Category Archives: Bible

God at Work Wednesday: Cindy’s Story

Every Wednesday I’m going to be highlighting a story of God moving in the life of someone I know. I think testimonies are the most powerful way to share our faith and change the world. So without further adieu, meet Cindy. Cindy babysat for me when I was a little girl and through Facebook we have recently reconnected.

“I needed someone to rescue me.

It started in my early teenage years … feeling the need to be perfect to fit in…the intense desire to be loved and accepted. I was trying to please everybody else, which made me feel so out of control of my own life. The one thing I could control was my food intake and my exercise.

What started out as a simple attempt to become “healthy” quickly became much more than that and spiraled out of control. I shut out my family and friends. I turned away from everyone that I needed … including God. I felt hopeless. I felt alone. But that did not matter to me at the time because the numbers on the scale were going down…. and down …and down.

I kept aiming for a smaller number each time I reached my “goal”. It was funny … not ha ha funny, but weird funny. I thought when I got to a smaller number, I would be happy and perfect; however, it never happened. The lower the number got, the more unhappy I became.

When I was 16, I was in and out of treatment centers and hospitals for weeks at a time. My eating disorder got worse after each treatment attempt. I was not ready to let go. My family and friends felt helpless. They saw me slowing killing myself, but they could not stop it.

When I was 18, my doctor gave me two weeks to live. I had starved myself down to 79 pounds. My parents had contacted every treatment center they could find, but I was 18 … I was able to refuse treatment. Remuda Ranch, a treatment center in Arizona, had called to do a phone interview with me. They only take patients who are willing to try to get better. I refused their phone call; therefore, they would not accept me. My parents were devastated.

My parents were taking turns staying home with me because I was so sick. I wasn’t even able to get out of bed. It was a day that my dad was home with me. It was a few days after I had refused Remudaʼs phone call. My dad was crying out to God, praying for a miracle. Within minutes after he finished his prayer, the phone rang. It was Remuda Ranch conducting a follow up call. My father walked down the hall to my bedroom with the phone in his hand, knocked on my door, and told me who was on the phone. By the grace of God, I said I would take the call.

Why they called again? I have no idea. I believe that was the divine intervention of a God who longed to rescue me from myself.

Less than a week later, frail–broken-and-on-the-brink-of-death-little-me flew to Arizona. I had so many emotions…fear, sadness, anger, confusion, and in a strange way, relief.

My rescuer was already working behind the scenes, softening my hard and anxious heart. It was there at Remuda Ranch at the broken age of 18 that I (with a lot of hesitation) decided to let go and let God. He intervened and rescued me from the eating disorder (ED) that was draining me of joy, freedom, and life itself. There the Lord met me in my brokenness, took my hand and started walking with me on a journey to healing.

 

This picture was taken when I was at Remuda Ranch (probably 2-3 weeks into that treatment program).  The tube hanging from my nose is a feeding tube.  I had to be hooked up to multiple daily feedings to allow my body to get nutrition.  My body could not handle solid food at that point.  Solids had to be slowly re-introduced.
This picture was taken when I was at Remuda Ranch (probably 2-3 weeks into that treatment program). The tube hanging from my nose is a feeding tube. I had to be hooked up to multiple daily feedings to allow my body to get nutrition. My body could not handle solid food at that point. Solids had to be slowly re-introduced.

I never knew what a long (so very long), hard (so very hard) journey it would be. There were so many ups and downs (and I am not just talking about the scale going up and down). I am talking about mental and physical obstacles I had to overcome. I had to rebuild trust with God, my family and my friends. I had to rebuild trust with my very own body.

Remuda Ranch
This was also taken at Remuda Ranch, about 4 weeks into the treatment program. I was there for 60 days.

Fast forward nine years. God provided an amazing man who asked me to be his wife, and he has been such a gift to me. A couple years after that we decided we wanted to start a family.

