Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Favorite Things

Happy Last Day of November!!

Here are some of the things that made me smile this week:

Love this

Photo: Mohawk Matt
This made me laugh! My brother's football team shaved their heads into mohawks this week for playoffs. Teeheehee!

Colbie Caillat's new Christmas CD is great! Especially the title track, "Christmas in the Sand."

During my young adult's group, during a discussion about proof of God's creation, I learned about Laminin, the protein cell that holds our tissues together. Resemble something?? Coincidence?- I think NOT!

sparkle holiday nails - essie leading lady
Sparkly holiday nail polish ( :

Pumpkin Cheesecake bread - Only 500 Calories for the WHOLE loaf!
Baked this healthy Pumpkin Cheesecake Bread recipe for work this week and it happens to be AMAZING!

The Flip-Open Effect

God's ways are SO above our ways (Isaiah 55:9), and He never ceases to remind me of that as I go through life, especially just when I think I have a handle on things.

In fact, there are few things I love more in life than when God knocks me flat on my rear-end, whether it be in humbling correction, awe-struck wonder, or just a reminder that He is Lord and that I'm nothing without Him.

This wonderful sensation of God's crazy presence occurred yesterday after a less-than-peachy doctor's visit. Sure, I've come a long way in my recovery from anorexia, but as I prepare to make the leap from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of treatment, there is no denying that the calorie/fat/carb-obsessed, food-restricting thoughts that planted me in a hospital bed are doing all they can to fight the return of health to my body. It's a daily battle, and sometimes I feel like I'm losing.


During my quiet time with God, I decided there was nothing speaking to me that day. My heart was hardening, I felt a bit discouraged.

Then, I had some random inclination to read the book of Hebrews. Why? I have NO idea. So, I flipped open to the book, and picked the last chapter to read. And a single verse in that chapter jumped out at me and could not have been more perfect for my heart at that time:

"Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited."
-Hebrews 13:9.

God reminded me that day of what he overwhelmingly told me in the hospital:

Grace is all I need to be thinking on. 

Things of the Spirit are all that matter.

Look what happened when you thought and obsessed "occupied" yourself otherwise-- you almost had a heart attack.

I would certainly not call that "being benefited." 

I believe that God caused me to have that need to read Hebrews. I believe He allowed me to flip open my book to that chapter, and have that verse practically jump from the pages and grab me by the collar.

God's ways are crazy, sometimes unexplainable and irrational, but there is no denying that they exist and that they are so wonderful!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My "I Wanna" List

Sometimes I'm amazed at all the opportunities for inspiration I had while in the hospital. God surely blesses us by knocking us to the ground sometimes, but He brings us back up stronger than ever!!

While reviewing my prayer journal/poetry book this morning, I came across a list that I wrote in my last few days in the hospital. This list was a sign of victory; a sign that I wanted to recover because I began to believe God had something more for me.

It is not called a bucket list because my focus that day was on life and not death. These were things I was going to live to do. These were hopes for a future, a desire for health.

Instead, I named it the "I Wanna List."

I Wanna List 09/30/12

I wanna teach others and inspire them.

I wanna love unconditionally.

I wanna live for Jesus always.

I wanna put scriptures on my bedroom walls.

I wanna write a book.

I wanna travel to Europe. 

I wanna run the original marathon  route in Greece.

I wanna take a pilgrimage to the holy land.

I wanna ride in a hot air balloon.

I wanna eat a pancake breakfast and enjoy it again.

I wanna adopt a child.

I wanna learn to play the violin.

I wanna learn karate.

I wanna go fishing on our boat with Dad.

I wanna eat ice cream and like it again.

I wanna have a beautiful wedding someday.

I wanna be a family girl.

I wanna watch the ball drop in Time Square on New Year's Eve.

I wanna go to those in need.

I wanna vacation in Canada.

I wanna roadtrip from coast to coast.

I wanna go to Salem on Halloween.

I wanna stay at an Amish bed and breakfast.

I wanna volunteer.

I wanna create/find/seek/be beauty.

I wanna read the classics.

I wanna have peace.

I wanna live on a farm.

I wanna study abroad.

