Heart Work Is Hard Work

When Margie asked me to help plan a women’s retreat, I was very excited. It was Margie’s initial vision of getting away, being with God and listening that intrigued me. Specifically, it was the word “listening” that caught my attention and prompted me to action. My aim was to teach you how to listen, to even listen to someone’s silence. It was also to realize that what goes on in our minds keeps us from being present with a person who needs us to listen. Who was to know that standing in front of someone in silence would be so hard and awkward? If you had felt either of these emotions then my workshop was a success. Growth is hard, it is awkward but heart work is hard work, and will produce the revelation and fruit to help you to minister to others. The gift that you gave me this weekend, was letting me “see” you and for that I am humbled.
Here are a few follow up questions for you to reflect on:
 
1. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about other people?
2. How do my beliefs about God and how he sees me affect my relationship with others?
3. Do you look at others differently after having done this workshop?
4. What are you still struggling with? If given a second chance, what would you have done differently?
5. What scripture has become “living” to you?
 
6 What would it be like for you to look into Jesus’ eyes? 
 
If you wanted to read my testimony, it’s under the heading “Alluring Lisa” on my blog.

Definately interesting

So…I hope this blog comes across as something that reaches you in the mundaneness of your life.  I’ve come to realize that there are many gifts and growth in times that I want to scream, yawn or just stare at the wall. I’m wanting to reach out by reaching in to the Spirit they call Jesus within me. My name is Lisa, and throughout this blog you will have to ask yourself: Is she crazy? Or someone sent by God?  I know who I am.

A Social Experiment

I’m going through a tough time right now with a particular relationship in my life. Family. Extended. Now I am praying , reading the Word, agonizing, and talking with people who believe in Jesus. Now that’s the key right there if I want to have any hope of…..well, not sinning. I went to my church on Saturday night, Calvary Fellowship Ottawa, and that message was for me.  I’m sorry that a whole congregation had to sit through Andy speaking for the past hour, I do hope that some of you can get something out of it as well.  Andy was talking on 2 Timothy 2.  I was always feeling that I could not get off of the good soldier feeling of endurance.  I just needed some other parts and could not fit the next step.  It turns out that I have been doing the next step but was not realizing it.  Good to see it on paper.  So the next step of endurance was the athlete, and playing by the rules and then the farmer sowing the good seed of the word of God and having patience to see it grow.  I can’t make seed grow.  And when I play the athlete, I deny myself the feelings of hurt and pain.  And I endure because I know who I am in Christ.  So, when someone in my family is hurting me and punishing me I need to put my faith forefront of the battle and let myself be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  My social experiment is that I’m going to take this verse and live it:

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you….Do to others as you would have them do to you.-Luke 6:27-31

Not do to others as they have done to me, but do for others what Jesus has done for me. Forgive them by doing good when they hate, bless when they mock or gossip and pray for them when I’m shunned. So, I was left out of a family function….ouch.  Taking this verse as example, I’ve sent an email with blessings, and invited to get together on another date. What have I got to lose? I have nothing anyway. It’s a spiritual battle,not against people….

Alluring Lisa

I look back and wonder what all of my pain was for?  And my answer comes clearly: it was for you.  I realize that if I were to ask Jesus why he went through all of his pain, its clear:  It was for me.  So my life becomes in unison to an almighty God whose plans for eternity lie in the life of a human being named Jesus.  He called my name one day. He was planning it all along.  I now reflect and see how God was closing in months prior, anticipating my every move.  Heaven itself giving way to tremendous celebration for the approaching day that I said: “Ok.”  I was surprised because I didn’t let anyone in, not even myself.  He’d chosen me apparently before I was even born.  For the sake of this story, I’ll start with the two months before I knew Jesus.

It really was a beautiful fall day and the few minutes of walking to a bus stop on Fort Street in Victoria, British Columbia seemed like a gift instead of a chore to get to classes.  I felt full and content and enjoyed a certain unfamiliar strength to face the day.  I was staring off into space when a sign from across the street that read ‘garage sale’ came into focus.  Odd for a weekday morning, I thought.  I loved garage sales and it was such a great temptation to go and take a peek, I could take the next bus.  Maybe later, my bus was coming into view and the day was full already with things to do.  As the bus was nearing my stop, for some inexplicable reason, I abandoned the bus stop and crossed the street to go to the garage sale.  I quickly glanced around from table to table only to see all they were selling were bibles.  I missed my bus for this?  Obviously committed, I quickly rifled through a box and found a newer looking bible and paid the amount she was asking.  I wasn’t going to barter, miss my bus, and come out empty handed.  As I got on the next bus I quickly settled into a window seat near the rear and looked down at my purchase:  A bible.  A bible?  It suddenly struck me as so funny and foreign and the more I thought about it, my quiet smile turned into a laugh I could not contain.  Now if you all have taken public transportation in the morning, you’ll know how quiet it was, well except for the hysterically laughing woman in the back holding a bible.

