Changing My Mind

Quietness and rest were foreign to me during the painful years of my eating disorder. In fact, they were down right scary. If my body was resting, then obviously, I wasn’t working hard enough to burn every available calorie. If my mind was quiet, then obviously, I wasn’t worrying enough about my last meal or my next one. I wasn’t meticulously counting the calories burned during my last workout or plotting my escape from a lunch date with friends. I truly believed that my frantic mind and anxious diligence made me stronger than others, both physically and mentally….

Read the rest of this post at FINDINGbalance.com

From PrayFit, “Unearned Health”

It almost feels like cheating, borrowing another post from Jimmy Pena, over at PrayFit. However, the silliness of attempting to re-express something so well-written to begin with, has overridden my embarrassment.

I’ve included the full text here, but I highly recommend that you visit their website for numerous other excellent devotionals and fitness information.

Read: James 1

You’ve likely seen someone boast that health is “Always earned, never given.” Sounds reasonable, right? You put in the work, you get the reward. Soundsreasonable, but it’s not true. Health is not earned. Granted, some people appropriately celebrate their health (and hopefully more and more of us each day), but even the byproducts of that discipline — toned muscle, greater endurance, increased strength — gift…gift…gift. Oh we don’t like to admit it. We like to think we’ve earned the right to raise that banner and boast, “I EARNED THIS!” But in truth, it’s when we realize we have undeserved and unearned health that we can make the greatest impact with it.

You might also consider the flip-side. There are those among us who are statistically apparently healthy, but who choose a sedentary lifestyle over an active one. Those who opt for poor food choices over balanced, sensible meals. Despite great genetics, honorable stewardship is the furthest thing from their minds. If you’re like me, you may have people close to you who have absolutely no health issues, but have no issue with abusing it; alive but not living. Healthy vital signs? Sure. Earned? No. A gift. Unopened, but a gift nonetheless.

Whether they’re opened or still neatly wrapped, the bible says that every single gift comes from above and that includes the body. So just remember, as you wake up with grace and mercy, check and see if your limbs work and if your heart’s beating. If all systems are go, then celebrate! Treat life like a Christmas morning kind of present. Open it up! It’s when you see what’s inside that you can really see what’s inside you! And you can’t give God the glory and claim it at the same time. Christians have to choose. So choose to walk, train, run, swim, strive, push, claw, climb, and reach with every single, grateful, thankful, humble, undeserved, unearned gift of health you got.

–Jimmy Peña

 

Visit Me at Finding Balance

Hi guys! I recently wrote an article for Finding Balance that I believe is very applicable to (myself) and my readers here. Hope you enjoy it!

The modern portrayal of the perfect female body is a misnomer. Dictionary.com defines perfect as, “excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement.” How then is it possible that today’s image of a perfect woman is so much different than it was a mere 15 years ago?

Finish the article at Finding Balance!

Amongst My Peers

I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I never asked for anything. I attended thousands of softball games, sweating on the sidelines, playing Tricky-Fingers in the car or re-reading novels during the long drives to traveling tournaments. So when my parents offered to let me attend Trinity Christian School in Stillwater, half an hour from our home, I didn’t even contemplate the inconvenience it would pose for my family.

Years later, I asked my sister, Jennifer, about her mental snapshots of that time in our lives. How had she experienced my eating disorder?

“One of the most aggravating things to me was how much Mom and Dad catered to you. They were grasping at anything to make you happy, anything to bribe to you eat. They were so worried about you. Specifically, the two daily round trips to Stillwater to drop you off and pick you up at school. I couldn’t understand why suddenly all of their efforts to teach us at home weren’t good enough for you.”

Even after a handful of doctor’s visits and the threat of being forced to see a therapist, my weight continued to decline. The number on the scale wasn’t so much of a big deal to me, but the daily numbers of fewer calories and more minutes moving were the gauge of my success.

I was gaining fast in my personal, anorexic challenge of disciplining myself, courting my parents’ concern and drawing the attention of others. But home was such a small playing field. I needed to be among my peers, I needed to see if I was impressive enough, pretty enough, smart enough to compete with them.

