New Year, New You?

Happy New Year, guys! I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday season. I’ve been on a mini-hiatus from most of my social media sites. Actually, it’s been rather nice not being attached to my phone or laptop. Honestly, this is the most I’ve used my laptop in a while. 😉

Anyway, with it being the new year, resolutions are sure to be made. Normally, I have a long list of things I want to accomplish and change, etc etc, and although I do have a list, it’s more of a wish list-no, a prayer list. There are things I want to pray about and see where God leads. It’s things that I want in my life. And yes, one of those things is weight loss.

I’ve been advocating loving yourself as you are, and I won’t back down on that. I think that even though we love ourselves for what size we are and all, there is room for change if that’s what you want. I want to emphasize that last bit. I want you to know that you shouldn’t feel like you have to change. This has to be something that you want to do.

And, I want to do this. It’s not about the weight though. I’ve embraced myself and who I am. I love myself, and as conceited as that sounds, it’s true. I’ve learned to love myself for me. I don’t feel like I have to change. I want to change.

There will be people who disagree with me. That’s okay. I’m not doing this for them. I’m doing this for me. I want to feel better in my own skin. It honestly is about health for me. And, if I don’t succeed this year, that’s fine too. It’s not my main goal. Truly. I have more goals. More things that I want to achieve, but I also want to be healthier. Again, I want to emphasize that it’s not about my size and weight. It’s about me.

pablo

I don’t know if you guys saw this or not, but before Christmas, I was on one of my author friend’s blog, Stacy Eaton. I was discussing the fact that we shouldn’t let our weight and how we perceive ourselves get in the way of getting in photos with our families and friends and making memories! We shouldn’t be afraid of how we look. We shouldn’t loathe ourselves. We should love ourselves, even if we think we’re a work in progress!

So, this year, is one of your “resolutions” to be a newer version of yourself? Or are you going to be the same ole you but with goals that might change your outer appearance?

Don’t think about this as becoming a new you. Don’t do it! You’re perfect. You’re beautiful. You’re awesome. But you’re also entitled to change.

#loveyourself and #youarebeautiful mean so much more than staying the same. It’s about embracing yourself as you are but also seeing your value enough to change if that’s what you want to do. The main thing is this, you’re awesome whether you want to change or whether you don’t. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 🙂

I know this post may seem like a contradiction in itself, but honestly, I don’t think it is. See, my opinion about myself isn’t fleeting. Sure, I have my days and I’m not perfect, but there’s one thing that I’ve learned. I’m beautiful. God created me this way for a reason, but it’s okay to want to be healthier. And that’s what I want. I need to drink more water and cut back on my sodas and sweets. I have vices just like everyone else, and I’m going to try and fix those vices. That being said, if I can’t keep up with this “resolution”, I won’t hate myself. I’ll just keep trying and continue to be me.

I don’t see this as a new me project. I see this as an improvement on my already awesome self. 😉 So, please. Continue to love yourself and work on that. Don’t think you have to change. But if it’s something you want to do, don’t think that you can’t do it because it will make you seem like you don’t love yourself. It’s quite the opposite. You love yourself enough to make minor improvements. Again, I’m not trying to contradict myself. I really do want you guys to understand that loving yourself is the most important thing, but it is okay to make changes. We aren’t expected to stay the same. Humans change. We grow. This could be part of that growth.

So, new year, new you? Or new year, same you (with minor improvements)?

P.S. To read my last blog post titled the same (which I’d forgotten about), you can read it here. It’s from 2015. 🙂

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Hello. My Name Is…

First, let me preface this by apologizing for taking so long to write up a new blog post. My life has been one crazy ride after another, but all in a good way. I want to give you a few updates before going into what this post is about.

In the middle of September, I was asked to be one of the youth leaders at my church, which I accepted. Because, well, if you know me and my writing, you’ll know that I want to help make a difference in people’s lives, especially teens. I’ve felt a calling to work with teens in some way, and I know this was all God. Right now, though, my co-youth leader and I are only teaching a handful of teens, but I’m excited about the possibilities. We have room for growth, and I’m praying that it does just that.

