Be Still

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

As a mother, it can be so difficult to find the time to simply be still. My eyes open in the morning to the sound of crying from the baby monitor and it’s a non-stop rush until around 10pm at night. I get the baby ready, myself ready, go to work, go home, put the baby to bed, clean the house, and finally get some sleep before it all starts over again the next day.

My mind is always running a million miles a minute. I’m extremely forgetful and can hardly remember my own name half the time. I get through the day on coffee and dry shampoo, because who has time for breakfast and a shower?

There are people I’ve been meaning to call for weeks and just can’t find the time. There are gifts I’ve thought to send, friends I want to see, books I need to read, and time I’d like to spend enjoying the company of my husband and son.

It’s so very easy to get caught up in the pace of the world. Our culture is one that never stops moving, never takes a break, and never lets you catch your breath. I think that’s why it’s so important that we remember to stop every now and then and rest.

For me, resting can be a difficult process. You have to intentionally ignore the dirty dishes, forget the unfolded laundry, and put the office out of your mind. Instead, fill your time with things you love in places that allow you to rest and be restored. Whether that’s a quiet cafe, a picnic with friends, or a night in with your family.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since having my son, it’s that life moves so much faster than I ever realized before. You blink once and everything’s changed. At the end of my days when I look back at my life, I want it to be filled with joyful memories of the people I love. I don’t think I’ll care much about how clean the house was.
xo,
alaina

Pregnancy: The Best Blind Date

 image12

My first day of motherhood was a bit like an awkward blind date. 

I had spent months hearing about this super cute guy who couldn’t wait to meet me. All of my friends talked constantly about how gorgeous he would be and how much I would love him. My parents already thought he was a great guy, even though they’d never met him. A few people even showed me some pictures of him. They were in black and white and a bit blurry, but it was exciting to see him anyway.

When we finally met, it was at the end of a very long day. I was exhausted and a little out-of-it. My hair was a mess and my makeup was most definitely not on point. I had been waiting for him for over thirteen hours and honestly, I was ready to just go home. Eventually, one of our mutual friends had to actually go to his home and make him leave. When he finally decided to show up, we said a quick hello and I gave him a polite kiss on the cheek before we both had to leave.

A little while later, we met up again. I was somewhat less of a mess and he was looking much more presentable. As soon as he entered the room, my eyes lit up and my heart skipped a beat. He was the most beautiful boy I’d ever seen. We spent the night cuddling and getting to know each other. All I could think about was how adorable he was. He didn’t say much, but I could tell from the way he looked at me that he was glad we were together.

Who would have known that the love of my life would be a chubby little guy with no teeth? ūüėā

Loving Your Body: Pt. One


I’ll be the first to say it: this seems superficial. I can hear the critics now, “You’re going to tackle a complicated emotional issue about accepting yourself for who you are by suggesting a new wardrobe?” Yep! 

Your clothes can be worth so much more than just bits of fabric. I think most people can attest to the fact that a well-fitted, comfortable outfit makes you feel a million times better. I also know that after Bennett was born, not having anything to wear made me feel a million times worse. 

So, here’s my first tip for loving the body you have now. Walk into your closet and take a look around. If you’re anything like me, it’s probably cluttered with clothes too big and too small. There’s stuff in there you haven’t even looked at in years and shoes that hurt your feet. But somehow, every day you still wake up and think, “I have nothing to wear.” 

It’s time to stop holding onto those jeans you can’t pull up over your thighs. It’s time to toss out that oversized shirt that makes you feel like a slob. I’ll even give you permission to get rid of that horrible sweater your grandmother gave you three Christmases ago that you will never, ever wear. 

You may be thinking, “But I’m going to lose weight so I should keep the jeans,” or, “I do hate that shirt, but I don’t know what else will fit.” This is where things get tricky, because we’ve got to learn how to let go. I was exactly the same way and I never got rid of any of my clothes. I might have ended up on an episode of Hoarders if I hadn’t got it together.

One day I finally summoned the courage to purge the closet. Trash bag in hand, I started pulling things from the hangers and out of the dresser. Whatever I didn’t like went in the bag immediately and I absolutely couldn’t second guess myself. To make things a little easier, I decided to donate the clothes instead of throwing them away. I also gave a bag of some of my favorite things that were just too small to a friend who could actually wear them. 

