Removing the Filter

Removing the Filter

There is more pressure than ever to have the “perfect resume” that we think we need. We take perfect instagram photos, we have aesthetic filters, we post highlights of our life, and we criticize ourselves over all the small details. While having an aesthetic instagram is not a bad thing, always having a filtered and perfect life on the outside can be. Do you have a place where you take that filter off and you are real, raw, and honest? Do you run to Jesus real, raw, and honest? 

When I was in middle school I went with my church to evangelize on the streets in California. One of the first questions we asked the people we would meet was, “Do you know that Jesus loves you?” Some would say yes but most would say, “Well if Jesus knows what I have done he doesn’t love me like you think,” or “Not after what I have done.” This has stuck with me after all these years because I remember my middle school heart was broken knowing that people did not think that Jesus loved them. Sometimes we think we need to have that perfect resume, filters on, and the perfect aesthetic to be loved. We think “if only they knew what I have done they would not love me.” What if I told you that is the farthest thing from the truth? What if the very thing you are scared of uncovering is what is going to make others love you more deeply? The scar that you are trying to cover up could be the very thing someone needs to see in order for them to have hope and healing for their open wound. 

I am sure you have heard to Sunday school song about Zacchaeus,

“Zacchaeus was a wee little man,

And a wee little man was he.

He climbed up in a sycamore tree

For the Lord he wanted to see.

And as the Savior passed that way

He looked up in the tree and he said,

Zacchaeus you come down, 

For I’m going to your house today!

For I’m going to your house today!”

Zacchaeus was not only a “wee little man,” but he was seen as one of the most disliked people of this time. He was a tax collector and tax collectors were not liked. Not only did he collect everyone’s taxes but he became rich by collecting money unfairly and overtaxing the people. Why would Jesus want to go to his house of all the people in the crowd? A man who was unfair and selfish yet Jesus chose to go to his house? Jesus does not look for the perfect resume to show love. Jesus sits with everyone. Jesus knew if he could get Zacchaeus to drop his walls he could love Zacchaeus deeper. Jesus is waiting for you to drop your walls too. He loves you and wants to see the real you. He knows your sins, the wrongs, and still loves you. He wants to be let into your house too. 

The same can be said with our relationship with others too. When I was growing up I was always desiring more from my friendships. I was never satisfied and I felt like I would never find “my people.” If you desire deeper relationships there has to be deeper conversations. I realized that the issue is not always the people I had in my life (which sometimes it is) but the depth of the conversations. If you have surface level conversations you will have surface level friendships. It is hard to drop your walls but it is so worth it when you drop them to the right people. If you drop your walls it gives others the opportunity to drop their walls too. The more transparency you can be in relationships, the more you will connect with others. When there is realness and honesty with people in your life everyone can learn how to serve each other better. We should look at relationships with the attitude of “how can I serve and help you right now?” This is something that the couple months of marriage I have learned is so important. Being real and honest with each other and being able to serve the people in our lives is such a gift. 

It is awesome to see people be real and raw on social media now too. The unfiltered photos, the vulnerability, I think it provides us all with a sense of relief and hope. I think it is also something to be careful about though. I remember when I was first vulnerable on instagram I had made this long post about having an eating disorder in hope to encourage someone else. I posted it and immediately had friends texting me. I had not even told some of my closest friends what I was struggling with but I posted it for thousands of strangers to read? It is so important, especially in a place of hard times and hurt, that we run to Jesus first. Next we run to our friends and family for prayers and guidance. Then when the wound has healed and you have a testimony of God’s hope and healing that is when we share on social media if you feel called to. 

We were called to have deep connections. In Proverbs 27 verse 17 it talks about how iron sharpens iron and as friends we are to also sharpen each other. A friend speaks truth to you in order to help you live out who God called you to be. Do not be afraid to be vulnerable with a friend. A true God loving friend will strive to do anything they can to help you overcome and reach your full potential. 

