Nicole Kidman supports Made in His Image!

The world of entrepreneurship can be pretty big and scary at times for this former pastry chef and baker. On Wednesday, I had a meeting about fundraising for MIHI, which produced brilliant ideas to take MIHI to the next level. The incredible woman who was helping me stressed exposure. I immediately thought of Nicole Kidman for several reasons.

Nicole Kidman is a gorgeous woman. I have seen her in Nashville and she is truly a natural beauty, who doesn’t need to wear a pound of makeup to look beautiful. She radiates confidence and carries herself with tremendous poise. I have witnessed her sweetness and tenderness towards her adorable children, which is beautiful. What struck my heart deeply is her yearning to promote awareness against abuse. Her work to launch Say No UNite to End Violence Against Women is extraordinary.

So, sitting in a local coffee shop in Nashville, I tweeted to Nicole Kidman. I saw that she followed 25 people – all of them famousbut that didn’t deter me. After all, this is the Father’s work and I have nothing to fear. Within an hour, Nicole Kidman was following Made in His Image. When I returned from the gym, I tweeted back to her. She then tweeted back saying that she had read my blog and would like to support Made in His Image!!!!!!!!

I screamed with excitement!!!! I use to dream about moments like this, somebody pinch me please.

Later that night, I wept tears of thanksgiving to God. What He has done in my life is a miracle and to Him be all the glory. I thought about all the times I wanted to stop counseling, but didn’t. Completing trauma therapy was harder than being a NCAA Division 1 athlete, but I wouldn’t trade those sessions for anything. I deserve to be released from the ramifications of abuse, and so do you. The abuse wasn’t my fault, and it took years for me to comprehend that fact.

The same healing is possible for you too! Let Made in His Image help you. While you can’t go back and change the past, you can catapult your healing by owning your recovery.

One in three women will encounter violence in some way, shape or form against them in their lifetime. So much of it is shrouded in silence. What we are trying to do is say this is something that needs to be addressed. A lot of it is taking away the stigma, creating awareness and not making it a silent pandemic. I want to encourage people of all nations to unite behind our call to end violence against women. – Nicole Kidman

“From every wound there is a scar, and every scar tells a story. A story that says, I survived.”

TAKE A STAND! ABUSE IS NOT YOUR FAULT!

BREAK

THE

SILENCE!

He never called and he said he would…

Ahh, he never called when he said he would.  It’s not like I’m anxious or anything, but what is up with that? Why do they say they are going to call and don’t? He said he had a great time and wanted to take me on a second date…seriously come on? Why do they call me beautiful and then just completely ignore me later on, how rude is that? And why can’t guys just commit? What are they scared of? It’s so unattractive when they do that. 

I would be willing to bet a homemade pie of your choice that every woman has engaged in a conversation that mirrors the above paragraph. Am I right or what?

As women, we tend to spend a ridiculous amount of time boy bashing. Men don’t respond well to derogatory comments. They often appear to be tougher than women, when in reality, are just as sensitive, they simply don’t reveal their feelings as openly as women do. So instead of wondering why men aren’t stepping up, how about we step up.

A woman is a mystery, for this is the way God designed her. And when a woman conducts herself in accordance with the way in which God created her, she reflects this beauty and appeal in a unique way. When a woman is authentic, she calls a man to step up by her very nature. They are naturally attracted to her authentic beauty and integrity.

It’s no secret that our over sexualized society is rapidly advancing in immorality. What this world needs is for women to stand up and embrace the beauty of the feminine genius and by doing this, it will challenge men to be men of virtue, and call society to a higher standard.

Every woman yearns for a man who is going to protect and cherish her. Are you conducting yourself in such a way to attract such a man? Embrace the beauty of your femininity and men of virtue will naturally be drawn to you.

When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women. – Archbishop Fulton Sheen

So I did what any entrepreneur would do…

In April 2011, the doctor I completed therapy with, recommended I see the movie There be Dragons. Set during the Spanish Civil War, it tells the story of St. Josemaria Escriva and his childhood friend, Manolo Torres. As the two lads mature, Josemaria answers God’s call and becomes a Catholic priest and founds the movement, Opus Dei (work of God). After leaving the seminary himself, Manolo becomes a spy for the fascists.

As hatred, betrayal and jealousy escalate throughout the movie for Manolo, he becomes a slave to his anger. As a Catholic priest fighting for his life, Josemaria chooses to spread seeds of hope and forgiveness. On one particular occasion while Josemaria and his priests were hiding for their lives in a psychiatric hospital, a beautiful red-headed woman approaches him and shows Josemaria the scars on her wrists, where she had cut herself. Petrified with fear, she says, I was raped and still sleep with the lights on. I lock my door at night and put a chair under the door handle. Gentle tears rolled down my face as she continued to say, I have accepted that God can be terrible. And now my prayers are deeper. I fight Him with love. 