Just last week, my 3rd nephew in the line of 6 nieces and nephews was born. He’s healthy and beautiful, and my heart is full. ❤

Also, I’ve been working on The Marked, which is coming along well. I just finished line edits. I’m not sure if this was mentioned on my blog, but Clean Reads has picked up that book, and I’m super thrilled to be working with them!

I’ve also been writing my next book The Healer. It’s been a difficult book to write, but that’s because the subject matter is so much unlike anything I’ve ever written. And I have to get the dates and backstory right or it won’t work. So I’ve been editing while writing, and it’s making the process slower.

Okay, now, on to what this post is about.

2000px-hello_my_name_is_sticker-svg

When I taught the first class to the small group of teens, I asked them this. What all have you been called? I wanted them to tell me negative identifiers that others, and themselves, had said about them.

We got the typical answers: fat, dumb, too tall, too short, too skinny.

Just like in my Entertaining Angels series, I turned it around and showed them what God said about them.

You’re beautiful. You’re perfect. You’re smart. You’re God’s. You’re loved.

Too often, we let the lies of the world, our peers, satan tell us who we are when we should be listening to what the Word is saying about us. What others say doesn’t define us. They shouldn’t at least, but we let them. We take these words and let them sink in until they become part of us, and that is when we start believing it about ourselves.

Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…”

What do you believe about yourself? Do you believe the lies? Have you given in to them? I have, and it’s something I regret. I don’t want that for any of you. I want you to know that you are beautiful, loved, and worthy.

God has a purpose for you, and you wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t some purpose for it. We can’t let the lies of satan and the world keep us from living up to our full potential.

You are loved! You are blessed! You are a Child of God! That is all that you should think, so when these lies come at you, knock them down and remind yourself who you are!

Here are some reminders!

1.) You were fearfully and wonderfully made! Psalm 139:13-14

Before we were born, God created us wonderfully. You’re wonderful! If God didn’t want you her, He wouldn’t have create you, but He wants you and He loves you!

Also see Jeremiah 1:5.

2.) You are loved! John 3:16

As we just said, God knew you before you were born. He created you wonderfully, and He loves you. In fact, He loves you so much that He sent His Son to earth as a human where His purpose was to die for you. Is there anyone you would die for? That–and more–is how much your Savior loves you.

3.) You’re an heir!

Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 3:13,14, 29

When you receive the Spiriat and are saved, you become God’s child. If you’re God’s child, then you are an heir! Whatever is God’s becomes yours including His authority and His riches! You are a princess (or prince) now! And just like your earthly parents (or someone who loves you like a parent), God wants to give you everything He has!

4.) You are worthy!

Luke 15:18-24

No matter how worthless you feel, how many mistakes you might have made, you are worthy. Just like the prodigal son, no matter what you’ve done, God will still welcome you back. You don’t have to be a servant because you will always be an heir, and God will always love you!

5.) You are precious and honored! Isaiah 43:4

Although God is talking about Israelites, once we are saved, we get those same promises that were promised to them. Once we become heirs with God, we become like the Israelites, and God has said that we’re precious and honored! That is evident by the love He has and continues to show us.

I just don’t want y’all to forget who you are. You’re an amazing human being and deserve to know that about yourself!

#youarebeautiful

God wants you to know you’re beautiful.

That’s been my thing lately, sharing posts and Bible verses to hopefully get people to know and understand that they are beautiful. That God loves them no matter what they think about themselves, no matter what they’ve done. Yet, somehow, I’ve forgotten to remind myself of that.

The week before last, I couldn’t look in a mirror without thinking about the things I wanted to change. I couldn’t say a prayer without asking God to help me lose weight, to help me look better. I tried to play it off as wanting to be healthier (which I do honestly want), but deep down, I knew it was because of my looks, because of the fat on my body. I didn’t want it anymore. I didn’t want to look like me. What scares me most is that I didn’t even realize what I’d been doing until last Sunday.

I know what you must be thinking. How can we trust this girl who can’t even trust herself when it comes to spreading this important message?

Everyone has a weak moment (or two). I have more than I like to admit. So, trust me when I say that this is an uphill battle. Sometimes you slip and fall, but sometimes the trail is easy. The past few weeks I’ve slipped.

I don’t like admitting it. I want you all to think I’m perfect and I don’t struggle with this. But we all know that’s not the case. None of us are perfect, especially me. I would love to change a lot about myself, but I first have to remember who I am, what type of woman I am, and Who loves me.

