Going into 2017, I do what I do every year: I prayed to the Lord for a word from Him; a word that would define my year and find embed itself deep into my soul. The word that the Lord placed on my heart for the year of 2017 was JOY.
I was ready for joy, for happiness, for relief, and for feeling, but I almost didn’t believe God when he laid that word on my heart. It seemed too good to be true. There was definitely some doubt in my mind.
In March of 2016 I was diagnosed with Anorexia and began what turned out to be a very painful and difficult course of treatment. I was proud of the hard work that I had put in, but recovery was the hardest thing that I had ever done in my life. It took a lot out of me to get my life back.
But God, being rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he has LOVED ME, made a way in the wilderness. With the undeserved support from my friends, family, and recovery team, I was going into 2017 stronger than ever in my recovery, despite the fact that there still was (and is) some healing that needed to be done.
JOY. I was ready for it, and I was ready to see what the Lord was going to do in 2017.
During my last semester at TTU, I was asked to speak at a Philanthropy Event for the Sorority Girls on my campus. The topic? Disordered Eating and My Recovery Journey
The 45 minute presentation was the longest I had ever given in my life. I was sick to my stomach the entire day, but when I got on stage, I felt the Lord’s peace settle on my heart and the Holy Spirit speaking through me. Several of the girls messaged me that night and opened up about their own struggles with dieting, body image, and disordered eating. The Lord was with me, was generous in providing me with that platform to share with girls that I otherwise wouldn’t have spoken to. I was sick to my stomach for most of this day, but by the end of it, I was filled with JOY, knowing that God had used me to speak into the lives of others. Pictured above are some of my closest friends, all of which came and supported me during this talk!
In 2017, I finally started saying “yes” to invitations to go out and spend time with friends. Eating disorders are very isolating, as is anxiety and depression. A huge THANK YOU to the friends who never stopped inviting me to hangout. Y’all mean more to me than I can put into words.
I graduated with a B.S. in Human Ecology with a Concentration in Nutrition and Dietetics.
I was really fortunate to be surrounded by classmates who weren’t into crazy dieting and weight loss. It’s rare in the field of dietetics. Thanks y’all, for being so supportive and recovery friendly!
In that same month, I got married to the man of my dreams. It really was such a sweet day filled with so much joy and so many tears. It was the first time I had allowed myself to feel that much in over two years. It was such a beautiful, emotional, and joy-filled day. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My wedding day was the best day of my life, hands down. But what made it so much sweeter was reflecting back on where I had been the year before, and what God had done during that time. I thought a was going to die; I thought I had no future; I thought I had no hope. But God had a plan, like he always does. He lifted me out of the darkest place in my life and topped it all off with a wedding to the man who never left me during any of it.
On my honeymoon, I got to fulfill my life-long dream of swimming with dolphins.
Once I got back, I was able to spend the summer working at my favorite place in the world. I got paid to run around with kids all day and share Jesus with them. It was an absolute blast.
Two of my best friends got married this summer, so Josh and I spent a lot of time celebrating the Lord’s goodness in establishing his covenant with some of our closest friends.
But 2017 hasn’t been filled with all joy, at least in the way that I imagined it would be. Last summer, my sweet 10-year old puppy, Maddie May, grew blind and had to get one of her eyes removed.
She recovered well from the surgery, but her missing eye is a reminder each day to me that she is getting older and that I won’t be able to hold her close forever.
Depression is something that I still fight each month; doctors appointments, therapy, and medication changes take up a lot of my free time. Depression has been my full-time job. The hardest part is waking up and getting out of bed even when I am exhausted-physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Marriage is hard work; I knew that it would be. But I didn’t grow up thinking that I would enter into marriage with a major depressive disorder diagnosis. I didn’t think that I would have to FIGHT for my life and my marriage each day. It’s difficult living with someone who suffers from depression. I knew that coming into marriage. I thank God each day for the patience, grace, and support that Josh shows me day in & day out.
My sister started college at Lipscomb in August. She’s made a ton of friends & totally rocked her first semester, just like I knew she would.
Also in August, I started my supervised practice at Vanderbilt. It’s been an awesome experience, and I’ve gained 15 new amazing, crazy-beautiful, hilarious, world-changing friends along the way. In October, we all traveled to Chicago together for the Food and Nutrition Conference + Expo:
Mom & dad are doing well in this season of transition; there’s been a lot of trusting God and surrender in 2017. Dad got a new job, and mom spends a lot of her time taking care of our family.
With marriage, comes new family, and new holiday traditions. Josh and I celebrated 2 Thanksgivings and 5 Christmases together. It’s a lot, but we are both very thankful that our families are close and that everyone is healthy.
The moments that I have shared have been filled with happiness. I laugh until I cry when I spend time with my friends and family. I have been blessed with so much in this life, all of which I don’t deserve. In 2017 God has answered so many prayers and provided in ways I couldn’t even imagine he would.
2017 was filled with joy, but not in the way I was expecting it to be. Some of the moments where I was the most lacking in a earthly sense were the moments where I was most joy-filled.
It was the joy in knowing that God is a promise keeper, a healer, an encourage her, an eternal pursuer, and my greatest hope that kept me going this year.
Without Jesus, I wouldn’t have experienced this type of joy, the confidence that comes with knowing who you are and whose you are.
The last few days I have been praying and listening for my word for 2018. God has been very persistent (despite my opposition) to lay the word surrender on my heart. Surrender is hard, but the more I listen and do what God asks me to do, the greater joy I experience here on earth. So here’s to greater surrender AND greater joy in 2018! Happy New Year!