My heart almost pounded out of my chest. Her courage was inspiring, and her innocence radiated true beauty, as she said gently, yet firmly, I fight Him with love. This woman had suffered immensely, but her response to suffering was saintly. She was one of the most minor characters in the movie, yet her reply, I fight Him with love, made her one of the most compelling.

After the movie, I did what any entrepreneur would do, I created a blog and planned for Made in His Image’s launch. The tagline for MIHI’s blog was taken from There be Dragons. What does I fight Him with love really mean you may ask? Great question! This woman knew that God allowed evil to happen because of man’s fallen nature. Therefore, the tagline means that instead of turning inward and focusing on her own resentment, anger and hate, she was going to focus outward and make the choice to love. She was going to fight her anger with love, mercy and forgiveness. When faced with suffering you have two choices: you can love or hate. You can combat the person or situation with the love and mercy of the Father, or you can hold a grudge and let anger deteriorate you. The choice is yours.

Today, June 26th, is the feast of Saint Josemaria, who is one of Made in His Image’s patron saints, a very beautiful day for MIHI.  So now I’m going to go for a run and then do what any ex-professional baker would do: drink a beer, make some pasta and bake some key lime tarts and chocolate tort.

Happy feast day dear readers and always Fight Him with Love.

Fact: Abuse is NOT your fault

Made in His Image has received thousands of emails, since its launch, from women in various stages of their journey’s towards awareness and recovery from eating disorders and or abuse. There is one particular subject that I would like to address today, that echos many emails I have read. Many women write to me thinking that the abuse they have unjustly received is their fault, because they couldn’t do anything to stop it.

THIS IS NOT TRUE.

In the past, I have lost many a night’s sleep trying to wrap my mind around this subject. Could I have done something to make it stop? Why did this happen to me? Was it my fault? Should I have fought back harder? Was it because I’m not strong enough? Maybe I need to be tougher? Maybe it was because I was bad? 

Asking yourself those questions is only natural, and there is nothing wrong with thinking those thoughts. But, knowledge is power and I want to share some of the counsel I have received over the years.

1. Abuse, whether that be verbal, physical and or sexual is NOT your fault.

2. What YOU can do is own your recovery. You can show yourself and others that you are stronger than what happened to you, and that with God all things are possible.

3. You will not completely heal until you take charge of your recovery process. And this means setting up boundaries, taking control of the people and or places that have power over you. This is something that only YOU can change.

4. You are not bad or worthless. You are created in the image and likeness of God and precious in His eyes. Although you may not feel precious, you must fight hard to ask Him to show you your worth and dignity.

5. While what happened to you was evil, that doesn’t mean God doesn’t love you. God gives His children free will, and the person or persons who abused you were in complete violation of his or her free will. Because God has given free will, He could not physically stop your abuser from hurting you, because that would have been going against His very nature as God. He does not force His children to make the correct choices in regards to our free will. While God desires nothing more than your protection and safety, He can not force people to follow Him. Therefore, because of our fallen nature, evil is prevalent in the world.

6. Contrary to what negative stereotypes may tell you, you are exhibiting tremendous courage and strength in seeking professional help. It might not feel as if you are, but you are. Your vulnerability, bravery, determination and perseverance will shine through the darkness, it simply takes time. Allow me to put it into perspective for you, I was a NCAA Division 1 athlete in college, and completing two years of trauma therapy took more endurance than being a Division 1 athlete. You are stronger than you think you are, always hope!

7. Focus on the positive, which is the control and power YOU hold by going to therapy and making daily strides at your recovery. Made in His Image wants to empower you to turn from victim to survivor.

8. TAKE CONTROL TODAY! TAKE YOUR LIFE BACK! SET UP BOUNDARIES. PRACTICE SAYING NO. THIS IS YOUR LIFE – OWN IT!

Such is the rule of our warfare.  We advance by yielding; we rise by falling; we conquer by suffering; we persuade by silence; we become rich by bountifulness; we inherit the earth by meekness; we gain comfort through mourning; we earn glory by penitence and prayer.  Heaven and earth shall sooner fall than this rule be reversed; it is the law of Christ’s kingdom, and nothing can reverse it but sin. – John Henry Newman

Book Publication – Choosing to See Beauty

Since the last two radio interviews, countless people have inquired about the publication of my manuscript. I have had a few legal complications, but everything is working out well and it will be out shortly.

The story behind Choosing to See Beauty: I have been writing this book for several years. During those years, the layout has changed several times, and it wasn’t until I met a Catholic doctor who greatly helped me heal that I decided upon the manuscript that will be published. One afternoon, after a particularly challenging session of therapy, he told me the following, which inspired me to write my final manuscript.

