Deeper Still

I did better this year while at the beach on vacation! I didn’t get a bad sunburn!  I was determined not to let this happen, and while I don’t care for the feeling of sunscreen…at all… the spray is invigorating! I just didn’t want the feeling anymore of lying in bed, covered in aloe, trying to roll over and being stuck to the sheets! Having red hair and green eyes for my entire life has been fun and different, but the sun loves that combination, so I’ve got to continue to learn the balance between getting a healthy sun-kissed glow and not a ridiculous sunburn!

You know I love water, my friend. It teaches me so much about myself…about God.

On this most recent seaside trip, I was just beyond the first sandbar, in the shallow area hanging out in the refreshing ocean. The waves were breaking fast as the white caps dove into the sand. Even in the shallow water where I was standing, the waves were trying to knock me down, and were doing a good job of it, until I swam out to where the waves were in deeper water, and I could jump into their sprays.

I’ve been missing God, so time away from home and schedules was perfect in timing. My time with Him has been shrinking, and the impact has been showing up in my lack of dedication to eating and in my fight against the sadness resulting from chemical imbalance/ depression…and life. When I even attempt to fight my thoughts and struggles with this different, post-treatment body, without God… it’s a huge fail.

Who I am to Christ Is where the truth about me resides, but when I look in the mirror, failing to remember who I am to Him, and see a different body since gaining nutrition to live, I crumble. I don’t look like me or feel like me. But when I pick up God’s Word, He reacquaints me with who He is and I get a bit closer to trusting that I’m okay in this new body. When I don’t eat, my mind becomes undernourished so quickly, and I can’t begin to remember and accept Truth.

Yes, I can choose where I stand and “hang out” in life. I can stand in the “shallow” area and get pretty beat up and pushed around by the “fast breaking” lies the enemy uses to knock me down.  I have a tendency to live there a lot and become okay with it and with the negative self-talk screaming I’m going to get bigger and bigger with each bite.  Sadness can wash over me as I become convinced, in my depressed mind, that I’m not making a difference here on earth.  But when I go out to the deeper water, it’s there that I can jump into the waves and enjoy God’s love and mercy and hope sweeping over me.

Sitting here in my office back at home, all I have to do is close my eyes, and I can be back in the water passed those shallow waves breaking at my knees causing me to fall.  If I stay with that mental image, walk out a bit deeper to where the waves are higher, it is there that I find peace and rejuvenation. The water covers me from head to toe and as I see a wave coming, I am prepared just as God’s Word…God’s truth…God’s provision for my life…God’s healing…cover me.  

From where I sat on the beach, in my chair under the umbrella, sipping my water (diet Coke), the shallow water looked manageable, and I tried to enjoy it.  But when I saw the deeper waves, I saw a better way and moved!

May I do the same in my relationship with God! May I be the recipient of what he has for me…for us! I’m sorry that I haven’t been spending the time with God which fosters growth! But I’m so very thankful that I miss him when I don’t!  It helps me desire to stop being pushed around and to go deeper!

Let’s not settle for hanging out where we cannot be deeper with Jesus.  He is our rescuer and present help in times of trouble. He has a plan for you and for me which anticipates that we spend time with Him, growing closer to him, relishing in the next wave of refreshment.  And if you have been like me, letting yourself be beat up by the enemy yet still not moving to where God would have you…move. He is not a shallow God who doesn’t get where you are in your walk with him or in your life.  He knows our struggles and the things which seek to cripple us.

He is the only One who has words to penetrate our hearts and wash over us, healing our souls, our minds, and our bodies.

No matter what you have gone through or what you are currently struggling with, please don’t give up, but rather, make your “move” and check this out…  ”Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will no sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy one of Israel, your Savior…”  Isaiah 43.1-3

The very one who commands the oceans and the waves is the one who created us to move to Him and go deeper still.

Love to you,

Stace

Redefined

It happened like it does every so often…something that is only in God’s power and control. Growth! Growth, in any condition, is one step forward and two steps back, but when God moves in a part of my life He is already inhabiting, miraculous things happen. Shifts in my struggles are pivotal and intentional when God is in control. They are not reckless nor are they haphazard jerks and jumps. I heard a sister in Christ with great challenges recently share a statement from her perspective, and it has now helped my view and given me a breath of hope.

