A Crazy Ride!

Hey all! I know it’s been a while since I last posted. Don’t think for a minute I haven’t been thinking…I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking….and acting on those thoughts….and I’m eager to catch you up on what God’s been doing.

Last year as I faced the reality that I have an eating disorder (ED) I said I would be transparent about it through this blog. You have been with me through ‘the good, the bad, and the ugly made beautiful.’ That’s the subtitle of my blog. There has been a lot of the good and bad but I haven’t quite seen the ‘ugly made beautiful’ too much. Until now.

adventure-4Thanksgiving 2016 was rough for me. There was a lot going on and it was my first holiday with an acknowledged eating disorder. I was just focusing on the plan my dietician and I had developed. It has my undivided attention and quite frankly, it was a real fight. In the midst of it all the Facebook page Beating Eating Disorders became a long distance friend walking the road with me. They were literally RIGHT there to encourage, challenge, listen and cheer. They literally helped me make it through the holiday when I was so tempted to just disappear into my old ED behaviors to just survive the holiday.

It was through that entire experience where I believe I turned a corner in my ED recovery. Something felt different inside. The ED controlled me less, my self-confidence was a little stronger, and I was more focused in doing what I knew I needed to do, not just what I ‘wanted’ to do…or what my ED wanted me to do. I was experiencing a little freedom from my ED. And I believe it turns out some of the emotional exhaustion I experienced in December was partially due to the internal war being waged against my ED (on top of everything I enumerated in my last post). I talked about it more with my counselor and dietician and started being more open about it on my Facebook page. I was, in essence, ‘coming out.’

Shortly after all this a thought went through my mind. I was finding myself helping others and encouraging others in their ED fights when I wasn’t that far down the path myself. A phrase one of my pastors said in a teaching kept coming to mind. He was teaching on growth and discipleship and asked ‘what does it take to help someone else?’ The answer was simply ‘to just be one step ahead.’ And a crazy thought was born. I started developing a new blog for eating disorder support. It started out on WordPress and I have since transitioned it into a complete website: http://mystepahead.com. I decided if I could help someone else as they begin their ED recovery journey I wanted to share all I could.adventure-2

I spent December writing and designing the website. I firmly believe being Christian with an eating disorder is even more difficult for the extra guilt and condemnation it brings and I wanted to dedicate a section of the site for that audience as well so I included a section called ‘Ragamuffin Central’ where we talk about those things. The blog was moved over to the site and on January 1st I launched my website and have been growing it since.

In addition to that I had 2 other blog entries published on the Beating Eating Disorders website as holiday blog posts and had another just published a couple weeks ago with another slated for publication at the end of February. This organization has become near and dear to my heart and I began to feel the pull to be an advocate for eating disorder awareness and adventure-3encouragement. Oddly enough around the same time a way became available for me to become more actively involved with the team on a regular basis and I am now part of the Beating Eating Disorders team. Beyond that I started to get the itch to share my story in a more public forum. I have felt for a while that God wants to use me in larger ways and unexpectedly this eating disorder thing seems to be the niche. I have become comfortable with sharing my struggle more openly on Facebook and on my website, and just last week I sent letters to two universities mainly asking for opportunities to share my story during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week Feb. 26-March 4 of this year.

If you’re getting whiplash reading all this I’m right there with you! To go from ‘I just need to survive the holidays’ to ‘hey, may I come share my story in front of your thousand students?’ in basically 60 days is a pretty wild ride! I kinda cock my head a few times as I type.adventure-1

There is only one explanation: GOD! I embraced that “I AM valuable” to Him at retreat last October and it kind of started to run free from there! I am getting some crazy ideas of things to include in a large presentation in terms of creative arts (that is a ways off) but I really believe God is setting me up to catapult me forward. There are many who struggle with an eating disorder – Christian and non – who need to hear encouragement and hope and the love found in the person of Jesus Christ.

I have no firm clue where this is leading though I have some pretty big ideas if it goes where it could go. For now I’m just going to focus on my own recovery and ride this wave wherever God takes it. I will continue to blog here about my personal recovery and use the website as a means to encourage others and share things I have been learning. I hope you will follow both. Let’s see where God wants to take this thing. Are you up for an adventure?! LET’S GO!

 

Relearning the Same Lesson

It’s 7a on a Sunday and I’m usually off and running unloading sound equipment at church right now. The weather has me questioning the safety of that trip right now so I’m on the sidelines. Ever since the wreck Mom and I were in years ago that had her gone for 10 weeks and left her mildly disabled because someone else lost control….I’m just super cautious. So as I sit in my dimly lit room posting a devotional in a FB room for which I write I came across this post from a few years ago. Funny how God recycles the lessons He teaches us.

I have been feeling very distracted lately. I haven’t written a lot here since retreat. There has been a LOT going on, including work peak season with staff shortages and a price increase thrown in for good measure with year end inventory lurking on my doorstep (and I’m the Inventory Manager), bro started a new job that has led to adjustments in the family schedule that take time to settle, and FINALLY finishing physical therapy the week of Thanksgiving (I was in PT since August for my July leg injury). Aside from the business this whole thing about ‘community’ of which I last wrote has been challenging me and it’s been tough to work through. I still don’t have it all settled and quite frankly the holidays – which are always an emotionally hard time for me – make it harder to feel connected. I am struggling in that realm a great deal right now so I WANT to do what I know I should do but because it is so challenging it’s also emotionally draining and with everything going on right now there’s little energy left to invest in that arena. It becomes more of a ‘do’ than a ‘be’ scenario and that only makes things worse when I know I’m already at a vulnerable place.

