29 December 2010

Two Cities Eye-Q Half-Marathon 2010!

This is a late post, and I didn't do a race recap for it. The Fitness and Health Expo for the event took place on 6 November, and the run was on 7 November. The most exciting aspect was that my hubby came with me! :) It was his first time seeing me run! Anyway, I did make a PR (personal record) on this one! I finished 13.1 miles in 2:13:10- WOOHOO! (Side note- I didn't have to wear my Team in Training jersey, but I thought it would be a great thing to wear just to promote awareness of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.)

Here are a few of the rad photos from the run:

To see more photos, check it out here: Two Cities Eye-Q Half-Marathon!

My next event is the 13.1 LA Half-Marathon on 16 January 2011! My goal is to do at least one half-marathon per month. That is, if something very special doesn't get in the way. And I hope it does; It's been a year of trying... and nothing. But yesterday, Kevin was sent to the lab. We'll cross out the possibility of him having any issues before coming back to me. :\

"Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life." (Romans 8:5-6, MSG)

20 October 2010

Nike Women's Marathon 2010!

I did it. I finished. I came, saw, and conquered.

16 October: Kevin dropped me off at Double Tree Inn at 550 AM. Everything was packed, everything was ready to go, and the team was excited. :) We piled into the bus, and headed to Visalia, where we picked up the rest of the Central California team. After a quick stop there, we kept going until we reached Patterson and had lunch. Then... next stop: SAN FRANCISCO! As we went over the Bay Bridge, the excitement was growing, until we finally stopped in front of the Hilton in the Civic Centre/Tenderloin district, where we had to contend with hardcore, extremely LOUD picketers. :| Fabbbbulous. Haha. After checking in with our assigned roommates (I stayed with Marti), we all headed to get our bibs/packets in Union Square. There were so many people that the line wrapped around the sidewalk, and local pedestrians seemed to be pretty annoyed. I think the highlight was getting to take a photo with the Haribo mascot though. Haha. Bib number: 18,163. Holy wow. Yeah, so I think there was actually MORE than the predicted 20,000 runners, too, because I saw some people with bib numbers that were in the 22,000 range... That night, we walked about 1.5 miles total in the cold wind to the Inspirational Dinner, where I nearly lost it because of the speaker who told her story of life after cancer took one of her six sisters Nancy. The other five sisters formed (with the speaker) Team Nancy in order to do Team in Training, and raised a ridiculous amount of money for the cause. It was just AWESOME. By the time we got back to our hotel room though, I was ready to go to bed. I set everything up so it'd be ready for tomorrow morning, and then hit the hay.

17 October: RACE DAY! There was a 30-50% chance of rain prediction and the temperature was going to be in the mid-upper 50s. I didn't think it'd be SO bad, though. We had to get up at 5 AM, in order to be down in the lobby at 545 AM to check any "post-run" clothes bags and be at the start line by 630-645 AM. There were SOOOO many people, and it was getting pretty claustrophobic... and then FINALLY, the mass of people started moving, slowly but surely. I was surprised that it only took me about 12 minutes to get to the start line, and when I did, I TOOK OFF. Talk about a beautiful course... seriously. I remember going by Pier 1. And past several landmarks that hearkened back to childhood Girl Scout field trips. I just felt a few rain drops, and smiled- phew, guess it would just be a light sprinkle like they had said on the Weather Channel, I thought. I was all smiles, despite the insane hills that I had NOT trained for or expected (I just thought there would be a few). I just kept on going until about mile 15. By that time, the rain was pouring down, my fingers had swollen to the point where I could not bend my fingers, and I was completely water-logged. Not only that, but the hills were seriously UNENDING... at least they were for this girl, who only incline trained two times in the last six months. :\ The rain and wind made it ice-cold, and when a San Francisco Team in Training coach noticed me, she stopped and asked if I was okay. In fact, I was not okay because I was having trouble breathing and was seeing grey. I was shaking and shivering so violently that I couldn't keep doing run/walk intervals, so I started power-walking at around mile 18. The coach poured a packet of salt onto the top of my hand, which I licked off, and then fished around in her bag that she had been carrying and handed me her jacket (which I could just barely move enough to get on). How cool of her to let me borrow it though, eh? Despite wanting to totally give up, and despite nearly passing out, I kept going as the rain (with sweat mixed in) poured down my face and into my eyes. I HAD to do this. I wanted to finish- I trained hard for this, even if I hadn't expected this weather or the massive hills. As I hit about mile 23, Katie and Elisa came up behind me, calling my name. It gave me that mental positivity boost that I needed so badly, as despite race-walking at a 13:30 pace, I was near tears from the pain and exhaustion and unbearable cold. To my surprise, they told me that they only knew of one other person from our team in front of me (who happened to be a seasoned ultra-marathoner and nearly reached elite status in her youth); I had been SURE that I would be the last full marathoner to cross the finish line, and everyone else would be back at the hotel already, celebrating their victory. Katie started walking with me around mile 24, but Elisa got this SURGE of adrenaline and ran the rest of the way to the end, where she finished 11 minutes before Katie and me- we crossed the finish line at 5 hours 45 minutes and 54 seconds. I shockingly ranked 4333rd out of 20,000+ runners, according to results site! I was bummed that I didn't hit my goal of 5 hours or less, but dang, considering the circumstances... I was happy just to finish. But yeah, the finish was not the best, considering the rain was still pouring down, and I was SO SO SO cold. I got my little blue Tiffany & Co raindrop-stained box, containing the NWM 2010 finisher's necklace from a drenched firefighter in a tuxedo, got the awesome finishing goody bag, and headed over to check in with the Team in Training folks. They handed me that "26.2" pin, and I realised just how big of an accomplishment it really was. I mean, 26 miles in a car takes you like... 30 minutes. That's like 1/3 of the way to LA from my house. DANG. I headed to get my checked clothes bag and, too cold to even change in one of the porta-potties, I headed to get on the shuttle back to the hotel. Seriously? It took forever to walk to that shuttle! Wish it had been closer, especially since everyone was drenched and so sore. We even had to walk up stairs and then up an inclined sidewalk! :| It took us around 30-45 minutes to get back to the hotel room on the shuttle, and as soon as I got back in the room, I hopped in that shower right away. It's amazing how much a run can beat you up. I had even gotten a big gash on my left boob from chafing of my headphones, which I stuck in my bra to keep them from flopping around after taking them off. That night, despite being so sore, Shawna, Susan, and I walked the nearly 1 mile to the Victory Party (first stopping at Juicy Couture and Old Navy, of course!). I ate dinner (ew, seriously? All they had was fried food- SERIOUSLY!), but afterwards, I was so ready to crash... so despite the fact that they were gonna dance and have entertainment, I walked back to the hotel room and fell asleep around around 8 PM. Haha.

