How To Be Strong When There’s A Weak Link

I’m 4% permanently partially paralyzed. A fancy way to say I have a torn ACL from a workman’s comp injury.

I have a weak link. 

As my surgeon released me from treatment, he said my knee will only be as strong as the muscle above it.

You have to keep that muscle strong.

For a lifetime.

Physical Therapist Working with Patient

No pressure there. In addition to working, doing ministry, being a wife and mother, spending time in God’s Word, eating right and exercising regularly, I have to keep my quad muscles strong or my knee will give out.

I have to make strengthening this muscle a priority because it’s the key to compensating for the weak link.

Do you have muscles you need to keep strong?

Are there emotional, spiritual or mental muscles to you need to strengthen to compensate for weaknesses?

how to stay strong when there's a weak link

My physical journey has spiritual parallels in more ways than one.

Knowing I have a weak link in my knee makes me feel like Paul the apostle and Jacob, son of Isaac.  Paul had a weakness he asked God to take away, but God’s response was, “My power is made perfect in your weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)). Jacob wrestled with God because he wanted God’s best for him, and was left with a lame hip (Genesis 32, NIV).

Both of them were marked by weakness which reminded them of their dependence upon God.

What weakness in your life causes you to be dependent upon God?

Strengthening my muscle teaches me to strengthen other spiritual, mental, and emotional muscles in my life. If I don’t, the weak ares of my spiritual, mental, and emotional world will collapse, like my knee.

As a woman who lives in the shadows of an eating disorder and other unhealthy behaviors, I know my weaknesses all too well.  I know if I don’t exercise self-control in all areas of my life (yes, all areas), the weak links buckle and I’m crippled emotionally, mentally, and physically.

I know the importance of strengthening what needs to be strengthened.

I live it, I breathe it.

I make choices every day to strengthen weak links so I remain strong.

Before I messed up my knee, I completed a half-marathon. I felt invincible.

Now reality awakens me. Just one foolish side-step and I come crumbling down.

I must strengthen the supporting muscle. I must rely on God to be strong in my weakness.

When life is going well, are you tempted to feel invincible, too?  Do you feel strong based on your own merit, apart from God?

how to stay strong when there's a weak linkEvery patriarch in scripture had a weakness that they needed God’s strength to overcome.

For Abraham, his honesty.

For Moses, his speaking ability.

For Joseph, his reputation.

For David, his love for women.

For Peter, his impulsivity and temper.

What is your weakness?  What do you need to strengthen so you are not defined by your weakness?

What choices to you need to make to keep your spiritual, emotional and mental muscles strong?

How can I pray for you or support you in this journey? I would love to do that.  Feel free to comment or to email me at yoderbl@gmail.com and I will pray with you and encourage you on that journey.

Your Father is with you always, His grace sufficient for you, His strength made perfect in your weakness.

For when you are weak, He is strong.

Sometimes the Best Answer is a Four-Letter-Word.

I spent three years in grad school learning multiple theories on personality, development, and how do conduct talk therapy. Thousands of hours from work experience has taught me sometimes the best answer for life’s problems is a four-letter word .

Bob Newhart puts it humorously in his Mad TV episode:

Stop. It.

In case you think I’m a heartless counselor, I should preface that my comments are personal lessons I’ve learned also as a teacher, parent, and recovered bulimic/anorexic.  There are some situations where the best answer in stop?changing behavior it to simply STOP.  The other word for it is one that’s missing from today’s vernacular: self-control.

Are there areas in your life that need self-control?  Are there areas where the first step in change lies in “stopping the behavior,” even just once?

I know of which I speak. There have been more areas than just eating that have been out of balance in my life. As God has worked through each one, from distorted thinking to anger and others, there comes a point where you have to ask yourself,

“If I want to get over this, what behavior do I need to stop?”

Then you need to take the first step and stop the behavior.

It’s as difficult and simple as that.

For years I binged and purged.

For years I responded in anger.

For years I believed the self-loathing lies that lived in my head.

For years I allowed other people’s approval to define me.

For each of these, I needed to stop {it}.

I needed to stop eating past the point I knew I was “too much.”

I needed to stop fighting, to have the last word, to hold onto my rights.

I needed to stop looking at my insecurities and weaknesses. 

I needed to stop living in fear of what others thought of me.

*********

There’s a rock on a shelf in our house that is from the walk I was on in when I decided I had to stop fighting with my husband in order for our marriage to be at peace.

There’s a verse in the bible, I Corinthians 10:13, that I had to believe God meant when I needed to withstand temptation to purge every time I ate.

There’s a shelf in my basement full of books I used to teach with that I had to retire when I left a demanding profession because my child needed a stress-free mom to help them through their own struggles.

There’s a note in my cupboard from someone who believed in me and who saw things about myself I couldn’t see.

letters

There’s a moment for each of us where God draws the line in the sand and says, “What will you do? Continue in your behavior or change what only you can change?