Our bedroom was a complete mess until I got things organized, but once I had, I felt so much lighter. I didn’t have the super small jeans staring at me every time I opened my dresser. I didn’t force myself to wear things I hated just because they fit. Yes, I was left with a much smaller wardrobe, but it made getting dressed way less stressful and full of guilt. 

So, your homework for this week is to weed out everything in your wardrobe that you don’t like or doesn’t fit. It doesn’t mean that you’re giving up on losing weight if you toss the jeans. You can buy more as your size changes. The most important part of this is to accept where you are right now. Letting go of the clothes that make you feel sad or guilty is a huge step in the right direction. 


Next week I’ll be talking about how to find your personal style and buy clothes that make you feel happy. Even if you look like a dork when you laugh. ūüėČ

Loving Your Body: Intro

Having a positive view of my body has always been something that I’ve struggled with. I’ve always been considered “overweight,” and especially through middle and high school, the mental hostility I had against myself took its toll. I was extremely insecure, constantly comparing myself to the girls around me. I hated myself for every imperfection I could find. I never felt good enough, and the guilt was heavy.

After my son was born, I was left even more uncomfortable in my new body. I struggled with accepting the baby weight, which you can read about here, and felt like a stranger in my own skin. Nothing made me feel worse than trying to squeeze into those pre-pregnancy jeans or settling for maternity clothes when I was no longer pregnant. While I did strive to lose the extra weight, my main goal was to finally become comfortable with my body.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share with you guys the steps I’ve taken to accept and love my body. This isn’t just for women who have had children, it’s for anyone who has ever felt unhappy in their own skin. What I write won’t be a magic fix for all of those negative emotions, but I hope that it will serve as a guide to help you find your way.

You are all so strong and so beautiful. More than anything, I hope to help you truly believe that.

The Weight

img_6862

Weight // The force with which a body is attracted toward the earth by gravitation

Why does that word define so much of our lives? Why have I wasted so much energy on that one word? Why have I based my self worth on something so insignificant? How much has¬†gravity held¬†me down? Unfortunately, my answer would have to be, “a lot.”

I’ve spent the majority of my life hating the way that I look. I don’t remember exactly when the insecurities first crept in, but I know with certainty they’ve never quite gone away. My entire life, I’ve always been¬†too something. My skin was too pale,¬†my feet were too¬†big,¬†my face was too round, I was always too fat. Now fat, there’s a word I’ve often used to describe myself.

From making self-deprecating jokes, to standing alone in front of the mirror, fat has always been an adjective at the front¬†of my thoughts. The word would sit in my mind, patiently¬†waiting for the right moment to spring up and eat away at my joy. Like acid, it burned through my thoughts until it was all I could focus on.¬†Let’s just say I’ve spent way too much time crying in dressing rooms, shying away from shorts¬†and avoiding pool parties at all costs.

Part of the reason my weight has always been something I felt ashamed of was because I felt I could be doing better. I knew that if I tried hard enough and did the right things, the weight would come off. There was a pretty version of myself hiding underneath it all. If I tried hard enough, she would be the person everyone saw instead of the disaster that was my actual body. But every time a new attempt to diet and lose weight fell through, the shame and guilt just piled on that much thicker.

Then one day, something amazing happened.¬†I learned that I was pregnant. My body was actually doing something good. Over the next nine months, my relationship with weight became even more complicated. As the pounds added¬†up and my body grew and grew, I felt torn in two directions. On one hand, I knew that my body was doing what it was supposed to do. I knew that the weight was necessary and needed to bring my baby into this world. On the other hand, I¬†was harder on myself than I’d ever been before. With each new clothing item that I outgrew, more guilt and shame built up in¬†my heart. If I had just tried harder, I could be healthier now. If I had just lost the weight before, I’d be one of those pretty pregnant girls. If I had just dieted a little longer, these stretch marks would have never appeared.¬†

When the day finally came for my baby to arrive and the pregnancy to end, all I could focus on was getting my body back. I just knew that once my son was born, I would immediately feel so much better. As much as I loved him, I was ready to be the only one in my body for a while. I was ready to take on a new diet and a new workout and to¬†finally get all of the extra weight off of me. What I wasn’t ready for was a c section. Suddenly, reality hit me hard.