If you are thinking I do not even have people to be honest with, seek them. Seeking friendships through church, your community, social media, and even work can be intimidating but it is worth it. Sometimes you may have to be the one that starts the conversation or asks to hangout and that is okay. Ask first. Seek intentionally. Be real. Serve eachother. Be the friend that Jesus calls us to be. 

Taking off the filter can be hard but our beauty and worth come from Jesus not some perfect resume we try to portray. 

Kassidy cheered in college at Navarro College and is now a personal trainer while using fitness to lead others to Christ. She strives to encourage women to be confident in who God created them to be. She lives in Texas currently and loves cooking, working out, flowers, and boba!

Follow Kassidy on Instagram @kassidy.brougham

Healthy Healing: Body Image

Healthy Healing: Body Image

It did not start out so severe. In high school I used to go weeks where I would set goals about what I would not eat. I was a competitive cheerleader and it always seemed to fall right before a competition where I would have to wear a cropped uniform. “These next two weeks I am not eating sugar at all.” Then I would last about a day or two then eat one thing with sugar in it and feel guilty and end up giving up my “goal.” This began my bad relationship with food.

I believed that if I wanted my body to look good in a uniform I needed to restrict myself. That restriction continued as I became a college cheerleader at Navarro. Not only did I practice everyday in a sports bra but now there were cameras on us at all times. I wanted to be skinny and no matter how much I weighed, I always desired to be skinnier. I began to think that I just needed to not eat any food to look good. I would restrict myself throughout the day, weighing myself frequently, and then when night came around I would be so hungry that I began to binge eat. I would eat so much, stuffing my face until I felt sick. I had no self control because I restricted myself so badly. After some time of this cycle I began to force myself to throw up the food. After dinner, the bathroom was always the next place I went.

The worst part was this was normal. The people that knew I threw up were either also struggling with an eating disorder or though it was normal. I remember one time telling a friend that I was struggling and wanted to stop the cycle and they said “everyone has an eating disorder.” So I began to believe that it was just a part of life. Let me get something clear before going on. Having an eating disorder is not normal. AT ALL. God did not create our bodies for us to despise them. And He definitely did not create our bodies for us to torture them.

Fast forward to a couple months later, I went with a teammate to pick up some dinner to take back to the dorms. I vividly remember ordering a kids corn dog meal. We were eating and I expressed that I wanted to be skinnier and was scared of what I was going to look like in a uniform. “Well maybe you should eat healthier then,” they said. A sucker punch to the gut. The toxic thoughts began, “well if my friend said that then I must be fat.” “I should not have even ordered anything.” Followed by tears and running to the bathroom. I remember crying the silent, gut wrenching, sob as I threw up my dinner. I sat there feeling completely worthless, crying out to God. I prayed that this would be the last time I made myself throw up. It was. The next day I woke up, stopped saying the lies of the devil and started calling them out for what they are. Lies.

Just because I have not forced myself to throw up after this does not mean I haven’t had bad days. In order to believe the truth of who God created me to be I knew I had to choose that every single day. I had to choose to pick up my Bible to fight off the lies. I had to choose to reach out to someone on hard days for prayer or encouragement. I had to choose to be vulnerable in order to heal.

When the thoughts in my head began about my weight or look I would proclaim truth over myself. God created me beautifully and wonderfully. I wrote Godly affirmations on my mirror every morning and repeated them to myself so I filled my mind with the truth.

There were 3 main aspects of my healing…

1. The Bible and Prayer

The Bible is a book that holds the truth of who you are. Reading the Bible fills you with truth that you can use to overcome the lies of the devil. For me reading the Bible every morning sets me up to overcome the lies each day. Consistently reading the Bible is key in every battle you are facing. Time in the Word of God is vital but so is time in prayer. Pray big prayers. When I felt tempted to go back to the eating disorder I simply ran to God. I had a conversation with Him expressing how I felt. This is so comforting knowing the Lord is always waiting with arms wide for you to run to Him.