I started seeing life a lot clearer in those last days.  I was noticing my reactions towards my surroundings and others for the first time, realizations that were so beyond my understanding. For instance, I was always the life of the party.  I’m like a party MacGyver that can make fun and create a good time out of nothing.  My group of friends started to get together and go Karaoke.  There was always dancing afterwards. One night I wore my signature dress.  It was a Mandarin style, full length gown that once belonged to my Grandmother.  She bought it in the sixties when she lived in Hawaii.  It was gold lame.  I used to stylishly wear it with my black combat boots. I was kicking it up on the crowded dance floor, having what it appeared to be the time of my life when a younger girl, who was new to our group of friends, yelled out to me:  “Lisa, you’re so much fun!”  I froze on the dance floor, looked at her and replied in a serious tone:  “The ones who are the loudest are the ones who are the most empty.”  And then I continued dancing as if nothing had happened, leaving her standing motionless in the dancing crowd. This was the first time in my life that I was honest with someone and with myself.  Never undervalue when we are open and vulnerable with another human being.  It is an actual miracle that’s taking place before your very eyes.

The next meeting I had with what I now have come to know as the Holy Spirit, was when I was taking an entry level English class at the University of Victoria.  There was a young Chinese woman who sat beside me.  She had very recently immigrated to Canada. One day after class I had asked her why she had moved here. Her Chinese/English was so broken but she said it was so her family could worship Father.  I asked her to explain again what she had meant.  “We have moved here so we can worship our heavenly Father.” And gestured toward the sky.  Her and her family came to Canada to be able to freely worship Jesus.  Wow!  I moved to Victoria to get away from my parents and shack up with my boyfriend.  That certainly was a conversation killer.

I started searching for answers about my physical problems around this time as well.  As any normal young girl, I started menstruating when I was fourteen.  My changing body was never discussed as a mother and daughter bonding session.  So when I did have my first period, I was terribly shocked.  To make matters worse, I was on an exchange program in St.John, New Brunswick from Kelowna, British Columbia.  After that my cycle was twice a year.  So once every 6 months I’d have my regular menstrual period.  I saw a doctor and my exam came back normal.  So I considered it a blessing and was never worried.  But I did start to worry when the regular 6 month cycle continued when into my mid twenties.  Many doctors wanted to simply put me on the pill to regulate my period.  Thankfully one naturopathic doctor that I saw said it best:  “We’ll never get to the bottom of it if we cover it up.”  Agreed.  I also started to go searching for doctors because of my chronic fatigue.  Usually within three minutes of speaking to the doctor, they would get out their prescription pad and prescribe an anti-depressant for me.  Depressed? You think that I’m depressed?  I came to believe that doctors weren’t interested in me, but how to bandage me up so that I could at least limp through life. Next! The truth about my depression was that all I really wanted was for someone to care about me.  I was putting all of my energy and faith into others instead of God, and I was bitterly disappointed all the time.  Things for me seemed to spiral downwards but not out of control, yet. I was still managing to hold a job as an after school care supervisor, attending university full time and dealing with the emotional chaos of breaking up with my fiancée of three years.  But God was closing in on me and allowed me to funnel my life into near hysteria and madness.  I was developing phobias of eating in restaurants and being in a crowd.  I was no longer able to go out to dinner with friends or go to the movies.  My addiction was starting to rear its ugly head and publicly accuse me of all manner of faults. “Not good enough!” “Failure!” “You are so stupid!” There was a constant screaming and battering in my mind from ‘The Accuser’. I was trying to hide from anyone who may see my weaknesses and reject me.  I used to hide in alcohol and drugs and one day woke up on the bathroom floor.  I decided that I was too beautiful to be like this and quit drinking and drugs.  Unfortunately I still didn’t know about how Jesus would fill the void inside me and bounced around from addiction to addiction. This time I had a raging eating disorder and didn’t even know it. Oh yes, God was coming for me. Satan knew it and wasn’t going to stop until he had consumed me.

