how we have the option of following Jesus or going down the enemy’s path and so often we choose sin. It hit me that what I’m doing everyday (especially the past week or two) is following Satan/Ed as my Father is looking down at me and reaching out His hand. It overwhelmed me the amount of hurt He feels for me when i do this. In that moment I decided i have to do better. I am going to work harder to be resilient and fight the Ed thoughts. Ed was present this weekend but my goal for NTS is to not follow him one bit. I want to give these troubles to God. I need to trust in Him more and that he will catch me, as our theme verse for camp says: “I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me.” Psalm 118:13. This was exactly the kind of inspiration and spiritual renewal I need. I hope and pray the others who were there feel the same way.

Overall this was the best way I could have spent the past few days. I never would have seen myself as a youth leader and I never thought I would be the one who impacts other’s live, but it’s happening and I couldn’t be more blessed and thankful. God has so much in store.

Here’s some pictures for you to enjoy! 🙂

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2015.

What I’m about to write is very personal. I have barely admitted these things to myself, much less shared them with anyone (including Jenny). It’s hard to even type it now, but I know it needs to be said just the same.

With only a few short hours left in 2014, I sit here in disbelief that I am going to make it to 2015. I’ve already mentioned a little on how I thought I would be put inpatient, and that’s not what I’m referencing now. For a very long time, I didn’t believe I would live long enough to see 2015. It gets even worse than that because I also had no interest in living that long. I never had a plan or a date necessarily, I moreso just wanted God to let the anorexia kill me or have one time taking pills be too much for my body to handle. Essentially I wanted an accidentally on purpose suicide.

Going into 2015 now is a weird feeling for me. I am grateful that God didn’t let me die. I’m consumed with negative thoughts a lot of the time but I do get times of looking past them too. I have so many things in my life that cause complete joy that make all of the hard times worth it. I am a youth leader. My photography skills are getting better. I have the best church family I could ask for. I am finally going away to college next fall. My family is still here for me even with the terrible things I’ve put them through. I am in recovery.

Life isn’t perfect, but it is good. I still have days where I wonder if this is all worth it, but then I get a text from one of my supports, read a meaningful bible verse, receive a hug or twenty at church, have someone thank me for inspiring them, truly enjoy a meal, laugh until I cry. I want to try my hardest to remember these things and many more that make this life amazing.

2015 is going to be a great year. I am going to come out of it stronger than I ever thought possible. I am going to continue to fight for full recovery. I am going to laugh and cry and smile and inspire and support and love. I am going to make this year better than the last. Most of all, I am going to be alive to see it.

This is what recovery’s all about.

I know it’s only been a day since the divorce, but I seriously feel A M A Z I N G!

Today had so many great moments and it makes me smile just thinking about it. My decision to leave Ed behind has made a huge impact on how today went.

I woke up this morning and, although it took a few minutes of convincing myself I deserve to have food, breakfast went very smoothly. I got in enough protein (that never happens!) and I set off on my day. Class was as usual except for one major difference: I didn’t body check or think of food at all. I didn’t even realize my accomplishment until later but it felt so good to be able to really focus on what I was learning and just have a break.

Christian Fellowship brought yet another HUGE change. Last night as I was falling asleep, I felt what I know was God leading me to do something way out of my comfort zone: tell everyone at Christian Fellowship about the divorce from Ed. I freaked out, I really really did. I went to bed and thought nothing of it, until I woke up and that urge was ten times stronger than it had been the night before. At this pint I was still doubting God’s persistence, but I messaged the group leader (who knew about the ED) and asked if I should share, totally believeing he would say no. He loved the idea, and at that point I internally freaked out. He would never let me get out of that and I knew God wouldn’t stop pushing me either, so I was basically stuck. To understand how big of a deal this was to me, first it helps to know thta for a long time I could count the number of people who knew about my disorder on my hands. Today I added seven new ones and you know what, they were supportive and I didn’t die doing it!