2. The People and Environment

I walked away from being a college cheerleader and moved home to heal. That was one of the hardest decisions but I knew I needed to be with my family. I knew that in order to heal I needed to seek out a christian counselor who helped me work through it all. I sought out a mentor who I zoomed with every single week. I surrounded myself with friends who encouraged me and prayed for me. Your environment is made up of the people around you. If you are in a place where you constantly feel discouraged or beaten up, search for people who will build you up. A small group at your church is a great place to start.

3. My Beliefs about Food and Exercise

In 1 Corinthians 6:20 we are called to glorify God with our bodies. Our bodies are a gift, a true blessing. Our bodies carry us throughout our days. Instead of torturing my body and fighting against it I started nourishing it. It is time to take the labels off food. There is no good or bad food. Food was given to us to nourish our bodies. Obviously there are more nutrients in vegetables than ice cream or cookies but that does not mean ice cream is a bad food. I am a huge sweets person so instead of telling myself I can not have any sweets I just make sure I get a good balanced meal first. I do not go to bed one night without some type of dessert because I simply enjoy them. Restriction led me to guilt so I stopped restricting myself from certain foods. I used to exercise for hours on hours to simply lose weight. I changed my mindset. Working out is a way to honor God by moving the bodies He gave us. I am not a personal trainer where I encourage others to workout for the right reason. To honor Him. To move and take care of our bodies.

As you see through my testimony it started as one small toxic thought the devil put in my head and it went into a vicious, downward spiral. One lie of the devil can lead to a downward spiral if you let it. Choose to believe THE truth. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (psalm 139:14). You are beautiful. You are worthy. You are so dang loved.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, please seek professional help. You are so worthy of being healed. Praying for your friend.

Kassidy a personal trainer and owns her own online training business called total transformation fitness where her fiancé and her encourage their clients both physically and spiritually. She gets married in may! She loves trying new food and moving her body is her favorite part of her day! 

Identity in Christ

Identity in Christ

This is a part of my testimony that I have never shared beyond a few close friends and family but I know how much other peoples testimonies have helped me so I pray this helps someone too.

I grew up in a Christian home and went to church every Sunday. I felt like I was doing a decent job at being a “good christian.” I attended church, I was in a small group, I prayed before meals and before bed, and I was set on saving my purity for my wedding night. In high school I watched as everyone around me was losing their virginity. I stood out because I wouldn’t cross that boundary and was saving myself for marriage. I felt like I was doing something right. So much so that my identity as a Christian became all about my purity.

I went to college and was in a really hard place in life. I moved thousands of miles away to cheer in college and did not know anyone. I was already in a hard place before moving so my strength in Christ was not what I was relying on. I will never forget September 29th of my freshman year. As a 2 year school a lot of the Navarro alumni cheered at a University about 5 hours away from us. It was a big game day weekend and a huge group of us drove up for the weekend to go to the game. After the game we all went to hangout at someone’s apartment. The details of this night are not what is important for this story but this night changed everything. I had just had the one thing taken from me that I was holding onto. That was supposed to be for my future husband on our wedding day. I felt like I went from “good Christian” to how could I even be a Christian after this? I lost my identity. I was a wreck. For weeks. For months.

Since my identity was in the idea of being pure I lost that identity the day I lost that.

Sometimes we put our identity in things that take our focus off of Christ. Sometimes those things aren’t even terrible things. Desiring to be pure was not a bad desire but it became a bad thing when I put my identity in it. No good or bad actions can take away our true identity when we root that identity in Christ.

I just got engaged to the person this purity should have been saved for. We got engaged in the same town that I lost that part of me. Coincidence? I don’t think so. God heals. He healed my brokenness and gave me a Godly man. The same place I felt my world crash down on me is the same place that I felt on top of the world to someone who I get to spend the rest of life with glorifying God. Praise Jesus. I know now more than ever that my identity is Christ and Christ alone.

There is no such thing as a “good Christian.” We all fall short. BUT that’s okay. Romans 3:23 states that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Verse 24 shows us that through grace we are saved by the redemption from Christ Jesus. No sin can separate us from God. He forgives. He heals.