When I was in the midst of the eating disorder behaviors, I didn’t know (or maybe I knew but didn’t care) what kind of damage I was doing to my body.  When I went to my doctor (the doctor that took care of me all through my eating disorder) to happily tell her we were ready to start trying to get pregnant, it hit. me. so. hard.

Because of the trauma you put your body through for years and years, you might not be able to conceive or carry children” she said.

I was devastated.

The consequences of my decisions as a young girl had such a massive ripple effect. I was terrified and angry, but again, in my despair God had a plan. I had yet another opportunity to relinquish my plan and control.

*In retrospect I can say with confidence that it’s in the hardest things that we grow the most.*

After a long time of trying, we became pregnant — with the help of fertility treatments and procedures. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl! I was overjoyed, and our sweet daughter has been such a gift. She is one of many amazing gifts that came as a result of God’s miraculous rescue.

If you have struggled with an ED, you know that they can be so gosh darn persistent. Throughout the years, I have battled off and on with control vs. surrender. When I let God get a hold of my heart, I was able to walk in healing and freedom. When I tried to do it my way, I would get stuck in old patterns. This was the cycle, and it was hard.

When our daughter was 3, we decided we wanted to have another child. Shockingly, we naturally became pregnant. Not only did we get pregnant on our own, but there were FOUR sacs in my womb. What?!?!? Everyone was amazed and perplexed. However, the pregnancy did not progress. At week nine, we had to say goodbye to all four babies in my womb. I was devastated and blamed myself because I had slipped backed into my eating disorder behavior before that pregnancy began. My body could not carry one child, let alone four.

But God wasn’t about to give up on me. He was my patient rescuer, and he fought so hard for my heart. Within the few months following the loss, I gained about 19 pounds and we decided to try again. We were naturally blessed with an identical twin conception. God enabled me to carry those two babies to full term and I gave birth to two healthy baby boys! Another miracle given by my rescuer.

This girl who was once told she had two weeks to live…a woman who was told she may NEVER be able to have children…is now the mommy of three little miracles, ages 6 and 2. And miracles are exactly what they are!!!

Picture by Stacia Spraetz, Fall 2013.
Picture by Stacia Spraetz, Fall 2013.

WOW … what a journey it has been!!!

When I turned 35 this year, I had a massive epiphany as I looked at my life through a new lens.

I could be dead. I could be childless. I could have missed out on ALL OF THIS! But God—OH GOD—in His amazing grace REACHED DOWN INTO MY MESS AND RESCUED ME. He knew me and loved me every single day. He waited patiently, He is my healer, and He has an amazing purpose for my life.

This pic (illustrating exactly how my life is ...awesome!) was taken by Emily Hernandez in August of 2012.
This pic (illustrating exactly how awesome my life is!) was taken by Emily Hernandez in August of 2012.

In those moments of breathtaking gratefulness just a few short months ago, God spoke to me. He wanted to break my chains off COMPLETELY. Not partly. Not for a few months. WHOLLY.

After more than 20 years of trying to fight an eating disorder on my own, I let go of my past. I forgave myself and devoted my life to Him. It’s through this continuous surrender that God’s greater plan and purpose for me can take root, and I cannot wait to fully experience all that He has for me!

For anyone who is struggling, I want you to know that there is hope and there is healing. I know there are times when you feel like there’s no way out. It may seem easier to let the ED take over and not fight back. But your true strength will come from handing it over to God and accepting his freedom. He will speak to you and open your eyes to all that He has for you. It’s a life of great purpose we’re promised in the Bible.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

Satan still tries to use stress and loneliness to tempt me to fall back into old behaviors, but I KNOW that those behaviors will only leave me feeling more stressed and empty. The way I fight back is by reminding myself that it’s Satan trying to pull me down. Instead of turning to those familiar behaviors, I take a “time out” to notice what is causing me to have those ED thoughts and then I do something healthy and productive to get rid of those thoughts … pray, write, read, call a friend … etc.

