Tuesday, 7 September 2010

"A strong woman works out every day to keep her body in shape But, a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape. "

Over the years I've read many quotes....hundreds, maybe even thousands. It's one of my favourite things to do - when there is some time spare for me to have peace and quiet (not often in my house of 5 males!) to just sit down and trawl through pages of different quotes by various people.
I always like the ones that state "Anon" at the end...wondering why the author felt the need to keep themselves secret-who or what had impacted that thought in their mind, which they felt the need to share, yet stay masked to the world by that one word..."Anon." I love the air of mystery that one word adds to a quote.
The title of this blog post is from a website called woman2women, which is a site for christian women to be encouraged, share life on chat forums and grow spiritually through scripture teachings. They have a whole list of quotes and bible verses that I have read several times actually. This particular one though has a very personal meaning and impact on my life though.
"A strong woman works out everyday to keep her body in shape, but a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape."
At the age of eleven I developed bulimia. I wasn't particularly overweight as a child - I was always the tallest girl and one of the first to start developing amongst my peers so did have more puppy fat than most the girls in my year but I think it was more to do with the fact that having a handicapped sibling meant I often felt self pressure to be perfect and in many ways becoming bulimic was me silently showing everyone that I wasn't.
I think it was only when I met Robert at the age of 16 that I was able through his encouragement and him leading me to Christ, slowly start to overcome my eating habits.
This has naturally been a long journey...especially since having 4 children in just under 6 years, plus a huge dose of steroids to beat a blood disorder has seen me go from my more natural size of a 12 to at my biggest a size 18/20. Through following weight watchers and joining a gym, I'm now a size 14/16 and am constantly striving to continue on my quest to get back to a size 12 (where I feel healthy and comfortable) .....but reading the above quote was such a revelation to me.
You see, I had to really really question afterwards why losing weight was so important to me: Was I letting myself once again get obsessed with the whole image of being perfect, was it because I thought it would make me more accepted or loved, was I allowing the devil to use this old stronghold to keep me from experiencing what God wanted for me?
When I get to the day where I can once again pull a size 12 pair of jeans over my knees(!) and actually do them up without holding my breathe all day-will life suddenly become perfect with no worries or stresses? Will I suddenly see my relationships changing? No, is the answer to those points, life won't and I won't! Atleast not because I'm a certain size, but only if I let God be my main focus.
I had to ask myself was I spending as much time obsessing about God and His love for me as I was about my body image? Did I have an understanding of what God thought of my body and if it in anyway hindered me from serving those around me?
I am me...I love people and have many many friends. I believe they love me for me...my honesty, how much I care about them and the impact I have in their lives...that even when I succeed in losing the extra 2 and a half stone of Stacey-i-ness that they will still love me as they do now for the same reasons....
BUT...whether they do or not, I stand firm in the promise that God loves me...he designed me, he wanted me as me and I'm made in His perfect image. He's not sad that I was once a victim of an eating disorder, He's ecstatic that everyday I give it to Him so I can call myself an over comer.
I write this blog post today because I am a "real" kinda girl and I love encouraging others...it's not how we look that determines our successes, our friendships, the opportunities that come our way...it's standing firm that we know and serve a God who loves us so very much. If everyone looked the same or sounded the same or cooked bolognese the same way...life would be dull...it really would. Of course we should be sensible with the food and drinks we consume, and exercise our bodies to be able to live the full life God has intended for us but we are made to be secure in the knowledge that our time on this earth is limited and we should be grabbing every opportunity that comes our way...not fretting about how much bigger or smaller "so and so's" bum is compared to ours. Woman to woman, it's time to be a generation of females who love, support and raise one another up.

I love Psalm 139 in the bible and particularly the verses that say:
13 "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

If I can encourage you to do one thing today it would be to read these verses over and over again and believe them for yourself, and then let me know if they gave you as much peace and re-assurance as they have me. Jesus loves you, He loves me...it's time we hand on heart love ourselves :)

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Jumbled emotions and thoughts!