Trinity Christian School was a puny school, housed in Hillcrest Baptist Church. I started there my sophomore year. My class was a grand total of 8 students, 5 girls and three boys. Surely among such a small crowd I could make my mark, establish myself as someone worth knowing.

Every church building that I remember from my youth was a labyrinth. Long hallways with dozens of doors on each side made for great hide-and-seek, when my heart was carefree enough to play such games. Anymore, I only engaged in such activities because they burned more calories than sitting in on adult conversations.

Trinity Christian held high school classes in every room on the bottom floor of the south wing of the church. I think younger grades held classes upstairs in the same wing. We dined in the church cafeteria and used the sanctuary for drama classes.

One year, I played Jo when our class chose to perform Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I have no idea how I memorized my lines. Perhaps memorizing the caloric value of every food exercised my memory.

Only a handful of moments wedged themselves into my memory of that time. I recall lunch time. How I loathed cafeteria food. Given that our meals were prepared by plump, cheery church ladies, they probably trumped public high school lunches. By that time, I would have rather died than eat a sloppy joe, spaghetti or grilled cheese. So I packed my lunch of half a sandwich and carrot sticks. I always sat on the end of the bench.

One morning I ran out of time to pack my lunch.

“Abby, we’ve got to go. You can eat in the cafeteria just this once.”

“No, Mom. I can’t. Please, please, just let me take an apple and some Snackwell cookies.”

“That’s not lunch, Abby. Either I’m going to start packing your lunches, or you’re going to have to eat there. I’m pretty sure you haven’t been eating enough.”

I sealed my lips and marched to the garage. The drive to school was wet and seasonably cold for January. I hated these long winter days. Fatless, my muscles clenched against the cold all day long.

I fretted through Oklahoma history, Algebra and Spanish. Lunch was coming. What was on the menu? What was I going to do?

Ms. Wilson, the lunch lady, looked at me with surprise as I pushed my yellow tray down the line.

“So you decided to try my cooking? I’m glad, Honey. Tell you what, you look like you could use some meat on your bones. How about an extra spoon of tots?”

I chomped my tongue to keep from screaming at her, “I don’t eat tots! I don’t want to try your food and you can’t make me eat!” Defiant, I kept the rage inside, smiled hollowly and drifted to my usual table.

Suddenly an idea presented itself between my anxious thoughts.

“Hey Anna, don’t we have a biology quiz next period?”

“Yeah.”

“I completely forgot until just now. I’m going to head on to class and try to study just a bit.”

“Aren’t you going to eat anything?” Anna was small all the way around. At least three inches shorter than me, she had shiny, light brown hair and dimples. She kept Brandon, the cutest of the three boys in our class, dangling by a thread, pining for her. Anna’s breasts always pushed the buttons of her regulations blouse. Trinity’s dress code seemed ridiculously strict. I had lost every curve and cushion that had begun to blossom in my adolescent body a mere three years before.

“I’m not hungry really. I forgot to pack my lunch too, and I’m not a fan of tater-tots.”

“Pass it this way,” Brandon suggested.

“Sure.” That was less obvious than throwing it all away.

 

 

Trial of Trusting

God has used numerous people and resources to teach me. Those have been as diverse as a Christian mentor, an atheist friend, a book about finding my own appetite, a biography of an exercise addict, my little sister, a website, an inpatient hospital, a horse, a dog, a gym, a journal, a cup of coffee.  Go figure. He is the creator of all things and everything (whether it wishes to be or not) is at His disposal. (Ps. 50:10-11)

Tuesday morning was my first morning back in my house, in my prayer chair with an unlimited amount of time to seek God’s face. (Only Brave’s bladder would signal the end of my revelry!)

I have shared some with you this week about how God has used Finding Balance and Constance Rhodes to teach me. Did I mention that many of the experts on the website were professionals working at Remuda Ranch when I was there?

One of the biggest hurdles for me in my recovery was wondering if I could trust those who were instructing me. How did that nutritionist know what would or wouldn’t make me fat? How did that counselor know that I shouldn’t be exercising? How did I believe that any professional had my best interest in mind? And then, when I was absolutely exhausted by the anxiety that was devouring my mind, I wanted someone to teach me the ONE thing I needed to do to be well. I wanted someone to just tell me what to do!