Katherine Wolf suffered a stroke at the age of 26 exactly 10 years ago today. And today I heard her speak for the first time. She talked about some of the things you and I have shared together, but something she said is resonating with me well past the event where she spoke.  She said, “I’ve been forced to redefine my life because of my stroke.” With this one statement, my mind went to a place of understanding and peace that it rarely visits…ever. Through this proclamation, I find relief in the truth that yes, she has undergone a major life change, and so have I.

I’ve been desperately trying to feel and react and respond to a changed body, as if nothing was altered. It’s been excruciating for my mind to grasp…to accept…to experience the changes my body has undergone without acknowledging that these changes are alterations which had to happen for me to live. Nevertheless, I punish myself for letting the changes happen.  What an unintentional mess!  But what a relief to be able to put words to my hurt! People innocently comment on my changed appearance, and I am taken aback. On the inside I cry until I can get alone to let the tears flow out from within. Is it true that what’s on the inside matters the most?

Confession…I’ve changed. Three years ago, I got to the low end of my weight after years of anorexic restricting, and now I’ve often wanted to hide rather than honor my hard work and celebrate that God literally saved my life.  I’ve wanted to hide the changes because they are external and although I agreed to this new nutrition, it’s been nothing short of scary. To gain weight and continue to eat in front of those who I am not used to eating with has been embarrassing. To live, I’ve needed to redefine my life! Change has occurred, yet I have so badly wanted to avoid it. I’ve denied the changes for as long as I can.  I’ve tried to eat and make the changes, but not the ones which show externally.

I hadn’t embraced this truth until I heard Katherine’s perspective. She had a stroke which greatly affected her body internally and externally, and it has been scary. Not in comparison to, but perhaps in a parallel way, I went away to get help in treatment and four months later came home different – both inside and out. I can’t pretend I’m not, but I’ve been trying to do just that. And while I cannot control what people say in love (often not knowing what to say), I’ve got to change how these words translate in my heart…and my mind… or I’m going to relapse.  I’m not planning to get worse again, but without a shift based upon this new realization, I suffer greatly.

My first instinct is to badger myself and call myself ungrateful. But this time, why not do something different? Why not do opposite? I don’t know…It’s a tough shift, quite honestly. But don’t old ways wear you down? They do me at times, when they are hurtful and negative. But I do tolerate them way too long.  We serve a God who is “…compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For a high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:8-12).  Honestly?  I can stop punishing me for not being great at this recovery thing, if I’ll ask for God’s help. I am so scared to trust even God in this, so I’m asking for Divine courage.

Maybe you could join me in giving a challenge you are facing to God. I have found it so helpful to do something which could be quite courageous simultaneously with those you love and are with in community. Please join me in trusting it’s okay to let God “redefine” your life because of all you’ve been through. Our God is long suffering and welcomes the celebration of one step at a time surrender! Growth! It’s miraculous and intentional when God is the gardener. I don’t really know how things are supposed to look for me at this point in my process of getting well, but I know that redefining is God’s specialty. All I am called to do is trust and obey and try not to give up on the process of the Gardener’s transformation.

One Day More

Around the time I get to write to you, things sort of shift in my heart and mind from daily goings on, to being more mindful and thoughtful and I guess, in a way, solemn in my spirit even if I don’t come across as such. You see, sharing about my life in the victories and the struggles and the joy during the challenges, is just different than writing to you about the weather and I know you get that.  And I’m good with this because I feel excited to share with you. I feel so thankful that I get to write my truth to you and you not, to my knowledge, freak out!

It’s been awhile, my friend, since we’ve shared how we are doing…how our challenges are keeping us, more likely than not, on our toes, yet hopefully not ruling our world. I’ve missed this exchange, thus the reason for me reaching out to you. In other words…I’m still afloat! Are you?

Update:

Anorexia!!!!!  I’m exhausted of the daily regimen it requires of me to take steps forward or to even stay in the place where I am without digressing. Truly. I’m struggling both with my mind and the lies I’ve believed for so many years that they honestly sound and feel true, like my fear of eating when I’m full. I’ve known that my “full button” is broken and that if I wait to be hungry to eat, I won’t. My body looks bigger to me than it actually is, I am taught, because of the body dysmorphia that can come along with eating disorders in general.  But I forget that when I look in the mirror, and I get scared and tired of the whole scene.

I don’t know… I’ve been setting impossible standards for myself lately, my friend. I know you aren’t pressuring me to be anywhere but where I am. No one is, but I pressure me. Sometimes I have higher hopes, but this is where I am. So, do you know what I’m going to need to do whether I feel like it or not -because I do not.  Take a step forward…then another and another and not stop. I won’t quit. I have people who I can’t choose to disappoint another day.