So coming across this blog post just seemed timely. It’s from a time when few of my current friends knew I even existed. Oh how my life has been enriched since this time. I still struggle with getting my devotional time and I still feel I’m ‘doing’ more than ‘being.’ But this message God sent me that I share….well….I needed to hear it again. And maybe you do, too. This was originally posted on this site December 13, 2013.

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Mary, Martha, and a Message

I’ve been thinking some lately about Mary & Martha. You probably remember the story….Jesus goes to hang out at their house and Martha gets ‘busy’ – serving, cleaning, taking care of the guests – and Mary sits. But she doesn’t just sit….she SITS AT THE FEET OF JESUS! That’s where Martha wanted to be….hanging out at with the Messiah and drinking in every word He said. And frankly – she gets jealous. She’s busy ‘taking care’ of things and Mary’s sitting on her backside not paying any attention to anything but Jesus. And Martha makes her point known to Jesus.

plate-spinner[1]“Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:40-41)

I confess I have a bit of a Martha complex right now. There’s a LOT going on and it feels as if I have 2 jobs…one more than full time that someone pays me to do and the other one I come home to for the ‘rest’ of the time. And my attitude can tank about it – quickly. That’s not to say that the need for a break is not real and not communicated…but it’s to say that the attitude towards it at times wreaks of Martha and screams for a touch of Mary.

I’ve left life’s circumstances take away the one thing that is most important to me – my personal time with the Lord each day. And as it’s basically been non-existent for about 2 months it becomes easier and easier to feel like God is slipping away. Or more accurately – that I’m slipping away from God and I suddenly find myself feeling like I’m going at this alone. Oh I ‘know’ God is there and all but I have to do this. It becomes about ‘me’ getting it done and ‘me’ doing what God has given me to do. Only ‘little’ thing missing is the power of God at work to make it easier! I’ve slipped down the slope and before I know it I’m relying on my own strength, my own power, my own knowledge. No wonder I’m tired, worn down, emotional, stressed, and need a break. And I’m not stepstalking just a 4 hour break. I mean a BREAK!

So I’ve got the whole Martha thing going on and trying to figure out how to transfigure that to Mary. And then life creeps in again when I finally get a few minutes to crack open my Bible and notebook. And Martha pops back into the scene just when I was ready for her to make an exit. It’s a vicious circle and I see no real way out. It’s just my ‘responsibility before the Lord’ to bear up under the trial and so whatever needs to be done and I end up putting myself on the back burner. Serving doesn’t mean cast myself aside. Still not sure how to balance that whole thing but those are the thoughts in my head.

And then something happened today that melted me.

A few months ago I began the privilege of playing in the worship band at church. The group I play with is scheduled for this month so I was up on stage, guitar strapped over my shoulder, in ear monitors keeping me with the group, and just trying to make sure my harmonies weren’t too dissonant. 🙂

We were playing our last song after ministry time when I suddenly see one of our leaders come up on stage and step behind me. I thought little of it figuring he was heading for either the other guitarist or myself maybe just to pray for that person. And then I felt his hands on my shoulders. I was that person. OK…I can handle that. I’ll let him pray and I’ll keep playing. But then he started to speak quietly into my ear.

“I believe the Lord gave me a word for you just now.” I quit playing. I don’t know what you believe about those types of things but I believe God can speak to us through others. Yes it needs to line up with Scripture and all that…and this gentleman has had things impressed on his mind in relation to something for me in the past. I trust him because he trusts the Lord. So when he said “I believe the Lord gave me a word for you” I was all ears.

11535792_1450485585269985_3836218968766991107_nI quit playing, turned a little away from my music, and just looked at the carpet as he spoke. I wanted to hear what he had to say. It was simply this: “I AM NEAR.” He said he was in front as part of a prayer ministry team and when he glanced up on stage my way those three words came to mind with the explicit instruction to speak to them from behind me. The tears started. The weight of the world – the ‘so many things’ about which I am ‘worried and bothered’ (Jesus’ words to Martha) seemed to melt away. The weight became less. At least for that brief moment.

My mind immediately went to ‘what does that mean? is something bad going to happen?’ – and all those types of things. You know….trying to figure out God. But then I started to think of the symbolism behind the explicit instruction. This person was told specifically to come up behind me and speak to me from behind. Why that detailed? Because God wants me to know HE HAS MY BACK. I struggle with feeling alone and one my own – unprotected if you will. There are family members who are certainly ‘there’ to help and listen, etc., but no one is THERE physically in the immediate. They don’t live next door. The closest is 2 hours away. So feeling alone and ‘on a limb by myself’ is certainly an active feeling. So God wants me to know HE HAS MY BACK. HE IS NEAR!

And then this person shared a bit more as I gave a little insight to what’s been going on. He simply said this: ‘Nothing surprises God. He knows. He sees. He’s not caught off guard. He is near.’ And that comes into play with some personal stuff I’m working through….a time period in my life that I still strugglesoul-knows with, including feeling like God abandoned me. Now I ‘know’ that wasn’t the case but my mind hasn’t caught up with my heart, or the other way around – whichever way it goes. And in the process of working through the stuff I’m working through the struggles are getting bigger as the pain becomes more real. (2016 note: this part of the issue God has since resolved). He wants me to know HE IS NEAR as I work that through, as I face my fears, and as I let go so He can fully heal. HE IS NEAR.

So I’m quiet and pondering right now. I’m confident there are many more applications. He is behind me – He has my back. He is near – He sees EVERYTHING and knows what’s going on – including how I feel. He is near to be that lighthouse for a lonely sailor trying to find my way to shore in the midst of swelling seas. He is saying ‘do not fear’ and do not let myself be ‘worried and bothered about so many things.’ He will take care of it all. I just need to sit at His feet and be Mary for a while. “For Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Mary CHOSE to sit. I can do it. I just need to make the choice and keep making the choice.

