2020 Vision

2019 was hard.

I really want to keep this post short and sweet. I’m doing an at-home chemical peel right now and I have around 7 minutes to get these thoughts out.

This last year had been an eye-opener. A very, very painful and necessary eye-opener. A year of growth.

I have been blessed with a job where I am truly appreciated for who I am. I have been granted forgiveness that I didn’t deserve, from someone that I care very much for. I’ve been shown an abundance of grace from Jesus (and people). I’ve sobbed uncontrollably. I’ve laughed until I cried.

I’ve learned a lot about who I am and who I want to be. But also I have learned about the parts of me that I hate. The dark places. I struggle daily still, but I give them to God. It’s a constant conversation in my head when I feel them: “No. Not today. We don’t act that way anymore. It’s 2020.”

I look forward to this new decade. I truly think it will be my best one yet.

Cheers to pruning!

P.S. I’ve decided to change my blog’s namesake. I’m open to suggestions!!

This is a post about Garth Brooks

Ok, I lied. I’m sorry! It’s not totally about Garth Brooks. I will talk about him later though. But I’m glad I got your attention. Now that you’re here…

Let me drop a scripture on you real quick. It’s one that you’ve heard a lot, I’m sure. I realized, today, that it’s often used in the wrong context. Maybe this isn’t news to you, but it was to me! Since you’re here, you might as well read it. All 5 of you. Hi mom!

Sorry. Rambling. Ok here it is:

Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart– Psalm 37:4

I must confess, I have abused this scripture and twisted it to fit my lifestyle. I never took the time to look deeper into it; it was my (unsuccessful) way to get what I wanted. Of course I would misuse it. I believed in God…isn’t that enough? Imagine my shock when I learned I was wrong :::clutches chest:::

I was offended. God offended me. News flash. He doesn’t operate in anything less than truth and sometimes that truth is painful. But it’s also necessary for growth.

In order for me to get more from it than face-value, I did a little digging. Dictionary.com says Delight means “to please greatly” or “great pleasure”. But then I looked it up in the Strong’s Concordance, (which, by the way, is a GREAT study tool if you’re a word nerd like me). It’s translation of delight said “to be soft or pliable”, which led me to (stay with me…I’m excited) this:

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” -Ezekiel 36:26

That means that my heart would go from hardened and immovable, to soft. Pliable. Delightful.

Praise break. I need to stop for a moment and thank Him!!

Reading that was like a kick in the stomach. My relationship with God looked nothing like the definition said it should. I had to take an honest look at my life, my heart, my thoughts. A full evaluation of everything that I was allowing into my mind and heart, and everything that was coming out of my mouth. If I was truly and honestly taking “great pleasure” in my walk with Jesus, why wasn’t I getting the desires of my heart? Glad you asked!!

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” -Jeremiah 17:9

How can I trust my own desires, and trust that God will give them to me, when I’m a threat to myself? Do you see where going here? I can’t possible know what is good for me if I’m walking only in my flesh. My flesh is selfish and self-seeking. A heart of stone. Not pliable. Not open to hear what God wants to do.

Let me say this rally quickly. I’m not ripping on myself (this time, anyway). This was a beautiful realization that set me free and I hope that it will help you too.

I decided to stop praying selfishly and start seeking God FOR REAL this time. You know what I mean! The closer I got to Him, the closer he was to me:

“Move your heart closer and closer to God, and He will come even closer to you….” James 4:8 TPT

The closer He was to me, the more the desires of my heart changed. I started to see things through His eyes. My #JesusFilter, that I’m now calling it. I had been seeking the desires of my flesh. I want to clarify that fleshly desires don’t always equal sex…it can be anything that doesn’t line up with God’s word or His character.

To touch on Ezekiel 36:26 again, He says He will give us a new heart. A heart transformed. One that delights in the Lord. A heart of flesh. A soft and pliable heart. A heart that He, as the potter (Isaiah 64:8), can sculpt and change. One that seeks His will for my life and not my own selfish desires. The funny thing is, now, the things I used to want, no longer appeal to me because He’s lining my heart up with His.