I wanna bake with Grandma.

I wanna get a tattoo.

I wanna see a show on Broadway.

Sure, some of them seem out of reach and ridiculous, and some of them will be ongoing for the rest of my life. But to me they represent a renewed love of life.

So, if you are ever having a bad day, make an "I Wanna List." You don't have to have a near death experience or be in the hospital. You don't even have to have ever doubted your future. It is simply a celebration of God's capacity for possibilities and adventure in your life!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Great Victory

A poem based on John 16:33
... "but be brave! I have defeated the world!"

God has defeated the world
All the battles we fight, He's won!
Although our fears and concerns unfurled;
even while we're in the midst, He's already done!

He beat our insecurity,
He destroyed hate and war and crime,
He has purified the filthiest impurity,
He has conquered the limits of death and time.

What we do not understand, He already knows,
What we cannot provide, He has never-ending,
Where we cannot bear to be, He goes,
Fearless savior, strong and defending.

Knowing this, God, why is it so hard to trust?
Shouldn't I be bursting with courage so bold?
Why does fear and pain still hold my lust?
Why should my soul remain so cold?

Happy Sunday! Rejoice, for He saves us every day!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Favorite Things

Happy Black Friday!

I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving with lots of love from family and friends. Today, while stores are throwing deals and material items at us all day, I thought I'd do my Friday favorites on things as we prepare for the holiday season that don't cost a cent!

I love driving around the neighborhood and looking at Christmas lights with my family. It's beautiful!
I love printables! This would look so cute tucked inside a cute or rustic frame on a mantle with a nativity.

Go ahead, call me an old lady, but I love knitting presents for people starting this time of year!

Who doesn't love ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas movies?!

My favorite pin this week: 12 Days of Christmas history, Bible readings, and if you have a family, family activities that go along with each one.

I love when we use our fireplace!

Free Christmas music on Spotify! Soundtrack to every homework sesh for me ( : My current favorite Christmas jam? "Christmas, Baby Please Come Home," by Anberlin. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Feeding a Life of Faith

So, in my journey of recovery, after meeting up with some of my amazing and supportive friends at Barnes and Noble to talk about all things faith, I realized one of the things that is reinforcing the roadblock I've hit:


Negativity about my situation, negativity in my words, negativity in my actions-- the ugly thing made a mess everywhere, feeding my disorder, limiting my faith.

How can I be a child of the light, a daughter of the great Father in Heaven, a conqueror because of Him, when my words are ridden with lack of joy and doubt?

Here is a poem I wrote as a reminder to myself, and anyone else who, like me, might be facing a challenging crossroads in their own journey: speak positive into this world, or speak negative into this world.

Speak positive into existence;
Let only beautiful and luminescence;
Be your sentences and phrases;
Let your every word  be praises.

Take a spin on what you see;
Create with every thought a better memory
Than useless words would permit,
Or negative statements would commit.

Rather than fear, laugh in confidence!
Rather than disclaimers, let hope commence!
For how could I ever attempt to inspire,
if joy and good thoughts weren't the heart of my fire?

Be watchful, negative is so sneaky,
 And the vessel it sits in is often leaky,
Dripping with darkness, oozing with lies,
So guard your heart, and open your eyes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Morning God Showed Me He Was There (continued)

(To see first installment in this story, read the earlier post "The Night God Showed Me He Was There")

After such an amazing experience having Ana as my nurse, I was disheartened to wake up in the morning and see that she had left and her shift was over, before I even had a chance to tell her how great God's work was in her, and to just say thank you.

It was a Sunday morning, and feeling renewed in Jesus from the night before, I immediately reached for my Bible resting on the bedside table, finding the napkin Ana had written down verses on for me to read.

 Before I got a chance to read a single word in my Bible, the nurses brought in breakfast, and that sickening familiar feeling of fear and despair rose up again in my stomach, making its way up to my heart and mind, and as was ritual with every meal, I began to weep.

"May I read your Bible?" 