You and I both know that a shift must occur, on the daily, to stay committed.  When the shift doesn’t occur, I don’t function.

So…what does this “shift” look like in my world? I’ve got to get up from where I am currently lying, that’s for sure. Somedays I give myself options and my depression kicks in and I choose wrong. I choose to sleep and not eat and then everything gets messed up…everything. Even while tying the sash on my robe and walking into the kitchen, I’ve got to be disciplined and pray against the lies of anorexia even then. Like…if I eat when I’m not hungry, that I’ll gain an insurmountable amount of weight. I’ve been taught this is a lie, and I know it is, but it still haunts me. To fight this, I’ll sit in the kitchen and eat one bite after the next of my breakfast.

Why must this be so very hard?

Because.  Because when I do things on my own, Jesus goes out of the picture of my life, and it becomes meaningless. And it becomes lonely. And I get lost and the world gets bigger than it already is and I lose my ability to tie the robe on that begins my morning process of fighting to live.  It’s about the next step.  I know that you can’t see me, but I can’t help but let a smile sneak onto my face right now because this part of my life never changes. And I’m glad. My focus hasn’t changed since we last exchanged stories. When all else seems to trick me, my focus still gets to be Jesus himself. And as he helps me eat, I find peace in the presence of my breakfast date. Then, my friend, I can breathe because obedience feels good and it is good. No matter what you and I face…no matter how hard things get, let’s always bring one another back to Jesus especially if we can tell we aren’t going back to him on our own. That’s what living in community does. “Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith.” Hebrews 12:2

“I need thee oh I need thee, every hour I need the oh bless me now my savior I come to thee.”

- (I Need Thee Every Hour, Robert Lowery)

 I so hope you are doing well. Life is a precious process and you in my life is a tremendous gift.

Please know that I pray for you. Whatever your next decision may be in your day, know that I am fighting to take that next step right along with you!

Love to you,

Stacee

 

  

 

 

Thirsty

Even though I’ve heard this statistic numerous times, I forget that our bodies are made up of 70% water! Is there water in Diet Coke? If so, I love water! If not, I still have some plain old water drinking to do in 2018! Water helps us to not become dehydrated and helps our organs function. It’s so important! So, what happens when we don’t drink water? We get tired, dizzy, and crampy, just to name a few side effects. Knowing these facts alone should motivate me to drink more, so here’s hoping that happens! Really!

Are you ever so thirsty that you can’t seem to cure the parched sensation no matter how much you drink? I am on occasion, and I often don’t drink the liquid which will satisfy my body’s need for hydration.

Here’s the deal. I can thirst and drink so many other beverages to hopefully quench my thirst, but water is the very best way to hydrate and take care of my body.

There’s another type of thirst though – the thirst to fill up those empty places deep inside us. Jesus says He is the water to quench this deeper thirst - “the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). David, in the Psalms, says this to the Lord, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul longs after you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1). Have you ever been so thirsty that you can barely stand it? When I think of those times in my life, particularly of those time when in other countries where purified water was harder to find, I recall my desperation and how I would go to practically any length to quench my thirst. It’s a bad feeling! Comparably, shouldn’t that be how I search for and long for Jesus?

Just as water is for the body, so is Jesus for our soul.

I forget that Jesus encompasses 100% of our being. Is there anyone or anything that can replace him? I need to be spending so much more time with my Father than I have been because when I don’t, personally, what happens to me? I get more depressed, I cannot fight my eating disorder, I get easily overwhelmed and insecure. I make poor choices because I make them in my own wisdom. But perhaps one of the most devastating consequences when I am not seeking Jesus and thirsting for time with him is that no one can fill the loneliness in my life. He is the only one who can encompass and penetrate my whole heart and soul and walk this life out with me. He combats the lies that aim to paralyze me. Nothing and no one can replace Him, and nothing was made to!

I challenge both you and me to drink hydrating water to nourish and protect our physical bodies given as a gift for us to take care of. We’ve got to take care of ourselves. But, without a doubt, the most important thirst to pay attention to is our thirst for Jesus. Are we longing for anything to quench that thirst? If so, let’s go to God and ask for a longing for him and him alone. No substitutes will ever be as vital to our being.

Amazing parallels! To anything with a heartbeat, water is the key sustainer. To a Christian, Jesus is the only sustainer. So, isn’t it fitting that Jesus is the Living Water?

Big Announcement!

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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.