Big Announcement!

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 10.14.11 PM.png

I am so excited to finally get to announce that my new book, You Are Worth Saving, is now available on Amazon and at BarnesAndNoble.com!

You Are Worth Saving is more than a story of my ongoing journey of recovery from anorexia, depression and self-harm. It is a message of hope and encouragement for those who struggle to not give up, to look to God for help, hope and life and to begin to find a new way to live.

"I will not die but live, and proclaim what the Lord has done" (Psalm 118:17).

This is the story of my journey and my hope for yours.

Click here to order your copy now on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble.

In the Shadow of His Wings

PARDON THE INTERRUPTION while we are preparing to make an exciting announcement – but this is a new blog release!  Thanks for reading and sharing!

This computer of mine that I use to write to you had a thin layer of dust on it when I picked it up a few moments ago! What does this tell me? It’s been too long since I’ve connected with you and for this, I am sorry, but you have not been forgotten! Soon I will let you in on a project I’ve been working on these last few months which I pray will be helpful to you!

I have missed the honesty we share. I’ve missed the peace that comes over my mind when I sit and place my fingers on the keys and carefully put together words of hope to speak into our lives.

I have missed you, sweet friend. There has been a lot of “life” going on around here and my primary goal has been to keep up! I don’t want to bog you down with the details of what my schedule has entailed. You are busy too! But I do want to share what God has put on my heart because of how life translates in my heart, and my head, especially when my guard is down.

It’s been even more complicated lately. My mind, that is.

There are big changes going on at the Goetzinger house! They are healthy changes, and these changes show signs of growth, but somewhere along the time that our youngest daughter graduated from high school this past May, my mind went into “fight to not show too much sadness”-mode and I’ve had a lump in my throat. Our oldest daughter, Shelbee, is a senior at Dallas Baptist University this fall, and Rylee, our youngest daughter, joined her as a freshman in August. I am so excited to have them together again. They are a fierce duo once again!

This life has been nothing less than a privilege when parenting with Doug and raising our daughters. They are constant reminders of God’s grace. They have had to step up in so many ways and my heart breaks over this. But when I ask God to help me see things as He does so that I don’t well up with guilt, I can really see who they are. I see scars from this road which are being used to help them do more than merely get through life. I see compassion, and mercy and hope and life. I see joy and determination and two precious, thriving redheads who love the Lord.

StaceeFamily.jpg

In the midst of these observations and thoughts of how things are changing, my mind has been working overtime, and depression, with glimpses of guilt, is trying to crash open the door to my sentimental mind. My guard has been down and I didn’t even realize it.

There I sat hunched over with my head down at the kitchen table. It was all I could do to stay in the chair. The plate my hair nearly met was empty, with the exception of a few bite-sized portions. Our little redheads were running around getting their plates full of yummy food - yummy to them. Snaggletooth smiles and hair bows and glittery shirts had stopped long enough to wait for prayer time, and I could barely look up to make eye contact. After I had sat there as long as I was physically able, I would slink back to the couch and go to sleep. I was too sick.

Unfortunately, insurance can still be a major hurdle for getting help and treatment for an eating disorder, failing often to fully see eating disorders as mental illnesses, and back then insurance was not covering the therapy and medical help I was needing. Treatment is outrageously expensive when you are broke!

This scene, this memory, this crisis, is what has been showing on the big screen of my mind pretty much non-stop, and I just cannot take it anymore. I’ve tried to watch it as if I’m not the woman in the saggy sweats kissing her kids before going back to lie down. I’ve awoken in the middle of the night soaking wet to this featured nightmare. I’ve felt guilty. Unfortunately, this is not the only frame to this movie of memories that I’ve been seeing.

Naturally, time has passed since these scenes originally played out. And now, I sit across from two beautiful young ladies. Two gifts who share the same smile and blue eyes and bear a strong resemblance to me. I can’t help but rejoice. But it’s as if my mind is split down the middle like the hair on the head of a 60’s kid. There is sheer joy mixed with a simultaneous “screaming” behind my eyes that only the Creator can help me defuse. At these times, I FINALLY realize it’s time to surrender. Surrender? Yes…give me a second to explain.