These were the first words I heard from Angela, the nurse who had taken over for Ana. She was in her mid-thirties with fiery red-dyed hair, tattoos creeping up her neck from beneath her tinkerbell patterned scrubs, and a wealth of glitter from her hoop earrings, bracelets and necklace. She smiled at me and asked again, "I am a Christian too, so I'm kinda bummed I'm missing church this week. Can I read your Bible?"

"Sure," I answered between sobs.

She picked up and flipped to Isaiah 54, saying, "Honey, I was not always a Christian, but when I became one, this chapter became my favorite." I looked at her curiously, begging her silently to tell me her testimony, and as if she heard my unsaid request, she explained how she had been part of a very sinful lifestyle in her youth, married and had children at a young age with a man who was oppressive and stifled her spirit and belief in God. When she mustered up the strength and courage to leave him, she feared that God would not want her; she described her shame as feeling physically filthy before the Lord.

Those words resonated with my heart and soul's feeling of shame before God, after not listening or speaking to Him for so long. But then she read to me, inserting my name and speaking with a passion in her voice that told the story of her salvation, how joyful she was at his redeeming of her soul:

"[Rachel], you have been like a childless woman, but now you can sing and shout for joy!"

"Do not be afraid, [Rachel],-- you will not be disgraced again; you will not be humiliated. You will forget your unfaithfulness as a young wife and your desperate loneliness as a widow."

"Your Creator will be like a husband to you-- the Lord Almighty is his name."

"The holy God of Israel will save you, [Rachel], he is the ruler of all the world."

"The mountains and hills may crumble, but my love for you, [Rachel], will never end; I will keep forever my promise of peace, so says the Lord who loves you."

My fears washed away once again with the powerful crashing wave of those words as they took residence on my heart. No matter what weight I gained from my recovery or by the food I ate, no matter what I had to do to get better, I would not be disgraced or humiliated. I feared that no man would want me after I gained back that weight, that I would be ugly forever. How wrong I was:

I would only be loved by the greatest and most loving man to ever walk the earth: Jesus Christ who saves!!

After I finished my breakfast and watched Joel Osteen's Sunday TV show with Angela, I popped on my Pandora radio station and began the endless chemistry homework I had accumulated from missing so much school. "Jesus Take the Wheel," by Carrie Underwood started to play, and Angela hopped up dramatically from her chair, gushing, "I LOVE this song!!" She began to sing, and twirl about the room. Being an avid country fan myself, I could not help but join her.

We enjoyed our last moments together basking in the glory of the impromptu party God had thrown us when that song came on, even replaying it so we could sing again, waving our arms, tossing our heads up toward our Father, letting Him hear our goofy voices lifting up a beautiful message. 

God reminded me He was there, and would be there continually. For I will not be humiliated as my body changes, out of my control.  But Jesus has the wheel of this crazy vehicle we call life, even when I lose my grip.

I will only be loved, plain and simple.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Grandma's Advice: A Verse a Day Journal

Over this visit with my grandmother, I have taken great joy in being able to talk faith with her. It's so important to have someone in our lives, especially a mentor, who you can talk about all things spiritual with without judgment or feeling scared at what you are saying, and I am so blessed to have that in my grandmother.

Best of all, she gives great advice and guidance! One of my favorite pieces she gave me during her week-long visit with us was something she learned about at a women's conference years ago: the Verse a Day Journal!

Here's how it works:

Each day, go through any book of the Bible one verse at a time. Then, in a journal, write 1. The verse as it appears in your Bible, 2. The verse in your own words, paraphrased, 3. What that verse means to you.

You can extract so much meaning from this exercise, and it's something that's very doable every day! Right now, I am working through the book of Psalms. Here is a sample of one of my entries as I began this week with Psalm 1:

Psalm 1:3
"They are like trees that grow beside a stream, that bear fruit at the right time, and whose leaves do not dry up. They succeed in everything they do."

My words:
Those who love and lean on the Lord and the Word will be constantly  nourished, flourishing and fruitful, producing great things, never drained or abandoned. They teem with life!

Journal entry:
I am comforted that I am guaranteed to grow up towards the heavens if God is with me. That I will receive all the nourishment I could ever want,

constantly being gifted with life,

beautified from the inside out,

majestic and towering,

strong and sturdy,

meant to take the storms and winds that nature throws on me.