***********

There’s a moment for each of us where we become aware of what is right and wrong in a situation. The line drawn is different for each of us. In each instance, it’s a moment where we realize how we’ve been functioning isn’t working for us {as Dr. Phil would say}.

We need to exert self-control in the situation and just. stop. it.

The only person we can ever change is our-self.  The only behavior we can ever change is ours. The footsteps 02only person we can ever stop is us.

Are there areas in your life where you need to stop behavior or thinking?  It’s never comfortable or easy.  Sometimes the first step to victorious and healthy living is to simply stop {one time, a second time, and a third and more} until the behavior diminishes.

Are you ready to do that?  You won’t be able to do it in five-minutes like Bob Newhart suggests.  But trying it just once may be worth a shot.

Will you join me?

{disclaimer: This is not a professional recommendation for all behaviors. These are personal comments not intended for therapeutic intervention.  This site is designed to provide information of general interest to the public and is not intended to offer counseling advice about specific situations or problems. Brenda L. Yoder does not intend to create a counselor-client relationship by offering this information, and anyone’s review of the information shall not be deemed to create such a relationship.  You are also advised that access and use of this website is at your own risk. Any information you post on this website shall not be deemed secure or confidential.}

Facing Insecurities: Why I Don’t Look In The Mirror

It’s summer time here on the Back Forty.

photo 1 (8)

With summertime comes natural beauty, fresh fruits and veggies from our garden.

The first strawberries of the season.
The first strawberries of the season.

With the changing of the seasons come the changing of life’s seasons, too. Years roll from one to another… and we’re the same person in all of them. I’m the same person I was many summers ago….ten, twenty, thirty years ago.

You are, too.

Every once in a while I hear the voice of the fifteen-year-old me though I’m well-aged past fifteen. 

She {or he} is inside of you.

Does she {or he} ever catch you by surprise?

????????She recently caught me by surprise when I realized how much I shied away from looking in the mirror. A full-length mirror showing body parts I’d rather keep covered by sweatshirts and layers of winter gear.

I realized how much I hate looking in the mirror. But it’s how I cope.

Cope with what?

 You’re probably rolling your eyes.  

Yes, I’m considered “small” if you compare me with others

But I can’t compare myself with others.

It’s as dangerous as looking in the mirror.

Because the fifteen year old me says how unworthy, disgusting, and repulsive I am when I do.

Do you have similar lies that whisper in your ear?

Your lies are different than mine.  Maybe yours say, “You’re stupid, ugly, not-good-enough,” or worse.

At fifteen, I was bound by an eating disorder that kept me in prison for all of adolescence and young adulthood.  I work hard at living addiction-free, but I can’t separate myself from the girl I was in childhood. I’m the same person even though I’ve dropped the chains of the past.

Do you have chains in your past?

Insecurities get the best of us.  My mirror-avoidance behavior reminds me that insecurities still whisper in my grown-up self.

I’m no different than you.  Do you have insecurities?

While avoiding the mirror may seem cowardly, it’s my way of honestly living with my weaknesses while not letting them cripple me.  It’s hard work to live healthy and balanced when you’ve had distorted thinking and addictive behavior in your past.

Can you relate?

Your struggle may be different, but if you battle insecurities, it’s a challenge.  Here are things I’ve learned in living with a life-long challenge.

Facing insecurities takes courage. It’s easier to hide behind our insecurities. It’s safe to hide behind self-MP900262788pity.  It’s comforting to enable our insecurities.  “I’m can’t do that, so I won’t try.”  “I was hurt in my past, so I need to self-medicate.” “That doesn’t feel comfortable, so I won’t…..” The list goes on.  Acknowledging our insecurities and saying, “What am I going to do about it?” requires courage to face what we don’t want exposed and courage to push ahead regardless of what our self-talk says.

Facing insecurities requires realistic thinking.  Don’t set yourself up for failure.  Realistic thinking means setting goals you can handle.  Looking in a full-length mirror is damaging to me. That’s why I avoid the darn thing.  It’s also why I don’t weigh myself or consider dieting.  These things will send me back to disordered-eating in a heart-beat.  Finding life-long, realistic goals you can be successful at is important in overcoming insecurities.

Facing insecurities means knowing your limits.   Going on diets and Facing Insecurities Why I don't look in the mirrorgetting on a scale plays mind games with me.  What things play mind-games with your insecurities?  How can you strengthen your resolve to work through your insecurities while balancing the weaknesses of your limits? This is crucial in not being bound by your weaknesses.

Facing insecurities means you give grace to yourself when needed.   Early spring is never the best time for me to look in the mirror.  I’m not as fit in the winter and I carry extra weight.  These are issues for me even though I don’t obsess over them.  When the fifteen-year-old me begins whispering lies about myself, I counter-act the lies with truth.  My image does not define me.  I’ve learned to give accurate grace to myself when self-loathing begins.  Where do you need to give yourself grace?