The rest of my day was pretty decent. I ate lunch by my self (and finished it!), had my last chemistry lab, and attempted to figure out my life/future plans. The next huge recovery win came when I went to church for Awana. Tonight was the first time ever since starting to volunteer there that I have not been engrossed in Ed all night. Every other time I have gone, I either restricted all day, body checked while I was there, was completely distracted by Ed thoughts, or any combination of the three. Having Ed completely took the life out of me and I know the kids must have suffered from that. They didn’t suffer tonight though. It’s the first time that everyone got the real me. I was a little tired from school, but I also was able to smile and laugh and have an amazing time. The night went by pretty fast and I had fun. Also, I had some huge highlights. Rick came up to me and congratulated me on being one year free and I showed him the divorce. It was so nice and unexpected too because I hadn’t known Kim told him. The best part of the night was definitely when Kim came. She signed my divorce and we talked some about how grateful I am that she suggested the idea of giving Ed the boot. She also commented on me looking better and brighter. I am beyond excited to be a witness for her divorce decree too! She deserves freedom so much!

One day out and I can already tell the huge difference. I know this was the right thing to do for me and the right time. I will never be fully ready but it was beyond time. It’s amazing how everything has come together the past few months to lead up to yesterday. I am blessed for all God has done and all He has in store for my future free from Ed! I have the best people  I could ask for with me as I continue on this recovery journey.

December 2nd.

It has been 525,600 minutes, 8,760 hours, 365 days, 52 weeks, and one whole year since I truly committed to self harm recovery.

I really can’t believe it. I consider myself fully recovered. I want to cry because that in itself is so mind-blowing. I definitely can’t take full credit for this year, because I wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for my support system and amazing Savior.

Yesterday I told Kim about the accomplishment and she suggested something that was so scary at the time – committing to recover from Ed today. I may have freaked out a ton just a little initially, but as I thought about it more I realized something: what was I waiting for? I wasn’t in full recovery. I’ve basically been in quasi-recovery for the better part of this year and honestly haven’t made a huge amount of progress. I didn’t tell Kim because I wanted to surprise her, but that night I got busy.

I started off looking at the template on Jenni Schaefer’s website and made my very own divorce decree from Ed


This cause came for hearing on Tuesday, December 2, 2014, upon the complaint of the Plaintiff, and upon consideration thereof, the Court enters judgment hereinafter set forth.

The Court finds that the parties were married on Thursday, November 1, 2012. The Court also finds that the parties are incompatible and that the Plaintiff is entitled to a divorce as demanded.

Grounds for Divorce

  1. Ed is abusive, controlling, and manipulative.
  2. Ed forces the Plaintiff to harm her body on a daily basis.
  3. Ed has separated the Plaintiff from those who love her.
  4. Ed keeps the Plaintiff from growing closer to her Savior, Jesus Christ.
  5. Ed will not allow the Plaintiff to reach her true potential.

Allocation of Parental Rights

No children have been born. Therefore, no communication is necessary between the two parties concerning a child’s welfare. This means full recovery is possible!

Property Division

IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the parties’ marital property and debt be distributed between the parties as follows:

Ed can take his pain, misery, and lies and get as far away from the Plaintiff as possible.

Plaintiff is entitled to all happiness, laughter, dreams, relationships, freedom, and love.

Plaintiff will have a future free from Ed’s Torture.

Plaintiff gives control of her life completely to God.


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Jenny said she had to take a picture of me signing it 😛

I had Jenny and my mom so far sign as my witnesses and I also am having Kim sign when I next see her. (And I got Livvy’s signature printed and glued on, I was just too lazy to take another picture!) Also, I’m super excited to be her witness because she wants to do a divorce decree too!! Love love love how God brought us together and is making us so much stronger through our relationship!

I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling today. I feel empowered, confident, and free. I am thankful for everything in this past year and all that is to come since Ed is not going to be in the picture any longer!!!

Thankful from A-Z

I am extremely blessed. All the bad in my life can never negate everything God has given me. Since it’s Thanksgiving tomorrow, of course I had to make a post of just some of the blessings I have. It was fun to write the list and pretty hard not to use more than one thing for them all! I hope you enjoy reading!

Animals. I love all kinds of animals, but especially love my pets. Milo is the cutest and fuzziest little chinchilla ever. My cats Olive and Molly always lay on me and keep me company.