‘They loathed all food, and drew near the gates of death.’- Psalm 107:17-19

By December my life revolved around food and mealtimes.  When it was breakfast I couldn’t eat, and then when I was in class I had to suppress the ferocious hunger in my belly.  Eating a cracker and cheese would become a tedious endeavor and then my body would have a short consolation of some food digesting and then I would go through the mental anxiety over again a few minutes later.  Anxiety became my constant companion; what are you going to eat? What could I stomach? Was I going to have a hard time eating? I made lavish meals for friends, daydreamed about buffets and tables laden with food and couldn’t eat more than a couple of bites. The anorexia was winning over my life.  I was 110lbs, weak and unable to concentrate.  I had to drop classes and quit my job, and find a new place to live.  It was a tiring string of friend’s couches that led me to find a place in the dormitories on campus. I sat there in my no-style dormitory contemplating my sanity.  All I had was a few pieces of clothing and my school books.   My room consisted of a desk, chair, a bed with hospital sheets and a laminated chest of drawers. I hated the institutional feel of the room.  I did end up finding a nice one bedroom apartment on Meares Street.  I knew I could only afford the rent for a couple of months, but I didn’t care.  I was homeless and needed a safe place of my own to finish off my semester of school.

I was lonely one night and drove by my ex’s place.  It looked like he was having a party and I hadn’t been invited.  I drove back home and parked on the street and just sat there.  Suddenly the all the rage, hate, spite came boiling up from inside me and I started to smash my fists against the steering wheel, breaking it.  Blinded by my hurt, I screamed through my tears for God to help me over and over again.  When I had spent my anger, I heard a soft voice in my head say:  “Call Kellie.” So I did.  Kellie was my cousin on my mother’s side.  She used to come up with her husband and kids from California every summer to our house in the Okanagan.  Once with my ex we went down to see her on our way to Disneyland.  She had just become a Christian and I remember attending one Sunday.  I never made it through 15 minutes of the service before I was high tailing it out of there. My heart was ripping out of my chest and I couldn’t breathe or the flood of tears would come pouring out and never stop. That was a close one.  Now Kellie is a bonafide evangelical Christian.  She knew exactly where I was from, and why I had called.  She just kept on repeating that I was broken, so broken and it broke me to finally have someone hear and verbalize what I wasn’t able to say.  She prayed a battle to high heaven prayer over me that night.  I didn’t understand a word of what she was talking about and it didn’t matter.  That prayer was filling a hole deeper than any person or food could fill, and I was starving.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

What God put into motion for me before I was born was taking shape. Kellie was a vehicle for his eternal plan in my life.  She was going to fly me down to Sacramento for Christmas and be with her and her family for the holidays.  There was a lot at stake for me to do this.  I had to make two phone calls: one to my mother and one to my father.  I was scheduled to spend Christmas with my father up in Edmonton.  My older brother would be there as well after having been away in Korea teaching English for the past couple of years.  He was also planning on coming back with me to Victoria to attend university as well. As for my mother, her annulment came in from the Catholic Church and she was to be married to my stepfather again, this time in a spiritual ceremony. Kellie and I had rehearsed what I was going to say, and Kellie said that she would be praying for me while I called them.  I called my father first as it would be the most difficult.  We had a strained relationship after my parent’s divorce and this was not going to make things easier. Understandably my dad was angry and exasperated when I wouldn’t tell him the reason I couldn’t come but that I would be able to tell him later. “I’m your father, what can Kellie give you that I can’t?”  I didn’t have the answer at the time, but it did come later: Jesus.  My mother’s and my relationship had become emotionally devoid of any attachment, and her response was ‘ok’.

Kellie and her family welcomed me into their home.  Every morning and night Kellie would pray for me.  My hunger started to return and every time I would open the fridge door, Kellie would yell out a ‘Praise God! Halleluiah!’ She made me laugh.  One night during dinner with the family I was struggling with eating and a great anxiety come over me.  Kellie slammed down her fork and lifted her hands and shouted ‘Eat, in the name of Jesus!’And so, I did.

Every time she would pray, Kellie would tell me that I needed to ask Jesus into my heart.  I dun no, I thought, it sounds so hokey.  Who was this Jesus really?  All I remember of him was his contorted face on a statue, hanging from a cross at the front of the church.  I was so scared of the image that I was afraid to look up in church when I was a little girl.  I was already in a mess and I didn’t need that Jesus in my heart.  It looked as if he had his own problems to take care of. 