But I must trust in God's seasons of harvest and seasons of fruit bearing, for that is the only way I will succeed.

Life. Growth. Fortitude. Success. Fruit.

These blessings and more will course through my veins and roots if I simply believe and rely on my Father.

I was created to be a definition of life, a source of shade to those who come beneath my branches, a thing of beauty when I let my God's light shine through my leaves.

But what I must do is trust and believe.

My challenge to you: Give it a try! Pick any book of the Bible (although Psalms or Proverbs are good starters, and usually make the most sense when you go through it verse by verse), and post your best entry from each week as a comment.

Happy journaling!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Favorite Things

Here are some of my favorite things from this week! Enjoy ( :

I love love love wearing my cowgirl boots!

One of my favorite verse finds: Ecclesiastes 3:12
Irish accents: I saw The Script in concert, they had them, my nutritionist has one, and GERARD BUTLER has one ( : 'nuff said!
Speaking of The Script, this lovely woman, Tristan Prettyman, opened up for them and was AMAZING! I've been addicted to her music all week.

I tried a Pumpkin Chai Latte during my long break between classes the other day and fell in love <3
This is a very inspiring blog written by Natalie Goldberg, a woman of faith who struggled with an eating disorder also, and loves all things delightful, girl, and meaningful.
One of the best parts of this time of year is getting lost in my chunky knit scarves!
Spending time with my amazing grandmother, who is visiting this week! She is an inspiring woman of faith who I have always looked up to as a great example!

On a Run with God

As I ran today, no ear-buds polluted my thoughts with shallow pop melodies or hardcore workout tunes.

No, instead, I let the silence be my soundtrack; I let God's sweet messages serenade my soul.

His golden light shone in my eyes, blinding them so that I might see the wonder of His impeccable work, His glorious creation. With each stride I sang His praises for everything imaginable: for the wildly colored leaves, for the satisfying crunch they yield beneath each step of my running shoes, for the goofy call of the geese as their formation flew overhead, for the invigorating chill that partnered a breeze which motivated me at my back and challenged me as my path opposed it.

I let His blessing surround me, unyielding. I let Him tell me how to love. I laid my dreams and goals and fears on His ears, and I listened for his whispering responses between my labored breaths.

I returned home and thought, Oh God, my best friend, I wish it could be this way all the time!

Then, louder than anything in the quiet of my spirit I felt him chuckle, Oh, my daughter, it can!

And it's beyond beautiful, beyond all perfection, that my God wants to talk to me this way.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Beloved and Filthy

Based on Luke  8:40-48

I heard the story and could not help but feel exposed, as if someone had read my diary aloud in front of the entire church.

It was the story of a woman considered to be disgusting and dirty beyond repair; a repulsive image, and so revolting and filthy that touching her required hours of cleaning.

She suffered a hemorrhage for twelve years. For twelve years she had been tormented by her own ailing body, out of her control, feeling unwanted, unloved, and far from beautiful.

Until the day Jesus walked into her life. 

I felt that way. I still do some days. No, I do not suffer a hemorrhage, but I felt tormented for years by the demon whispering lies in my ear every second of every day: anorexia. I felt disgusting. I felt like someone loving me was an impossible feat, and a luxury I would never deserve. Beauty was unreachable. Inadequacy was my defining character.

Until the day Jesus walked into my life.

Like the woman in the story, I was beyond afraid of simply calling Jesus' name. I was unworthy to let the name of power and glory be carried on my breath. If I called on Him, I would be exposed. My thoughts naked before Him, and how ugly those thoughts were. Thoughts that betrayed Him, that denied Him, that were filthy, dirty, and full of lies.

As I recovered in the hospital, I knew I had to simply say His name. Jesus. It was the most simple beginning to an extravagant journey of healing; beyond my own imagination. I whispered it with a simple hope flickering in my heart, and Jesus took it and transformed it into a great and inextinguishable flame!

Like my sister in the story, who only wished for her illness to end, I just wanted my heart to beat again, and perhaps for me to be able to eat a few meals without bursting into tears. I felt unworthy of even asking for a fix to my problem, let alone a deeper healing that I did not even think I was deserving to ask for.