I absolutely can’t take my mind and my illness, again today, telling me that I was a lousy mom to the girls I desired my entire life. I can’t take hearing my mind’s voice saying again, “at least when I was that sick, I was skinny so give being that ill another ‘go’” … Relinquishing control takes strength and there is a beautiful surrender that comes in on a cloud of mercy from God as He helps me see and fight what is no longer acceptable in my heart…in my mind…in my life…in my home…in His presence. I have a habit of letting the enemy and anorexia and depression hurt me pretty bad before I call for help!

In this moment, I must stand in the shadows of His wings! His words protect us and it’s amazing… “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). This is what I call putting up a fight!

I’ve been hurting and trying to keep my emotions inside! Trying to just swallow hard enough so that maybe these feelings would stay down. But they just grew and started to show up in my thoughts even as I slept.

Of all the things in my life, getting to be married to Doug and be the momma to my girls, are my favorite. Things are changing, though, and I’m needing to be strong where I was being complacent. I haven’t been fighting here in the middle of these changes. Here’s the catch… I’ve believed the anorexic pictures in my head were true, so I haven’t felt that I deserve to fight. But God gave us His words so that we can battle! It’s never too late to fight, my friend. The wars we must fight are not over until God says they are.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t live under constant attack. That’s a good thing! I can feel beaten-up, even though God is putting me back together from my allowing the enemy to take me apart mentally and emotionally over these last few months. I need to stay extra close to Him and read truths like ”Nothing can separate me from Your love, Jesus.” I’ve been pushed around and trying to swallow as to not make a scene, but now? Now? I’ve got to “put my dukes up” and maybe you need to also.

Where have your heart and mind been since we were last together? Have you been letting things from your past hurt you? Jesus knew we’d mess up friends, thus the cross. His sacrifice, the precious gift of Himself, and His Word to us free us from bondage of our thoughts, our mistakes, and our sin. The enemy can’t stand against His Word.

So, memorize this with me… “all of us like sheep have gone astray, all of us have gone our own way, but he has laid upon him the iniquities of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

All day, when these hurtful memories start to come into my mind and grab my heart, attempting to make me feel like I’ve failed as a mom, I must fight! Promise me you’ll do the same! I can’t bear the thought of thinking you’ve had a similar experience as I the last few months!

Thank you for your understanding as I haven’t written in a while! In just a few weeks I will be making a very special announcement to you, so please be looking for what’s to come!!!

Love to you-

Stacee

Relentless

He left His Father and perfect home to come down to earth. He healed people, and He sat with those no one sat with and He forgave. He was misunderstood and judged and sentenced to death on a rugged and heavy cross. He died on that cross after a brutal beating, and He did not blame you and me. He knew what our sins would be, and He still rose again. He loves us and seeks after us. This is what I call relentless. This is Jesus. The word relentless is an adjective meaning to show intensity, strength; unrelenting (Webster dictionary.) It is persistent, constant, nonstop, endless. This is the description of God’s love for you, and for me, and no one knows us better.

God is persistent in His pursuit for the heart of His people. He is actively and tirelessly working in our world to seek and to save those who are lost. He never grows weary of being the only hope that is unshakeable.

This word, nevertheless, did not come to my mind initially today, in the context I just shared with you. I’d been making beds and putting stuffed animals in their specific spots, fluffing pillows, and listening to the enemy. He was yelling in my head about how disappointed God must be in me and my life and, without knowing God, I would have easily agreed with his lies.  It’s awful though! This kind of relentlessness God never intended for anyone and yet the enemy schemes like this in many lives.

Photo-Relentless-Edit.jpg

As I sit with and listen to others I realize this relentless emotional abuse from the enemy can be status quo.   I want more than anything, to experience God in the way He intends because He is intense about us and I’m getting there. But I can be relentless toward myself and the truth is, I can forgive others who may have been negative toward me and yet not forgive myself.  It’s a tough way to go about the day, isn’t it?  And yet many of you can identify, if you are honest with yourself and with God.

I forget that God is not disappointed in me for struggling. I forget that nothing can separate me from His love. I forget that He died for me too, knowing I was going to hurt through an eating disorder that is so controversial and depression that is so conflicting. It can be devastating and yet God does not leave.  He is anything but confused about who I am in Him.