Today I feel the need to write. I haven't composed a blog entry for months letting the busyness of my life get in the way. But...today...I need to write!
At the moment, I'm a huge jumble of emotions, thoughts, dreams, aspirations and feelings. I feel that Stacey is entering a new chapter of life, yet am uncertain if that chapter has started yet....is mid way through...or is just a few rough notes jotted down waiting to be transformed.
I've felt a tad frustrated with my day to day routine for a few months...but have really been questioning what I'm supposed to be fulfilling with my existence, since the tragic death of one of our church youth girls 6 weeks ago.
Annie had just turned 19 and was at the end of her gap year before heading of to uni when she she died in a car accident in Wales. I have known Annie for around 5 years after meeting her one Sunday morning when I joined children's work. Annie and one of her best friends Laura had been on the team a couple of months already and despite being eight and a bit years younger than me at just fourteen, were a welcome duo for me, a nervous twenty-two year old who had never felt called to do "Gods work" before and was quite new to the whole church community scene. This led to a few fun(!) years of Promise land material, Kids2Rocks and the odd performance chucked in!
I don't think I have ever really told Annie and Laura just how fantastic I think they were and how it was such a privilege to witness them growing into two amazing young ladies. I don't to this day know how they feel/felt about me...but Annie and I spoke more the last year than we ever had before as during her gap year she worked alongside our childens pastor Yvonne...as I'm also on the core team for children's work we regularly emailed/texted or met up and planned Konstruction Krew activities. We managed one coffee date a few months ago and she was adamant that one day she would take me to her fave shop in Windsor - Cath Kidston, as she found it quite insulting that I hadn't yet visited it! Annie was a breathe of fresh air...fun, chatty, bit moody and very pretty with a huge air of cheekiness thrown in. I don't know if she liked me as much as I liked her, but a few of my recent favorite memories of her were sitting next to her to watch the Vigil and giggling stupidly at a line in it - for WAYYYY too long, discussing how we could be Doug Horley backing dancers...and if at 28 I was too old(!), and the big debate over her taking my photo at 11pm for the kids work notice board - she just didn't get that one did not feel ones most attractive after a 13 hour day with my kiddies followed by a 4 hour ministry meeting...the photo did get taken...and published! :/

That Wednesday whilst in K2 for FiC, hearing the words "Angharad Clague was killed in a car accident this evening" knocked the breathe out of me. Shock, despair for her family and friends, heartbreak for her being so young...so full of dreams and plans...confusion as to why this had happened, deep sadness that I hadn't told her that I was proud of who she had become....yet relief and peace that that she was with Jesus - who she loved so very much.
I wasn't sure if it was okay to openly grieve Annies death...afterall I wasn't related to her or one of her close friends. I wondered if I would look silly...or if people would judge me......one evening whilst praying for those close to her, God confirmed it was okay and good for me to cry...to miss her...to feel sad too. Being in K2 on Sundays is still hard as she was such a natural fixture in there...I can't imagine how it must then feel for her family and friends..
Annies death has made me toughen up to life I think. I believe I am learning to understand God on a new level, pray in a different way. I feel I need to press into what He wants me to do with my life, not take it for granted and waste it with silly, unimportant worries of what people think of me, my family, my house, my figure, my face, my talents.
Having a handicapped sister has always made me appreciate the gift of having a fully-abled body and mind. Being able to choose what I do, and not take it lightly when blessed with new opportunities....Annie dying has reconfirmed that to me. I now really really really pray for people I know who don't yet know Jesus for themselves. I realise how important it is that they should accept Him into their lives... experience Him for themselves.
I am still so sad about Annie, but I thank her that in that short time of knowing her, she has made an impact on me that will only encourage me to do my best to be happy, stay happy and make God happy.
I have realised our time on earth is limited and precious and I'm determined to make sure I use mine grabbing every opportunity, adventure and blessing God will throw my way!