What I Want You to Know

I am forever writing notes on topics God gives me to share with you. It’s not uncommon for me to write these ideas on my hands, gum wrappers, receipts, napkins, and the list goes on! I can be in a movie or at my kitchen table praying for you, and I’ll have to start writing as soon as I can get to my computer so that I can share my heart with you. God means for us to draw near to Him and sometimes “huddle” together and learn in the midst of our problems and trials.  We teach one another. I am frequently asked what it’s like to have anorexia and fear the effects of the very sustenance which keeps me alive… the very thing God made for us to nourish ourselves. It is so hard to explain, and I often fumble over my words when trying to describe a meal or day to someone. Though I live it, so many don’t, and they struggle to understand the fact that eating disorders seek to end lives.  I’ve never been ‘called’ to convince others that this mental illness exists. I don’t have the energy to, quite honestly. But, I do feel like God has called me to inform you about what I have learned and am living.  I am one who knows eating disorder and chemical depression, and I know the path He has me on to healing.

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I was recently intrigued me when my youngest daughter showed me a post of things which I believe to be very true about eating disorders. Unfabricated yet not understated truths. I guess I’ve hesitated to continue to share because I never want to over stay my welcome in your life about what I deal with on a daily basis. I know you deal with such important things, my friend, and sometimes there is a gap in understanding when we so badly want to “get” each other. It’s less lonely in our community when we gain knowledge and truth about one another. Having prefaced this information with my heart’s desire, here are “9 Truths About Eating Disorders That May Surprise You”, according to the National Eating Disorder Association from early 2016. “Knowledge is power”, so let’s look at these facts.

Truth No.1: Many people with eating disorders look healthy, yet may be extremely ill.

Truth No.2: Families are not to blame and can be patients’ and providers’ best allies in treatment.

Truth No.3: An eating disorder diagnosis is a health crisis that disrupts personal and family functioning.

Truth No. 4: Eating Disorders are not choices, but serious biologically influenced illnesses.

Truth No. 5: Eating Disorders affect people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, body shapes, and weight,  sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.

Truth No.6: Eating Disorders carry an increased risk for suicide and medical complications.

Truth No. 7: Genes and environment play important roles in the development of eating disorders

Truth No. 8: Genes alone do not predict who will develop eating disorders.

Truth No. 9: Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Early detection and intervention are important.

Without knowledge, it’s so easy to misspeak innocently. We mean to speak in love, so give others the benefit of a doubt and know their heart means well. So, what do we say? None of us fully know the magnitude of another’s struggle, but I can speak to what I’ve been asked frequently concerning one who has been in inpatient eating disorder treatment and inpatient treatment for depression.  With both, consider asking how the person is that day. Fighting a battle is one moment, one day at a time…nothing more. More is too much. Tell them how courageous they are for fighting their battle.

With eating issues, try to steer clear of external comments about appearance. It’s too sensitive and the person wants to believe they have more to offer than their appearance, especially when one has had to gain weight and then live in a society that desperately strives to lose weight. Some anorexics and bulimics will never get to exercise again after treatment and the re-feeding process. Moderation just seems impossible, so exercise abuse is common. Therefore, exercise is often not a part of the life of someone with this history. It’s tough! Putting on “nutrition” and feeling like this new body is foreign, then knowing you can’t handle moderate exercise to tone the new body, is stressful at the very least. At times, even limited exercise is one of the reasons for relapse. Sometimes the body has just undergone too much abuse for extensive exercise. This is my reality currently. So again, physical comments to an eating disorder patient, more than not, sends a different message than the friend intends and you as the friend will not be able to dig them out of the emotional spiral that appearance words may trigger. Man. It’s tough, isn’t it? We all mean so well but sickness makes words translate differently. My mind easily gets lost in translation. Be patient! Your words can be like a healing balm with just a little guidance from those God puts in your life, and from God Himself. He always says the right words.