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Please know that I would love to pray for you, chat with you, encourage you, or help you in any way that I can. I’ve been there. I know how alone, scared, and hopeless you feel. But I promise you … there is hope. Do not give up. You are worth SO MUCH MORE!!!!!!!

God is good … ALL THE TIME!!!!!

If you would like to contact me, please leave me a comment below or message me on Facebook.

Be free!

This picture was taken just a few days ago when I went to ______ with my sister and mom, two wonderful women who have loved me fiercely through this whole battle. My heart is so full, and I feel so free!
This picture was taken just a few days ago when I went to Alto Pass, IL with my sister and mom, two wonderful women who have loved me fiercely through this whole battle. My heart is full, and I am finally free!

releasing anxiety

 

Cast your anxiety
It’s not a suggestion, it’s a commandment.

Sometimes, I feel anxiety creep up around me from out of nowhere. It’s not everyday, but it happens. At least weekly. Tightness in my chest. Restlessness. Uneasiness. To be honest, I don’t know why. I’m not in a desert season like I have been in the past, yet I find myself facing restlessness. Oh, humanity.

Anyone else?

A month ago I was exchanging emails with a friend who recently lost her baby. She had to hold her little one’s lifeless body in her trembling arms and say goodbye. Anxiety taunts her and threatens to suffocate. She is terrified of the future and the pain it might hold. She was asking how I kept on when I felt like I couldn’t face another day.

I remembered back to the days when I felt like God’s plan made no sense. When our children went to heaven…one after another…and I struggled so deeply. I was angry and frustrated. Trusting in the Lord didn’t come easily; I was more like hanging on for dear life.

Looking back, I see that God was holding me secure. I wasn’t overtaken because HE didn’t allow me to be done in by the trials that felt so much bigger than I could handle. I was His daughter and He cared way too much to let me be defeated.

I honestly don’t know how I made it through and I assure you, it wasn’t pretty.  But God brings us through stuff. And we’re changed.

As I was typing a response to my sweet friend, 1 Peter 5:7 flooded my heart with a truth that I, too, needed to hear that day.

Cast your anxiety upon the Lord.

The Bible doesn’t say, “Cast your anxiety on Him if you want to have less stress.” It says “Cast your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Loving, yet authoritative.

 First, the command: “Cast your anxiety upon the Lord.”

It’s not optional. God says to do it. Cast it. Let go of it. Get down on your knees and ask him to help you release the gripping anxiety. If you don’t know what to say, tell him that.

“God, I don’t know what to say, but I know I need to let go of this. Help me. I don’t want it anymore. I know you care because the Bible says you do.”

Breathe in deeply. When you release your breath, release your anxiety to God. Breath has been given to us as a gift. Deep breathing calms. Short breathing stresses. As you continue this deep breathing, imagine yourself inhaling the peace of the Lord that surpasses understanding. Let His love wash over you.

When you feel that anxiety creeping back up (even if it’s 10 minutes later), get down on your knees and cast it off again.

Second, the why: “because he cares for you.”

I am so thankful God isn’t an old bearded dude in the sky! He is a tenderhearted Father who draws near to His children. He knows you by name and cares for you. He doesn’t want your life to be invaded by anxiety or worry even more than you don’t want that. He hates to see things steal your joy and hope.

steady your gaze

Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

God cares. Fill your heart with the truth of His word today. Blast that worship music. Pray. Surrender. Be still. Cast your stuff on Him because He cares way more than you know.

(I’m preaching to myself too.)

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be moved.”

Do you struggle with anxiety or worry? What is God asking you to lay at his feet today?

**Originally written for Mommies with Hope

Wakey, Wakey

Hear me out: You can become a morning person.

Wah wah wah wah wah. I know you think you can’t, but I promise you can!

A few weeks ago, I reviewed the book “Early to Rise Experience.” It was a great read, and it reinforced lots of things I already knew and believed about waking up early. It also gave me a few good tricks and tips to continue with my early-rising-habit.