Sitting at the feet of Jesus is described by the Lord Himself as ‘the good part.’ That’s the part I want.

Community at the Crossroads

This will probably end up being a big jumbled mess of random thoughts that somehow end up being woven together at the end. THAT…will be an act of God!

I am three days post-retreat at the time I start this post. Last week I escaped to the mountains of PA to go to Camp Christian for the 2016 Walking Stick Retreat “The Kingdom Is…” But what I experienced was deeper than I ever expected. I struggle for words as my brain starts to process. Part of me just wants to hole up in my room for a day or two and be left alone. And as peaceful as I feel in thinking about retreat I also find myself getting angry.

It’s now two weeks later and I have more coherent thoughts to pound out but the topic is the same: Community. I’m still in the ‘pounding out’ process and this is part of that process.

I said I was finding myself angry. I’m past the initial anger but the residual sense of something that needs to change remains. Let me see if I can explain this.

If there is one thing you will hear folks say about the Walking Stick retreats (http://twentyfirstcc.org/retreats) it is that the sense of community is very strong. The Facebook room that opens up about 2 weeks before retreat begins the community building process so when we finally get to the retreat we are at least community-1not total strangers. Folks share, encourage, challenge and discuss stuff in the room. It’s almost as if there is an implied trust. At this stage of things many of us know each other at least through FB interactions and usually through previous joint retreat experiences. What I love about the folks is an openness to new folks – and an anticipation of new folks joining. The family has to keep growing! And those new folks tend to take it in and shortly after things get started they, too, realize it’s a safe place. So by the time the retreat is in full swing things just start to happen…triads are formed and relationships start to build. And walls come down.

Experience that for 2.5 days and something happens inside. Something for which we all yearn. We have a place to rest – spiritually, emotionally and mentally (not necessarily physically because we enjoy the fellowship so much). We have a place to belong. We have a place to be ‘me’ – whatever part of ‘me’ is coming out at that moment. We have a community-2place where it is safe to question, feel, express emotions, doubt, discover, inquire, grow, ponder, love, give, share, serve. We are accepted, and we accept others. No strings attached. We just love each other. We might have been strangers two weeks prior but we are family and friends by the time we leave.

And leaving is the hard part. We are seeds being blown into the wind when we pull out of retreat and head home. We have had the Word imparted to us – planted in us – and when we leave we are to take it with us. And we want to. But therein lies the challenge.

We may not necessarily feel the same at home as we do at retreat. And it’s not even ‘feel’ that way as much as it is ‘experience’ the same thing…or even a close resemblance. For many of us brokenness is a common thread woven community-5through the tapestry of friends. And that brokenness yields a ‘realness’ and a desire to become ‘comfortable with the uncomfortable.’ And that brings a sense of community. And sometimes going home is like having a rock thrown through your glass window.

That was my struggle two weeks ago when I got home from retreat. That was the anger I was experiencing. I fell into a bad habit of comparing myself to others and fighting through some jealousy…depth of relationships, thinking someone is ‘better’ at something than I am when in actuality we just do it differently (ex: writing). There were so many things of which I could be envious and that started trying to eat up the seeds that were planted in me during retreat. Thankfully the retreat room is such a safe place that I could even confess those thoughts to the people of whom I was envious! Now THAT’S being comfortable with the uncomfortable! But see what I mean? THAT is community! While I was nervous about sharing – and a bit ashamed – my struggle was met with love and acceptance. Not ONE person said ‘you shouldn’t feel that way’ or ‘you’re wrong for feeling that way.’ Instead it was ‘I get it. I do it too.’ That’s one of the differences jesus-and-the-kingdom-of-god-17-728with this group of folks.

But ultimately at retreat we talked about taking the kingdom experience we had to our communities at home…to be the community. And that thought resonated with me and challenged me. And I had a choice to make: repeat the past or get comfortable with the uncomfortable. I have chosen the latter.

For the last 15 years I’ve been involved in churches but not really connected. My ‘identity’ became what I did….worship team, sound board, youth ministry, etc. I didn’t feel I was known for ‘me.’ I was involved in small groups but had no real connections and really little to no interactioncommunity-3 with group members outside of the group meetings, and some of those groups only met twice a month to start with! That was simply a ‘manageable level of tolerable existence’ and it is no longer acceptable to me. I want, need – and God expects and wants – more. Now I have some ownership in the past and I acknowledge that. And I also have some ownership in the present. And that is what I have power to change. Community is at a crossroads in my life and I have a choice to make, and I have made it.

I am a different person than I was. THANK GOD! I am in a totally different place than I once was. THANK GOD! And as a result I know when something isn’t right or isn’t what God wants. And though it may mean pushing myself out of an INSANE comfort zone, I know it’s the right thing. And here’s what I know is right and what now drives me:
1) I believe I am lovable and that God loves me.

2) I believe that God wants only the best for me and He reaches out to me in community and reaches out to others through me in community.

3) I am building a new foundation on the newly developing realization that I AM valuable to God, that He wants to use me, and I have responsibility to put myself in positions where He can use me.

community-4I will no longer let myself be known for my activities and involvements rather than for who I am. That means pushing myself. A LOT! But I am willing. I have to. I am tired of being lonely in the crowd and learning how to ‘fake it til I make it.’ My masks came off two years ago. Sometimes I have felt like some people don’t know what to do with me….this ‘new’ me….the real me. And I am still discovering and uncovering parts of ‘me’ I didn’t know were there in the past. And that’s what makes it exciting….it’s a journey I am on and am eager for people to come alongside c683b31d4e118cc4849e652da8925161me on it. Some reading this may be shocked. “This doesn’t sound like the Sue I knew.” Exactly the point. I have changed. I have grown and am growing. And I am in search of people who will come on the journey with me.

comfortOne way this plays out – in growing being ‘comfortable in the uncomfortable’ – is in the small group environment. Small groups revolve around intimacy and food…..openness in conversation, sharing of real life, and of course…food. Being vulnerable is newer to me. Just because I talk about it doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with it, and in a small group setting it will be a HUGE challenge…after 15 years of attending but not connecting. But I am SO determined to be real that I have to push myself. And that even means I’m pushing myself in my eating disorder. I know what I want….what I need….what God is calling me to, and I will do whatever it takes to be totally committed to God…..and that usually means I need to get out of the way.