What insecurities lurk in your shadows?  What lies does your younger-self tell you?  I’d love to encourage and support you in your efforts to lay them at the feet of Jesus and start taking steps toward the the peaceful-you.  Feel free to share in a comment below or email me at yoderbl@gmail.com.  

Fans in Stadium Celebrating

It would be my privilege to pray with you and cheer you on.

Why I Run and Why You Need Freedom, Too

The sun was in my face, good music was in my ears, and my feet hit the pavement. As my feet hit the ground with Why I runeach strike, I was careful to land just right.  After months of being injured, having knee surgery, and currently undertaking physical therapy, I was aware that one wrong side motion could wipe me out again.   But six weeks of PT was working and I was able to jog several yards before slowing down to a walking pace.  I did this over and over again as I reveled in the freedom I had.

Freedom to run.  

Freedom of spirit.

Freedom of mind.

Over the last several months, I’ve realized why I run. I began running ten years ago.  At the time, it was my source of stress management. As a mom of four kids and working-full with teenagers, running was the only 30 minutes where my mind was my own, where no one could touch me or ask anything of me.

portrait of a mid adult woman jogging in a parkAs time has become more limited with the demands of parenting and life, running is sporadic, but a priority.  During the winter months, I’m dormant because of daylight savings and weather.  But running periodically in the winter is a release for me when stress or seasonal depression gets the best of me.   It gives me a boost, clears my mind, and brings balance to my body and spirit.

What do you do that gives you a clear mind and brings balance to your body and spirit?

***********

Living without the option to run poses a problem for me.  

I’ve realized if I don’t have healthy options to release stress, I’m tempted to turn to unhealthy options.

Confessions of a woman trying to live addiction-free for a lifetime.

I wish I could say food is never an issue for me, but I can’t.

Do you have something you run to when you’re stressed? What do you self-medicate with?  Technology? Shopping? Sports? Sleep? Alcohol? Medication?  Sex? Or do you, too, run to food?

I come from a family where comfort food is normal.

I grew up pushing against it and developed anorexia.  Then I became bulimic.  My development and identity as a teen and young adult revolved around food, though it was hidden.  There are reasons why people turn to food or other substances for self-medication.  There are payoffs.  It comforts. It nurtures.  You’re in control of your body, your mind and emotions for a few minutes as you feed your senses with momentarily pleasures.  To overcome an addiction, the payoff of overcoming it with healthy behavior has to be more enticing than what the addiction does for you.

Woman Standing on ScaleI can’t diet. I have to have freedom to choose what I eat. If I don’t messes with my mind.

I’ve learned if I don’t have the option to run, it messes with my mind.

There’s something spiritual about both of them being in balance.

It deals with freedom.

The freedom of your body, soul and spirit to experience joy and peace….like adrenalin that runs through your body when you run.

A rush of contentment, happiness, and top-of-the-world feeling.

What does that for you?  What gives you that rush? Is it healthy?  Or do you run to things that dull your senses?  Do you seek things that bring balance and freedom or things that bind you and bring destruction?

*********

I’ve done both.

I’ve fought hard to remain healthy and have balance in my life physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

I’ve decided if I can only run one-hundred yards at a time, I’ll take it.

I need it. 

I don’t ever want to go back to being bound. 

So I fight to remain free.

********

I don’t do this alone. 

My battle to remain free from the hold of food, self-harm, and addiction has been a journey between me and God.

He walks with me every step.

He fills me with peace and joy.

But I have to stay vigilant to keep Him in that place.

How do you fight for God to stay the center of your life?

Being Free
Being Free

What do you do to fight things off that are more enticing than the presence of God?

Living healthy is hard work.

Living balanced is hard work.

Living in the fullness of God requires action.

Draw near to God and He will draw near you.” James 4:8 (NIV)

Like running brings freedom to me, so does having the fullness of God in your life.

I’ve learned it’s worth pursuing both of them with vigilance.

Freedom of mind, body, and spirit is a glimpse of eternity where there will be “no death, or mourning or crying or pain.” (Revelation 21:4.)

Addictions only relieve this temporarily.

Healthy balance and the presence of God relieves this for a lifetime.

******

Where do you need to experience freedom in healthy ways?

Where do you need to place God as the center of you life?

Where do you need to be balanced?

Ask the Lord of all goodness to empower you to make the changes needed to bring balance.  If you need a prayer partner, email me  at yoderbl@gmail.com.  It would be my honor to pray with you as you work to bring balance, center, and freedom to your life.

Holy Father, draw each of us to the healthy life you desire for us.  Give us grace to admit the things that are out of balance in our lives, and give us a glimpse of the goodness you have for us that is greater than any pay off our out-of-balance choices give us.  Equip us to do the hard work to live healthy.  Prompt us to make the first step in drawing nearer to you.  Thank you that You never fail.  Amen.

 my signature

 

The Resurrection:Real Victory for Real Life

A similar article was first published in The Purpose Magazine in March, 2013

The life-giving power of God’s word became real to me at seventeen.  As a young girl with an eating disorder, I felt powerless in attempts at getting out of the cycle of starving myself, binging, and purging.