When Jesus came to earth He was fully God and fully man. He had the same temptations we experience, but He did not sin. He knew, nevertheless, that given the same situations, we would sin. The fact is, we need to know that He has gone through pain, joy, anguish, laughter, love, and death here on this earth in order for us to trust Him…to identify with Him.  If He wouldn’t have, we would’ve said that He just doesn’t understand what we face…what we experience. Because of our sin here on earth, we need His forgiveness. It takes down the wall between Him and us and puts a wall between the enemy and us so that there is peace and life. His death on the cross is our life. Because on the third day He rose again, we serve a living and breathing God that is relentlessly seeking relationship with us.

So…when the enemy is yelling at us, what’s the plan? Go to where Jesus is. He is on the high road, and we are to join Him there. The other path leads to sin and death. But He is eternal life. “…I have called you to live ever so closely with Me, soaking in My presence, living in My peace” (Jesus Calling).  Don’t you want that? I do, but a life of turbulence can feel so much more deserved and therefore comfortable. This should not be! I need to always be on a different path as a follower of my living God, and to go wherever He leads. This is relentless living! The opposite of relentless is apathetic and lazy - letting the enemy yell in my head and agreeing.

Letting Jesus set the pace in our race is trust. God’s word goes like this, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  Readers usually stop there, but check out the second part of these verses.

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all you heart. I will be found by you.”

Jeremiah writes this in chapter 29.11-14. This is relentless living!

Please join me in changing the meaning of this word to what God intends for it to be: seeking the truth without end and not letting the lies that seep in through quiet alone moments.   That, my friend, is a step closer in obedience. This is purposeful living which cultivates endless hope!

Love to you,

Stacee

Celebrating Life

This past Saturday morning, I had the opportunity to be the recovery speaker at this year's Oklahoma City National Eating Disorder Association's walk. A great crowd braved some crazy Oklahoma spring weather to still show up and support the cause of providing support and raising awareness for those who struggle with eating disorders.

Here's a copy of my speech from the walk.  Thanks to everyone who was able to come out this morning and to all of our friends, family and to all of you who follow and read Speak Out Loud.... you have been a source of encouragement and hope on this journey!

I’m honored to be here this morning, talking with you about the gift of life. Those of you who are here, know that for some of us, living life is no small feat! I wish I could stand here this morning and say that eating disorders just aren’t a big deal, and that they are no threat to 30 million men and women who will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime. But you and I know that would be a lie. Anorexia and Bulimia are relentless in their efforts to take the lives of people we love. It’s tried to take mine for 27 years and it’s not okay to let this continue to happen. That’s why we are here today. To raise awareness and educate.

We live in a world that is obsessed with how we look, but being the skinniest person in the room due to eating disorder… will still kill us. Changing our weight in any way to get well and stabilize can go against the norm, and it’s scary. In a society that works so hard to stay fit, a person who struggles with an eating disorder may not ever have a future in exercising. Honestly, I feel like I do look different since coming home from treatment, and I do feel different, and people can say offensive things about these changes without even knowing they have hurt me. But I’m trying to learn that they don’t understand eating disorders and that they won’t without us teaching them. I’m trying to learn It’s not okay for me to punish myself for choosing life, no matter what the comment.

Just last year, the National Eating Disorder Association’s website posted a few truths, or facts that may surprise you, and I want to share just 3 of them.

1…Many people with eating disorders look healthy, yet may be extremely ill.

2…Eating Disorders are not choices, but serious biologically influenced illnesses.

3…Eating Disorders affect people of all genders, ages, races, body shapes, weight, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.

These are truths that you and I may know but we live in this realm of doctors, therapists, and nutritionists, so this is good information to share with those who are trying to understand and support us.

Looking out…I see people who have been fighting for their lives, just like me. Then… I see those of you who have helped us fight. Thank you. I personally want to say thank you to my family, my friends, and my team who have fought for me when I couldn’t fight another day, and who now fight alongside me.

Some of you today are here with hurting hearts because this illness has taken someone who you love. We are walking with you. Your loved one matters, and our walk means that we are learning how to help educate others for this very reason. Our hope is that you leave encouraged today.

I got too sick from the mental illness of anorexia, again, a little over 2 years ago, and this time I needed extra care. I needed to go inpatient and learn to eat and take care of myself. I was so scared to leave home, but I was more afraid to eat.

It was a Tuesday when we took my oldest daughter to college to begin her freshman semester, and the next day, I hugged my youngest daughter, and my husband took me to treatment. I went to the Laureate Hospital for Eating Disorders in Tulsa. I’ll never forget this…when we pulled into the parking lot, my husband unlocked the doors in our car, and I quickly locked them back. He unlocked them onceagain- and I locked them for the last time. I just didn’t think I was sick enough to be there.

