Perfectly Imperfect, Beautifully Flawed

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I just want to take this opportunity to post about an issue near and dear to my heart. This past week (2/23-3/1) was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. I have known many people affected by this disease over the years in one form or another. It is the mental illness with the highest mortality rate.  About 1,000 women die each year from ED due to malnutrition, heart attack and suicide. One thing to keep in mind is that an eating disorder is not about weighing 75  lbs and looking like you just got out of a concentration camp. Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes and it’s more about the disordered thought processes than what a person looks like. The DSM V (The diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Eating Disorders) made some changes recently to clarify diagnoses. You can read about all of the changes here.

In college, while I was on my own path of healing, I got involved in the National Eating Disorder Awareness Committee, which raised awareness about eating disorders. Our main goal was to bring programming to campus each year for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, but we always tried to promote positive messages about loving yourself as you are. Our inspiration came from Operation Beautiful, which is a blog that got its start with the idea of posting post- its in public places with positive messages encouraging everyone to love themselves. It’s a great sight to visit if you ever need a pick me up. I even had the privilege of hearing the founder, Caitlin Boyle speak one year on campus.

“You are not perfection, but you are beautifully flawed.”-Simply Kat was one of the speakers at the first NEDA week I attended during college. This quote stuck with me and was later written on my mirror in college as a reminder every morning when I did not like what I saw.

See the entire video of her spoken word- Beautifully Human below:

Eating disorders have many causes:

Dieting to look better
Major life transitions like puberty, entering high school or college or major losses or trauma
Family problems
Social difficulties like teasing, bullying or ridicule
Fear of failure or a need to be perfect (often related to dieting)
Traumatic events like sexual and physical abuse
Other psychiatric illnesses like depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention deficit disorder
Personality traits like low self-esteem, difficulty with change, fear of feeling out of control

If you or someone you know might have an ED, please get help and visit http://eatingdisorder.org/ or http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

I could probably write forever about this topic and I probably should have been more proactive and posted something each day this past week. Better late than never I suppose.

Remember, if you aim for perfection you will fall short every time. Focus on learning to love yourself how you were made and know that you are perfectly imperfect and beautifully flawed. Spread the love today and tell someone they are beautiful inside and out!

“I would rather be what God made chose to make me than the most glorious creature I could think of. For to have been made, thought about, born in God’s thought and then made by God is the dearest, grandest, most precious thing in all thinking.” -Jerry Bridges

Beautifully yours,

Cara

B’more Merry

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Merry Belated Christmas and Happy New Year! I’m not usually the most merry person around Christmas time. I am so prone to let the stress of family, singleness, presents, traffic, etc. get the best of me. I usually come to peace with things this season by realizing that those things I struggle with are exactly why I need Jesus and He came into this world to be near to my brokenness.  And this year, I was able to find a little Christmas magic just in time.

I started to feel it when I decided to take the advice of my new Royal Farms friend and just “be.” I’m a big quality time person so the best thing about Christmas this year was the people I got to spend time with.

My favorite Christmas song is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. It shows what I like Christmas to be about, the people (other than Jesus being born of course).

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas Let your heart be  light

From now on our troubles will be out of sight

Here we are as in olden days happy golden days of yore

Faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more

Through the years we all will be together if the fates  allow

Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a Merry Little  Christmas now..

I always think of my siblings and cousins with this song. Over the years, our family has been through a lot, but now we love the time we have together so much more and it’s just like the old days but better.

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Shipley-Dembeck girls!

candyland

Candyland

cousins in candyland

All the girl cousins and nan

We made our annual stop at “candyland” aka a random house that we frolic through every year after the lights in Hampden. It’s so magical and I’m convinced one of us need to get married there one day 🙂 What are some of your holiday traditions?

layla christmas

Get this girl an agent! She has to be the cutest baby in charm city!!

Merrily yours,

Cara

Coffee and a Donut

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I hate traffic. It just makes my blood boil as I feel like I’m wasting my life. I know this is not a good perspective to have and God is still teaching me patience. A particular day a few weeks ago I pulled off at a Royal Farms before getting onto 95 because I had been sitting for two hours and decided to just take a break and eat.  I got my $1 coffee, some snacks and looked for a seat. There were no open tables so I figured I should sit down and make a friend. I had brought a book with me, but clearly that was not what was in store for me that night. It’s funny how wisdom comes to us from unlikely sources and when we least expect it.

I was quickly reminded by a stranger that I’m lucky to be able to sit in traffic. He went on to share about his life and how he beat a brain tumor, a stroke, a heart attack and got out of jail only by the grace of God. There were days he sat in jail and watched the cars drive by, wishing he could be out there sitting in traffic.

He was eating fried chicken and potato wedges as we talked and I had to keep a straight face, even though the dietitian in me was cringing inside. He was the epitome of a noncompliant patient I would have seen last year for a five minute “nutrition education” as he was being wheeled out the door to go home after a second bypass surgery. He offered to share his Krispy Kreme donuts with me and insisted I have one.. he would not take no for an answer. This was a moment I had to take off my dietitian hat.

Coffee always seems to open doors for conversation and inspiration. I think it often provides more comfort than caffeine. As I sit here writing this post, I owe a lot of my energy level and motivation to a dirty chai latte from Starbucks.

We sat and talked for a while and he reminded me to stop stressing over little things and just live. He told me to be grateful for each day God gives you. I told him it’s easier said than done. He asked me why that was. He said, “It’s that simple, just live. ..Everyone gets to where they need to go eventually.”