Until one morning I woke up in disbelief.  “He provided a way out!” I thought.  “God provided a way out, just like His Word said.”

For the first time in three years, I had fallen asleep with food in my stomach. Because of distorted thinking, I truly Real Victory for Real Lifebelieved if I allowed food to remain in my stomach overnight, I would wake up with significant weight gain and be rejected.  Like many teen girls, I despised the image I saw in the mirror.  Rejection was my greatest fear.  Feeling insecure, ugly, and not-quite-good-enough, my adolescent mind rationed that if I was thin, I could at least control one area of rejection.

From my early teens to young adulthood, I battled food, faulty self-talk, a poor sense of worth and acceptance as I lived with destructive physical and emotional behavior.  Food was my enemy, yet I ran to it for comfort.  Daily I purged, while desperately wanting a way out of the never-ending cycle.

During this time my Bible was a refuge for me.  One day, I came across a passage identifying a core struggle of my private world – temptation.  Daily I prayed to overcome the temptation to binge and purge, but each night I crawled into bed with failure.  In my shame, 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV 1984 version) gave hope and a promise:

No temptation has seized you expect what is common to man.  But God is faithful.  He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it.

In this passage, God became incredibly personal because He recognized my battle with temptation.  When no one else seemed to understand the depths of my internal struggle, God did.  He even promised a way of escape.

One night I fell asleep and the compulsive, addictive cycle momentarily broke and the power of Jesus’ love, and Word was validated in my heart and mind.  God loved me so much He provided a way out from my daily temptation of purging through something as simple as sleep!  God reached down from heaven and made Himself real to me.  He didn’t reject me.  I had hope for change and a new way of life.

FaithOver the years, I’ve journeyed with many people struggling with a range of addictive behaviors. Common among them is the cyclical trap of temptation and failure to overcome it.  Compulsive, addictive activities encompass anything out of balance from what God intends for us.  We run to the imbalanced behavior instead of running to God and His control over our insecurities and pain.  Addictions can encompass food or exercise, shopping or thriftiness, anger or fear, self-righteous pride or deeds of darkness.  The list could go on.  All take root in self-protection instead of the power of resurrection. 

God’s gift of allowing me to overcome one night of temptation through sleep was a miracle to me. He provided a practical way out, just like His word promised.  When I woke up to new mercies that particular morning, and didn’t experience rejection from others, I had hope for healing.  God opened a doorway out of my self-destructive routine.  He provided an alternative to my fear of rejection that created distorted thinking.  God instilled hope that the unhealthy cycle could be broken through His power, not mine.

A new life from addictive behavior didn’t happen overnight for me.  Overcoming it was a long, slow process.  But that glorious morning at seventeen was the day Jesus personally rolled the stone away from my dark and fearful tomb.  He provided a door of freedom for me to walk through.  Since then, I’ve learned stepping out of fear and into His power is a daily choice.  God provides a door of escape every day from various temptations lurking in the shadows. And every time I walk out of the tomb in victory is testimony to His resurrected healing power.

What shadows lurk in your life, calling you into temptation instead of victory?  As we approach the Easter season where we celebrate Christ’s resurrection, the celebration is also in applying Christ’s power to our personal lives.  Easter is not about the past, but the future.  Where have you overcome the “grave” of addictive or destructive behaviors?  We would love to hear your story.

In His love,

my signature

 

Running Away, Giving Up and the Benefits of Being Caught

the dreamThis week, I’ll be speaking in Western Michigan for two women’s groups on Hope Beyond the Picket Fence.  I’ll be sharing what I call “my angry mom story.”  It’s the hope and truth our family has lived through when the storybook image came crashing down and my faith journey of perseverance and surrender instead of giving up.

It’s the hope I have in a living Lord who restores, redeems, and came after me. 

Do you need hope that God loves you and is willing to come after you?

Several years ago, I found myself running from the God I love.  And as I ran, He pursued.  He ran after me.  He’s pursued and brought me where He wants me to be.  He’s allowed me to see that desiring more of Him is better than being content with what’s not-okay.  I’ve found when I relinquish what I want to what He wants, the rewards are always better. 

This requires selflessness, surrender, and giving up control of “the inmost being,” what scripture calls the most personal parts of ourselves (Psalm 139).  This is scary, because the things inside of us are usually things no one else knows but God.

Yet despite knowing our ugliness, He still desires us.

As I’ve learned to trust God with things I haven’t let anyone touch, I’ve experienced a love that is so lavish, I don’t want anything else.  For a person with an addictive past, that’s a bold statement.

Nothing satisfies like the peace and grace of God himself.

I’ve learned to say, “Lord, I want you more than……,” and I’ve learned He won’t lead me astray or abandon me.  I’ve learned His goodness over my control is like water to a thirsty soul.