 

 

A Personality All Its Own

** Note: Remember how I said I will share my ED journey with you through the good, the bad, and the ugly made beautiful? Well, this would be one of those posts **

Ever feel like there’s a voice inside your head and you’re fighting against yourself? Sometimes thoughts-e1317945585137wonder if you’re going crazy? Or you feel like there’s another side of you living inside your head and you joke about having another personality? Admit it – we all do! I’m no different. But I found a little relief last week when the ‘personality all its own’ was confirmed. Now before you call the folks with the fancy white coats bear with me.

My relief came from my dietician. We were talking last week as we always do and I was sharing with her some observations I’ve had of my eating behavior…concerning observations that were a bit frustrating. She looked at my food log, got a wistful look on her face…okay, maybe a smirk…and asked one question. Just one question. That’s all it took. It was simply ‘what do you think your eating disorder would say about that?’ The answer was ‘creative restricting’. It had to do with stretching out my meal times ‘to see if I’m still hungry before I eat more.’ But that’s not what brought relief. Her question itself brought relief.

Imagine if you can life inside the head of an eating disordered person. We have to eat to live. And yet I don’t like to think about food – the one thing that is my lifeline to…well…life itself! At my worst when I was depressed back in the 90s I was down to 110 pounds. Probably should’ve been in treatment or the hospital but I wasn’t in eating disorder be-patientcounseling at the time. I am at a healthy weight and maintaining it but it doesn’t mean the challenge is any less. In fact within the first year of seeing my counselor my weight was down and she gave me one last chance to show her I could gain it back on my own or we were going to be talking some kind of treatment. So with the yo-yo history any time I find myself ‘creatively restricting’ my food it’s a red flag and could quickly lead to the slippery slope.

So here I am trying to rewire my brain from the misfires of the past. It’s a complicated process – much more so than I thought it would be. I’m already finding myself having passing thoughts of ‘good enough’ and ‘is this as good as it will get?’ Already see the dichotomy of thought? Try living with it every minute of every day for decades! This dietician journey is one of baby steps. In fact when I first started she commented she was intentionally not pushing hard because she figured if she did I would be out the door and maybe come back in a few months. And at that point she was probably right! So we had to start with simply setting a meal schedule for when to eat and work on just keeping to that. I’ve been one to constantly snack to curb the hunger – or load up on sugar snacks. And then there are those diabetic food exchanges to figure….how many servings of carbs, protein, and endurance fuels (fats) are in what I am eating for that meal and does it match my meal plan. Oh – and let’s not forget increasing when I eat to be a total of 3 meals and 3 snacks a day….in essence eating every 2-3 20160713_191210hours. That seemed like a mountain I couldn’t climb when I first started.

So that’s just to get STARTED on a meal plan! We haven’t even started talking about food yet….deciding what to eat, figuring how it will fit into my meal plan, and figuring out what I will use to fill a hole if I’m still in need of something – usually protein – to meet my meal plan for that particular meal or snack. It gets exhausting and I have been feeling that lately.

So when I shared with Kristen (dietician) my observation and she asked her simple question it validated the struggle. Suddenly the hell inside my head was given a life of its own. An escape hatch. A light of its own. And the pressure valve released a little. Suddenly the battle wasn’t only inside my head any more. The enemy was given a name and an identity and a personality all its own. It’s like I could take a step outside myself to get some perspective. It wasn’t img_1364-1024x1024ME having those thoughts. It was the eating disorder! It is its own personality. SEPARATE entities!

As I thought about all this on the way home from the appointment I had to start looking at the spiritual side. Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) reads “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” For those of you not coming from a Christian mindset just please keep reading to at least try to understand what I am saying. This is NOT a case of ‘the devil made me do it.’ But it is a case of the spiritual war that exists. If the enemy of my soul, Satan, can get me distracted from thinking about God and living the way He wants me to live (taking care of my body for example) then Satan wins that battle against God because God loves His kids (including me) so anything Satan can do to get God’s kids to not be focused on Him makes Satan think he got a jab in on God. They’ve been at it from the start of time.

And up until now the enemy HAS been winning. I have not been thinking about honoring God through my body. I’ve been thinking about ‘how do I get this ‘right’?’ – an old issue for us ED folks. I don’t enjoy the food God has created. It’s a necessary evil in my mind and if I could do without it I would. My entire attitude is not one of thanksgiving but one of tolerance – and then only if necessary. There is still a 90791-eating-disorder-recovery-quoteslot of anger attached to my eating. I resent having to eat, having to think about food, having to figure how it fits into the plan so I get it ‘right’, and I resent having to seek the help of a dietician and admit it’s worse than I like to let on. After all, I’m still tempted with thoughts of ‘it’s just odd eating patterns’ and not an eating disorder. And I hate eating in a group of people…to the point that the beloved retreat I go on is coming up in a couple weeks and I am discussing the menu and ‘coping strategies’ with my dietician this next week. It simply causes me stress and anxiety!idea-300x212

So with all that going on in the mind when she gave my ED its own personality the pressure cooker inside the brain released a bit. I don’t have the answers yet. I’m still trying to right a listing ship and we talked about that this week. Her pointed question to me was ‘why do you want to keep doing this?’ to which I simply answered ‘because if I don’t it will just go back to what it was before.’ So this week we’re focusing on getting back on track and doing what I’m supposed to be doing (fixing all my food at once, having a time frame in which to eat it all instead of stretching it out, and the new twist this week – not eating protein bars as part of breakfast so as to get my protein from another source…the bars are snacks only). See how it can mess with your mind and most certainly engrained patterns?! But it’s right. And necessary. Because my ED has its own personality. And it needs some work.