He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace."

Peace. Love. Acceptance. New Life.

While I cowered expecting my King to look upon me with disgust, all I could accept from His sweet and forgiving presence was a simple gift:

"Rachel, your faith has made you well. Go in peace."

My peace is freedom from the chains of disordered thinking. My peace is knowing that I am not of the flesh, which I once worshiped over my God as part of a disorder that threatened my life. My peace is seeing that I live each moment with a new purpose because Jesus saved me in every sense of salvation.

What will your peace be when you make that bold yet beautiful act of faith that will transform you beyond your most beautiful conception of recovery? 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Night God Showed Me He was There

My first day in the hospital left my body exhausted and my spirit obliterated. Infuriated and hopeless would have been words far too kind to describe the state I'd been left in. Worst of all, I was most angry at the one who saved me: God.

Why would you put me in this prison cell? 
Don't you know how painful it is when they stuff my stomach with these fattening foods? 
Don't you know how terrified and lost this makes me feel? 
I had it under control! 
I was giving my body what it deserved! 
You abandoned me!
Where are you?

These venomous thoughts circulated in my mind over and over, dancing about in a vicious cycle, like the winds of a tornado churning within my heart creating wreckage with every moment it gained speed. 

Longing for distraction, I decided to strike up a conversation with the 24-hour nurse they had watching my every move to make sure I did not try to throw up the food they gave me, or do anything else to harm myself. She was Ana, this tiny, sweet Dominican woman; the grandmotherly kind who seemed to be made to be a caregiver.

I mentioned my church, and her eyes lit up immediately. She was a Christian too, and once that avenue was opened for our conversation, there was no turning back; my soul would be revived in a way that has touched me and changed my life ever since.

Ana let Jesus' message of love flow from her. "God loves you SO much," she said, the tone of her voice so fervent with faith I had to believe it. "You must believe, my daughter. Believe that He has great plans for you, because I can already see that He does."

 She told me to praise Him always. She told me that when I sat and stared at my meals, ready to cry, which I had done at every meal since entering the hospital, to lift my head to Him and simply say in my heart, "Hallelujah! Praise!" She told me that I already had the victory, because I knew Jesus. She told me I had already won the battle I was fighting.

She broke through the walls that the eating disorder tried to construct around my heart, and truth and light and joy flooded in. "Child, we are going to pray. Talk to your Father in Heaven who loved you so much He died for you. He wants to hear your voice again." It was as if she saw right through me, and knew that I had not prayed in days, out of anger at God for my state, blaming Him for my deteriorating body and seemingly hopeless existence.

She held my hands in her beautiful, aged hands. Hands that I knew had held many others in prayer, in love. Hands that brought me to Jesus again as she encouraged me to pray with her. It was as if Jesus were hugging me with each word she spoke. God told me in that moment I was still His. She encouraged me with a squeeze of my hands that it was my turn to pray, and I could not hold back. "Let me be your princess again!" I begged, eyes flooded with tears, heart surrendering, "Heal me! Please, just heal me! I am so sorry, Lord. Please have me back."

We finished and she smiled with tears welling up at the corner of her eyes, and spoke some of the most lovely words I had heard in a long time, "He already took you back, my child. You have already won because He is in your heart. You are already healed." I knew in that moment that it was true, and there was nothing more beautiful and freeing. God did not take me back; He had me the whole time. I just refused to have Him. And how perfect and wonderful it was when I realized that He never abandoned me, even when I denied Him.

As I drifted off to sleep, Ana sang me lullabies in the form of old hymns, her sweet voice serenading me in celebration of my new found hope. After she had gone, and I awoke the next morning, I found a set of Bible verses to read every day, scribbled out on a napkin, hidden within the pages of my Bible.

She was like an angel; she was a miracle-- the kind of incredible one-time interaction that changes your life that you know could only come from God's grace.

Ana's reminder made Hallelujiah, or "high praise," one of my favorite words. She reminded me that I am the daughter of a King, and rather than drop my head in sorrow when the recovery process seems like more than I can bear, I am to lift my head, my heart, my life in praise to God. Without that powerful prayer, just praising Him and nothing else, I would not have survived.