After going public with my early morning habits, I’ve gotten lots of feedback from you saying, “I’m just not a morning person.” or “I should read that book and try it.” Followed by confessions a few weeks later that you didn’t follow through. Yes, you, wrinkling your nose and scrunching your lips together…I’m talking to you. You can still do it. Even if you tried and failed.

Here’s a quick break down of why you should do it.

 

how

 

 

 

Disclaimer** Early rising is not advised if you are pregnant or grieving. Both are legitimate physical conditions that really take a toll on your mental and physical need for sleep. No need to feel guilty…just Zzzz. Your days to rise before the sun will come again.

When an adoption falls through

I haven’t written about our failed adoption in a long time. Mostly because it wasn’t even two weeks after that heartbreaking phone call that we were asked by Coleton’s birth mommy if we would adopt him. The gears shifted quickly back then as I was drifting in and out of pregnancy twice between that loss and when C bear was born. Honestly it left us feeling so hurt and confused that we just didn’t talk much about it.

But it was a loss. It was a traumatic loss.

We had met with his birth mom twice. She loved the Beatles, so we downloaded all kinds of Beatles lullaby music. He was going to be our firstborn son that we could cradle in our arms, rock to sleep, and call by name. He was going to be named Carson, and for two months we pictured what he would look like…be like…sound like…feel like…smell like. We prayed for him and his birth mom every single night.

We decorated his nursery so perfectly. After all, he was about to be born! The birth mommy was going to be induced ONE week after my phone rang. The call came on a Friday. Just in time to cancel his baby shower for the following day.

Heartbreak.

A failed adoption is heartbreaking, not just because it is a loss…but because it’s hurt upon hurt. Not always, but most likely there has been loss or infertility along the way.

Here’s the redemption piece.

It’s amazing how many families are made whole through adoption, and how God gives us a glimpse of his bigger purpose through that. If no one ever faced heartbreaking infertility or loss, so many children would be without a family. So many families would be missing out on these INSANELY AWESOME kids who were WOVEN TOGETHER so they could be theirs!

If we hadn’t gone through so many miscarriages and even walked through that failed adoption, our little Coleton wouldn’t be our son! We literally can’t imagine life without him. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we would go through all of the hurt again in an instant to have Coleton and Annabelle here in our arms.

IMG_1178

But, lawdy lawdy…it hasn’t been easy. Especially the day we got the phone call that our first birth mom had changed her mind. Her boyfriend’s parents would be adopting the baby. We were so crushed…upset…confused…PISSED (frankly)….and above all else: heartbroken. All of our personal miscarriages and now this??

Did God not want us to be parents after all? Was there seriously something that wrong with us? WHY?!?!?

We didn’t know. But now we know. It wasn’t any of that. It was that God could see our little Coleton, who was already growing in his mother’s womb. He knew that C was going to fit more perfectly into our family than we ever could have imagined.

If you have had a failed adoption, and I know there are so many of you…I’m so sorry. The pain does subside, but it is harsh and intense initially…and probably will be for awhile. You should grieve. You should mourn (mourning being the outward expression of grief, for example, create a memory book or buy something that will remind you of that child you were growing in your heart.)

As with any grief related to child loss, it is yours. Don’t feel like you “should” or “shouldn’t feel a certain way”. Don’t compare your loss to others and don’t  sweep it under the rug. When an adoption falls through, especially when you’ve held the child in your arms, but also when you haven’t yet (in my experience) is pain upon pain and needs to be processed.

I’m so thankful for the friends who stood by us even when we kept enduring loss and pain. It must have been so exhausting for them! But they didn’t give up on us, and we are so grateful that they kept praying for us and pointing us back to the source of all comfort.

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 3.18.59 PM

 

If you know someone who has had an adoption fall through, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. That child was theirs in their heart, and they just lost that baby (or older child.) Shower them with prayer, words of encouragement, cards, flowers, mementos…whatever kind of love you are best at giving. They need you.

If it was you…hang in there. God’s got this.