Let me encourage you today to put on your #JesusFilter and take a good look into your own heart. Where do you stand? Can you be honest with yourself? If you think you don’t have any issues, you probably have a hardened heart toward the things of God. Ask Him to show you if you don’t know. The fruit that will come from the pruning will he worth every hard moment. My heart was hardened. Stone. I was miserable on the inside and it showed outwardly. Don’t walk around in darkness anymore. You don’t have to. Delight in the Lord and watch your desires change. Ooooh and the peace that comes with it? That’s the best part!!

To quote the great Garth Brooks…

“Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers”

Ain’t that the truth though!!

xoxo

An Open Letter

“It seemed like all I ever wanted was to prove I was better than the way you treated me. I wanted the satisfaction of knowing that the tables would turn and life would prove you were wrong about me or, at least, I was right to believe in you. I invested so much of my essence into imagining what actions those feelings would produce if they lived in your chest. Could you finally give me the opportunity I had been praying for? So much time wasted on you that I never took the time to examine my heart. The truth is you hurt me. You hurt me more than I wanted to admit. I played tough and wanted to pretend like your words and actions didn’t brand my tough exterior with rejection and bitterness, but the poison seeped in. Now all I can wonder is who I would have been had I never let my expectations distort the reality of who you’ve always been. I see your true colors shining through now and I’ve made the difficult decision to not let them blind me any longer. No, not this time. I will take those colors in with all of their crazy, beautiful, ugly tones because I know the only way forward is to release you so that I can unleash me.”

-Sarah Jakes Roberts

Don’t Settle for Safe

Forgiveness??

If you were to make a list of the people in your life that you needed to forgive, could you be honest? Would your list have two names? 20? None? How many of those people are family members?

The family dynamics in Colossians 3:18-21 is God’s perfect plan. You can call me old-fashioned, sexist, barefoot and pregnant…I don’t care. It’s what I believe. Our family is supposed to be our first line of defense. Our parents to protect us. Our siblings to build and learn about friendships with, along with conflict resolution (even if that involves these hands! Right Lyss? You were so mean!). But instead we have strife. Jealousy. Bitterness. Anger. A house divided cannot stand (Mark 3:25). And no, I’m not referring to the SEC…at least not today haha!! Go Dawgs!

If there is division, it can destroy the family structure, causing us to “wander” solo. No one by our side to hold us accountable…yes we have friends, but we can talk about that later….that’s how Eve was able to be tempted. She was alone. When a sheep wanders away from the herd and it’s shepherd, it’s more vulnerable to its predators.

The funny thing about this blog post is that I don’t have an answer or resolve to what I just talked about. Which brings me to my next topic.

Today was my first counseling session at Elevate. I had one major issue in my life that was causing me a tremendous amount of stress. That’s what caused me to make an appointment in the first place. I wanted some healthy coping mechanisms for when I felt anxious. God had bigger plans, y’all. I wasn’t ready!! My first session and I’ve already learned that I’m dealing with un-forgiveness. I didn’t even know!!! It was so profound that I’ve decided I’m going to make this journey public. I’m going to blog after each one of my sessions. I will share my revelations, my heartaches, my joy and my victories. My darkest places. I really hope that my transparency will help you to see that you’re not alone. No, I won’t be sharing names if anyone, in case you were wondering! This is for my exposure, no anyone else’s.

I thought I knew how to forgive someone, but today I found out that I don’t. I’m excited to learn and share as I go. My hope is that it will inspire you to seek it out for you and your family too.

xoxo

Dry January?

Alright y’all. I didn’t know that “Dry January” was a thing until a few days ago. I had unknowingly participated. Let me tell you about it…..