Pressure to Write About Being Under Pressure

pressure So this week’s theme is ‘under pressure.’ Yeah, that song goes through my head, too, but there’s got to be more to write about than that! It’s taken me a day to get out from under the pressure of my daily schedule to be able to consider writing about being under pressure.

The schedule has been pretty crazy lately – well, ever since PT began in August. It was for 12 sessions but at 2 per week plus a week off until we had the MRI results that makes it drawn out to a 7 week ordeal. AND we’re not sure I’m done yet. I have a session tonight and next Tuesday and a return trip to the doc next Thursday. There’s a strong desire to be off crutches by then. My physical therapist wants it for me. I want it for me. Doc wants it for me. The question becomes will my leg be ready for it.

I have been given the green light by PT to do as much as it will let me and I’ve been doing well and seeing improvements. Earlier this week I made a significant trip to the warehouse with just one crutch (still using the golf cart). But my leg is faithful to tell me when I’ve done too much. It yells at me. Loudly. Quickly. Fiercely. That day (Tuesday) I sat at my desk for 3o minutes or so with an ice pack.20160922_155414

We did a different taping with the kinetic tape – right around the knee to support the medial side (inner side) where the pain is. The hamstring by and large is fine……still needs some strengthening and cramps a little after being in the car 10-15 minutes but no real pain or discomfort. It’s all about the knee right now. Anyway, the tape made a difference and we leave it on a few days. I took it off this morning and almost immediately felt the absence of the support it had been given. There was an ache and a little pain but it seemed to subside though I was a little more gimpy at the office than I had been. Made it up and down the steps with the crutches and at one point it seemed to be doing better so I thought I could  make it down without the crutches since I was just going to the office at the bottom of the steps (lead with the bad leg and bring the good leg behind, one step at a time, not consecutive like usual). Until….2 steps down I felt this sensation in my knee….a familiar sensation…..a painful sensation….and I stopped. And this happened (see image of text). And my rescue came minutes later and I have been keeping my friends Peg and Leg nearby ever since. But PT is going to teach me the taping technique so I can do it on my own. Cool!

I think the biggest pressure I feel right now – besides getting off these stupid crutches – is just keeping things in balance. As previously shared my mortgage went full amortization this month so an additional $238 dollars comes out of my pocket every month. But at least now I’ll start to build up some equity! I have been diligently reworking the budget and renegotiating costs and have been pretty pleased. I have met my goal and it was a joy to make that first payment without pressure of ‘how do I pay the rest of the bills until payday’. But with all my calls and such a couple pressure-ulcer-articlepayment dates have changed so keeping on top of it all takes a little extra attention right now. Good attention and I am again excited for my debt reduction plan to kick back in after having to take off a couple months with the leg and all. Speaking of which…..I got a surprise from insurance where it appears my payments for PT will be significantly less than we had planned and I had been paying. It should be confirmed tonight so I’m not counting on it yet but if it pans out I will have a nice credit which should carry me through the rest of my PT and probably still give me a little refund as well! Nice to feel the pressure escape a bit.

And then there’s the eating. My ‘care quotient’ has dropped the last few weeks and I haven’t spent much mental energy on meal planning so that only hurts the cycle all the more. My dietician and I had a good conversation this week and as I asked a question she got a quizzical look on her face, a small 90791-eating-disorder-recovery-quotessmile (okay, a smirk), thought a minute and then said ‘what do you think your eating disorder would say about that?’ I loved the way she gave my ED its own personality. In a weird kind of way that really helped separate it from myself and gave it some substance I could relate to which then helps in fighting it. In this particular case I told her I was already thinking my question was in essence ‘creative restricting’ to which she smiled, nodded in agreement, and said I still need to do what I was hoping I didn’t have to. I was also very appreciative of the camp director at the camp where the retreat will be held sending me a copy of the menu for the weekend. I had mentioned the retreat and my anxiety about eating in public to my dietician this week and we will be talking about it next week. She was interested in seeing the menu. I can do this (though the thought still makes my stomach get tied up in knots…even though these people are dear to me old ED has a voice of its own and doesn’t like to be silenced easily.

Between PT twice a week and the dietician once a week, three of the four week nights are already accounted for with appointments and when I’m not getting home until 7p – which is when we like to eat by – it’s a bit of a challenge to get home, fix dinner, eat dinner, clean up from dinner and then try to relax for a bit before going to bed….and that doesn’t count if Mom needs a foot treatment done because the nurse couldn’t make it or whatever. So when my counselor asked about finding a different time to meet due to some schedule issues I wasn’t surprised that it’s taken 2 days and about 10 emails back and forth to maybe come up with a time — just for this week! Hopefully that will settle soon too!