Guess what? As I wondered who actually knew what they were talking about and who I could trust, God revealed something to me. As I sought His deliverance from my eating disorder HE WAS TRUSTWORTHY to give the right words to my advisors. I could trust the people and resources that He was choosing to lead me away from my path of destruction.

Are you anxious about a change in your own life? Are you worried about seeking advice and who you can trust? I can promise you this, if you are humble enough to listen to Godly counselors, you CAN, YOU MUST trust their advice. Finding Balance is one such Godly resource. Listen to God’s promises to teach you:

Behold you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Ps. 51:6

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Ps. 90:12

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit guide me on level ground. Ps. 143:10

Please, don’t flounder in fear. I promise you that whether your hurdle be an eating disorder, an addiction to pornography, self-harm, depression, anxiety, marital stress or a simple need for wisdom – God can be trusted to teach you wisdom in the inward being and you can trust the counsel of those who love Him.

Test Yourself

I apologize from the start that this post is shorter and less personal than most of my articles here at Predatory Lies. I’m preparing to leave my parents’ home after my baby sister’s wedding last Saturday. Angela Kleinsasser was a spectacular photographer – so you can vicariously enjoy the wedding (:

Fortunately for me, I am sharing some wonderful, truthful, Christian resources with you this month. This week we are looking at Finding Balance, their primary purpose is to offer hope and healing to those struggling with eating disorders. The timing is perfect, because this weekend Finding Balance is hosting their annual conference called Hungry For Hope.  But you don’t have to attend the conference to enjoy the nearly boundless resources offered by Finding Balance. You only need a humble heart and a willingness to admit you have a problem and seek help.

Finding Balance offers self-tests to evaluate your relationship with food, your body image and your fears surrounding both.

Eating Issues Self Test Part 1

By the time I discovered Finding Balance, I had already been inpatient twice and was searching desperately for accountability and encouragement for my continued recovery. Finding Balance filled that gap for me. If you are battling food and body image issues, be bold enough to seek help. Start with Finding Balance.

Finding Balance a Whole New Review

Hosted by FINDINGbalance, a nonprofit health and wellness organization, Hungry for Hope is the premiere Christian conference for eating disorders and body image issues. Now in its fifth year, the conference is a key equipping event for professionals, lay leaders and those seeking freedom and healing in areas of eating and body image.

If you’ve read much of Predatory Lies, you know my story. A woman once mired in addiction, fighting for the love of God to dig herself out of the muck, the madness.

For me, truth began to dawn on me at Remuda Ranch, one of the founding organizations of the Hungry for Hope Conference. Remuda brought Jesus to bear on my issues of compulsive exercise and restriction. I didn’t leave “cured” but I began to walk the life-long, narrow road of weakened self and strength in Jesus. Remuda encourages every woman who arrives to set up a solid after-care plan, so that they can continue receiving Godly counsel and accountability when they leave the treatment center. I found that at Finding Balance.

You’ve heard me talk about Finding Balance before.  They have taken the mantel of the Hungry for Hope conference and have added it to their powerful, continuous outreach from their website. I haven’t been able to attend a Hungry for Hope conference, but as I mentioned, the curriculum has my name all over it! But here’s the good part:

Finding Balance has recently revamped their entire site. On the very front page, they offer countless resources – video clips of professionals answering real questions about eating issues asked by others in your same shoes. Topics include: Ask the Doctor, Nutrition, The Road to Wellness, Freedom in Christ and more. Questions are poignant, undisguised and often painful. Answers are biblically-based, credible, concise and gentle.

There is also a paid portion of the website, $5.99/month, that provides many deeper resources, an interactive community, and access to lessons from Constance Rhodes’ curriculum called Finding Balance With Food. This portion of the site, called The Gathering. even includes printable worksheets, making the study more involved and impacting. Participants are encouraged, though not required to build a small group of people who are excited to grow together.

After last year’s Hungry for Hope conference, some of the lectures were recorded and added to the paid portion of the website. Hopefully, they’ll do that again this year, so I don’t miss anything!

I’m  excited to share Finding Balance and Hungry for Hope with you. Recovery from anorexia has been one of God’s sharpest tools in training me in righteousness and drawing me to Himself. He has used Finding Balance over and over to reinforce the truth.