Why I couldn’t get undressed on my wedding night (and Mom in the Mirror giveaway!)

We borrowed my aunt’s cabin, by the water.

We arrived late with a bottle of wine and I stepped on the back of my wedding dress as we crossed the threshold.

I didn’t see anything but the bed, with its nicely folded corners and my new husband already in his boxers and grabbing us glasses from the kitchen cupboard.

I leaned against the wall, drinking the white, in white, and we were 23-year-old virgins who’d never seen each other naked, had only felt each other’s skin and I couldn’t unzip my dress.

I stalled, pulling out my bobby pins and he helped me, and we made a nice little pile of pins and then he asked if he could help me with my zipper.

And I asked him if he wanted another glass of wine.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to make love with him.

It’s that I didn’t want him to see me. All of me.

(For the rest of this post, and for the LAUNCH of Mom in the Mirror, which we’re giving away, join me over HERE at Prodigal, friends? Thank you!!)

Today’s giveaway:

(this will be the last post that will run on this blog; you can keep up with me at my personal blog HERE. thank you)


The Love Dare: Writing a love letter to your body

I wrote a letter to my body once.

It was something suggested to me by my therapist – something I never in a million years thought I’d be able to finish. ​

It was a post written in the middle of as opposed to after the fact.​ I did not see myself as I wrote, but I prayed to find beauty in the body God gave me through every word.

It was soul-shattering.​

My plea for acceptance ​echoed against the lies repeating inside :: don’t let anyone near, don’t let anyone touch, don’t let anyone love.

It was the proverbial ice-pick for the glacier of hurt I kept inside.

Perhaps it’s fitting these words were thrown on a page in faith a little over a year ago. I’ve grown a lot these past few months – understanding and accepting and fighting for the personality and skin and space my body possesses.

(Please finish reading this post by Elora Nicole over HERE. And don’t forget to pre-order Emily’s new book, Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy, HERE.)

why I write about God–and why I stopped

i write about God a lot. i write so i will know him more.

but there comes a time when i need to stop writing. and it happened last week while i was listening to Sons and Daughters’ Your Glory. i was sitting in my easy chair, the christmas tree alight and the children asleep and peace on earth, except i wanted more. i always want more. i’m a good-news junkie.

so i stop typing, i close my eyes and i raise my hands, listening to Sons and Daughters and in my mind, i see God’s light, a luminous light pooling like butter on the ground and there i am, running around outside the scope of that light, following flickers, pale white flashlight-flickers like fame and fortune and people’s opinions of me.

and more often than not for all of my running i’m left in the dark. and right there, in my living room, i put my face in my hands and asked God to help me step into his light, into his glory, and to stop worrying about what other people think. to stop letting humanity define my eternal worth. because bones don’t make the soul.

i sat there in my brown housecoat, Sons and Daughters singing and my eyes closed and face in my hands and then, the light shifted. God’s glory. it moved, and it came to rest upon me.

i didn’t have to.do.anything. i just had to ask. God wants to give us everything. why do we find it so hard to believe he loves us? to let him love us? maybe because the world tells us we’re only as good as the mother on the screen, or the wife in the church pew, or the size of our jeans?

and i realized in that moment of God coming to rest on me in my living room that this is what he did at Christmas. he came to us. he knew we couldn’t get to him. we couldn’t do enough good to reach him. so he did the completely unexpected, and came as a defenseless infant into a room that was a barn.

talk about feeling like a failure. i wonder if mary doubted herself. if she doubted God’s calling on her life to be the son of God’s mother, because she gave birth in a pile of straw and manure.

the Bible doesn’t talk about that, but i think we can be reassured that she chased those flashlight-flickers too… until she held Jesus in his arms and felt the strength of the universe in his muscles and saw the love of God in his old-soul eyes and felt God’s pleasure shake the barn rafters.

and again, God’s glory found Mary and Jesus and Joseph in that barn. angels on the roof, lighting up the night in a chorus of hallelujah.

so i’m going into this new year slowly, because i don’t want to step out of God’s glory. i don’t want to stop feeling his pleasure. i want to let him provide for me, and sing over me.

and i want to draw my children close and let them feel God’s glory too.

on looking in the mirror and seeing eternity (guest post by courtney osborn)

I hope I get to be with you in Heaven, he says from the backseat.

We are driving to church and I am lost in my thoughts as his little four year old voice pierces through the depths of it all.

I had woken up to gaze a monster in the mirror–a reflection of myself which I hate. It was just one of those mornings. You know the ones. Where your hair won’t curl just right and you have that pimple jutting out like a mountain and you don’t remember it until you’re in the middle of conversation and you realize she is staring at it. One of those mornings where all the blush in the world couldn’t cover up the hurt, the insecurity, the pride, the fat, the failure that you just can’t bear up under anymore.