Seek beauty in all things. To embrace love, you must see what is beautiful. Watching you struggle today and succeed was a great thing of beauty for me to behold. Your precious journal is and remains beautiful. It has in it your deepest thoughts and feelings, dried tears, smudges, corrections, sketches and the like – verses and paintings of love and pain. This is life. Never throw out your memories but instead turn the ugly ones back into what God intended them to be. Only when you need to purge, write or draw things on pieces of scrap paper that you can burn immediately. However, even then, as you watch the billowing smoke rise, ask God to receive what is painful and to supply you with what is beautiful and peaceful. You will never be able to replace and exchange yourself, your body, your experiences or memories for anything else. God made you and will make every thing that you and others do into something good and beautiful. Keep your book, treasure it and envision its old and tattered state over time – a personal guide of your journey and your personal attempt to turn all things that He has given to you into a treasure. Let God turn things to dust as He will do with all things (and from which He created all things).  God is God and we are not.

Choosing to see Beauty is the story of how I came to call God, Father and see myself as His daughter. In it I write about my recovery from an eating disorder, abuse, depression, chronic post traumatic stress disorder, 2 years of trauma therapy, a Catholic doctor who changed my outlook on suffering, a loved one’s addiction to pornography, my time as a student-athlete, my time as a missionary, a summer in Kolkata, India serving with the Missionaries of Charity and most importantly the love of the Father.

I use to be 35 pounds lighter than I am today.

The other day when a young woman told me that her number one goal in life is to be thin, my heart ached for her. Ladies, I am alive today to tell you that there is more to life than a number you see on a scale.

Our society defines beauty as a number on a scale, a dress size, inappropriately clad swimsuit models, pornography, the number of calories you eat in a day and the fact that you don’t eat hamburgers or ice cream. And each day, millions of girls and women from every country, get on a scale and hope to quench their yearning for happiness and success through the number that flashes back at them. I speak from experience when I say, that is fleeting beauty. I use to be 35 pounds lighter than I am today and could have easily died. My life, your life, is a miracle: cherish it.

It took me a while to comprehend that seeing my ideal number on the scale would never fulfill me. It’s so empty and tiring. The scale can’t measure your strength, beauty, courage, determination, perseverance, joy, love, gentleness, compassion, athletic ability and purpose. So you see, your validation of beauty and sense of acceptance, is not the width of your waist or the number you see on the scale. You aren’t your hair and skin color. You aren’t your shoe size or lipstick shade. You are not the number of miles you can run or sit-ups you can do. You aren’t the number you see in your jeans or the number of calories you consume at lunch.

What you are radiates from the beauty of your soul. You are beautiful because you are compassionate and sensitive. You are beautiful because you love passionately, have a gentle spirit and giving heart. You are beautiful because you find your worth in God the Father. You are beautiful because you are His daughter. You are beautiful because you embrace the challenge to be an authentic woman. Authentic beauty flows from the heart onto the face. Authentic beauty is compassion, forgiveness, gentleness, modesty, courage and strength. Authentic beauty is the Blessed Mother. Let us seek to mirror her beauty.

“Mary was not ‘full of grace’ because she was beautiful; she was beautiful because she was full of grace.” – Fulton Sheen

“Above all shadows, rides the sun.”

When I was four or five my dad would take me to the ocean, where he taught me to swim and ride the waves. My dad loves the ocean and is a phenomenal swimmer. When I made the swim team in college I remember the coach looked at me and said, Where did you learn to swim like that?

I smiled, From my dad.

Do you want me to take you out far? He would say. Oh yes!! I responded, coupled with tremendous excitement and a gigantic smile. He would carry me out past where the waves would break, and when the water was calm he would gently throw me. As my body sank beneath the surface, I knew he would be there, no matter what. I can almost taste the salt, and feel the ocean breeze against my face as I type this, the memories are so vivid.

After I had swallowed enough salt water we would spread our beach towels on the sand and have a picnic dinner. And after we had chased the seagulls and watched the sun set, he would take me out to ice cream. You can get whatever you want. My response was always the same, Can I have mint chip, the green kind in a cone? Those were the best days and my favorite childhood memory.

No matter what happened in my life, I clung to that memory because it was beautiful and peaceful. It sustained me through tremendous darkness. It helped me remember that I was normal. And that’s what I want to challenge you to do? Pick a memory from your childhood that was beautiful and hold on to it when you feel as though you were slighted by God.

As we talked about yesterday, where you have control is to make the choice to see beauty in your suffering. Many situations in life are going to be ugly, painful and hurtful, but you have the power, along with God’s grace to make good from the pain and tears. You have the tools to make the choice to see beauty, seek forgiveness, show mercy and the Father’s love to all of those you meet, even those who have abused you. Where does the power come from? It comes from the Sacraments and spending time with God in Adoration. Speak to our loving Father tonight, ask Him to help you. Ask Him for grace, tell Him your fears, joys and sorrows. Let the Healer hug you. Hold onto Him. Cling to the Cross, for this is where your sanctification rests.

“Although I have lived through much darkness, I have seen enough evidence to be unshakably convinced that no difficulty, no fear is so great that it can completely suffocate the hope that springs eternal in the hearts of the young. Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it! We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His Son.” – Pope John Paul II