Blankets and books. I couldn’t choose just one! Blankets because I am always, always cold and I love to read when I get the chance.

Church family. This church has become my home and the people there truly feel like family. I am thankful for all the love I get from them and how much spending time there lifts my spirits.

D5200. My Nikon D5200 is amazing and the best gift I have ever bought for myself. Photography is my favorite pastime and having a DSLR has helped my interest in it and skill grow.

Early college. These past few years have been very trying and stressful, but through it all I am blessed to be involved in the program. I’m getting my ASA degree a whole year early and for free, plus I was able to separate from high school my last two years.

Forest View. I know I say this again and again, but I am extremely grateful for everything my time there has done, and also for the option of going back if I need to.

Grace. This one has two different Grace’s actually. First is God’s Grace. I am amazed at all He gives me even when I’ve messed up so many times. It keeps me going on my worst days and is the only reason I’m still here. The second grace is Grace Bible College because, if all works out, I plan on attending there next Fall!

Health. The fact that I am sitting here with really minimal health effects from this disorder is a miracle. I have betrayed my body again and again, but I’m still alive and I will get to a point where I love my body again. Regardless, God has kept me healthy and it’s a constant reminder of His love for me.

Intelligence. This is the one thing I can always appreciate about myself. I am so thankful I have this gift and I know God will use it to help me bless others.

Junior. It seems like I’ve been in college forever already and I am so excited to be a junior next fall at a new school. The next two years are going to be a huge adventure and learning experience.

Kim! She is the best support and a beautiful, strong, and inspiring woman of God! So beyond thankful to have her in my life and also for the amazing support she’s been.

Lily!! My amasian big sis who makes me laugh like no other, has a huge amount of fight in her, and astonishes me with her strength and resilience. I can’t wait to watch you beat Ed and take back your life like I know you will!

Mars, Veronica. I had to put this in there because Veronica Mars is and always will be my favorite TV show and movie ever.

Nuss procedure. I had surgery when I was 14 to have two Nuss bars put into my chest for pectus excavatum. Three years later the bars came out. My doctor estimates this surgery added 5-10 years to my life and it has done wonders for my breathing as well. I’m lucky to have had such a great doctor and hospital taking care of me.

Olivia aka Livvy Lou!!! No doubt you are the most influential person in my life this past year or so. I love that I finally found a best friend in you and that you put up with my weirdness. Days without talking to you are basically terrible because you make my day everyday, whether it’s by obsessing over Grey’s or helping me fight off bad thoughts. I’m thankful for our friendship and that you’ll always be here.

Parents. I have put them through tons the past few years and the fact that they still love me and do their best to help is a miracle. I can’t believe all they do for me. They also are a reason for me to recover because they deserve a healthy daughter.

Quotes. I love looking up motivational quotes (and posting them on my wall!). They give me a push through the hard days and are a great reminder for why I’m fighting.

Recovery. I know I’m not as far as I’d like to be and that I’ve had tons of setbacks, but recovery is saving my life. I know I will defeat this illness one day and just knowing that keeps me going.

Shonda Rhimes. I love Shonda so much, mostly because she created Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, my two favorite shows ever! My life and free time are so much richer with awesome medical dramas to watch.

Treatment team. I am blessed with some incredibly patient, supportive, helpful, firm, and overall great for me health professionals. They have been instrumental in all of the successes I’ve had in recovery.

United States. Our country isn’t perfect by any means, but we are blessed to have so many freedoms here.

Vacation Lane. I’ve spent two weeks each summer for the last 14 years at this place. It’s my second home and the families that stay there the same weeks we do are my extended family. The cottages, lake, sunsets, community, and just everything about that place make me so happy. We are so blessed to have found it all those years ago.

Worship music. I listen to Christian music almost exclusively, for hours and hours each day. I love praising God through song and it helps me get through hard times.

eXtra credit. I had to be pretty creative with this one, but it always makes me happy when professors give extra credit so I don’t have to stress so much about my grades.

Youth girls. I have zero shame in bragging them up because I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls to lead. I love being their leader and helping them grow in their faith.

Zzzs. I LOVE my sleep and I never seem to get much of it so it’s definitely a treat when I get enough.