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Faithful Fitness: A Love Letter To My Body

a love letter to my body

“Busy moms loving and caring for the bodies God gave us.”

It sounds so nice doesn’t it. I hide behind the words on a Pinterest graphic and catchy blog posts. All the while, silently cursing you. You and your scars and your extra pounds and your rashy arms. You. Me.

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love letter body 1

I have been angry at you for “betraying me.” When, now that I think about it, it is I who have betrayed you.

Your job is thankless. You have housed the inner workings of my being. You are a vessel for all that is me. What you have endured is simply astounding. And still, I see you in the mirror and criticize you and tear you down.

I berate you for not being what you used to be – slim and trim. I remind you of that prior version of you, nigh daily.

I tell you you aren’t good enough anymore. I wish parts of you would change. Other parts, I wish away completely. I push you to change by exercising and then shake my head when you won’t perform, when you get breathless, when you lack energy, or when you simply don’t give me the results I want to see.

I have spent so many words proudly declaring how motherhood has changed me, the astounding realizations my eyes have been opened to, what I’ve learned from it all. I’ve changed. I’m the same person, but very different from who I used to be.

But you. How dare you change. How dare you be less than what you once were. 

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And I forget that it was you who made me a mother. You who carried and grew that child who has changed my world. You who miraculously provided for his nutritional needs for another 2 1/2 years. You whose arms lift him in and out of beds, bathtubs, and car seats – day in and day out.

But instead of thanking you, I curse you and your rolls and your flab and your scars – forgetting the miracle that left you with them.

And above all, in cursing you, I’m cursing your Maker. The one Who knit you together in the womb of your mother. The one Who formed you, fearfully and wonderfully.

I forget that He knew this would happen. Your scars, your pounds, your adrenal fatigue, your food allergies, your irritable bowels, your heart palpitations, and all the things that make you you. He knows your limitations. And He still says, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

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And so, today, I’m telling you that it’s okay to be you. That I love you, just the way you are. That I’m sorry for treating you this way.

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You have given me the gift of a beautiful child. Your capabilities are amazing. Your scars have made me who I am.

You are beautiful.

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And so I am going to raise your hands to the heavens and thank the Creator for you. For making you so fearfully and wonderfully.

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I had an epiphany in the least expected of places. An aha moment that reminded me - pregnant mamas truly are awesome. Truly are beautiful.  Read more here: http://bit.ly/1oMqCxq  ‪#‎faithfulfitness‬

Exhausted after a long day, I plopped into my gastroenterologist’s exam chair and exhaled. It was my last appointment of the day, but my first appointment with him, so we dove in to my medical history as he asked me dozens of questions. Last among them was, “So, have you had any surgeries?”

“Oh yes,” I smiled. “I’ve had two emergency c-sections, my gallbladder removed, an appendectomy, and my wisdom teeth removed…if you count that as a surgery. I came super close to having my colon removed, but I get to hold onto it for now.”

He laughed and said, “I like your positive attitude! Did they remove your gallbladder laparoscopically?”

“Yep!”

“Great! Do you know where they made the incisions?”

My positive attitude instantly diminished.

“No,” I replied quietly as he poked and prodded my belly as gastroenterologists do, “I have so many stretch marks from my pregnancies, you couldn’t find the scars from the surgery even if you wanted to.”

He smiled, unphased, and said, “No problem! You’re recovering well from your flare up and that’s great.”

A few minutes later, the fire alarm went off and everyone had to evacuate the building. As we walked outside, I laughed and said to him, “I’m sorry, trouble tends to follow me everywhere I go. I didn’t mean to suck you into the Emanuel Family Trouble Vortex already!”

He asked me about the trouble to which I was referring. I told him about the past five years. I told him about all our family’s moves. About my son’s diagnosis and my daughter’s medical troubles. I told him about my chronic health problems and the myriad emergencies we had had this summer.

I told him about life as it is, without holding back.

My gastroenterologist, turned therapist by a pulled fire alarm, listened, and once the firemen had determined it was a false alarm, we (along with 100 of our newest friends) walked slowly back into the building. Once we reached his office again, he scheduled my next appointment, shook my hand and said, “You’re awesome.”