I put on a skirt and match it up with a shirt–my hands find my hips and they wiggle too much, so I add a sweater. I walk outside to feel, and its too warm. I take it all off and start over. I stand staring more deeply into the reflection–the one I wish could be anything but this. The one no man could ever call good. I gaze at those thighs and I see them covered in cellulite. It juts out in the morning sunlight, all wrong. I try a long dress, one that covers it all. It’s summer and it doesn’t have sleeves. My eyes lock on those arms, those arms that sag and swing as I move. Embarrassed, I unzip and sit down.

Head in hands, I ask and beg and pray for eyes of grace. I repeat some verses and I wait.

Defeated and exhausted, I go to my go-to. Black and lacy, it covers the blemish and blends me in. Black has always seemed safe. I need a little safe today.

I primp and prod until there is nothing left to curl or cover. It’s funny how we spend so much time trying to cover it all up, make it all look nice when we know the inside is so messy, that we’re all messy and covered. But we do it anyway. Maybe that’s why we do it–something we can control, something we can clean up?

The studying for that test and the 5 boys and the cleaning and the cooking and and the breathing and the making it to church before the singing ends–its all weighing even more then I do as we sit at the stoplight under the fog.

That’s when his little four year old voice asks me where the world is. I tell him we are in it right now, part of it. He smiles real big and tells me how awesome the world is.

A few moments go by, just enough for me to slip back into the depths of my black dress. And then a new voice interjects. His eight year old voice is clear and concise as he tells little man, “Yeah, the world is awesome, but Heaven is way better.”

I sit and breathe in and out. I look at the rays of light coming through the fog over the trees and I remember.

It hurts at first. I don’t want to give up my sin, my selfishness. Hating my body, my inability to ever be good enough or please everyone or stay caught up with the laundry, my yearning to be as little and tan and flawless and free as the blonde in line before me at Walmart, my militant workouts and punishment for eating that cake last night, my need to just control something in this crazy life, my guilt and shame and girl that I will always be no matter how many black dresses I buy–those things I have somehow made home. Came in and got real comfy over these years.

I have been trained to long for them, to return to them, to hope there–becuase that’s all that will ever be.

And then I remember there is more. I remember that this body is temporary and this life a glimpse that is passing so quick. So quick I don’t have time to waste consumed by it. I remember the decade I spent enslaved to the binging and purging and starving and carving words of hatred into my skin, in case I forgot. I still haven’t forgotten. And as I  get closer to seeing Jesus’ face, the battle continues to wage. Sometimes, it is so loud that I forget about Heaven. I honestly forget that something could be way better.

I put all my confidence in my flesh and forget what it feels like to glory in Christ. I forget that everything is a loss because knowing Him is the surpassing worth for which I was created. I forget that must press on, becuase Jesus made me His own. I think on what lies behind more then I strain for what lies ahead. I take my eyes off of Him and think on the false and the unlovely.

And that’s when little four year old responds to me by name. “Corney, I hope I get to be with you in Heaven,” he says from the backseat.

And that’s how I learn to look in the mirror and see eternity–because someday He is going to say “well done good and faithful servant. Only He won’t be talking to me. Only Jesus is worthy of such praise. So if not Jesus inside of me, then what? No matter what we do, we are never going to be good enough.

No number of miles or calories or digits on the scale could ever add up to that of Christ–and praise God that today, that is enough. Not becuase of me, but because He is sufficient, even here when I forget that Heaven is way better.

So let’s wake up tomorrow and look it in the mirror and when we think the same things, just count it all a loss because the surpassing worth of Him is greater…Heaven is greater.

Let’s look in the mirror and see eternity.

Blessed Are Those Who Don’t Do It All (Guest Post by Cara Sexton)