Over the next few weeks following the birth of my son, I could only feel miserable about this body of mine. For the first time in my life, I felt completely disconnected from the shell I was living in. Everything was different in the worst way. Not only had I been cut open to my core, but I was in constant pain, and everything felt wrong. Every inch of my body had changed. I spent a lot of time staring at my reflection and trying to figure out who I was now. The¬†stretch marks reaching around my thighs and across my stomach weren’t part of the body I knew. The¬†wide hips weren’t there before, and that¬†belly certainly didn’t look the same. I was devastated.

As my recovery progressed and the pain eased away, I slowly became more okay with this new body. It still didn’t feel quite right, but at least I wasn’t hurting. The majority of the baby weight fell away on its own, leaving me just ten pounds higher than I was pre-pregnancy. However, those ten pounds were now part of a completely new figure that I was unfamiliar with.¬†I bought a few new clothes to suit this new body, focusing on the day when my doctor would clear me to begin a new diet and exercise plan.

Then, last¬†week I found myself talking with a good friend of mine. As we brought up our babies, I casually mentioned the stretch marks I’d recently found around my c section incision. I complained that I’d made it through my whole pregnancy without any stretch marks on my stomach when suddenly they appeared post-surgery. I expected her response to be understanding and agreement, with her probably complaining about a part of her body in return. That’s common practice among women, after all. But instead, she surprised me. She just smiled and said, “I don’t really mind stretch marks, to be honest. I’ve actually had a baby, so I don’t care if I look like I did.”

Immediately I felt embarrassed and ashamed of myself in a new way, because I realized that she was right. I’d spent the past twenty two years of my life hating my body. I’d spent twenty two years telling myself all the reasons why I wasn’t good enough. Twenty two years of letting my weight dictate my self worth. I’d thought things about myself that I would never dare say to another person. I’d been bullying myself from the inside out. This body had housed my soul for my entire life, and this was how I had treated it.

Later that night, I went home and looked at my reflection yet again. Instead of seeing something lazy, something worthless, I saw something I was proud of. This body had been the vessel that¬†my most precious gift was born from. Without this body, my son couldn’t exist. Without the stretch marks, I wouldn’t have had room for him to grow. Without these wide hips, I couldn’t have carried him to term. Without the extra weight, he wouldn’t have been healthy. For the first time in my life, I felt my perspective truly shift.

God created this body, and he created new life within this body. I was created in His image and I should be proud of that. This body has brought me through every step of my life. This body is healthy, and functions in all the ways I need it to. This body allows me to see and think and breathe and laugh and love. Every thought I’ve ever had, everything I’ve ever felt, has been within the confines of this body. Even though it may have grown and shifted and stretched, this body is still my body, and it can do amazing things. This body has ached for months on end to reach its fullest potential and safely guide precious new life into this world. How could I ever look at something capable of a feat so powerful and be anything less than¬†amazed?

From now on, I hope to keep my perspective straight. I want to honor my body in every way. I will continue to pursue a healthier life, including the way I speak to myself. I will treat my own body with respect and dignity. Whenever I begin to doubt myself, and feel the insecurities creeping in, I will look to my son and know what I am capable of. I will see the stretch marks and wear them with pride. I will accept the shape of my body and be grateful to call it my home.

The Journey

dI think a lot about the different people I’ve been throughout the years. Especially starting my senior year of high school, it seemed like everything around me was changing so rapidly that I had to adjust just to keep up. I used to feel like my life was a snow-globe and every time I’d start to get a handle on things, somebody would shake it up again. That’s an interesting image though, God, the great snow-globe shaker.

In just a handful of years, my life completely derailed from the well-intentioned tracks I had been laying and I began this new adventure of just focusing on the next step before me. It was hard, and it still is some days, but this is the first time I’ve ever felt myself walking in the middle of God’s plan for me. I’m certain of what I’m doing in a way I never was before, and that gives me security on the days when I feel like screaming “WHAT AM I DOING” and running back to Alabama to start over.