It’s hard when you love someone so much that you need to help save their life, isn’t it? But that’s what my team and my family did. They got me the highest level of help, and I was exactly where I needed to be.

Anorexia really showed itself in my life when I went to college, although there were signs of the illness long before that time, like the fear that food would actually make me sick, rather than healthy. One day, one of my suitemates in college was studying for finals in our room all day, and she stopped counting when she got to the number 30. This number will forever be etched in my mind, for it was the amount of times I WEIGHED myself in one day - ONE DAY!

That’s not self -absorbed, that’s not narcissistic, that is a form of mental illness. In my case, that was an eating disorder. I had no idea, I just knew I didn’t want to gain one single pound even though I barely ate a thing.

My thoughts were irrational.

I had so many rules around my food that I could barely breathe, much less eat.

I have suffered from this illness for so many years since then that I honestly thought I would die from it. I began to take myself out of the picture of my family’s future. I stopped letting myself be a mom and wife, and I was numb at events that would have meant so much to me. I barely remember the event at all. I wasn’t scared to die, because I had forgotten how to live. I was exhausted.

With the type of anorexia I have it shows itself through restricting mainly. I restrict food, drink, relationships, help, and so much more. This is why I must fight all the time…otherwise I have a life that is unnecessarily lonely and desolate rather than abundant. It’s a slippery slope, so my weeks are full of support through groups with people who are fighting as well, and appointments that help me remember why I fight.

Why do I require this help regularly? One of the main reasons, is this. When you take a bite of food, the “sensories” in your brain say, “YUM!” and possibly that you want more food. When I take a bite of food, the “sensories” in my brain SCREAM with every bite! My mind thinks I am doing the wrong thing repeatedly, and it can wear me out mentally.

As a result of this form of my illness, my heart was shrinking, my bones were unnourished, I couldn’t think, and my organs had forgotten what to do with food. Outgoing had melted into not going, and the people in my life shouldn’t have to keep worrying about me when help was available and specialized.

For the next 4 months, my fears found help and 24-hour support. The ladies who I met there around the table, are forever my allies in this battle, and I love them. None of us were brave when alone, but we did pretty great when we were together, especially during the re-feeding process. My therapist and nutritionist were smart, they cared about me, and they could see the lies I was staking my life on. The lies are loud, and they want those with eating disorders to die. So, the battle is one that must be fought and support is not only important, but essential. GOD used these amazing people to help save my life.

Treatment was vital to my life… and now is vital to my story.

Whether I have had the privilege of meeting you or maybe not just yet, if your battle is eating disorder, we are a family, and you are brave, and courageous.

Since I’ve been home, I still get scared and I struggle just like you. But the difference in being in recovery or not, is HOW we struggle. Some days I struggle better than others and some days I don’t want to fight at all. But GOD and my amazing outpatient team are helping me to fight even harder on those days. I still need help with knowing what is the Truth and what is a lie about who I see staring back at me in the mirror. I’m still getting to know her.

STACEE AND HER YOUNGEST DAUGHTER, RYLEE

STACEE AND HER YOUNGEST DAUGHTER, RYLEE

I’m learning 3 very hard lessons about me…I am more than a number on a scale, I fail when shopping alone because I’ve learned that I do not see my body realistically, and I matter EVEN when I’m nourished. These patient conversations with professionals, have saved me from relapse up to this point. I have learned that my eyes see differently, and that the best people for me to be around are those who see me as a person who is trying to win a LIFELONG BATTLE. Please…even when you think you can’t say another helpful and encouraging word…TRY. We hear you. I promise. It’s just a messy fight, and our minds might be screaming because exposure therapy is facing what we have restricted or indulged in, repeated many times every day.

The cure to our illness? Food management!

SO…WHAT HELPS ME? Looking out and seeing the blue eyes of my daughters, and I am reminded that they deserve a mom that they can count on to not leave a legacy of starvation in our home. In 2 weeks, my youngest daughter is graduating from high school and I get to go. I’ll have to take a Boost nutritional drink, but I’ll be there! And just a couple of weeks ago, I got to go to my oldest daughter’s sorority mother/daughter brunch. She never stopped smiling and hugging on me. Mental Illness affects those that love us…. so does fighting to recover.