By and far my biggest pressure relief is in 3 weeks…in fact 3 weeks from today I leave for the Walking Stick Retreat. imagesuqvgiql4It’s been fun the last couple days as the anticipation grows. There have been texts and emails and Messenger messages asking about travel plans. When are you coming in? Are you driving this route? Wanna meet half way and caravan together? What airport are you flying into? Who’s coming in early? Wanna plan on dinner that night before the retreat starts? What it tells me is there is a fierce love and appreciation of each other and these 3 sacred days in the hills of PA are a respite for headerwalkingstick1weary souls in search of some solace, some encouragement, some direction, some fellowship, and maybe a few surprises since we never know what God has in store for each of us. I liken it to the anticipation of a family reunion mixed with going to summer camp. I spent 5 summers at Kanakuk Kamp in Missouri working in the kitchen and I could not get on the road fast enough to drive the 730 miles one way – sometimes in one day. It was my ‘summer escape to the woods’ with no cell phones, no tv, and a whole lot of fun, laughs, and love. I am SOOO looking forward to retreat. This will be my first time arriving early. That is intentional because (1) I don’t want to drive in WV and PA mountains alone in the predawn hours under pressure to arrive by 9a or so to settle in before the first session at 10:30a; and (2) this is my one time away with friends every year and I just want the fellowship. The retreat gets going and there is little time to just hang out because you don’t know what God is doing in someone else’s life that may take them away for a while. This is my catch up time with folks who have become family. My chance to LIVE and experience TRUE community. My chance to relax. My chance to decompress. My time to slow down and listen. I need to hear from Him. I’ve gone off track again. Maybe this time the ship will be righted even more and some things put in place to keep the listing ship from listing again next year. So yes…I’m outta here! Rental car is already reserved. I’m ready to start packing but I’ll wait for that.

But even when things seem crazy and hectic and what not I remember this: 2 Corinthians 4:8-12New International Version (NIV)

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

The pressure may be there but it’s for a greater purpose and it won’t destroy me.

Defining, Pivotal, Life Changing Moments

As my mind processes all I want to share I’m just going to let it go. What comes out is whatever comes out.

Lately as I’ve been on Facebook (FB) I’ve seen a number of posts from newer friends recalling where they were ‘this time last year’ or ‘this time two years ago.’ And I smile, and I get it, and I, too, think of the latter. maxresdefaultOh to be able to open my  mind and play for you the movie I see. I think of the lyrics to Big Daddy Weave’s “My Story” (https://youtu.be/1TKAN-nAsu8) – hope that wouldn’t let go, hope that wouldn’t give up, life that isn’t mine, the kindness of Jesus that draws me in, victory over the enemy, freedom won for me, life overcome the grave, of grace that is greater than ALL my sin. I see all that in the movie in my mind.

Probably 15 years ago or so I wrote something I named ‘An Open Letter to the 10 Most Influential People in My Life.” I mailed it to each person and heard back from some of them. Up until that time I identified my 5 years at Kanakuk as one of the most pivotal times in my life. I had only been a believer 3 years and had never been discipled so to be in that environment was beyond description. I am still in touch with many of the folks I came to know while there.

Quite frankly since then I am hard-pressed to elevate anything 3351_72302271711_7837559_nas ‘pivotal’ or ‘most influential’ to my life. There have been times that are special but nothing that reached that ‘life changing’ level….and that’s not a phrase I throw around a lot. Others do. I do not. It needs to be P-R-E-T-T-Y monumental to get that label from me. Meeting my kids through Compassion International in 2004 was one such milestone. That was LITERALLY my lifelong dream come true.

There has been a lot of water under the bridge since I wrote that letter. I think it ended up being 8-10 typed pages single-spaced. A lot of life has happened….the good, the bad, and the ugly made beautiful….and there’s a lot of life going on now. For many years I have felt like I’m floating along – not quite aimlessly but not with much purpose past just doing whatever needed done. I was living for the Lord but the zest and enthusiasm had dwindled.

Then in the last 8 years God has been hammering in my life. There were a lot of unresolved issues in my life of which I was unaware. Unresolved issues like to stay hidden. in processBut they were beginning to take their toll on me and I need to do something about it. I just didn’t realize what I was inviting into my life. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better” certainly rung true. Or as my counselor said early on, ‘This is an angry process.’

There’s that word. Those who have known me the last 2 years know my history with that word.

My feelings toward that word and so much more that ragamuffin-posterGod wanted to do in me began to change. I just didn’t realize how big it really was.

It started with a scroll through FB one day. I saw this announcement about a movie based on the life of Rich Mullins called Ragamuffin. I knew right away that I wanted to see that movie. What I DIDN’T know is what God wanted to do in me through it.

I saw the movie the first time with my mom and about 8 friends from her church. It was a hard watch. I think I perfected the ‘wipe a tear and don’t let anyone know’ move. I was in a daze for a few days afterwards. And then things started to happen. I jumped on the bandwagon and got involved with Color Green Films in helping find other venues to show the movie, even helping get it into a prison. Later that year when it came out on DVD I watched it with family a couple different times. Each time I got a different message. In short I was learning to embrace grace for the first time in my life. I was beginning to believe that maybe, just maybe, it could be true for me.

And then in the late summer came the announcement about Ragamuffin Retreats. I was drawn to that like a magnet. It took a while until I got with God’s program. I was holding out because I was also hoping to visit some friends in Nashville and I couldn’t do both. As time wore on and things transpired I finally signed up and started ‘shaking like a leaf.’ One of the retreat team members later described it as a ‘Hail Mary’ for me to believe that God – and His kids – could actually love me and that I was loveable.

One of the cool things about the retreat is that a private FB room opens up for participants and team about 2-3 weeks before the retreat. The idea is to allow for the awkward ‘getting to know you’ phase to work itself out so we can hit the ground running once we get to the venue. I was shocked at the openness with which folks shared their stories and felt the pounding in my heart to do the same. It took a few days of the room being open before I 73253931409189727_5z74pnqu_ffinally succumbed to God wooing me to open up. One morning at 4am I sat at the dining room table and pounded out my story to a room full of strangers. I remember saying ‘gulp as I hit post.’ My legs were shaking and bouncing and my heart was pounding out of my chest. I couldn’t believe what I was doing. Yet something seemed so right about it. The rest of the day was full of ‘checking in’ on FB to see what folks were saying…Would I be rejected? Would I get pat answers? Would they just give a ‘thanks for sharing’ response and go on to another post full of less drama and pain? To my relief – that is the only word – none of those fears materialized. I was shocked with the responses and encouragements. It gave a glimmer of hope.