It was Christmas Eve, 1997, and Kellie and I were at the dining room table having another prayer session and her insisting that I invite Jesus into my heart.  My excuses were thin and Kellie had enough of my obstinacy. Getting up from the table and heading off to bed, Kellie turned to me and said: “Lisa, what have you got to lose?” I remained there quietly for a long time, staring at the clock with those words hanging in the air.  She was right, what haven’t I lost already?  Uurrgghh! The words had no meaning or connection in my heart. It was going to sound so stupid coming out of my mouth. ‘What have I got to lose?’

So just before midnight on Christmas Eve, I spoke out my sinner’s prayer. Prepare yourselves; you might have missed it through all of my mocking and childish distaste of saying the words, rolling my eyes and making a face:

“Jesus, come into my heart.”

Staring at the time, I waited a whole five minutes and nothing happened.  I smiled at myself for being so silly, and went to bed.

Jesus didn’t miss the words. It was all the faith, the fraction of a mustard seed, he needed. That night I was woken up to what I can only describe as light in my room.  I knew that I was in Jesus’ presence.  I recognized the same voice that told me to call Kellie was the one speaking to me in my room now.

“I’m coming in,” Jesus said, “and I wanted you to be awake for this.”

I felt a rush of an embrace on my body that lifted my chest upwards, then a flood of indescribable peace throughout.  I was instantly asleep again as soon as I felt Jesus set me down.

I woke up changed!!!  I didn’t understand fully what I now know, but I didn’t deserve him coming to me and he did anyway. Not because I deserved it, but because He can’t help loving us!

Over the next couple of days I couldn’t stop crying over the state of my physical body and how I had mistreated and despised the very thing God had created and loved.  Kellie found me weeping and staring in the bathroom mirror one day, a clump of hair lay in my hand that I had pulled out while brushing my hair. Another day while sitting for lunch alone, I was struggling to eat.  Frustrated I shoved a chair out beside me and demanded that Jesus sit next to me to see me through this agony.  Again his presence filled me as he reassured me that he was not sitting beside me because I was sitting in his arms.

Kellie led her brother to the Lord that Christmas as well.  However, Satan is always hard at work, and on Christmas Eve her co-worker and good friend had shot himself and died. I had enjoyed my time with Kellie and was eager to be mentored by her in the week that was left.  I still had to go home and face the demons that still were eagerly waiting for me to be alone.

‘The word became flesh.’ John 1:14

I didn’t know another Christian back home and I felt anxious without Kellie beside me.  I was like a lone baby elephant that had left the protection of the herd and all of hell was waiting for the first chance to bring me down.  I was afraid of flying and the only thing that got me on that airplane was the image of Jesus waiting at the airport gates to embrace me and welcome me home. My situation had not changed back home, but I had.  Jesus was my only companion and I would have to look on him to save me.  I knew only that Jesus was real and with me.  I couldn’t be bothered to read the bible.  I still had many reservations about the bible and who wrote it to trust anything that had been written. Coming home I thought I could pick up where I had left off and continue my education. God had better plans.

It was a new year and I felt the hope of new beginnings.  My brother, Will, had moved in with me and was attending the University of Victoria as well.  Yes, it would be good to see Will again. We had been pen pals the time that he had been in Korea. I was looking forward to having him in my life.  Maybe he could fill the void that was inside me. Will had noticed right away how much food I was throwing out.  I hated food and whatever I couldn’t finish I would dispose of because I didn’t want the reminder of the failure I was that I could not eat a simple meal.  I would eat out on my balcony or in my room alone so I didn’t have the added pressure of someone watching me and making comments on how much food was left.  What was I? A child? I was so used to hiding that it was becoming more and more difficult having Will there. 

A surprising event was taking shape at this time. If anything was to happen that was out of the ordinary I’d share it with Kellie, and then she’d tell me where it was written in the bible.  I was in awe with the similarities between real events or visions that I would have and the bible.  God was revealing himself in real time and it made the bible into a treasure hunt of truth and promises. With a lot of trial and error, I was able to gain confidence and faith in his word. The bible also introduced me to the real adversary in my life, Satan.