I realized in that moment how much I needed to hear those words. How often I had told myself the opposite and convinced myself it was true.

Once I had waddled back to and sat down in my car, I looked down at my pregnant belly and smiled as I breathed in the words, I am awesome, and let them fill my tired body with new purpose. And it felt awesome.

So it is with purpose that I tell you, Pregnant mama, you are awesome.

Your body that will carry and birth and feed your babies is awesome. Your soul that will nurture and nourish and encourage your precious children is awesome. Your hands that will clean and scrub and hold your little ones is awesome. Your love that will champion and care for your children each day is awesome.

I had an epiphany in the least expected of places. An aha moment that reminded me - pregnant mamas truly are awesome. Truly are beautiful.  Read more here: http://bit.ly/1oMqCxq  ‪#‎faithfulfitness‬

We live in a world so focused on the appearance of beauty that we forget true beauty lies within. That God does not see stretch marks and scars, but rather growth and unconditional love. He does not see a body that has failed to meet a standard, but rather a vessel that is able to carry and bear life. What He sees is pure and abounding love.

And that, dear friends, is more beautiful than a stretch mark-free belly ever could be. That is awesome.

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Faithful Fitness: in which we ask for grace and take a week off

Dear Friends,

What did this past week bring you? Did you send your children back to school? (I did.) I am so enjoying the extra time and have actually made it to the gym, nearly every day! Wow…what a difference a little exercise can make. {Make sure to check out this post in which I share tips for working out at the gym!}

Unfortunately, Katie has another week before her son goes back to school, and she is just up to her neck in all that it means to be a special needs mom. {I refer you to these posts, Broken: Where the healing begins and Six Things I Learned This Summer for you to catch up on all that has been on her plate lately.}

So, we are begging a bit of grace from you, our friends and readers, and taking this Friday off from the series while we both recover from summer and try to settle into the back-to-school routine.

Next week, Katie will be sharing some Faithful Fitness encouragement for pregnant mamas, so make sure to check back!

As always, you can follow our Faithful Fitness Pinterest board for our favorite finds from around the internet.

Thanks for the grace.

~Aprille

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6 Things I Learned This Summer

6 Things I Learned This Summer | wonderfully-made.net

#1 – God gives us more than we can handle. The traditional saying says that He doesn’t, but I believe wholeheartedly that He does. A car accident, two ambulance rides, six ER visits, a hospitalization for a Crohn’s flare up, twelve or more appointments and therapies a week, preparing for a third baby, heart palpitations requiring a heart monitor, and processing my children’s growing needs was way more than I could handle this summer.

I believe He gives us more than we can handle so that we will lean on Him. More than that, I believe He gives us more than we can handle so that we will lean into Him. That we will fall into His arms a sobbing, broken mess rather than carrying on stoically behind a mask that says, “I’m ok” when really, we are aching so deeply inside we feel as though we will cave into ourselves. Instead, He calls us to cave into Him.

6 Things I Learned This Summer | wonderfully-made.netheart monitor

#2 – As mothers, we need to appreciate ourselves. One of the greatest struggles I faced this summer was feeling underappreciated. Buried under a pile of endless meltdowns, fatigue, and angst, I found myself feeling empty and lost. Then, my husband (who often knows me better than I know myself) gave me the gift of a day to myself.

No children. No therapies. No appointments. No phone calls. No paperwork. No meals to get on the table. No cleaning. Nothing other than just me, myself, and I for an entire day.

And it was amazing.

I went to a movie and savored every piece of popcorn and every sip of Coke by myself. I went to a coffee shop, ordered a hot chai latte, and read without children scurrying underfoot or threatening to knock over my cup of joe. I went to dinner where I sat on a rooftop and soaked in the sunset, melt in your mouth oysters, and all the sweet tea I could dream of by myself.

I appreciated the silence. I appreciated the time. And I appreciated myself for the first time in a very long time. I appreciated how much I pour into being a mother, an advocate, and a conqueror for my children. And you know what, fellow mama, I appreciate you, too. I appreciate your selflessness. Your heart. Your determination. Your passion for your family. Your ability to power through seasons of exhaustion and trial.