I humbly ask you to pray for me and the women who will hear my hope-filled journey this week in Michigan.  But I also invite you to accompany me on a life-long journey of letting the Father “catch” you, whoo you, and pour His lavish love on you.  

It’s a lifetime journey, taking the Father’s hand and releasing everything in you so He can mold you in His image and design He has for you.

Believe me, it’s worth it.  There is nothing greater.

For you created my inmost being.” Psalm 139:13

Blessings to you this week,

my signature

Steps to Health and Healing – Pushing Through Fear

“Ouch, that hurts,” I told the physical therapist working on my knee.  He was trying to figure out what was stable and what needed to be stretched after last week’s surgery.

“We’re going to get you walking,” he said, in a thick Polish accent.  “That pain? It’s from muscles you haven’t used since you’ve been hurt.  Now, get up and walk.

I looked at him with fear in my eyes.   I hadn’t put full weight on my right leg for two and a half months.  I started walking, but with a limp.

Get rid of the limp.  You don’t need to do that anymore.  You’re afraid to walk because of the pain you had in the past.  There is no pain anymore other than from the muscles you haven’t used.  You can do this.  Walk.”

I took steps, one after another, swinging my hip just like he said.

With courage I was capable to do what I was afraid of.

Do you have moments like that?

MP900341649Moments where the pain of the past grips you? Where you change your emotional, spiritual or behavioral posture because something hurts and the only way you know to go on is to limp along.  The limp becomes the new normal, overcompensating for the pain that’s afflicting you.  A pain that won’t go away unless you’re intentional about fixing it so it can heal.

While the surgery fixed the torn meniscus in my knee, my PT was pushing me to work through the pain from unused muscles I no longer used right because the stiff limp I was accustomed to became normal.

Are you walking in pain that has become normal for you?  Have you become dull to the pain, allowing spiritual or emotional muscles to weaken because you’re haven’t been using them?  When you attempt to use them in the right way, do you shrink back because the weakened ones cause new pain?  Are you afraid to go through the pain to be healed and healthy?

Physical therapy has done great things in just one week.  My knee’s been pushed, pulled, challenged, and stretched.  After each session, it’s stronger.   In order to heal, I have to persevere and work through the pain.

Healing from emotional pain is similar.  I often tell counseling clients that things will feel worse before they feel better because therapy brings up painful things needing to be addressed and healed.  It’s like surgery.  In order to heal, you have to open up and repair what’s damaged in the mind, soul, and spirit.  Learning to walk an emotionally healthy road requires using emotional and behavioral muscles that have been weakened.  It’s painful.  You’re pushed, pulled, challenged and stretched.  But after persevering, you’re stronger.

Just like my knee.   If I wouldn’t have sought treatment, I would have walked in pain with my “new normal” limp.  I probably would have gotten along okay until something would make it hurt worse.  Emotional pain can be carried the same way.  Pain and injury becomes an accepted way of life.  It’s not healthy.  Not at all.

I’ve learned my fear of walking “the right way” was real.  The physical therapist saw right through it.  He knew my muscles were strong enough to walk again.  He wouldn’t accept my fear of the past experience to be my present reality.  When he said, “You can do this” it gave me confidence to walk the right way.  “Swing your hip,” he said.  “No limp no more.”Man Walking Along Line in Road

 I needed to do this. In fact, my future health depended on it.

What fears grip you because of pain from your past?  What fears are keeping you from walking forward?

As I continue to get stronger and work at strengthening the weakened muscles, I’m reminded that healthy physical, emotional and spiritual lives requires hard work.  It requires addressing our past, our pain, our fears.  It requires being stretched, pulled, pushed and challenged.  But in the end, we can walk with strength.

With a swing in our hip and confidence in our heart.

We know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who He has given us. Romans 5:3

My love to you,

my signature

Steps in Overcoming Obstacles: Keep Walking

Man Wearing Knee BandageI have a messed up knee. A torn ACL, torn meniscus, possible compression fracture.  Today I’ll be seeing an orthopedic doctor to find out the course of treatment.  Since the injury two months ago, I haven’t been active.  That’s been hard for me.  Being active is a part of a life-long strategy of healthy living as a recovered bulimic.  It’s not something I take for granted.

This week, I put my running shoes on and decided to walk.  We’ve had several inches of snow with temperatures in the teens, so walking outside is not an option.  Using our elliptical is too strenuous on the injured knee.   Obstacles to exercise have kept me sedentary.  I finally decided to overcome the obstacles.

As I walked a circle for forty-five minutes in my basement, the mundane act was life-giving.  I realized how tempting it was to tell myself that if I couldn’t run, I might was well not try.  I knew the longer I stayed away from healthy behavior, the easier it was not to engage in it again.  I realized how easily lies creep in when you need to overcome obstacles.

Sometimes, you just need to walk.