‘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.’ Ephesians 6:12

I had horrible insomnia.  Hunger pains and anxiety would disrupt me throughout the night.  One night I was woken up by the sound of a strange and foul language being spoken in my room. I strained my eyes to see in the dark and saw a pair of eyes looking at me from the end of my bed.  Fear had come near and I was immobilized on my mattress.  I managed to pull the covers over my head and just say ‘Jesus, Jesus’ over and over again until the fear left.  Jesus had allowed me to see into the spiritual realm.  He wanted me to know and understand that there was a real battle raging for my life.  He himself would win the battle for me, so I didn’t need to worry.  I wasn’t afraid of Satan after that; God was taking care of me.

My body and eating had declined rapidly in the week that I was back from Kellie’s.  I spent most of my hours at the university between classes outside the bathroom, huddled over in excruciating pain. My body had been so starved that it was turning on itself.  Even eating food was making me sick because it became foreign in my body. On the Friday after the first week of classes, Will and I were meeting for dinner up the street at a fish and chip restaurant. Will had already arrived and was waiting for me when I got there.  After the waitress took our orders and came back with our food, I said that I couldn’t eat and would take it with me as take-out.

“I never see you eat, Lisa.” Will said concerned. This was it; I was tired of hiding so I let the miracle happen.

“I have an eating disorder, Will.”

‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.”- Jesus 

The steady droning of the drip machine sounds like an electric pulse in the quiet of my room.  I watched as the long narrow tube filled with saline seeped into the needle connected into my hand.  The liquid was cold and I wanted to rip it out but was too afraid.  My brother had driven me to the hospital later that evening after we got home from the restaurant.  My body had gone into painful spasms after my omission.  It was as if my body heaved and collapsed as I let go of the lie I had been living. Now lying in the hospital bed, the loneliness in my heart exposed as the wall that I had built up around me came crashing down, I was broken.  Great sobs shook my body as the weight of the emotional pain of being alone engulfed me. The night nurse on duty was named Marie.  She could hear me and stood beside my bed and asked me why I was crying.

“I have no one,” I said through my tears, “no one but God.” Taking my hand in hers, Marie replied: “Yes, you do.  And I see Him all over you.” She then knelt down and prayed for me.

Marie’s shift had ended before I woke up.  I felt so much joy when she had left her business card for me to call her. Kellie was overjoyed as she was praying for me to meet a Christian here.

I was feeling more at peace in the hospital as my immediate physical needs were being taken care of.  My ex came by the hospital later that evening and took it upon himself to convince me that I didn’t need doctors and that he could help me get better.  I just needed more fun in my life and more time to pamper myself.  He was having a party that night at his house and wanted me there.  He also made a hair appointment for me for the next day.  I believed him, every word. I quietly got dressed, packed my bag and slipped out of the hospital with him, unnoticed.

There were so many people at the house party.  Loud music was playing, people were laughing and getting wasted.  I did not want to be there and avoided any contact with my friends.  I snuck into an empty room and hid under a table with the phone and called Marie.  I just needed someone to pray for me like Kellie did.  I was that baby elephant that had wandered again and Satan was ready to pounce.  After praying with Marie, I felt stronger and came back into the party.  I saw some carrots and took a bite of one.  I felt my stomach churn and went to the bathroom and threw it up.  The battle ensued and I ended up in the bathroom vomiting any shred of food and water that I repeatedly tried to take. My mind was willing but my body rejected the help. My mind became disconnected from my body and the realization of what was happening became clear.  Between my vomiting episodes, I started to laugh, “You still don’t have me, Satan. You still don’t have me.  I belong to God.” Satan would love nothing more than to steal our hope by keeping us focused on our physical needs and desires instead of focusing on Jesus. I now understood that Satan had no more hold over my life. After speaking out my submission to the Lord and claiming my body as God’s property; Satan left. After arriving home from the party, I knew that I was in danger of dehydration and called an ambulance to take me back to the hospital for the second time in twelve hours and worse off than before.

My friend, Andy would say that I was definitely a Christian, because God wasn’t going to let me get away with anything.  Andy tells a story of a man who was in and out of jail fifteen times the first year he gave his life to the Lord.  That guy is a Christian!  Jesus loves us enough to let us go so that he can allure us back to him with his tenderness and compassion. He wants to be our husband and not our master.