You are amazing.

6 Things I Learned This Summer | wonderfully-made.net

#3 – Vacation is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Earlier this summer, I was diagnosed with situational depression – a clinical way of saying I finally crumbled under the weight of all we have been tasked to carry and needed some help to get back on my feet.

This is a subject I want to discuss in greater detail soon because moms, especially moms who have special little ones, often struggle with this but do not know where to turn and/or feel like they have to hide their pain. I want to change that and for this to be a safe place where moms can come and know they are not alone.

One of the ideas my therapist recommended to counter my depression was to take a family vacation. Money is extremely tight for us and travel is difficult for Jack, so we decided to take a staycation at home for a week and it was wonderful. We have not shared a week together as a family in such a long time. And friends, it was so healing. It was healing to be able to share the day with my husband. And it was healing to see my family as a unit, not pulled in a million different directions as we so often feel.

6 Things I Learned This Summer | wonderfully-made.net

#4 – Therapy hurts before it heals, but is 110% worth it. I have been in therapy for more than a year now and words cannot fully express how thankful I am. It has been a painful process filled with opening and suturing old wounds, while also recognizing and stitching up new ones. It has challenged me, pained me, pushed me, and pulled me. It has also carried me, comforted me, and helped me. I am still at the beginning of what I believe will be a long journey toward healing a broken body and an aching heart, but I can say without a doubt, the Lord led me to therapy for a reason, and I am so very thankful to Him for that.

#5 – The best comfort a friend can offer during a time of crisis is love. Just love. Love offered through a hug, a listening ear, or an offer to babysit. Love offered through understanding, a prayer, or a text message. Love simply for the sake of loving on someone who is hurting.

#6 – God is always on our side. There have been many times along this journey when I have asked, Where are you, God? Why are you leaving me here all alone? The truth is, though, God is always for me. He is always my advocate, my defender, my strength. He draws me from the dark places of my heart and shines through the love, companionship, and faith of others. I believe that God brings every person into our lives for a reason, and there are friends who have lifted me from despair, some without even realizing it, simply by being children of God and letting Him shine through their helping heart and hands.

Romans 8:31 | 6 Things I Learned This Summer | wonderfully-made.net

How about you, friend? What did you learn this summer? What challenged you, changed you, and/or encouraged you?

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Broken: Where the healing begins

Recently, I dreamed I was walking with a friend on a beautiful summer day. We strolled through bright green fields, soaking in the summer sun, laughing as we walked and talked. Then we paused, looked up expecting to see a beautiful blue sky only to find gray clouds tumbling ominously toward us. Though we sprinted to find safety, the storm quickly caught up to us, turned into a flood, and the raging waters threatened to swallow us whole.

I woke suddenly, realizing the nightmare reflected the way I feel – chased by a relentless storm.

I find that one of the most difficult things to express is the depth of exhaustion and mental anguish we struggle with as a family. To find words that will adequately convey how it feels to constantly be caught in the eye of a raging storm. And how deeply this reality takes a toll on us physically, mentally, and spiritually. How it shakes us to the core until we feel so threadbare we wonder how we can possibly take another step. How often we cry out to the Lord for peace. For progress. For a miracle.

I believe Jack is wonderfully made by God. I also believe He is able to relieve our son of the daily fits of rage, confusion, screaming, and panic autism causes him. And I will pray every day that the Lord will heal him of that which drives him, my beautiful four-year-old boy, to those dark places of rage and despair. I will pray that my son’s beauty will shine through the dark cloud of anxiety that overwhelms him. That he will learn to control the disorder that grabs hold of him and threatens to never let go. That the hysterical, enraged screams that tear through his small body every day will cease. That we will be able to reach him, and that he will be able to reach the world.

I am broken. Autism has shattered my heart into a million pieces, but I have to believe light will meet the dark. That the storm will pass. That there is a bright future for my child. That healing will begin.

This is where the healing begins, oh 
This is where the healing starts 
When you come to where you’re broken within 
The light meets the dark 
The light meets the dark 

-Tenth Avenue North

Broken: Where the healing begins | wonderfully-made.net #specialneeds #autism #hope #healing

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