Man Walking Along Line in Road

So, how do you overcome life’s obstacles?

  • Walk in the direction of the obstacle.  Obstacles have power over us when we feel helpless in overcoming them.  Walking towards them makes them more manageable.
  • Doing what you can is better than doing nothing at all.  I’ve felt helpless in the area of physical activity lately.  But when I began walking, I gained energy and was encouraged in what I could do.
  • Don’t aim for perfection.  A lie of the enemy is “If I can’t do it the way I’d like, it’s not worth trying,” or “If I don’t think I’ll succeed, I won’t try.”  Perfection shouldn’t be a life goal.  Doing your best regardless of circumstances should be.
  • Think outside the box. My elliptical has been a vital tool in being active during snowy Midwest winters.  Part of me wanted to believe I couldn’t do anything with a bum knee.  I resolved to do what I could to get myself moving again.  My tennis shoes and a basement free of furniture were options for me.  Not ideal, but it worked.
  • Don’t lie to yourself. No matter how much time transpires between the present and the eating disorder days, old, familiar lies quickly can creep in.  Cognitive distortions and unhealthy thinking patterns are obstacles to most of us.  Recognizing triggers for faulty thinking is essential in overcoming obstacles.
  • Keep moving.  When I speak on addictions and overcoming obstacles, this principle is an essential truth.  As long as you are moving forward, you’re overcoming something,  you’re not being defeated, and you’re taking steps toward healthy behavior. Living addiction-free is a lifelong process.  Walking forward towards the goal is the action plan.

What obstacles face you?  What fear is holding you back from stepping toward healthy behavior, healthy relationships, or achieving hopes and dreams?  What steps to you need to take today?

Whatever you do, keep walking.

Inspiring Stories: Candi’s Story

1-019It’s a great privilege to share Candi’s story.  Candi is a family friend and her honest vulnerability makes her story so powerful.  As a counselor working with children and families, I honor the hard choices she took to overcome her addiction both for herself and her children.  Addictions of various kinds are becoming commonplace in today’s families.  She took the difficult, but best road.  Here’s Candi’s story.

It’s more than a road that takes us where we are going.  Sometimes we get there by feeling great amounts of hurt, pain and bad decision-making.  Mostly, it’s what we do with those things that truly gets us going in the right direction.  The journey I’ve traveled has brought clarity and healing in my life.  From the bad, came the good!

My name is Candi, and I’m a grateful, recovering alcoholic and addict.  This is my story.

Seven years ago when I became pregnant with my third child, we were surprised.  I was happy but my MP900321168husband was not.  I understand now why this wasn’t the best news for him.  He was worried and scared at providing for another life.   At the time, it crushed me because he wasn’t sharing my joyous feelings.  I ran to a neighbor’s house and cried for hours.  What was I going to do knowing I was carrying a baby that wasn’t wanted?  I felt lonely, scared, angry and sad most of my pregnancy.  I couldn’t share the wonderful moments of pregnancy with the man I loved.  It was heartbreaking.  When the wonderful spring day arrived that I gave birth to our son, my husband saw him and wept!  He was sorry for his past feelings and couldn’t imagine life without our boy.  While I was glad his feelings changed, I was still hurt and angry at him. I didn’t feel the love I once had for him.

During that spring and summer, my husband and I grew farther apart.  I became short and snippy and he became withdrawn. Most of the time, I felt lonely and angry.  I focused my attention on the kids and figured this is what life was like.  Meanwhile, my heart and soul grew dark and clouded.  One day I hurt my back and was introduced to Vicodin. I didn’t have prior experience with pain medicine.   I found out one evening, after kids went to bed, that having a glass of wine and a pain pill made me feel pretty good.  I felt no sadness or hurt, I was just happy.  In that moment I didn’t worry about the pressures of being a “perfect” wife and mother or making sure the world thought everything was “okay” even though we had problems.  I felt numb and it felt amazing.  I found a secret trick of how to handle a bad day. 

As time passed, I found myself wanting the same “good” feeling during the day.  Once a day I would take a pill.  The euphoric feeling I got helped me mask all that was wrong and I put on a happy-go-lucky attitude.  Unfortunately, the pills eventually ran out.   A voice inside me warned me to tread carefully, but I didn’t listen.  I told myself, “Who cares? Just do it!  Why should I care anymore?”   I began doctor-shopping, finding the doctors who prescribed to “whatever or whomever.”  My lies were many and great so I could bring home a bottle of what I Pill Bottles Containing Medicationneeded.  I did this for a long time and much of my time and energy was spent getting my “happy pills”.   When the pills wore off, I was anything but happy.  I needed an extra boost to keep the euphoric feeling for longer times, so I began mixing a bit of rum in my soda.  I justified that if I did it after five o’clock, it was acceptable (right?).  This worked as long as I had a couple more drinks throughout the evening.