The more common of the two is depression. Words of godly affirmation may seem to not be received well, but I promise you that it helps and it is truly the opposite of what my mind is telling me. You can only do so much, but the biggest word of advice I can give to us, is to not give up on someone who is desperately trying not to give up on himself. Encourage the person to be consistent in getting their professional help so that you can stay in friend status. Example, a lot of my days, a strong hug is so healing. I go through life feeling like I’ve got a bad “sunburn” emotionally, and the depression and anorexia want to steal all God has for me like someone “poking” my sunburn all day. Hugs and words of encouragement about the hope and future God has for me are hopeful and soothing. It takes love and character to handle struggles with courage and integrity and obedience. Recovery isn’t perfect! God chooses to look into and love our hearts, especially when we seek Him. Even in the midst of your own fight, seek to encourage another. This is one reason why I write. It’s just not only about me! I try…most days, to trust that as I reach out to others, that He’s taking care of me and mine. Ask God for His guidance, and reach out. Finally and personally, when a friend says nothing to me, I feel invisible and I don’t need help with that. I’m trying with all the strength God gives me to be present. Remember my verse? It’s a great and bold one to share because it evokes a commitment, “I will not die, but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.”( Psalm 118.17) 

Let’s ask God to give us words of hope, and the courage to be in one another’s lives.

Thank you for letting me share my heart. Thank you for hanging with me in this while I qualified the reason behind sharing this writing. I just never want to belittle you as my friends, on whatever path God has you and me on. This format of post is atypical for me, but God wants us to lift each other up as we learn more about one another.  We are not ignorant people! We just need some direction to reach out, especially when we have no idea where to start.  I sure do! God has had this on my heart… and this is what I wanted you to know.

Love to You!

Stacee

Highly Unlikely

Grab your coffee, and I’ll grab my Diet Coke, and let’s sit together for just a few minutes. Part of living in community is sharing what’s on our hearts, which is a joy of mine that, as long as given the privilege, will love so much. I care about you and want to use God’s truth, not my interpretation of it, to gain God’s perspective on you and on me. David , who was a young shepherd boy, defeated a literal giant named Goliath. He found favor in the eyes of God and became a great king with many problems, lust being one. Nevertheless, He was chosen by God although he still suffered consequences from his actions. If you would have known him, you might’ve thought he had too many issues to lead a country in mighty ways.   He was a great leader only because of God’s mercy in his life and by the power of the Holy Spirit. David was a man who was “highly unlikely” in the eyes of man to be used by God, but he was used in incredible ways because of the Lord.

Peter, Judas, Matthew, and Thomas were just a few of Jesus’ disciples.  Man, they were “different!” It’s easy to think of them as being so holy because they were Jesus’ chosen understudies.   Peter talked too much and just couldn’t seem to keep his foot out of his mouth. Thomas doubted Jesus even after seeing His power demonstrated time after time through miracles - miracles we choose to believe in faith since we weren’t there to actually see. Then there was Judas. You know him. He voted for Jesus to be crucified, yet he knew Him personally. Furthermore, Peter,  on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion, denied Him exactly three different times, just as Jesus foreshadowed.  Devastating, yet I can identify with each of these men and so many others including women of the Bible. Can you allow yourself to identify with any of these people? It’s humbling to do so yet necessary to learn and grow. Levi, who was later renamed by Jesus, was a businessman, chosen by Jesus, to follow Him. We call him Matthew. He didn’t bear the title “minister,” but that just didn’t matter.  Random people who were put together to fit together and follow. “Highly unlikely” men who were not likely to be chosen, yet they were.

God is in the business of using those who others may overlook, or judge, or cast aside. I am the wife of a former minister who has extreme difficulties with putting food into my mouth in order to nourish the body God gave me. It’s a sickness, a mental illness. I didn’t plan it or merely want to be skinny, and so stopped eating.  That’s simply not how it worked for me.   I wake up in the morning praying and never say, “Amen” until I lie down at night, yet the chemical in-balance in my mind creates depression so I can be “down” when I have the best life I could ever ask for.  Some side effects of my medication have hurt my body, and I have hurt my body by choice because I have felt I deserve the pain.  Wrong.  And yet Jesus looks on me and lives in me and has mercy on me and lets me speak into your life because I love Him and want to follow Him and obey Him and show you Him so that you can experience His love and forgiveness. I am trying. “I am strong, but I am tired” is a quote a friend recently sent me. God knows you and I get tired of who we are and what we do and the hurts our issues cause. I am “highly unlikely’ to be used by Him perhaps by man’s standards, but He uses you to give me hope because you read and share your hearts with me and others, and I thank you.  The praise and credit is God’s. Our Father uses our weaknesses to show His strength when we let Him.