That first retreat was powerful beyond belief. I spent 6 weeks prior to the retreat getting ready with my counselor, lowering the walls and just trying to prepare and work through the fears which were almost stifling. One thing that really prompted it all was something my brother Scott said after his release from prison….he was straightforward and honest with folks when they asked where he had been. If ANYONE had reason to be coy it was him. That challenged me. I remember looking at my counselor through pained eyes of defeat saying ‘I just want to be authentic.’ And so it began. Tell a counselor THAT and they have a lot with which to work!

That first retreat was one of very significant break through. I couldn’t stop smiling for weeks. Folks noticed a difference. Something inside me started to change. I went from broken and feeling like I was too screwed up for God to reach me…that everything in the Bible was just out of reach godiswritingmylifestorybykristinfor me –  to knowing I AM was, is, and always will be right in the middle of my story. I started to realize that I have a story – a worthwhile story – that is worthy of being told. And beyond that I started to BELIEVE that God just might want to use my story to encourage and challenge others and draw them closer to Himself.

Did you catch all that? In a matter of a couple months I went from fearful, sheepish, doubting, and almost writing off all hope to KNOWING and experiencing that I am loved and loveable! I went from barely being able to sit still or even breathe out of fear in sharing my story to coming to grips with my story to the point of believing God might want to use my story in the life of someone else. So I started writing my first book: This Much I Know. Little did I know God was just getting started.

Between 2014 and 2015 there was growth but there was pain. I went from not allowing myself to feel emotions to letting them out which was huge and powerful in so very many ways. I was finding a level of freedom I had never believed I’d find. But then 2015 was full of actually having to FEEL those emotions, beautifulfigure out what that meant, and learn how to deal with them. That was draining and painful and gut-wrenching. I’m so thankful for a very gifted Christian counselor and my Ragamuffin friends who encouraged me along the way. By then they knew me and loved me….as I was….not as I thought I had to be. That ‘Rag Room’ was a life saver for me.

Then in summer 2015 it was announced that Walking Stick Retreats was formed and would be continuing a retreat program separate of Color Green Films. I was in. The same team that did the teaching for the 2014 Ragamuffin Retreat (minus the folks from Color Green Films who were working on their next movie) was coordinating the retreat. That’s all I needed to hear.

In true form – as to be expected – God continued His healing touch in my life in 2015. As my emotions had been awakened and I was learning how to FEEL those emotions and not shut them off by giving in to my eating disorder, etc., I was spent. I was done. I had little emotional energy left and it showed. I arrived at the 2015 retreat ‘lost’. As one of the retreat team members said, ‘maybe this weekend you’ll be found.’ I just said ‘I hope.’free

Right from the first session God was pounding and there was a battle going on. It lasted until Saturday night…pretty much the entire retreat. While I had finally acknowledged one particular traumatic aspect of my story in 2014 which opened the door for a flood of emotions, those emotions were still being regulated and there was still much to let go of – to mourn. When there has been a death one cannot move on until one has grieved properly.

I have shared on this blog what God did in my heart at the 2015 retreat. https://wordpress.com/post/bebold7.wordpress.com/477

Shortly after the 2015 retreat God put His finger on the ‘next thing’ He wants to heal. He has more than His finger on it now. He has His entire palm on it! I am having to draw from all He’s brought me through thusfar to again tell myself He is trustworthy, He is good, and He loves me. It is MOST CERTAINLY a work in progress! I haven’t yet garnered the courage to tell anyone – not even the retreat friends – what the specific issue is. Not that I have to, and that is the joy of ragamuffins. getpastthepast-1024x1024They love me, they pray for me, and they don’t feel they ‘have’ to know. If I choose to trust them  with this sacred stone they are blessed and thankful, and if I don’t, they still feel blessed and thankful.

So at this point in my life I would say the last 2 years have been the most pivotal point in my life. I am a changed woman. Things I never DREAMED could become reality in my life seem like they have now been there quite some time when it’s really only been 2 years. It’s all still very new and still VERY much a process. But I have friends who will go on the journey with me, sometimes just sitting in silence and sometimes supporting me as I get the courage and strength to take yet another step when I am weary from the journey. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

imagesuqvgiql4The 2016 Walking Stick Retreat is in 5 short weeks. I have noticed many folks who will be attending start to turn their focus toward that weekend….that sacred place in the hills in PA….that ‘place set apart’ which is Camp Christian. For me it is returning to the place it all started as that was also the place of the 2014 retreat. This year’s theme is ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is….’ as we look at various parables and what it means to have the Kingdom alive in our lives. I have no idea what God may do or how He will do it. It may be much less dramatic than the last 2 years….or it could be that those 2 years were just a warm up to get me to this point. I don’t know. I just know though I still struggle I will be at a safe place with safe people….and right now I’m just focusing on staying open to whatever the Lord may want to do in me and prayerfully through me. And it’s not too late to join in….go to http://twentyfirstcc.org/retreats for more information and to sign up.

Read more ‘pivotal moments’ from Jenn at http://jennfreeatlast.com and Leisa at http://life4inga.blogspot.com

 

 

 

I’m in a Hurry to Get Things DONE – WAIT!