Today marks a month of no alcohol for me. My decision to stop drinking didn’t stem (wine…you see what I did there) from a “problem” per se. At least I didn’t think so at first. Just like everyone else, my personality would change when I would drink. But I was in denial. I didn’t want to hear that I was aggressive and inflammatory. Those aren’t exactly personality traits anyone would want to posses. Well, maybe some of y’all but no judgement!

When I would drink, I would wake up the next day with a tremendous feeling of guilt. It was like my soul was wired to reject alcohol. Even if I didn’t do anything worthy of that feeling, it happened nonetheless. This next statement might sound contradictory, but a lot of times I would forget things I said. I was a binge-drinker. I couldn’t enjoy just a drink or two. It was always shot after shot, usually Fireball or Jameson, followed by PBR or Miller Lite. No apologies. I’m a redneck deep down!

Drinking would always cause my emotions to go to the extreme. If I was happy, I was giddy. If I was sad, I was sobbing. If I was angry, I was aggressive. Insecure? Yes, you guessed it. It was terrible. I was terrible. So I decided to do some soul-searching. It was time to lay my relationship with alcohol to rest.

I’m happy to report, that it’s only been a positive outcome from it. No more feelings of guilt. I’ve saved money. Lost weight. My skin is clear and glowing. I’m just happier in general. However, one thing I wasn’t prepared for was having to face my emotions dead-on, without a crutch or something to mask them. That has been the hardest part. January has been one of the most challenging months of my life, mentally. Doing a competition prep, fresh off a breakup, school…it has been overwhelming at times. But now I’m in control of me. I’ve had to do a lot of deep breathing and most of the time it doesn’t work but I’m trying! Growth in 2019. That’s my goal. Like Cher said in Clueless “I needed a makeover…but this time I would makeover my soul.”

Am I saying I won’t ever have a beer again? No. Let’s be real. Braves. Beer. Some things just belong together. But now, I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t. Being the drunken messy girl is not something I ever want to be again.

And to the person that forced me to see this reality, thank you. Hard truth isn’t something I’ve always been good at accepting, but thank you for loving me enough to hurt my feelings.

XOXO

Trust the Process

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve seen this phrase in the most random places. Trust the Process. Let me explain.

This Sunday marked my first full week on competition prep. It was harder than I thought it would be. The workout part is no big deal. That’s the easiest part of the whole thing. The eating though…that’s where you find out what you’re really made of. It takes a tremendous amount of self-control. Especially when you eat the same thing. Every single day. It becomes a task instead of something you enjoy. But it’s been worth it! I’m starting to see my abs. My pants are getting loose in the waist. My confidence is growing.

Some of you know that I’ve been flirting with the idea of doing a competition for a couple years now. My excuses would always stop me. What if I can’t do it? What if I fail? What will people think of me parading around in a bikini? Am I being a good example for my kids? Am I too old? All of these things on replay in my head until they became too loud to ignore and I quit before I even started. I truly am my own worst enemy. BUT. Something changed after my birthday. When I first started working out, they were fueled by pain. My heart hurt so much that the only thing that took the pain away were the weights. Now that pain has subsided for the most part. Don’t get me wrong. Some days are better than others, but at least I don’t cry anymore! My workouts are fueled by this intrinsic drive that I can’t explain. Each day I wake up and strive to be better than the day before. Competing against myself, as cliche as that sounds.

I’ve always read that bodybuilding is a selfish sport, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. That’s why I don’t normally like to workout with anyone. You just get in the way. That sounds harsh, but I’m sure most people with the same goals would agree. That being said, if we’ve ever worked out together before or I’ve invited you, know that was a big step for me! I’ve realized that sometimes, it’s better together. There’s something about having someone to hold you accountable. A community. That’s why I overshare on Instagram. I want you to know my struggles and my victories. My highs and my lows. I hired a prep coach, and now I’m a part of a team. People to cheer for me on the days I struggle the most (Mondays) and celebrate with me when I hit a new PR. I highly recommend you get out of your comfort zone step out. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. I was tired of of acting insane. I got stuck doing what was comfortable. Now I feel stronger than I ever have before. Not just physically, but mentally. I’ve removed toxic people from my life. That “block” button does wonders! 😉 I’ve stopped worrying so much about what people think of me. I’m (still trying) to stop letting the negative words, of people that were dear to me, have said. Turn your pain into power. Let it transform you.