The next day I count as the darkest my life has ever seen and lived.  It was the day that a drug addict went without her drugs.  All this time I thought that I was so weak. Weak because I couldn’t make myself eat. But it was a lie: I was so strong that I wouldn’t eat.  I denied myself of a basic human necessity.  That was what I was up against. The only place of quiet solitude that I had found was in the shower stall. I sat cowering, my knees pulled up to my chest and rocking back and forth reciting the ‘Our Father’ over and over again.  I was also wandering the hall of my hospital ward.  I sat down, huddled in the busy hallway and was crying and reaching out to the nurses who ignored my pleas for help and kept on walking.  I was a beggar.  The hospital was loud and chaotic with all the other patients, doctors and visitors that were visiting that day.  I felt myself falling off the ledge to insanity.  Weak, I groped the sides of the hallway and managed to get to a pay phone and called Kellie collect.  She just prayed for peace to be restored.  Later, Kellie admitted it took everything she had not to get on the next plane to come and be with me. The Lord was holding her back.  After a teary good-bye, I hung up the phone and started back to my room.  The halls were empty.  As if in a dream, I slowly peered into each room as I passed by and everyone was silent.  Marie came by later that day for a visit with her family.  Her two children climbed on my bed beside me, unafraid, oblivious to my thin and waned appearance. Both children were very excited and chattered away about the snack contents of a paper bag they had brought with them as a gift to me. Marie and her husband invited me to stay with them after I was released from the hospital for a few days. I felt that it was a safe decision and the right one because Marie was a nurse and could take care of my health needs.  However; the decision was a bit odd to my brother and he was very apprehensive about letting me go.  I didn’t blame him, my choices were erratic, but I was confident that it was too much of a coincidence meeting Marie for it to be dangerous. The rest of the day proved more hopeful as the nurses would come and take their breaks by my bedside.  Sometimes two at a time would come and we would read the bible together.  They were not believers themselves but were brought up in Christian homes and reading the bible brought back good memories from their childhood.

Later that evening I was watching television in a little alcove across from my room.  There were couches extending along all three sides of the walls. On one end of the room, a large window overlooked a field with some tall spruce trees. My body ached from the stress of the day.  As I sat there watching television, I overheard a woman making a comment to her friend on how windy it was outside.  The other friend kept looking through the window, side to side and said:

“What wind? The trees aren’t moving.”

“Well, that’s true,” she replied.  Perplexed, the woman was searching for the evidence of her original claim. “Look there at the flag.” A short silence ensued and the friend then agreed on how windy it was.  Another short silence and then they went on to other matters of health and gossip and walking away, left me alone in the alcove.  The thought voice of Jesus spoke again:

“Go to the window.”

I got up from where I was sitting in the dark, crossed the room to the window and looked out.  I could see everything that the two women had been describing.  It was odd because the spruce trees in the field were so still, but the Canadian flag was flapping straight out.  The Lord then explained:

“That flag is man’s way, it is strong and trusted. Look up.” I was astonished to see the expanse of the clouds in the sky rushing in the opposite direction of the flag. The Lord then said:

“That is my way; I’ll give you the sky.”

Getting ready for the night ahead, I was afraid of dying. I felt death so close to me and asked the nurse on duty to wake me during the night to make sure I would not be dead by morning. God had shown me the choice I have to live or die.  I chose the sky.

I had lived through the night.  I breathed a sigh of relief as Satan no longer had any power over my fear of dying from anorexia. That’s not to say that I didn’t struggle with anorexia.  It was not until I had my firstborn seven years later that I no longer struggled with associating my anxiety with food.

The day came that I psychiatrist was to come and assess my mental state.  This doctor would have the authority to commit me to the psyche ward or to let me go home.  As we sat together in the alcove, I looked across at him.  He was smug and all knowing in my opinion.  He was a specialist in rehabilitating people with eating disorders.  I was very reluctant to open up to this man who thought that he knew all about me.  His questions seemed to probe at my low body image and how I was afraid to get fat. I insisted that I never thought that I was fat and needed to lose weight.  He dismissed my comment by stating that I’ll have difficulty once I start to put on weight. I decided to get to the point.

“You can’t help me.” I said.  His eyebrows went up in a curious manner as if to say ‘try me’.

“You can’t help me because you don’t love me.” A blank stare went across his face as he was trying to reposition himself for the rebuttal.  I cut him off before he could speak:

“You don’t look at me with Jesus’ eyes.” He was definitely lost now. “You look at your wife with love in your eyes.  You do not love me with Jesus’ love. You can’t help me.”

He signed the release papers.

‘I am the bread of life.” –Jesus

The day that I was released from the hospital I was to meet my brother and a friend named Trish for lunch. Trish was going to stay with me for the weekend as Will was going over to Vancouver to see friends.  Walking past a bakery with my brother and Trish, the smell of freshly baked bread filled the air with intoxicating yummyness.  I stopped on the side walk in front of the bakery and started to breathe in the aroma.