Social media can be a pretty awesome tool for nostalgia, which is what actually inspired this post. What’s the opposite of nostalgia? Whatever it is, that’s how I feel about my teenage years. It wasn’t all bad, but I’m thankful every day to be past it. Not just because of the fussy teachers and the teen angst, but because I know how much I’ve gone through to grow into the person I am now. I know how long and painful much of that road has been, and I’m glad to have it behind me.

1900534_10203355489597744_1230331183_o

Sometimes people forget how hard those awkward years can be, myself included. That strange time when you’re not really a child but nowhere near an adult gets romanticized a lot by movies and books but for me, it was nothing like that. Even then, I felt like I was a slightly different person from one year to the next. My group of friends were different each year, until the time I graduated when I was more on my own than ever. It was a difficult time managing school along with figuring out who I was as a person. I knew I wasn’t who I wanted to be, but I wasn’t sure what exactly I was heading toward either. It was a confusing and tumultuous time of taking risks and falling on my face and making a lot of mistakes. I came out pretty bruised, but wiser for it.

The years following high school were more wild than I really gave them credit for. I moved to a new place, met new people, but still didn’t feel right. I met a boy and fell in love for the first time and then he joined the army and I learned what it truly means to miss someone. Eventually I found myself getting married and then he left again. I moved back to my favorite city and grew up quite a bit over the next year. I lived with my best friend, who became more like my sister. I fought my way around loneliness and learned how to do things on my own. I struggled to work full time for the first time and felt like a true adult.10273964_10152061212882896_3450255688863958898_n

Then my love came back and we moved away from everything and everyone I knew and started a strange new life in Texas. Life somehow got harder and we were pushed to our limits over the next eight months. Each day we felt like the world was testing us in whatever way possible. We were stressed to the max and felt totally alone in a place that seemed completely foreign. Our relationship became the most important thing and we learned how to depend on each other. I waged a war on sadness and came out on top. We battled hard for our marriage and won. I learned what true love was. I learned to never give up.

Now we’re in a place that feels more like home than any other home I’ve known and I’m growing another life in me. I’m going to be helping a new little spirit learn to navigate this crazy world and I don’t know that I’ll ever feel prepared for that. But I do know that I’m better than I was before. I’m wiser at this moment than I’ve ever been. I’m stronger now than I used to be.

485488_10151412169472896_1055605049_nI’ve spent too much time taking what I have these days for granted. Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that almost everything in my life right now is something I used to pray hard for. After spending our entire first year of marriage apart, I finally get to live with the man I love. After all the nights I spent crying and praying before I went to bed, I get to sleep next to him every night. That is something I should be overwhelmed with thankfulness for every day. Because if I’m being really honest, at the risk of sounding morbid, any day could be our last.

After all the time I spent feeling friendless, like there wasn’t a single person who really cared for me, I’m now surrounded by a community of people who love me. After so many moments I felt like a failure, I’m now in a place where I’m given new opportunities to do something important each day. So much of my time is spent serving in our church and doing everything I can to bring others into the love and grace of God’s kingdom, and there’s no degree or career I would choose over that. I spent countless hours begging Him to show me my purpose and now I get to live it out every day. I trust Him and I know He’ll honor and take care of me for that.

12033242_10153168341527896_8547898597153896558_n

I just want to appreciate life more. I want to be more thankful. I want to be able to look back at all the other versions of myself I had to go through to get here, and catch a glimpse of His plan. When I focus on the details and on the big picture, I can see how He was leading me to this moment all along and that makes everything it took to get here worth it.

The Choice

12041968_10153162540562896_890418944_n

Pregnancy is hard. I’m only sixteen and a half weeks in, and I know enough to confidently say that pregnancy is already one of the hardest things I will ever do. Anyone who has been pregnant before would probably tell you the same thing. It’s hard on a multitude of levels.

Before I was even pregnant, I was stricken with a severe case of “baby fever,” which sounds cute but isn’t at all. I would randomly cry all the time, but especially at the sight of a child. One minute I’d be snacking on some pizza and watching TV, the next I’d be sobbing over a diaper commercial. One night in particular, I remember sitting up in bed with tears streaming down my face trying to explain to my husband what it felt like. The best I could come up with was, “I feel homesick for a baby I haven’t had yet.” For me, baby fever felt like I had a child out there waiting for me to bring them home. Daily, I missed a baby, my baby, that hadn’t even been born. I had always known that I loved and wanted children, but it wasn’t until two years into my marriage that this intense longing took over my heart.