In past seasons of my life, I filled notebooks with goals, to-do’s, strategies and techniques for getting things together. From a fundamental place inside of me came the constant, relentless message: Be Better.
I wanted to be better at everything and somewhere inside I believed that every other woman out there was accomplishing all the things I couldn’t manage, an entire lifestyle of doing it all with grace and effortlessness. I saw myself as failing in some level at just about everything, not only everything in my life but everything in the world if you counted all the things I wasn’t doing. (And I counted.)
If I spent five hours cleaning the kitchen, I felt bad about the state of the pantry. If the house was neatly picked up, the carpet stains screamed loudly at me every time I walked into the room. If I’d baked a fabulous dessert for my family, I berated myself for the mediocre dinner they were served just prior.
But somewhere along the line, something within me broke and I saw that part of myself from outside eyes, like an out-of-body experience. I learned to be kinder to my heart and treat her like a friend of mine and not just an abused little girl who couldn’t live up to anything. This was all unfolded, I’m sure, as my depth of understanding unfolded about grace, about the God who loves so purely and completely that His heart for me cannot be changed by any amount of my goodness or lack thereof.
At some point, I stumbled on peace and self-forgiveness.
I started a Things I Don’t Do list in my head and began to check off, one by one, the things that would creep up on me and tell me lies. I thought hard about the things that tormented me and decided whether I really needed to make space for them in my life, whether I really did believe my call was to be better in that area. Sometimes the answer was yes. Sometimes, I added them to the TIDD list, and breathed a little easier.
The Things I Don’t Do are mostly good things. They are things that may be sacred and creative and might beautifully enhance another person’s life. But for me, they are things that would take the space I have to give the other things in my life, the ones that give me life and joy and serve a higher purpose than to simply be better. As I have let things go, I have learned that with less effort to be everything and more effort to be the uniquely created me, I am a little bit better by proxy, and that is the ironic-flavored icing on the cake.
Here is a portion of my list:
I don’t go to the gym. My body is not perfect or even necessarily pretty but it is the body that has bore three children and held tightly to a dozen more. It sags in areas it shouldn’t and bulges in places I wish it didn’t and has erupted in a terrible case of adult acne, but its scars and stretch marks reflect its purpose. I love to see old Bibles, worn from years of use and tears, notes scribbled in the margins and pages bent back. I’m beginning to see my body in this way too, an open book, a love story, in which my life is written slowly into laugh lines and chipped nails, tan lines and chronic illness and chapped lips and birthmarks, calluses and tattoos and scabbed-over wounds that I am beginning to love. My exercise comes in the form of wrestling t-shirts over squirmy kid heads and games of hide-and-seek, hiking to waterfalls and the thousand leg-lunges I do every single day while picking up Matchbox cars. I don’t count calories and I eat more chocolate than is good for me but I’ve decided I’m basically okay in my size 11 jeans because this body has been awfully good to live in despite its many flaws.
I don’t garden. I grow children well, pets poorly, and I kill most other living things. I admire and respect those who find gardening to be a spiritual experience, but for me it is dirt and thorns and grub worms, and it takes all the beauty and mystery out of nature. If I manage to keep alive a rose bush, I resent it for the creative time lost in its cultivation and therefore, gardening makes the TIDD list.
I’m not on the PTA. I’m not the room mother or the field trip chaperone or the teacher’s aide. I care deeply about my children’s educational experiences but this is not the outlet for that, for me. I admire that there are others who are so much more patient, more talented, more gifted with teaching children and I give them space to be positive influences in my kids’ lives, too.
I don’t pair socks. Laundry is serious business around here and I spend way more of my life than I care to in the act of cleaning and putting away clothing. We have a Sexton Sock Basket, and when I fold laundry, all socks go in the bin. When someone needs a pair, they Scuba dive for two that pass for matching, and we all live happily ever after, the end. Most people are seriously horrified by this. What kind of mother doesn’t even match their kids’ socks? Let me tell you. This kind of mother. The kind that has living room campouts with them for the heck of it and throws unbirthday parties every once in awhile and decorates a living room birthday tree for the special kid of honor. The kind who has decided to make other things a bigger deal than socks and does so without apology.
There are scores of other things I don’t do. I don’t eat organic or change my refrigerator filter as often as it needs it. I don’t do play-dates or mom’s group or homeschool (anymore). I don’t cloth diaper. I don’t vacuum every day or run marathons or cook from scratch or iron or dry clean. I am not against any of these things. They’re good. They’re great, even. They’re just not great for me, right now.
I am not totally guiltless over all of these things yet, but I’m getting there. The Things I Do list (I have one of those too) is getting shorter and shorter in quantity, but fuller and fuller in quality and I’m learning to see that as the better thing.
You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

(Matthew 5:5 MSG)

(please visit my friend Cara, here. and don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Chasing Silhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder, with Dr. Gregory Jantz, here.)

grace (eventually)…. thoughts on binging and dieting by anne lamott

i’ve been reading her, again, this anne lamott who says things i believe. it’s like she’s in my head, and i want to share her thoughts on binging and self-worth and Jesus with you, here below. (love to you all, on this healing journey…)

“whenever i want to either binge or diet, it means that there is some part of me that is deeply afraid. i had been worrying about (my son) more than usual, and only partly because he had just begun to drive. i had been worried sick about Bush for five years now. there was a terrifying epidemic of breast cancer in my county; like so many others, i had friends who were trying to survive. and lately i’d fallen back into my old habit of acting like classroom helper to the world, doing too many favors for people… i had been to a funeral. i had had a molar pulled. i had recently seen the skin on the back of my neck under fluorescent lights in a hotel mirror. i hadn’t seen it in years; not it looked like it was upholstered in a few inches of the Utah desert. everything was too much.

“all i could think to do was what every addict thinks of doing: kill the pain… anyone would understand if you binged every so often… even Jesus would, although somehow i don’t see him ripping open a package of Hostess Ding Dongs for me. but thinking of him reminded me that food would not fill the holes or quiet the fear. only love would; only my own imperfect love would.” (anne lamott, grace eventually, 53-54)