You may feel so insignificant you can barely breathe. I understand, my friend.  So does our Lord.

God makes beauty from ashes. You know this because I’ve told you before, and it’s Scripture. It’s okay to acknowledge where you are. You must in order to realize how precious God is. Today, read this familiar word from God aloud with me… ”For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know this full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139.13-16).

No one who makes a difference in the eyes of God does so because of who they are.

He knew this of David…of Peter…of Thomas… …of you and of me, and in His eyes, you and I are actually… ‘highly likely’ because of Him alone. You and I? We are the righteousness of Christ.

Jesus himself is the best example of not being a likely candidate to hold any power or attention here on earth yet it makes me cry to think of how He came, He lived, he died, and He rose. To those here on earth, He fit no stereotype of The King, yet He was. “Highly unlikely?”  Most definitely. That is, to everyone but His Father, but He is the only one who matters.

No matter what you have done or had planned to do, let God treat you as you were created to be treated in spite of you, and because of Him. It’s okay! Lean in on Him my chosen friend, and walk in the truth of you being “likely” to speak into another’s life.” Likely” to have integrity in the life God has given you.” Likely” to thrive because of Him.  Don’t wait to feel worthy. Come to Him now…just as you are.

Love to You,

Stacee

Be Still My Heart

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I was walking back from one of my college classes as my hair and dress blew in the wind. Our alma mater in Dallas sits on a hill…a very windy hill! Up the ramp I started to step when I heard a familiar voice, “Stacee! Wait up!” It was my good friend Doug who I had known for just over 3 years. I saw him sort of often since we were in the same friend group. When I stopped and he caught up to me, I quickly noticed that his lips looked particularly white, and his ears were bright red.  Weird…. He looked pale and started to talk about random things like the weather, how he liked my dress, and then it came out through his stuttering speech. “Would you go with me on the hayride and bonfire coming up?” I quickly said yes and ran up the ramp toward the dorm where I lived. Be still my heart! I ran into my room and flung myself onto my unmade bed and started telling my roommates that Doug Goetzinger had just asked me out! I remember talking louder and louder as my excitement grew. Everybody loved Doug…Everybody. He had the reputation of being good to his dates and he was just one of those guys who everyone called forever friend and this is still true.  He was my date and I was excited to be asked by such a good guy, to go have fun. Well, that was our first flirty encounter, and they’ve not really ever stopped. Twenty three years later, I can still say, we’ve definitely had our struggles, but in spite of this, “be still my heart” is still my soul’s reaction. My guy takes such good care of me…and of our girls. I am thankful to call him my husband…my best friend…my partner in crime.

But this relationship hasn’t just happened! Trust me! As I’ve stated, there have been peaks and valleys. There have been moments of devastation and moments of jubilation. Sometimes we wondered if joy would come in the morning.

Picture this with me…a man was headed to work expecting a busy morning. He was running particularly late and was bothered that he had to leave home without loving on his family before the day began. As he got out of his car and headed up the stairs to his office, he heard a familiar voice calling to him and he paused but then resumed his quick pace until he heard the call again to “wait up!” He stopped, although annoyed that he made this choice. Quietly but clearly the words met his ears with clarity.  It was His Father beckoning with clearer speech than humanly possible. “Would you like to spend your day with me?” “I mean, you obviously need to work, but can I be your motivation and encouragement and integrity?” “Would you dare to answer colleagues with grace because of my grace demonstrated toward you?” He answered “yes, Lord!” and ran up the stairs and into his office.

He flung himself into his chair as he told his assistant that God had just asked him to be a part of his day.  As he talked his voice got louder because he was grateful that he had stopped on the steps so that Jesus could talk with him. Be still this gentleman’s heart!

Not everybody loves God. He has a different reputation with those who truly know Him versus those who absolutely do not. His Son, Jesus is the greatest man who only some call  forever Savior. He takes incomparable care of His people and I am privileged to call Him my God…my Healer…and my rescuer.