Transformation Tuesday isn’t just about the physical. What others say about you doesn’t make it a reality. Surround yourself with people that will help you create a new path for you instead of reminding you of all your past mistakes. We don’t live in the past anymore!

One last thing. My kids are my biggest cheerleaders. They see my discipline and dedication and me taking care of myself. They love to show me how many squats and push-ups they can do. I would say it’s turned out to be a pretty good influence.

xoxo

A Case of the Monday’s

Y’all know how I live to over-share. Today is no different than any other day. Excerpt it’s totally different. But not for me. Today was a typical Monday for me. Got to work, excited to start my day. Around 11:00, fall into a hole of self-deprecation. 11:15, feel sad. 11:30, beat myself up a little more. You know, the usual. Oh and by the way, I left my laptop at work so I’m typing this whole thing from my phone. Winning!

You’re probably wondering what in the heck my point is. Y’all know I like to keep you guessing!

It’s about my mom.

This Thanksgiving day, was the first time I have seen her in over a year. If you don’t know the story behind us, I’ll share some of it with you. And YES I ASKED HER FOR PERMISSION. I’m not yelling at you. I’m just making sure you’re paying attention.

My mom is an addict. I never realized it growing up. It was just the life I had become accustomed to. Drugs were never a big deal because they were always around. She would try to “protect” me by lying about it or trying to hide it from me, in true addict-behavior. But I always knew. Even when I wasn’t sure, I didn’t trust her enough to believe her when she said she was sober. Her drug of choice? Anything. I’ve seen her on cocaine. Crack. Pills. Alcohol. LSD. Ecstasy. All of it.

Stop. Don’t start making judgements. We all handle trauma in different ways. And she’s been through a lot. This post isn’t to paint her as the bad guy. It’s to give you insight. And hope.

I had given up hope. I waved my white flag and decided my life would be better without her. I held onto anger, bitterness and resentment towards her for as long as I can remember. When people would speak fondly of their mothers, I would turn up my nose in disgust. I wasn’t familiar with the feelings that came along with having a close relationship with your mom. I was also totally ok with that. Until recently.

My grandfather committed suicide this year. I was blindsided. We were never super close. He was always emotionally unavailable. But he was physically present. When my sister told me this news, my first instinct should have been to call my mom. But instead, I allowed my hurt and confusion to build up and eventually implode. Along with some exploding.

I promise I’m sane.

When he passed, it triggered something on the inside of me. Very slowly, mind you, but it happened. My heart started to feel compassion for my mom again, however, I fought it for a little while. My trust in her was so far removed and all it left behind was emptiness. Something I had gotten so comfortable with feeling that I didn’t even realize it was there until a few weeks ago.

Lori (that’s her name) had moved away this time last year, to a rehabilitation and sober living facility. Not before staying in a homeless shelter and in the hospital for week because she tried to take her own life. You see, she smoked flakka (I had to look it up too). That was what triggered this spiral. But also what saved her life.

Today, I’m so happy and proud to share with you that she’s been clean and sober for a year now. 365 of facing her demons head-on. I can’t think of a day, since I was 15, that she’s been sober an entire day. Let alone a year.

Mom. You are loved. You are strong. Funny. Brave. I’m so proud of you. There are a lot of things about me that I get from you. Some I love. Some I hate. Thank you for giving me strength. Thank you for showing me how painful and ugly life can be. I’m cheering for you every single day. Happy One Year of Sobriety. I love you.

I Couldn’t Think of a Clever Title

I want to give a quick backstory before I get into the meat of this post. In case you didn’t know, in July of 2015, I was pregnant with my son, Elisha. A week before I delivered him, my then-husband was arrested and didn’t come home for 2 years, leaving me to raise our family on my own. I’m not sharing this for sympathy, to play the victim or whatever other negative perception you might be having. I’m only sharing it so I can brag of God’s grace, mercy and goodness in my life.