I was reminded of that last Sunday. I was worshiping God during our worship service when a lovely lady from my church walked up to me and said one sentence, “God wants you to know you’re beautiful.”

God wants you to know you're beautiful.

I knew that. I knew He thought it, but I had forgotten it. When she told me this, it just hit me, an overwhelming knowledge that God would do anything to get my attention and let me know that He loved me and thought I was beautiful.

I’ve had to have many of the meetings with God because I let the world, Satan, and myself get in the way. This wasn’t the first time that He had to get my attention, and it shouldn’t be that way. I should know better. I should do better.

But I’m human, and luckily, God knows that. He understands that, but it’s my job-it’s our job-to try and fix how we see ourselves. Not fix ourselves but how we see ourselves. We don’t have to be content trying to fix every little thing about us, though I’m not saying that you can’t change. I just want you to know that obsessing over our size, our looks, etc is doing us more harm than realizing that God loves us for who we are.

I’m not sure when or how I’ll fix how I see myself, but what I do know is that God loves me as I am, and that is all that matters.

God loves you as you are and thinks you’re beautiful, too. Let’s try and not forget about that. Take that uphill journey one cautious step at a time, but we have to take it. We have to do it. Not for anyone else but for you, for God.

 

Too fat to date?

I recently read an article about a young woman who had a lovely dinner with a Tinder date. She thought it went well. They had decent chemistry, and when he texted her, she was surprised by what he said.

Hey Michelle, sorry been super busy at work today hun.

Thanks for a wonderful evening last night. I really enjoyed your company and actually adore you. You’re cheeky and funny and just the sort of girl I would love to go out with if only my body and mind would let me. But I fear it won’t.

I’m not going to bull***t you… I f***ing adore you Michelle and I think you’re the prettiest looking girl I’ve ever met. But my mind gets turned on by someone slimmer.

Shallow? It’s not meant to be. It’s the same reaction you get when you read a great author or see an amazing image, or listen to a piece of music you love, it has that instant reaction in you that makes you crave more.

So whilst I am hugely turned on by your mind, your face, your personality (and God… I really, really am), I can’t say the same about your figure. So I can sit there and flirt and have the most incredibly fun evening, but I have this awful feeling that when we got undressed my body would let me down. I don’t want that to happen baby.

There are certain triggers that fire my imagination into life and your wit and intelligence are the beginning of that process which would inevitably end up in the bedroom. With just one result….

I’m so disappointed in myself Michelle because I’ve genuinely not felt this way about anyone in ages, but I’m trying to be honest with you without sounding like a total knobhead.

We could be amazing friends, we could flirt and joke and adore each other and… f*** me… I would marry you like a shot if you were a slip of a girl because what you have in that mind of yours is utterly unique, and I really really love it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m trying to avoid bigger pain in the future by telling you now so we don’t have to go through that embarrassment. I’m a man… With all the red hot lusts of a man and all the failings of a man and I’m sure of my own body and its needs.

Please try and forgive me. I adore you xx

What a pig! Her response was fab, and I strongly suggest you read it. Again, that article can be found here.

This woman is absolutely stunning and brave, and I applaud her for being so open with her message about this.

But you wanna hear something funny? I’ve been on the same end of this.

A few years ago, around 7 or 8 I think, I met this guy (who didn’t have a picture on his dating profile, might I add) online. He was smart, witty, and I thought a decent guy as we talked and got to know one another.

Well, we met up at my church and went to church together. He wasn’t at all what I expected. (My brother-in-law calls him “shark teeth” if that means anything to you.) I wasn’t attracted to him, and I didn’t see it going further than one meeting anyway. But what got me was when we had lunch after church.

We went to Subway, which was about the only decent place to get some food in the small town where my church at the time was, and the dude all but forced me to get a veggie sub, which I hate. I hated every vegetable on that sub sandwich. Yet, I ate it because I felt like I had to impress him. He wanted me to give it a try, so I did. I was an idiot. I shouldn’t have let him make me feel this way.

Anyway, we go back to my church to sit around and talk. You know, to get to know each other better. Well, in that discussion, he told me that if I didn’t lose weight, he wouldn’t date me. I kid you not, he honestly told me that. At the time, I was trying to lose weight, but I posed the question that if I wasn’t, would he still want to date me. He told me that he wouldn’t because he didn’t want to date a fat girl. I told him goodbye and never saw or spoke with him again.