But this relationship does not just happen! Trust me! There have been peaks and valleys. There have been moments where I've felt crushed and moments of jubilation, but all the while with God the Father in control. Joy, with Him, always comes in the morning.

God wants us to love Him and seek Him so that when He speaks to us, it melts our hearts to the point of obedience. When we stop, listen, and obey, His heart is full, and so are ours.

When we experience God, can our souls say "be still my heart?"  Why does He have to call out to us?”  Read this word picture of just how God works, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and lets me in, I will come in and eat with him and him with me”Revelation 3:20. He is so lovely to wait for us, but it’s our return action that shows obedience.  Our answer... Our answer turns the knob of the door and opens the door to God for more than a date.

It’s not too far- fetched to be excited and anticipatory for God’s call. I was so excited about mine and Doug’s date. And that’s great and natural. But imagine this…Imagine bringing that joy to the door as we let Jesus in to sit with us and guide our day and forgive us of the sin in our relationship. Let’s get excited about this relationship with Jesus whether it be an old relationship or new. Let us be quick to say “Yes, Lord” as we run through our day. Share the good news of Jesus and get close enough to Him who formed our hearts, and say as He calls to us, ”be still my heart!”

Love to you - Stace

Relentless

Stacee - March 23He 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.

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

Valley Girl

Stacee - Feb 16..."rest snugly in My everlasting arms. I do not despise your weakness, My child. Actually, it draws Me closer to you, because weakness stirs up My compassion-My yearning to help. Accept yourself in your weariness, knowing that I understand how difficult your journey has been. Do not compare yourself with others who seem to skip along life-path with ease." …"I have gifted you with fragility providing opportunities for your spirit to blossom in My Presence.” -Sarah Young, Jesus Calling It’s precious to God for you and me to need Him.

I’m not the kind of “valley girl” you may be thinking of, although I have lived in Cali, so please stay with me here! God keeps me close because I am so quick to try the self-sufficient game. So, let me ask you … can you remember a time when your situation felt so grim that you truly felt like there was no way God could be near? Is that time now? Maybe you’ve had one trial after another occur, almost to the point of embarrassment? I get it…thus the necessity for the opening quote! We are going to be okay though! I believe this because of these truths which stem from these words in Isaiah 54.10, “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

When the “mountains are shaken” in our lives, and you and I know we are not living on a “mountaintop”, our hearts can feel like they’re in “the valley.” A low place. Let me tell you something about the valley. Being in the valley doesn’t mean you are disobeying God and therefore you don’t get to be with those on high. Valley’s have creeks to walk in until we get stronger; streams to drink from that help us regain our health; and trees to practice climbing through to see the truth. Valleys are God-made practice grounds for us to grow until He places us on the mountaintop to glory in His victory.

I have found myself to be primarily a “valley girl.”  It’s not on purpose, but I have noticed that even though mountains, when climbed to the top, are amazing and beautiful, the journey through the valley is where the lessons are.  There weakness is seen as a good thing by God, the path you and I have been on is treated carefully and validated as being flat out hard, and God in His utter compassion draws near. When I am on the mountain top and my mind isn’t hurting with depression, and my bites of food aren’t as difficult, strangely enough, I miss the valley. In my weakness, He is made strong, and it’s all about Him. I. Like. That.

If you and I are never in the depth of the valley to learn and grow closer to our Father, the mountain and all of its views will not be desired. God is in both places.

Are you in the valley? Please don’t be embarrassed. There is no shame in being teachable. When I compare my journey to another’s path, I’m doubting that God has my very best interest at heart. God is the lifter of our head…in our fragile state He is teaching us to long for our spirit to blossom “in His presence.” This…He wants to share with us! God is not a bully who pushes us further down into the ground. And there is no shame, my friend, in being a “valley girl” when God is working His way in my life, and yours!

Father God, thank you for using the valley to teach us obedience and make us strong for the continued journey to come. You know what each of us need. Thank you that anyplace we are with you is worth the stay until you move us to the next place. Thank you that we do not have any reason to be embarrassed about what others may think about where you have us when we are in Your care. Please help us to accept your help and your love and your compassion as the gift You made it to be. In Jesus’ name…Amen.

Love,

Stacee