So how can we root our identity in Christ? The first question we should ask ourselves is “What am I putting my identity in?” When we put our identity in anything other than God we will be left empty and seeking more. Identity can be broken into three parts: who you are, the way you think about yourself, and the way you are viewed.

Who am I?

Our only identity is in Christ.

1 John 3:1-2 states “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

We are children of God. We are called to be like Christ. In order to know who we are we must also know who Christ is. Being in the Word and in relationship with our God is the only way to know and learn who Christ is.

How am I viewed?

I think that the more important question here is “How does God see us?” Once we know the truth of who God created us to be we will find our true identity. This is discussed in Ephesians 1:13. I like how the Message version states that “It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it, found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit..” Ephesians 1:13

Not only do we need to know the truth but we must believe it in order to be free. So how does God view us? God does not look at our outward appearance. There is no look, no number on a scale, and no perfect skin that can define us. 1 Samuel 16:7 clearly states that God does not look at our outward appearance because He looks at our heart. We need to see ourselves as the creation of the almighty God. He chose each of us to be His child and creation. My favorite verse to look back on is Psalm 139:13-16 where it is clear that God knitted us into fearfully and wonderfully made children. He “intricately wove” us. How cool is that? We should view ourselves as God views us. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Beautiful in God’s image. Created for a purpose.

What do I think about myself?

This was the hardest part for me. I felt broken. I felt unworthy. Negative self talk had to go and I knew it. In order for that negative self talk to go, I had to replace it. I love using “‘I am” statements because that is what helped me fill my mind with what God says about me. I always start with “I am a daughter of God.” Another way to get rid of the negative thoughts is to journal. When my mind is spiraling I will write down what and how I am feeling and then go back and cross out any negative or false statements in my head replacing them with the truth. I am worthy.

When we root our identity in Christ it cannot be shaken.

5 Applicable Tips to Root our Identity in Christ

1. Read the Bible

2. Seek a God-centered community and help if needed

3. Learn to say yes to things of God and no to things of the world

4. Pray for anything and everything

5. Speak truth over yourself and/or find someone like a mentor who will

Kassidy cheered in college at Navarro College and is now a personal trainer while using fitness to lead others to Christ. She strives to encourage women to be confident in who God created them to be. She lives in Arizona currently and loves cooking, working out, flowers, and boba!

Follow Kassidy on Instagram @kassidywarnol

Perfectly Imperfect

Perfectly Imperfect

Let me be honest with you guys, when I hear the word scale or weight my stomach drops. As a college cheerleader for two years I put my worth in the number on the scale and was always discouraged.

I grew up as a competitive cheerleader and quickly realized my big dream in life was to be a college cheerleader. I made it onto a nationally ranked cheer team in Texas at Navarro College. What I thought were going to be my dream years quickly turned my world upside down. Within a span of two years I got hurt, had surgery, was fighting an eating disorder, made many mistakes, got diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, and had to walk away from cheer due to health issues. I was so lost. I was so broken. But God redeems. God heals. God saves.

Have you ever thought “If only this one thing could change about me then I would be happy?” For me it was if only I was skinnier then I would be happy, I would be enough. If I could drop 5 lbs, I would be worthy. Even if I lost those 5 lbs, I know I would’ve found something else I wanted to change.

Now think, have you ever looked at God’s creation such as nature and thought “Wow that’s beautiful.” The sunsets, the mountains, the flowers, the clouds, and the trees – all God’s creation. Well guess what, YOU are God’s creation too so love and appreciate the beautiful masterpiece God knitted together.

There were many steps I took in order to allow God to help me back on my feet. Here’s a few that might help someone out there struggling like I was:

1. Surrender it all to God. We are not in control (thank goodness) so give it up. Whether it be an eating disorder, comparison issues, a break up, shame, an addiction, an illness, depression, or body image issues I challenge you to give it up, surrender. Stop trying to carry a burden you aren’t made to carry alone. Jeremiah 10:23 clearly states that we are not in control, the Lord is to guide us. “LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps…”

2. Seek the right help. When I was facing my eating disorder the first people I told replied in a way that I felt like it was not a big deal. It was not until I told a mentor and my mom that they helped me get the help I needed. It is not wrong to ask for help, just make sure you’re asking for help from the right people. Matthew 7:7 says “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” In this context let’s focus on seek and you will find, seek the right support and God will bring someone into your life that can help. I personally sought out a Christian counselor and a mentor who I met with (sometimes virtually) multiple times a week.