I spent that entire night crying. I let some jerk of a man make me feel like less of a woman because I was overweight. I regret that night. I regret not yelling at him. I regret the tears. I regret letting him have some bearing on my feelings.

See, I wasn’t where I am now in my life. I promise you that if a guy ever said something like that me now, he would get it. I would hold nothing back. Honestly. No one should ever make me or you or anyone feel like less of a person.

Of course there are people out there who are jerks and do it regardless, but we can do something about it. We can build up ourselves to where something like this wouldn’t bother us as much. At least that’s my hope. I’m happy with myself. I’m happy where I am.

No guy (or girl) should ever make us feel worthless because we don’t “turn them on”.

I love what this woman said best in her response the Tinder man.

I want you to encourage your daughter to love, enjoy, and care for her body. It belongs to her and only her. Praise her intellect, and her creativity. Push her to push herself and to be fearless. Give her the tools to develop a bomb-proof sense of self-esteem so that if (I’ll be kind, I’ll say “if”) the time comes that a small, unhappy man attempts to corrode it, she can respond as I do now.

We have to be able to get our self-esteem up, to know that no matter what some jerk says, we’re still beautiful creatures. Fat, small, or average, you’re a hottie, and it’s time we started learning that about ourselves.

#loveyourself because it’s what we should do. And for the record, it’s not easy. It’s the hardest thing you’ll do, but it’s totally worth it! YOU ARE WORTH IT!

 

Unleash the kraken! (Or your arms and legs)

No, this post isn’t about being immodest. I’m a firm believer in modesty. To me, the goodies should be covered, and that’s all I’m gonna say on that…

Summer is in full swing here in Mississippi and if you’ve never felt the Mississippi heat, count yourself lucky. We’ve already reached temperatures that feel like 110°F, and it’s still early Summer. July and August are AWFUL! We’ve had days that felt 120°F and hotter. Yet, I refuse to wear shorts. Yep. It’s true. I’m ashamed of my legs. In fact, I hate them. I can’t even remember the last time I wore shorts. Maybe the 6th grade? It wasn’t until three or four years ago that I even began wearing sleeveless tops. It’s true. I hated my arms too. At times, I still do.

About two months ago, I made the rash decision to buy myself a pair of shorts. I don’t know why I did it, but I did. I mean, it’s flippin’ hot, and when you wear jeans in 120°, it’s even hotter.

We put limits on what we can and can’t wear as big girls, skinny girls, average girls, whatever your body size. There’s always something that is holding us back from wearing things that will make use comfortable. Geez, there’s no need to wear something made for winter-time just because we hate our bodies. It’s time to get over it! I know it’s hard, but we can’t spend our lives hiding ourselves because we fear what others might say.

You are not the enemy 2

I’m tired of hiding. I’m tired of hating myself. I’m just plain ole tired. I want to wear shorts, even if it means showing my pasty white, chubby legs, and I will. I see all of these cute, brave women baring their legs and arms. (And sometimes more…) I’m happy that they’re brave. I’m happy that they’re breaking stereotypes and dealing with hatred from others (which is uncalled for), so why can’t I be that brave? Why am I scared to put on a pair of shorts?

I teach people to love themselves, to love their bodies, yet I’m terrified of a pair of shorts! So, this Summer, I’ve decided to bare the legs. There’s this meme that goes around Facebook that says, “Ways to have a bikini body, put on a bikini.” Well, I guess I’ll have a shorts body and put on shorts. It’s time to stop hiding and being uncomfortable because I fear what others might say about me.

Do I wish my legs looked different? Yes. Is there something I can do, yes, but in the meantime, I’ll wear the shorts and tanks. I’m going to learn to love myself even if it kills me! I’m kidding of course. It won’t kill me. 😉

Have a happy and safe summer, guys! Don’t be afraid to love yourself as you are. You are beautiful!

Body Apology Part 2

The giveaway has officially ended for Andrea’s guest post on body apology, and if you’ve won, you’ve been contacted. Congratulations. I hope you and your kiddos (if applicable) enjoy it. 🙂

Now, I was talking to a fellow author about my blog and the body apology guest post, and I decided that I wanted to do one for myself. I want to apologize to my body — and God for ever doubting myself.