Over time, the little rum turned into more rum, early bedtimes, and a hangover every morning.   I heard when you have a hangover it’s best to drink it away.  So, I bought vodka and put it in orange juice.  A pill and a screwdriver greeted me each morning.  This took care of the head pounding and “shakes,” but it left me empty of emotion and feeling.  When I began to feel the issues I had been burying, I would just take more, resulting in coma-like state.  While everything seemed fine and put together on the outside, inside I was ripping apart.  I started to realize I had a problem.  I worked hard to keep enough alcohol in the pantries so it looked like none was missing.  On recycling day, I couldn’t let my husband see how much I had been drinking.  I became a master at hiding and hid empty bottles everywhere.  Empty pill bottles and vodka bottles were hid in the bottom of trashcans covered by paper.  I heard a rumor that vodka doesn’t smell, so I’d dump half a can of Red Bull and fill the rest with vodka so it looked like a regular beverage.

The thought of being an alcoholic went through my mind.  Though it scared me, I couldn’t stop because my body needed it along with my mind.  I was of no real worth to my family, preforming my duties like a zombie.  The anger, hurt and pain was far worse than when I took the first pill.  The substance abuse was acting like a fertilizer on the feelings buried.   It was time to do something different, because I was alone in my secret.  No one knew all I was hiding.  I realized I was wasting away my precious life, but I was terrified to tell.   In sharing my secret, I would have to MP900399091give up what my body craved.  I would look like a loser and failure, acknowledging  I.am.not.perfect. 

But I took that step. I called my mom and I told her everything that had been going on for the past two years.  Then I told my husband.   They both were in dismay, but supportive.  Sharing my secret was a relief.  That was the first step, but the greatest.  I thought I could detox at home.  But I had children to look after and detoxing from alcohol and prescription drugs isn’t pretty.  I felt like my body was being pulled apart. I didn’t have accountability and ended up in the same old routine.   We decided to take action and figure out what our choices were for treatment. There was no way I could do this at home.  I remember sitting on our back porch that September day, looking for rehab centers, praying to God to help me find a place that could help me.  A strange box appeared on my computer screen.  When I saw what it was, I knew we had to call the number.

We set a date for when I would leave.  I had two days to tell those I loved what was going on.  Feeling humiliated, I went to our daughter’s school and told her teacher and principal so that she could get support if she needed it.  The MP900178845boys were too young to understand what was wrong with Mommy.  We told them I had to leave for a few weeks.  Our daughter was old enough to know I would be gone for long time and she was very sad.  I still remember her face as my husband and I were driving away.  I felt as if my heart was detaching from my chest. 

I was in treatment for roughly 66 days.  The program was difficult. I had a hard time understanding my issues weren’t about drugs or alcohol, but stemmed from thought patterns and how I lived.  While I was there, I sought Jesus in a way than I ever did before.  I asked for His holy, healing hands to touch me and heal me.  I asked Him to help me understand what was hindering my heart, mind and soul.  When I opened my eyes each morning, I had so much anxiety and fear.  I learned how to really pray and I prayed and prayed and prayed.  I learned God was a loving God.

I gained clarity about the smallest of hurts and hang-ups I couldn’t let go of.  I began to see the poison littering my mind.  I learned to face what was buried and what I needed to let go of.  I was resentful toward my husband, for his lack of support when I was pregnant, and I stopped seeing the good in him.   I was angry for small, selfish things that snuffed out my inner light.  I lived in self-centered blindness.

I realized I always suffered from a thinking problem.  It started at an early age, I just didn’t know it.  I relearned how to think, drink, eat, love, walk, talk, and give of myself.  I learned to be silent, create boundaries, set goals and realistic expectations and clear unwanted thoughts from my mind.  I was completely transformed by my Savior and Lord, Jesus!  All because I asked, believed and wanted!

While I was at rehab, I felt safe from the outside world.  I was around other like-minded people and I finally felt like I belonged somewhere.  When it came time to leave, I was frightened to come home to my family.  I self-medicated every day in my home.  How would I face a swarm of triggers?  What kind of parent would I be with this new self?  How was I ever going to fall back in love with my husband?

I had to realize that in order to heal and be forgiven, I had to ask God to help me forgive myself.  Isaiah 1:18

Answering these questions took time and prayer.  Honestly, it was the scariest time of my life.  I didn’t feel strong enough to face everything waiting for me outside of rehab.  I had damaged my family.  I had to prove the “new” person I had become. I kept on praying!  When I arrived home, I realized my children and husband were also different people.  They had also been trying to survive, especially my husband.  Family responsibilities had fallen on his shoulders.  My daughter would cry herself to sleep because she missed me.  Tear stains were on the picture of me in her journal.  The boys didn’t call out my name when they needed something, they called out the names of those who helped while I was gone. It was like I didn’t exist in their memory.  My heart ached and I grieved that I put them through this.