51659-funny-quotes-about-hurryI confess! I broke the ‘rules.’ If you, like me, have read the blog of Jenn (http://jennfreeatlast.com) you already know how I spent Labor Day. Jenn was SUCH a trooper (no, not highway trooper) and we enjoyed the laughs at the Apple Store, lunch, and any other adventure we could find in between. Ragamuffin Breakfast – or lunch – or dinner – or dessert – is always fun. There are 4 of us involved….and we try to get together monthly…most popular is Ragamuffin Ice Cream. I mean – c’mon now – who doesn’t love ice cream and friends?! Unlike so many other areas of life right now, they don’t keep me waiting!

Techy Geek Stuff

When I got home I AGAIN hooked up the IMac hoping that maybe the scenic tour around I270 would knock loose whatever the internal hang up was. I mean…it’s reasonable to hope that a few bumps along the way will knock the sense into the hard drive programming, right?! So as I was trying to follow the steps they did at the store (the instructions email never came through) I thought I discovered the holy grail when it appeared the task Derek (the support dude) was trying to accomplish may have actually happened! I had hope! Until I called Tech Support…again.

Long story short…..I was wrong. Back to square one: take it somewhere and shell out some cash. Even if the repair is a couple hundred it’s still an acceptable price to pay for an IMac. I mean let’s just say the hard drive in it right now is 500 GB. And I was using 9….rag-shirt-2most of which was programs. So before I take it to the ‘authorized repair shop’ (hear cha-ching!) I called a local guy who does computer repair. He doesn’t do Apple computers. Bummer. Might have to take it to the recommended place after all…but first I will call for a general price list. I hurried to get it to the store….and now I wait.

I first heard the phrase ‘Hurry Wait’ at Kanakuk. I worked at Kanakuk Kamp in Lampe, MO for 5 years and they were the BEST and most formative summers of my life. I worked in the kitchen – serving 400 staff and kampers 3 meals a day, without air conditioning and sanitizing dishes with an over 100 degree Hobart steam machine. Oh yeah baby! So since the kitchen was a key place for kamp operations we prepared things in advance and then waited when the schedule changed. We just called it K-flex! It has served me well!

The Knee

20160906_194055Last week we left off at the previously mentioned crutches with the leg. Since then I’ve had an MRI. They sent me home with the DVD of the pics….don’t expect me to not look at them if you do that….and I should get the results either late Thursday or Friday. Now I’m not in the medical field and have absolutely no idea of how to interpret an xray or MRI film. Now at the same time I like doing research and YouTube is a wonderful tool! There are videos on basic MRI stuff. To the untrained eye….and with the tools of YouTube….the white section around 9 o’clock next to the knee bones appear a little concerning to me.

I have been emotionally and mentally preparing to hear the ‘S’ word….no, not that one….the Surgery one. That way at least I will have worked through the disappointment and at best I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it’s not necessary. But for now…I wait. Hurry for the MRI. And wait.

I am trying to not rush ahead. My pastors prayed for my leg Saturday night and I was sharing with them my concerns about the interruption of my knee injury. There are, after all, things I have planned. I have an agenda. And while God cares about my agenda, my agenda is not His.

935e04989ef941bb8f89f423fca748bfI was gently yet directly reproved when Pastor Mark simply said, “You know we’re to delight ourselves in the Lord and not focus on our agendas.” That simple statement helped adjust my attitude and focus. Since then my focus has been more on just delighting in Him.

It’s been tough….the ‘fixer’ in me wants to manipulate things…tell God how I need Him to make things happen and on what timeline I need it to happen. There is a very special retreat in mid-October…the Walking Sticks Retreat (http://twentyfirstcc.org/retreats). God has worked powerfully in my life through the retreats held the last 2 years and I really want to go again this year. faithtowaitBut that’s not God’s concern. I have to remind myself that God is God and if He wants to do something in my heart to bring more healing He really IS capable of doing it….with or without a retreat. It’s still a bit of a challenge to continually let go of it, but that’s why they call it a living sacrifice.

Eating

So I’m still meeting with a dietician and generally speaking I look forward to seeing her each week. Until this week…only because the wheels started to wobble and I knew she wouldn’t like what she saw on my food log.

I’m not sure what has brought it on but it seems my ‘care’ factor just went out the window for the weekend. My eating basically resembled pre-dietician days. I told her I needed a kick in the butt which she willingly gave. “Your food plan isn’t designed for only 4 days. Four is better than none but it’s designed for all 7.” And she point blank said she couldn’t make me care and the two main choices were either continue with her or don’t. As she said ‘you don’t need me to tell you how to not eat.’ I told her ‘that’s what landed me here.’

73253931409189727_5z74pnqu_fSo we talked at great length about the obstacles I’ve had this past week. I think some of it is concern over my knee. The possibility of missing the retreat has taken a little wind out of my sails. But I am focusing on just delighting in the Lord, doing all my dietician asks of me, and leaving the rest up to God. I want my only agenda to be honoring Him. Anything He gives is just an added blessing.

So for now I wait for the ‘care factor’ to kick back in and I focus on doing what I’m supposed to do, even when I don’t feel like it.

Wait

Waiting is no fun. I’m not a patient person though I am growing in wait-2that trait. Letting go is harder for me. This entire summer has not been typical for me. I’ve basically been down and out except for about 6 weeks of it…between having an infected root canal taken out and 3 weeks to heal there, being on crutches now for 6 weeks and counting with a possible surgery looming…..my grass cutting garden weeding vegetable harvesting get stuff done around the house and yard summer has been one of WAIT. Not even hurry – wait…just WAIT. And wait I will….because God says I renew my strength when I wait on Him. Hmmmm…….could it be I was doing too much in my own strength? Ouch. Maybe a lot of truth there. And in that case…..have I used this waiting period to get all I can out of it? And if not does God need to slow me down a bit more to let me do that? Could very well be.

More musings on Waiting from Jenn at http://jennfreeatlast.com and Leisa at http://life4inga.blogspot.com