“It smells good!” I said out loud. “The bread smells good!” I started to weep.  For the first time in years the feeling of instant nausea when I smelled food was gone. As I spent a few lingering moments there on the sidewalk, breathing in the smell as if it was reaching to my very soul, I thanked God for his simple gift that had so much meaning to me – and Him.

‘Ask, seek, knock and it will be given to you.’ – Jesus.

Marie came by after the weekend to pick me up and stay with her and her family for a few days.  I was still physically exhausted and needed someone to care for me.  It was about a month that had passed since asking Jesus into my heart.  I was still so afraid of seeing Him because of the scary images of Him dying on the cross.  I had been nagging Jesus in my prayers to see his face so I would be able to put my mind at ease. One afternoon while at Marie’s her friend came by to pray with us.  We were all kneeling on the floor in the middle of her living room.  Marie was on my left and her friend on my right.  They had laid their hands on me and just started to pray a long and drawn out prayer with all of the spiritual accoutrements accustomed to them. I felt awkward and bad because I certainly couldn’t pray like them and nothing was happening.  Frustrated, I just opened my eyes to wait until the prayer was over when I saw an image of myself in front of me. I looked like death, all skin and bones.  My eyes were empty and void of life.  Something was then being pulled out of my body near my shoulders. It was a creature of some kind that was hunched over and began shrivel and cross my field of view to the right.  I realized it was cowering away from the veil of fabric coming into view on my left.  The fabric’s color was what seemed as opalescent blue light and diamonds.  If this fabric had a name, it would be called ‘Eternity’. I strained my eyes wider as I tried to see the expanse within the fabric that seemed to go on forever.  I reached out in awe just to touch what my mind could not explain or fathom.  Gently a hand reached down, cupped my chin and tilted my head up.  I was looking into Jesus’ eyes. I will fail to explain the depth and the immensity of his love for me in those eyes.  All I could do was close my eyes and grieve undeservedly. Jesus had shown me his face.

A few days later, I came home to my apartment on Mears street and was making the best effort I could to take care of myself.  Maybe if I could just meet someone who had gone through anorexia and came out on the other side, this would give me hope to carry on.  I had thought about a friend from high school who I remembered had been struggling with anorexia.  I so much wanted to see her again but I didn’t know where she was or where she lived.  It had been a few years since I had spoken to her last.  The next day I had received a message from my Ex that Dione had called looking for me.  I immediately called the number and she had answered.  It quickly became clear that she had no idea of what was going on with me or that I wanted to speak to her. I had assumed that someone told her about my state and passed along my contact information. Nope. She just ‘randomly’ wanted to get back in touch with me.  I started to cry and explained to her the miracle of her call.  She took the ferry over to Vancouver Island that very weekend and rededicated her life to the Lord.  Although I have lost contact with her again, she remains an important part of my healing and testimony of God’s provision to this day.

I was still hoping to continue my university education, but to no avail.  I asked God what I should do now.

“Go home.” Was all He said.

 It was time for me to call my mom and let her into my life. It was such a relief when I had called and they bought me a plane ticket home.  I had to leave everything behind in Victoria and flew home to Kelowna to live with my parents again.  Will and I became quite close throughout this time in our lives. This new sense of closeness became a big part of the reconciliation process and healing with the rest of my family. Through my weakness the rest of my immediate family were able to admit and face the brokenness they struggled within themselves.

My grace is sufficient for you.’-God

I cried out so many times for the Lord to take my anxiety, anorexia and depression away, but to the Lord it was far too valuable of a learning tool to take away all at once.  Have you ever heard of the saying: ‘Body, mind and spirit?’ It’s backwards.  In the bible it’s spirit, mind and body.  When our spirit is strong our mind and body have to follow.  It is a spiritual law as gravity is a physical one.  I finally put a positive twist on my disease and mental discomfort. When I was having a hard time eating, I called it ‘fasting’ and I would immerse myself in prayer and the bible for the time until the Lord would say: ‘Get up and eat.” The anxiety became a tool for me to use when the Lord wanted me to be honest with myself or someone.  I sometimes would struggle for days with panic attacks until I would confront a problem at hand.  This physical ‘red flag’ would become so useful for me to live my life with integrity and honesty that I sometimes would feel the Holy Spirit’s prodding and get mad and yell out to God: “I know!! Leave me alone! Can’t you send someone else?” My friends to this day think that my honesty comes naturally but the truth is that if I ignore the Spirit’s prodding my health deteriorates. If I was feeling depressed and having a whopper of a pity party, I would write a list of things that I wanted someone to do for me, and then turn around and do it for someone else.  Serving and giving of yourself is a great antidepressant. I had to be careful of not being a ‘bitter-giver’ though. This happened to me when I was not giving unconditionally and expected love and acceptance in return for my good deeds to others. My worth is not in what I do, rather, my life is worthy because Jesus is in my heart.