3. Don’t hold onto the past. I used to keep clothes from freshman year of high school in hopes I would get that small again. I bought clothes that were too small in hopes that I would fit into them later. When I surrendered all things to God I felt convicted of this. I was idolizing what I used to be, and what I used to look like. I got rid of all the clothes that did not fit me and began to buy clothes that were true to my body and that were more modest. This not only brought a renewal of my mind but I wasn’t “squeezing” into clothes everyday so I was more confident. This was a way for me to forget the past, to move forward, and to begin to love who God made me to be and give myself grace. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

4. Nourish and cherish your body. Food is to nourish your body. Working out is to celebrate all your body can do. Both are to keep the body God created strong and healthy. They are not to punish your body. There is no need to restrict yourself from foods you love or punish yourself by “burning it off” afterwards. I used to go on diets as a disguise to simply eat less, not healthy mentally or physically. Focus on healthy – what is fuel for your body? What movement helps you feel better? What do you enjoy? Focus on what you can do and what you can fuel your body with, not what you can’t.

5. Surround yourself with the right people. Not just in person, but online too. Who do you follow? Be intentional about who you seek out and who you let in. I had to go outside my comfort zone and find a church I knew no one at, get to know people and sign up for a small group with other college aged girls. I found some great Godly people in my same town that I could turn to when I was having a bad day or week. Make a list of the top 10 people you spend the most time with, then put a + or a – next to their name based on if they are a positive influence in your life or not. Always strive to have more positives than negatives. If someone’s post or story shows up and you start to compare or get down on yourself, you might want to stop following them. Follow people you strive to be as a person and as a Christian, as a girlfriend or someday wife. Looks will come and go, character is lifelong.

6. Remember who your Creator is. You are created in God’s image. When we complain and compare it’s as though we are telling God that he didn’t do a good job. You are precious in His sight. When you feel fear, lean into His faith. When you feel weak, grab onto His strength. When you feel resentment or jealousy, draw from His love. His grace is sufficient when we can’t seem to find any. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

7. Affirmations. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

Let’s focus on the end of this verse, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In order to love others well, we must first love ourselves the way God intended. What we believe we become, so it starts with what we believe about ourselves. In order to change what you believe about yourself, you have to start telling yourself truth. The only truth we can rely on is the word of God. We talk to ourselves more than anyone else does on any given day. What we repeatedly tell ourselves becomes a belief, even if it isn’t true. I love to write out positive statements or promises from God about who I am and who I am capable of being through Christ. Put them on your phone, on your mirror, on your desk, in your car or wherever you look frequently. Be intentional with your words and thoughts, over and over and with time, your outlook will change. Once your outlook changes, your outcomes can too.

God saved you by His grace. Read and memorize Ephesians 2:8-10. There is nothing you can do or change to make you more worthy of God’s grace right now. God created each of us uniquely so we can play a unique role in His plan. If you find yourself starving for joy like I was, start with some of these steps above and most importantly focus on finding things to be grateful for each and every day.

I am perfectly imperfect (and still fighting through the negative thoughts and attacks) and still fully accepted by God. You are perfectly imperfect, fully accepted, loved, and cherished by your heavenly Father. Keep showing up, keep fighting, and don’t ever forget that YOU are loved!

Stay original my sisters.

Kassidy cheered in college at Navarro College and is now a personal trainer while using fitness to lead others to Christ. She strives to encourage women to be confident in who God created them to be. She lives in Arizona currently and loves cooking, working out, flowers, and boba!

Follow Kassidy on Instagram @kassidywarnol

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