I was determined I would stay in a recovery program like  AA.  Not under any circumstance would I go back to the darkness.  I would forgive anyone who hurt me.  I would ask for forgiveness with a humble tongue.  I would ask God to change my heart so I could love those I wanted to stay angry at.  I would let go, and let God.

MP900438533It’s been four and a half years since I left rehab and began a new life in Christ.  I’ve received the gifts of substance and emotional sobriety.  I look around me and see truth instead of fear and lies.  I love my children and husband to my fullest because I have God’s love!  He replaced my old friends with new ones that I could not live without today.  The goals I set in treatment have been accomplished as of this writing.

I have vitality and strength to make good things happen.  I want to be responsible and act with compassion.  When I’m feeling low or under loved, I turn to prayer.  My life, my family, and opportunities before me have been amazingly touched on this road of recovery.  I choose to take the steep, rocky, and curvy path of life.  I don’t want an easy road.  There isn’t spiritual growth to it.  The greatest lessons I’ve learned have come through pain and being uncomfortable.  To really know what the Light is, I had to be in the dark.

I have verbally shared my story on a few occasions.  Writing it out for this post has been a challenge.  I literally went back1-040 to every single awful moment of this story and cried.  Once I reached the end, I cried again.  But this time I cried tears of gratitude and joy.  I am so loved by our Creator.  He brought me up from the ashes and gave me new wings to fly!

I pray for all of those who struggle with self loathing, fear and hopelessness, that you may find the Light of our Lord!!  Many beautiful blessings to you, the reader!  Thank you for reading my story.

Love and Peace,

Candi

You can contact Candi Watson Miller at  Can.wat.35@gmail.com

Updates

It seems like forever since I’ve posted.  It’s been one of those weeks. Do you have weeks like that?

This past weekend my husband and I traveled 22 hours to be with our daughter for 36 hours, moving her into her new Couple with moving boxes.apartment three states away.  She’s a junior in college.  During her Christmas break, she flew from the Back Forty to Guatemala and back to her university only to begin classes the next day.  She moved in with new roommates but only had a bed and her dorm paraphernalia.   She tweeted this morning about homesickness, and this is all part of releasing and letting go.  She is called to overseas mission work when she graduates, and we know this “all” is part of the process. But it’s never easy.

Wednesday I found out I have a torn meniscus, a torn ACL, and a possible compression fracture in my right knee.  It’s the result of a staff-student basketball game I participated in on December 19 where I twisted my knee while guarding a 6th grade girl.  Thank goodness for worker’s compensation insurance. I’ll find out next week the course of action for treatment.  So that knee-brace in the Mustang?  I guess it’s for real.  Expect for the Mustang. So much for my basketball career.

But basketball is what keeps me busy this day.  My two oldest boys play varsity and junior varsity basketball in a state MP900439489and school where basketball is King and the weekend entertainment for the county.  Everyone comes out to watch basketball year after year, it’s talked about in the coffee shops, and it’s finally our turn to be in the Starting Five.  If you’re familiar with Hoosiers, that’s our town.

Our youngest son is staring as Edmond in the high school production of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe next weekend.  This is quite an honor since he is just in 6th grade.  This is our non-basketball playing son, and it’s a joy to see him excel and the gifts God has given Him.

Being youth group sponsors, we’ll have junior high kids at our house for the Superbowl.  That’s all I have to say about that.

That’s life this week at the Yoder camp.  Nothing inspirational today, just a chat over my morning cup of coffee at 5:00 -am while Hubby is driving in blizzardy-conditions to play basketball with a few other oldies.  He does this every Friday morning before school.  He’s one of the Hall of Famer’s in our little town’s basketball Hall of Fame that exists in the minds of everyone who’s watched Westview basketball for forty-plus years.  He can still “shoot a three” and blow people out of the water.  Yes, I still feel like a school girl with a crush on him when I say that.  And yes, I cheered on the side lines.  Not in a knee brace.

I am posting at Not Alone Mom today, so about mid-morning, check that out.  Contributing writers are writing about love in February.  Today’s post is Loving and Leaving Alone, reflections on the teenage journey.

This weekend, don’t miss Candi’s inspirational story that I’ll be posting here.  She’ll share about overcoming an addiction with prescription drugs and alcohol and the pieces that played into “getting hooked” as a young mom.  What a privilege to share that.

I’m sharing a few blogs I’ve been blessed by reading:

Morning Story and Dilbert   (you have to read today’s post)

Real Simple Faith

To My Brother With Love

I believe in these writers and their efforts in blogging world.

Also, if you haven’t joined Life Beyond the Picket Fence on Facebook, I’d love to have to visit.  We are almost at the “100” mark, so I’m giving away a CD of beautiful piano music by a friend, Heather Streeval, who just made her first recording, to the 100th “friend.”  She plays “by ear” I love this CD and want to give it to one of you!

Have a great Friday!  I’d love to hear how your week has gone.  How can I pray for you?   And please take the time to read Candi’s story this weekend – you won’t want to miss it!

My love to you In Him,

my signature