Here it is…

I'm sorry

Dear Body,

I’m sorry for hating you. I’m sorry that I thought you were ugly. I’m sorry that I tortured you with emotional eating (and simply just emotions).

I’m sorry I thought baggy t-shirts would hide you from the world and the shame that I felt because you were so big. I’m sorry that I yo-yo dieted with you when I should have stuck to a diet plan or just let you be.

I’m sorry that I thought you were disgusting.

I’m sorry that I never listened to my mother when she said you were beautiful, no matter what. How very right she was, and I didn’t believe her.

I’m sorry for the way I talked about you when I saw you in the mirror. Hatred never got us anywhere.

I’m sorry for thinking that because of you I had to settle with the men who were “chubby-chasers” because I didn’t think we deserved better.

I’m sorry for thinking I didn’t deserve (in anything) better because of your size.

I’m sorry that it took me over 20 years to learn to accept you.

I’m sorry we avoided hanging out with people because we were afraid of how they would see us.

I’m sorry about your “fatter in person” disclaimer I used not-so-jokingly before.

I’m sorry I never realized your worth, especially knowing that you’re made in the image of God. How could you be ugly if you’re a creation of God, made in His image?

You’re not. And that’s the point. From this day forward, let’s move on, move past my size and “flaws” and let’s just be happy with who we are.

With love,

Emerald

____________________________________________________________________

And there it is. It’s not long, but it is an apology. I have learned over the years that my body doesn’t deserve to be hated. If I want to change it, that’s my prerogative, but I refuse to hate it any more.

Please comment with your body apology, or link back to my blog so I can see yours and share it! I would love to read it.

#loveyourself because #youarebeautiful (Please use these hashtags as well. It’s kinda my thing, and I follow those tags at times. Oh and my twitter is @emeraldbarnes if you want to mention me so I can see your body apology!)

 

Why can’t I always look this good?

“Why can’t I always look this good?” I asked myself on Friday after taking an awesome selfie.

I had been ill last week with the stomach bug, Tuesday and Wednesday, and I was venturing out of the house to run some errands on Friday. I snapped a photo for Insta, FB, and Twitter and ended up with this photo which I captioned with:

It’s okay to be a mess, just don’t live there. I’ve had a horrible week, and I felt like I was under attack. I let my situation drive me away from letting #God work in my life and seeing all the blessings that He has given me. I’m rising above. I’m determined to be better, to act better in my relationship with God. Satan can’t #win this battle because I have #victory. You have the victory too. #Jesuslovesyou #loveyourself #victorious

Feb selfie

I had a rough week last week, as I said, and I laid that out on my inspirational blog. It’s about God being faithful when we aren’t. I was an emotional and physical mess. I felt awful, and I’m sure I looked just as awful as I felt. So when I posted this photo, it was a reminder to myself that even though I had a bad week, I was still victorious. I still rose above the bad week I’d had.

But I also had one other thought when I saw this photo: Why can’t I always look this good?

And then I laughed at myself. I always look this good because I don’t change from day to day. I always look like this. Sure, I was dressed in something other than pjs and my hair wasn’t pulled up into a messy bun, and I was actually wearing makeup. It’s not my normal look, but it’s part of my look, and I don’t always have to look like this to look and feel beautiful.

I think our problem tends to lie on the “feeling” beautiful part. Why do we have to “feel” beautiful? Can’t we just be beautiful?

I’ve caught myself telling one of my friends that I don’t feel pretty on certain days. I’ll feel like a complete dump, looking rough in my knit pants and t-shirts. My hair can be a frizzy mess, and I just feel so frumpy. My friend, who has never failed to remind me of my beauty, would always remind me that I was beautiful no matter what I looked or felt like. (He’s one of the main reasons that I started believing in my own beauty again.)

My point is, you can always look as good as your best days because YOU ARE YOU. You’re beautiful. You’ll always be beautiful.

Maybe I’m beating a dead horse with this message, but it’s my hope that one day, every woman and teenage girl will learn that they’re beautiful and feel confident in their own skin, even if you don’t feel beautiful.

So, in answer to my first question: “You can always look this good.”