Fast forward to now. God has shown me so much favor in a short amount of time. The past 3 months, especially. More than I’ve ever had before in my life. When my ex-husband was arrested, I was active in the church. Doing everything I thought I should be doing. But I wasn’t genuinely full of joy. I have lost everything and feel like I have more now than I ever did before. I’m in the process of getting it all back, but not material things. The important things. So why do I have more joy now, with less, than I had when I thought I had everything?

Heartbreak.

It took me losing everything, walking away from God and then being hit so hard in the face with reality that God pulled me back in. Swiftly.

I’ve had my heart broken many times. Very recently, actually. By people. Situations. Circumstances. By my own expectations being too high. I’ve also been the cause of my own heartbreak. I became very bitter and antisocial. I would say whatever it was that I felt with no regard for anyone’s feelings. But that’s not who I am. The truth is, I wear my heart on my sleeve and I allow people to hurt me for a lot longer than I should. I’m also very sensitive. If you knew me during my bartender days, this may come as a shock to you!

God has been showing me things about myself that I don’t like. Change is hard. Growth hurts. I’ve cried more times in the past 3 months than I have in a year. It’s overwhelming to carry all the weight of your family alone. But God has not failed me once. His grace and mercy have sustained me and I feel more grateful now than ever. That’s where the joy comes in. I feel the peace that passes all understanding. Is everything perfect? No. Not even close. Do I struggle with loneliness, anxiety and sadness? Yes. Some days are better than others.

It took everything falling apart in order for it to be put back together, the way God intended it to be. I’m still growing. Still working on changing. Still being put back together, one piece at a time.

My prayer for you is this. That you are grateful, wherever you are in life, so you too can experience the peace that comes with being content. I know trusting Him fully can be scary. But give him the pieces you’re holding onto. He can re-purpose them and sculpt the ashes into His perfect will.

xoxo

A Letter

I’v been reading this book today, Don’t Settle for Safe by Sarah Jakes Roberts. Very rarely have I read a book that impacted my life in such a short amount of time. I will go into more details another time, but I wanted to quote one of the last pages.

Side note, I’ve cried multiple times during the course of reading it. God used it and will continue to use it to propel me to what’s next. At first, I was resistant. Growing hurts. Pruning is painful. You have to look at yourself, for who you really are, and face the things you’ve been ignoring and forgive yourself. Ok. Enough with that. This is taken from page 153-154 of her book titled Don’t Settle for Safe….

             You can no longer afford to trust the treasure that is your heart to anyone who says you’re beautiful. Anyone can admire a diamond, but few recognize the quality and care required to keep it beautiful. For too long your insecurities made you so desperate for attention that you handed over your golden heart to people who’ve only handled glitter. This is not their fault; it’s yours. You ignored the signs, hoping they would wake up one day and see your worth. The truth is it’s time for you to wake up. You can no longer go through life unconsciously hurting yourself and asking someone else to heal you. The power for you to overcome is already inside of you. The longer you stay, the more you deny the strength you have to move on. You’re better than the you’ve subscribed to. There is still beauty inside of you. There’s nothing you’ve lost in this process that can’t be restored, but you must determine how you will spend your grace. Don’t give your patience away to people that will abuse it. Don’t give your courage away to people who don’t understand it. Surround yourself with people who can reciprocate what you pour. Let their validation be an overflow that allows you to touch the lives of other broken people. This is bigger than you. This is about redefining love and esteem in a culture determined to make us feel less than. You are the hero you’ve been looking for. So put on your cape, get off your knees, and stop begging for someone to love you. Love yourself. Seek God and all other things will be added to you. 