I was stuck for a long time at a very clear fork in the road. Should I have a baby or should I go back to college? If you’re my dad, the answer is obvious, but if you’re me it really wasn’t. I took a very, very long time coming to that conclusion. There was so much pressure on me to make the right decision. With two years of college behind me, all I had to do next was choose a major and jump back in at a new school. But I couldn’t comfortably settle on what I wanted to be when I grow up. I went back and forth, and back and forth.

During this process the gaping hole in my chest kept reminding me how much I just wanted to hold that tiny baby, and wake up every two hours every night, and know that I get to be a mother to a tiny little life. No matter how much I focused on the difficulties of having a baby, nothing deterred how I felt. I knew that I wanted a baby and I knew that I wanted one now.

Eventually I realized what the right decision was for me, and I took the path less traveled by. I have a loving husband, a great job with wonderful people, and an incredible group of supportive friends surrounding me. Even if no one else ever understands it’s okay, because I knew that I was ready for this baby and that this baby was ready for me.

Trying to get pregnant was hard. I feel incredibly, incredibly blessed at how short of a time Daniel and I had to wait to get pregnant. I had only been off the pill for about a month and a half when I got that positive test result, but that month and a half of waiting was brutal. When I realized that first month that I wasn’t pregnant yet, even though it had only been a few weeks, I still cried. Waiting for something you desperately want is always hard. It’s all you think about and no matter how much you try to prepare yourself, that monthly disappointment is still rough. I have so much love and respect for the women out there who are stuck in this time of waiting. You all have such strong hearts and I’m sure that it will only make it that much sweeter when you finally hold your child.

Finding out you’re pregnant is hard. For me, it went from shock to disbelief to utter joy to absolute terror. Being responsible for a human life, no matter how much “preparing” you think you’ve done, is incredibly scary. Mountains of responsibility came crashing down on me all at once. Every worst-case scenario started pouring through my mind. Daniel had to take a few minutes to snap me out of it. Sometimes it still hits me hard. I’ll catch myself worrying about the first time my baby gets their heart broken by someone else’s baby. Or how we’re going to afford buying them their first car. Or how I’ll handle it when they rebel in some crazy act of defiance. I guess I’m growing a mom-brain.

And finally, being pregnant is hard. My body has never felt worse than it has these past four months. From the time I woke up to the time I went to sleep I was plagued with constant nausea, and throwing up doesn’t help. You just puke and keep feeling like crap. Eating food might make you feel even worse, so for about a month all I ate was chicken noodle soup. On top of that, you get some severe fatigue mixed in which means being grumpy 100% of the time. You also cry over anything and everything because your hormones are totally hijacked. I was also extremely bloated and couldn’t button my pants for about a month. So you feel fat, nauseated, and extremely tired for a minimum of three months. If you’re really lucky like me, you’ll also get acne like a 14 year old. Talk about a pregnancy “glow.”

Now that the first trimester is over, my symptoms have, for the most part, waned off. Now I am finding myself eternally hungry with random bouts of esophagus-scorching heartburn, but it’s not that bad in comparison to before. And the best part is, I’ve been creating a small human this entire time. No matter how terrible I feel or how bad my day goes, I get to fall asleep reading how my baby has grown this week. I get to imagine a little mini version of myself trailing behind me wherever I go. I can picture being a mother and hearing those tiny giggles for the first time. It’s worth it, and whatever happens from here on will be worth it too.

This is just my experience, my story, and I know that there are unfortunately so many other women out there who have it so much worse. There are women who become pregnant without a choice, and women who become pregnant because of a choice they regret. There are women who love their babies but can’t provide for them. There are women who don’t want the babies in their wombs, and there are thousands of women who stay up at night, crying, because that’s all they want.

I know the system isn’t perfect and I know that pregnancy is hard, but a life is a life no matter how small. My desperate plea is that you would give your baby a chance to be loved, even if it’s by someone else.

Forever Alone

Recently, through the magic of technology, I was taken three years into my past. It was the summer after my freshman year of college, I had just turned nineteen and I was working at a daycare. During my lunch break, I decided to post this tweet: CHnh2IMW8AAgpV1

This hashtag haunts me. Did I really think at nineteen that I was going to be forever alone? Yeah, I really did. At least, it felt that way.