So, Ana, wherever you are, I hope you know that you saved a life that night. The doctors could only do so much, but without you inspiring me to believe again, and to accept God's courage and love and hope, I could not have survived. I could not have found life again. Thank you.

The Feeling of Sunday Mornings

When I worship Him I am flying.

It is a geyser rushing beneath me, sending me at a brilliant speed towards the heavens,
Rushing with all wonder of You and Your glory and Your joys.
I see all your creations from these great heights, how wondrous they are;
Yet compared to You they are nothing.

I am lifted higher,
Floating amongst the stars and glowing lights.
I am still yearning for You with an insatiable thirst, forevermore.

Simultaneously I am tossed downward,
I fall low at Your feet as I realize how small I really am,
As I realize I cannot give, cannot do, cannot be without You.
I am Your child, Your baby girl, cradled in Your arms.

I sing, I cry, I let my soul dance as my mind tries to understand a love I will never truly comprehend.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sweet Recovery

Oh, sweet recovery!
How great are your works upon me.
Building upon my testimony,
To reveal your hard work for the world to see.

The food I forcibly am fed,
Allows me to become better wed
To a peaceful, caring mind instead.
Hate upon me no longer will tread!

Fullness and beauty are my hope!
Lord's Word guiding me, teaching me to cope
So I can reach beyond the scope
Of fake success and smiles while inside I mope.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Gospel According to Rachel

What is my Good News? My Good News is summed up in two words: 

irrational grace.

God saved my life despite my running from His salvation. Though I denied His beautiful truths, the nature of His gifts to me, His unending and immeasurable love, He overwhelmed me with it and brought me from the depths of an ocean that I saw no possible way of being saving from.
For months I chose to listen to the eating disorder, clutching my heart like a menacing bed of black thorns, taking over my soul like a demon growing ever so sneakily, nearly undetectable at first. I chose to worship diets and exercise rather than the worth of time with God. I chose to listen to Satan’s lies rather than God’s beautiful truths; truths that were made possible by His unimaginable suffering and gruesome death—and still I denied them to accept much uglier words and thoughts. And as the thoughts rose steadily like a tsunami terrorizing the shores of my mind, the voices that once whispered now screamed at me, “You’re ugly!” “You don’t deserve to eat that, you’re too fat!” “No one will love you!” 

I abused my body, the vessel of the God who gave His everything and then some just so I could breathe. I took what He carefully crafted and put on this earth out of pure love, and made it a miserable existence; I took the muscle and substance He blessed me with and let it deteriorate so that I resembled a skeleton. I took the good-natured soul He placed ever-so-carefully in my body and let it become bitter due to exhaustion and starvation. I denied His never-ending blessings of food and love and stomped on them, as if these gifts like gold were garbage and filth. I chose a relationship with hate and falsehood, with self-destruction and terror, over a relationship that was born from love and grace, salvation and every fulfillment my soul craved. I was the ungrateful child that ran from God as He offered His mighty arms out for a hug; I took His sacrifice so that I might have grace and joy and belittled it to a nice fairytale in some old book. I welcomed my impending death due to a lifestyle of sin and misery over an existence of joy and love. 

And yet He saved my life. 

Even after I starved my own body to the point of nearly having a heart attack, God made it so the doctors took notice and admitted into a hospital me to receive help. Even after I denounced His love, He made sure I was overwhelmed with it. Even after I was angered at His putting a stop to my self-abuse, my zombie-like body shaking with sobs in a hospital bed, He made His presence more apparent than ever with angels in the form of nurses, friends, and family. And after I consciously chose to ignore His flawless and shining truths, He let His Word shine so brightly that my eyes were blinded by His grace and love. And after I rejected Him, he chose me to live, and recover, and have a shot at a life far better than the life I tried to create for myself. 

God saves. God forgives. God loves without restraint. God has an incredible plan, God will not let you fall. And I, a recovering survivor of anorexia, am just one drop in an ocean of proof. And He reminds me of it all the time.