I was on an anti-anxiety pill called Paxil.  I gave myself permission to take the drug for one year and then get off it.  I had to go through another period of withdrawal before I could finally come clean off the drug. I never did take counseling for anorexia.  My problem was never about food, it was about the brokenness in my heart.  Jesus was the one who gently mended it over time taking great care and compassion in the frailty of my life. The Lord said: ‘You, yes you as you are today, I love you.’

That first year as a Christian I lied, stole, and slept around and God in His mercy and love kept coming back to get me, take me into his arms and asked:

“Have you hurt enough?”

I had no other Christian friends that whole first year. It was just me, the Holy Spirit and the bible. After a year had passed, my spirit was stronger and my mind was being renewed from the garbage and barrage of hate it has thought about for so much of my life.  It was a great day when the Lord introduced me to the power of his body of believers.  The second year of my following Jesus I met so many fantastic Christians, new and old. It was heaven on earth. That year I met my husband, Dave. We were friends for three months and dated for a month before he proposed and we were married six months later.  I still struggled with anorexia, anxiety and depression but Dave has the gift of love like God’s love.  Dave was prepared to marry me even if I struggled for the rest of my life.  He loved me out of my addictions by being a man of integrity and honesty and affirming in love. He is my CCMH (Courageous-Conquering-Man-Of-Honor). If I had not let Jesus in and allowed him to love me, I would not have recognized real love and intimacy when it was shown to me through another human being.

 I was so afraid that that’s all I’d ever be: an anxious depressed anorexic. But it was not to be; I am a new creation in Christ. It took me changing on the inside to change the choices I made on the outside. When I look back on that time in my life, I feel like it was someone else and really thankful that it was me.  How could I have helped you understand God’s grace and love for us if it were not so?  As my life would have it, this story is always ‘to be continued……forever.’

Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble-Job14:1

Life is full of trouble. Just ask my 5 year old son, Sean. I”ve never been around someone that has such good intentions and then at the same time finds himself in such a disaster that he needs rescuing. I stop to think about how this too applies to my life and how Im in need of a rescuer. Maybe my growing irritation when my son does need rescuing is aobut how I feel about myself. How I just want to Get It Right the first time without the wisdom needed for the successful second try.
Uprooting our lives and moving to Ottawa was a successful disaster. It definately was not the most organized move, nor stress free. There were many logistics to consider and to work through. Major decisions had to be made on a daily basis. Decisions that would affect where we would live, who would take over our lease and how could we do all that needed to be done in two weeks time? It was only after I would pray What Next? would I see The Rescuer come. Life was full of trouble and also filled with a way through the troubled life.
My revelation that my son was innocent of the trouble life brings him happened in Kenora, Ontario. When we drive through the peaceful summer town we always stop and eat at their Subway. My son desperately needed to go pee. After realizing that we needed a key to have access to the bathroom, I quickly undid his coat and closed the door to give him some privacy. While waiting for him to emerge and happy that I got him there, there came sounds of moans and distress coming from my son. I quickly unlocked the door to find his coat sleeve elbows deep in pee water, and Sean peeing on the floor. It was with all of my irritation that I hissed out a What Is Going On??? when I stepped into the bathroom to join him and let the door close behind me, all went black. My heart sank. I had not turned on the light for him and while standing there in the darkness, he had dropped his Hot Wheel car in the toilet and considered rescuing it was far more important than getting all of the pee in the toilet on the first try. With the loss apparent and the heavy tears flowing, I held my son and asked for his forgiveness.
Life is full of trouble.
My husband and I stayed married despite the disagreement in Regina;Walkie talkies became the answer to keep the herd together;Sean never complained about the long days despite recovering from the croup; and my youngest son, Zack, never became a plank of wood while getting back into his car seat and forgiving me when I ran over his mommy orca toy. The rest of that trip across Canada was a successful disaster only because we made it here alive and we knew that we depended on The Rescuer.