I really can’t think of an appropriate response to that. It feels like I should mic-drop and walk away. But I can’t. I know you are hurting. I know you feel lost. I know you listened to the bad things people have said about you and allowed it to take root in your heart. Maybe you’re starting to believe those things. But i’m here to tell you. You are not your past. You are not defined by the things you have done. You have the power to change your trajectory. I know because, while failing over and over again, I’m still here. God still reminds me daily of the things I’m called to do. Don’t let your past weigh you down. Also, don’t repeat the negative things you are or have been ashamed of. I’m talking to myself as much as I’m talking to you. I’ll be the first to tell you my flaws. But I have some locked away in my heart that I’ve recently started dealing with, so healing can take place, and I can be a vessel of love.

Buy this book. It will change your life. But don’t ready it until you’re ready to face some things that will be painful. It’s time to be real with ourselves.

XOXO

Jess

A Time to Heal

Usually, I write these on paper and edit them before I post. But today, I was inspired and while stuck in traffic, it got all jarbled  (I just made that word up. Don’t act like you’re not impressed. Oh and that was a quote from Anchorman if you didn’t catch it. If you didn’t, go watch it immediately.) So. Here we go.

This time last year, I weighed in at 108 pounds. We’ve been over this so I’m not going to dwell on it. Now I’m 145. Yay!! I had a gym partner that contributed to all of my gains. He was a body builder and I basically did exactly what he did. The results have been so amazing that it inspired me to become a personal trainer. I finally pulled the trigger and started my classes yesterday. It’s been SO MUCH INFORMATION. It’s definitely not as easy as I, or some people, think. Myology. Anatomy. Biomechanics. Kinesiology. Nutrition. I thought my brain was going to ooze out of my head yesterday. But it didn’t and I woke up this morning feeling even more motivated.

Before I talk about what’s next, first let me say, Body Design University has been incredible. Doug Blake is the single-most engaging instructor I’ve ever had. He is a wealth of knowledge and will answer every single question you have, even if it’s off-track from what we’re talking about. Talk about a mentor!!!!! Oh and he’s funny too. No boring conversations in that classroom! If you’re considering a career as a personal trainer, look nowhere else but Body Design.

So. Here we go. Today we took a field trip to the Bodies Exhibit today in Atlantic Station. It was mind-blowing. And a little creepy and very informative. But it made me feel (just a little) sorry for guys because I learned that one, women have bigger brains than men (duh, ladies, am I right?) and two, their junk is exposed and hanging out the outside. You think they’re not cute alive, try seeing it on a cadaver!! Be right back. I have to go laugh.

I’m back. Hahahha!!

One of the exhibits that stood out the most to me, was that of the liver. It has about 500 different functions in the body. So cool. But what got me was when he was talking about having a fatty liver and what can cause it. Diabetes. Alcoholism. Junk food. But then he said something I was expecting, and it was that people that struggle with anorexia and/or bulimia can also have a fatty liver. If you’ve ever read any of my posts before, you know that I’ve struggled with anxiety. It’s managed much better now because of exercise, but at that moment, I felt overwhelmed with it. I started to cry, just a little bit, because I didn’t want anyone to see. The damage is repairable, another awesome thing about our liver. Once you change the thing that contributes to the damage, it can start to repair itself. I wasn’t upset over the fact that I was damaging my liver. I was crying because I am GRATEFUL. I am grateful that I’ve been in recovery and now have a healthy relationship with food. I am grateful that I was able to come back from it because so many people cannot. Now don’t get me wrong. I still battle negative thoughts. But it gets easier.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because whether you don’t eat at all, or eat too much, there is hope for you. We are all stronger than we think. It’s mind over matter. But sometimes, we need help. Sometimes, we need to talk to someone to help us not to feel isolated. If you struggle with this and you feel stuck, please reach out. I’m posting the number to the National Eating Disorders Association Information and Referral Helpline below.

1-800-931-2237

Thank you for letting me share this with you

xoxo,

Jess the Haute Mess

You can also follow me on my new fitness journey on Instagram, @PurdyHauteMess. Make sure you say hi!