In general, I struggle to be present each day or in the moment as I am always looking ahead to the next big thing. I look at Jesus and see how present he was with people and situations in his ministry and I strive to be more like that. This night was a good lesson in that. I became so engrossed in our conversation, that I forgot all about the traffic and lost track of time. When I finally returned to my car an hour or two later, I had several texts from people wondering if I was ok. I was grateful for the opportunity to learn from this man, and if it had not been for traffic which forced me to slow down or my newfound love of coffee, our paths probably would have never crossed.

Krispy Kremes can be a powerful thing. About a year ago, I was in DC with a friend, who wanted to get a Krispy Kreme donut when she saw the light- up sign turn on. She went on to inform me that it means the donuts are fresh out of the oven. I’m not a huge fan of glazed donuts or sweets but I got one for the sake of bonding. I ended up giving it to a homeless man later who was asking for money. I still don’t know if Karma is real, but there is some way that God works in the “pay it forward” movement. That night at Royal Farms I guess some of that kindness came back to me. A year after giving away my Krispy Kreme, I got another one and one for the road! I really believe that when we sacrifice and give, God somehow provides a way for you to bless you that much and more 🙂

I’ll end with two quotes, one from God and one from The Dalai Lama:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”-Galations 5:22-24

He said, “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”

Delight Yourself

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Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.

-Psalm 37:3-5

I remember sophomore year of college my best friend and I committed to follow this verse with our lives and hold each other accountable. It’s easy to read this and expect that God owes us something because we are obedient to Him. It’s really saying that delighting in God each moment of each day should be the focus of our lives. And that when we live in such a way, He will provide us with not just what we need, but things we desire as well. And this does not mean He will magically give me a new car, or new shoes. The more we walk with God, the more our hearts desire things He wants.

Delight is defined as great pleasure or joy. I view this as spending time with the Father each day, each moment acknowledging His spirit, seeing Him work, and thanking Jesus for everything.

Now, I cannot say I always do this. I have spent a good amount of the last few months feeling frustrated or angry with God. He knew my heart for Baltimore city and my love for kids, and my skills in research. But why wasn’t he giving me a job? I got mixed advice from people. Some telling me to apply to any job and get my start in a nursing home or hospital just to get some experience. Others said to wait on God’s perfect timing and that when He brings something, it will be better than I ever imagined. I hated hearing both of those things. I knew in my heart I could not spend another year of my life in a hospital, but I also didn’t think I would be one of those lucky people to get my “dream job.”

I get a lot of fulfillment from work in general and I view it as a very spiritual experience. I’m currently reading Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller so there will be a future post about that! But I knew that if God wanted me to stay here, He had to provide a job. I doubted myself and God many times and started looking into opportunities all over the country and world. But my heart was not in the right place. While I love traveling and I feel that sometime in the future God will use me in that way, my motivation was bitterness. I was thinking, “Ok God if you won’t give me what I want, I’ll just up and leave.” The problem is, no matter where I escaped to, my heart would still be in the ugly state that it was.

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I finally came to peace about everything one day when I was house sitting earlier this month. There is something about being away, even just out of your routine and away from distractions that gives you clarity. I realized that I was seeking a job to define who I was, thinking that my life would start once I had a job or a steady paycheck. The same way a month earlier, I was hoping passing my RD exam would define give me fulfillment. I was feeling like a failure and feeling completely useless and sorry for myself. I was wasting time I could be using to invest in relationships, start new hobbies, be present and serve others. I realized I had been given the gift of time, and I wanted to use it well. I made up my mind that day to practice my baking skills, start a blog which has been a longtime dream of mine, take some classes to learn more about human trafficking domestically, and take steps to get licensed in Maryland to do private practice nutrition counseling. I had put that off for a while, since I had times of doubting whether I wanted to stay in Maryland. I realized at least for now, God had me in Maryland and for a reason, so it was my job to be present here, until He called me elsewhere.

I was reminded that my purpose in life has NOTHING to do with being a dietitian or having a job. God just simply asks us to know Him and help others to do the same.

Now here is the part of the story with the big announcement. That very same day, I got a call from a former colleague asking if I wanted a job. We had a conversation about a month before about some opportunities through her friend, but she never followed up with me. I almost did not apply. It looked like something I was overqualified for and I never heard back so I kind of forgot about it anyway. She said her friend was asking about me and they wanted an RD for the position, but could not find my application. She said that she would give her my cell number to set up an interview. I could not believe it. All the hard work and stress was for nothing, a reminder that it’s never about my own strength or efforts. Here was something falling right into my lap! I still did not get my hopes up and I did not have a ton of information.

I got a call the next day from HR to set up the interview. In my research and preparation, I realized this was my dream job. It combined everything I have ever wanted to do. Kids check, childhood obesity check, policy check, research check, food insecurity check, working with people check, not in a hospital check, prevention check, Baltimore city check, department of international health check.

I had a feeling deep down that this was the one I had been waiting for and a peace that I have not felt with any other job or opportunity. God’s timing is really is perfect. I still tried to play it cool and did not want to jinx it. It had to be too good to be true. I didn’t even tell my parents until I was selected as the “top candidate.” I got my official offer letter yesterday, so I figured it was safe to share with the blogging world. I will be working as a Research Program Assitant II in a Childhood Obesity Center. It’s not glamorous by any means. I’ll be driving around low-income neighborhoods interviewing families and doing diet recalls, but I can’t wait!! I could not have picked a better job myself.

Thanks for hanging in there for this long post. I just wanted to share everything to be real about my struggles and show how God has been working in all of this 🙂
Gratefully yours,
Cara