My husband is forever educating himself and others about what our days look like as I try to get better and continue to heal. He is my #1 advocate.

SHELBEE…She is my protective one, especially when she can tell I’m having a tough day.

RYLEE…Is my merciful one, who I can reassure, but for her the worry mostly gets less when there is proof in progress!

SO…

Whether you are the one with the eating disorder, or maybe that life is a distant memory… or maybe you are the unwavering family member or friend. Please don’t give up on us. Help us remember that we have SUFFERED ENOUGH. Because one bite, one meal, one day at a time…we are getting better and are continuing to stay in recovery. You WON’T want to miss out on the CELEBRATIONS along the way.

THANK YOU.

 

 

Sovereign and Someday

Happy New Year to you!

After Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then New Years, I sort of feel like I need just one more break to catch my breath and think through what all just happened! Ironically, this year, God gave me just that in the form of a snow day. Our city awoke to a beautiful blanket of snow that was so white it glistened. The roads were just bad enough for most of the city to be quieted. There is was, a three day weekend.

Recently I ran across this prayer which definitely applied to me so maybe it will strike a chord with you too!

Dear Lord.

So far this year I have done well.

I haven’t gossiped, I haven’t lost my temper, I haven’t been greedy, grumpy, selfish, or overindulgent. I’m very thankful for that. But in a few minutes, Lord, I’m going to get out of bed, and from then on I’m probably going to need a lot more help.  Amen

God knows exactly what we need and when we need it. He is intentional on taking care of you and me, and it is His pleasure and joy to do so. He is sovereign. I have grown to love and respect the word sovereign.  The dictionary defines “Sovereign” as this: “supreme, absolute, unlimited, unrestricted, boundless, ultimate, total, unconditional, full.”  This is the definition of sovereign by people, and yet it still can apply to our Lord.  Let’s also look at the Bible’s truth about sovereignty in direct reference to our Father. “…I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” Isaiah 46.9-10. This is who I want taking care of me, my days, and my year. He is definitely not intimidated by our world situation…or yours.

stacee with her sister tracee this past christmas season

stacee with her sister tracee this past christmas season

If we actually got to sit together over our morning coffee and share our concerns about this New Year, what would you say to me?  What are your biggest concerns right now, my friend? I know that I have many concerns and, if I’m not careful, I can lose sleep over them and almost get sick over them, not to mention skip meals. My peace comes from a dear friend’s continuous reminder that God is sovereign. He is hope. This One that I speak of is our only chance of believing we should wake up in the morning and try again. And some days, that we should get up and not try at all. “Stop trying to monitor My responsibilities-things that are beyond your control” (Jesus Calling, Sarah Young, page 176).

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t ever had much success with New Year’s resolutions. I start out overwhelmed and struggle to follow through. I’ve had to learn that I may not do significantly better every year,  but I can focus on God’s help each day. My progress isn’t going to look like yours, just as yours won’t look like mine,  so no need for comparison here. I have been learning that my days are not my own. They are planned by God for His purpose. I have also been learning what they should look like and how that happens and why it even matters!

Check this out…”In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” Proverbs 16:9. You and I can plan and fret over what’s going on in this world and even in our own hearts and homes, but God sees where He wants to take us, so we just have to chill out and take His hand.  Now, am I saying don’t have resolutions and goals? Absolutely not! That’s between you and the Lord who has your heart. But I am saying that this day…, and each day as it comes, I will need to surrender to the Lord and let Him show me the way He has for me, step by step. My plans and worries can be placed in the strong hands of my Sovereign God…as yours can too! Wow! That puts things in perspective for me!  Obedience and faith can be my response to each day, rather than freaking out about what I think is best for me day in and day out.

My friend, maybe someday I will get to sit with you, and we can share what God is doing in our lives. Or maybe we will need to first share, with transparency, how we have gotten caught up in the things of this world and need to take a step back and consider God’s plans versus our plans. (I would so love to fellowship with you.) But either way, think on this as January 2017 continues to unfold.  “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness, I say to myself, The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him” Lamentations 3.22-24.  

What does God have for you this day? Something beyond what we can conjure up for ourselves! It’s a new day! Ask Him for guidance and experience His Sovereignty! He is full and supreme and ultimate and unconditional. Hold on tight to Him because holding on to the things of the world and its plans aren’t worth us sharing as we sit together…someday.

Love To You,

Stacee