Throughout middle and high school I was obsessed with the idea of true love. I never had an interest in dating if I didn’t think it was real and could potentially last forever. I wasted a lot of time, energy, and tears looking for the right person in high school but ended up graduating single. I was basically the only person I knew who was eighteen and never had a boyfriend.

The summer after graduation, I moved away from Birmingham and decided to do something different. To just give in and say yes to whoever asked me out first. This was a huge mistake.

The relationship that followed was a disaster from the start. He was a pretty good guy, but we had less than nothing in common. For three months I basically pretended to be someone else, then ended it. This might have been the most selfish thing I’ve ever done.

Skip ahead about a year and that brings us to where I was, sitting at Taco Bell, feeling as if I would forever be alone in the world. I was determined not to date anyone else until I finally found what I was looking for.

Little did I know that seven days after I posted this tweet, I would meet the man I was going to marry.

CaptureThe moment I saw Daniel, everything felt different. Like a change in the atmosphere, something shifted. I’ve never believed in love at first sight, and I’m still not sure that I do, but I know that as soon as I saw him things changed. (If you want to read the full story on how we met, click here)

It was only after we met that I was able to really look back at my life with some clarity. Being on my own for those high school years helped me so much more than I ever gave it credit for. Unlike so many of my peers, I wasn’t trying to be something else for someone else. I just focused on the things I really liked. I grew a pretty great taste in music and I read a lot of fantastic books. I learned that going to the movies alone is one of my favorite things and I laughed at my own jokes. I made incredible friendships along the way, and spent as much time as possible with my family.

If it hadn’t been for that time on my own, I wouldn’t have become the person Daniel fell in love with.

Life is so much bigger than who you’re dating. It’s more than how old you were when you got your first kiss or who took you to senior prom. Life is much more about the small moments in between the big ones. If I never got over myself enough to focus on things other than falling in love, I would be the most boring person on earth. Instead, I learned a lot from my friend’s mistakes, I had plenty of time to spend figuring out who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do.

I won’t pretend to know God’s plan and why things happen the way they happen, all I know is that when I stopped trying so hard, that’s when I met my husband. When I decided to be happy on my own instead of suffering through life, I found him. Right in front of me.

But even if I hadn’t, even if I were still on my own, I would still be complete. Because it’s not anyone else’s responsibility to bring happiness and contentment to my life, it’s mine.

So no matter how alone you may feel, keep reminding yourself that there’s so many other things for you to be happy about and plenty of people who love you.

You’re not forever alone.

Contentment + Culture

10710747_10152451801272896_2122558450221679951_nSometimes I wonder what life would look like if everyone focused more on the things that really matter. If we, as Christians, focused more on giving love instead of gaining “likes.” If we worried less about appearances and more about the condition of our hearts. Life would undoubtedly be much more satisfying.

It’s a struggle in our culture to keep sight of what’s actually important. We’re constantly being bombarded with advertisements and celebrities and news media and social platforms all telling us how to act, how to look, and what to think. The apostle Paul actually had a lot to say on this subject.

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.

Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:2 /MSG)

It’s about asking the question, are you just following everyone else without stopping to think about it first? In my opinion, there’s nothing inherently wrong with wearing skinny jeans and thick rimmed glasses, as long as it’s not the most important thing in your life.

Instead of basing my self-worth on the cost of my shoes, or searching for acceptance through the favorites on my tweets, I know that my true value comes from God. When you start seeking Him instead of serving culture, you’ll find contentment.

 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (1 Peter 3:3-4 / NIV)

In an effort to grow my “gentle and quiet spirit,” I’ve begun to pray more, worship more, serve more, and love more. I’m seeing myself grow into a kinder, more patient and caring person. I’m free to build other women up, without feeling the need to compete with them. I can see how God is growing this new sense of maturity in me.

Taking a step back from the flurry of culture, and spending time alone with Him helps keep my mind at peace. There’s such incredible self-worth that comes from walking in His will, and furthering His plan for my life.

Knowing that God loves me exactly as I am, in this moment, is enough. I’m set free from working toward culture’s idea of happiness, and overwhelmed by His unending love.