18 October
: After packing my still-wet clothes and shoes, we headed back home at around 930 AM, and I was so glad when we finally got back into town about 6.5 hours later. My hubby came to pick me up, and walked me over to the car... but... it wasn't our car. I thought: "Oh great, a rental car... what happened to the car now?!" since my car has been breaking down a lot. My husband kinda grinned sheepishly and said: "Do you like your new car?" He had actually bought me my first new car ever (first automatic too)- a Ford Fusion Hybrid 2010! (o_o) Can you believe it?! It freaked me out at first, but we had talked about it for a long time... I was just so shocked and amazed that he had taken the initiative to get it this weekend as a "sort-of post-marathon surprise present"! :) And it's good for the environment, too, eh?! :D I was really REALLY glad to get a massage yesterday (19 October) too!

All in all, despite the painful marathon experience, it was worth it to finish. :) I didn't reach my goal, but oh well, there are other marathons I can do, eh? For now, I'm back to being nervous/excited for the Two Cities Eye-Q half-marathon in Fresno on 7 November! I hope my legs are ready!!! :D

+Official Brightroom Photography site!
+My photos of the weekend!

03 October 2010

Must. Keep. Going.

I didn't know where to start, honestly. I feel like I've been running, fulling blast and nonstop, for months now... both literally and physically. And my emotions are having a blast on unending rollercoaster rides. Argh! Even if I am sitting here on the couch, I know there are things to be done. The laundry is being washed and I should be getting ready for church in an hour.

On the work front: Still at the hospital, still in medical records, still full-time. It is tough to balance everything, and yet still go into work Monday through Friday, 8a-5p. But I do, and as much as I say this job is "not suited for me," I am so grateful for the fact that I can finally have fantastic insurance coverage (I was denied for 3.5 years due to previous issues) and amazing benefits, to boot. Since mid-April, I've been presented with so many social and personal challenges by my co-workers, whether intentionally or unconsciously. But yep, it's been just a couple weeks away from 6 months that I've been at the hospital. And fittingly, I got to check out the Kern County fair with my hubby because the hospital's employee picnic was held there on 28 September! :)

On the school side: California State University of Bakersfield (CSUB) is so extremely frustrating to deal with, and I was getting sick of all the hoops I was having to jump through. However, as mentioned before (I think?), I FINALLY finished all the paperwork... and am now officially enrolled in two individual study (no, not online courses) advanced French courses (Business French, French Civilisation). The reason for "individual study" is due to the fact that CSUB does not have a French major, and the only French classes they offer in their schedule/course manual are two beginning classes. So, how am I majoring in French? Well, I am doing the "special major in French" programme via the modern languages department, which means I will have to take 8 advanced courses on my own in order to finally finish up the French BA that I started at SJSU. Oh boy, oh boy. This quarter entails reading 10 business "cases," answering about 6-8 pages of questions about the reading material and translating about 4-5 paragraphs from French to English per case. That's just Business French. My other course is French Civilisation, and I haven't even gotten started; I will have to read two entire textbooks (yes, they're in French, of course) about French history (and civilisation, of course), then answer 2-4 questions per chapter, as well as come up with a research topic and write a 10-page term paper (not including the bibliography, and YES, it has to be in French) about it. Ahhh! I. CAN. DO. THIS. Right?

On the marathon training front: Our team is tapering now! After two previous long runs being absolutely AWFUL due to GI issues, I was really nervous about our 4-hour longest training run of the season on 25 September. I went to the doctor, and after she did multiple labs (four vials of blood taken!), 3 ultrasounds, and a urinalysis (I was supposed to do two stool cultures and an x-ray, too, but I just keep forgetting), I am just waiting to go over the results with her on 7 October. In the meantime, I've been "forced" by my body to start really scrutinising what I eat again. This is NOT easy for someone who just wants to pretend (I guess?) that food choices don't matter. After a decade and a half of restricting myself and putting a microscope up to everything I put in my mouth, I don't want to have to do this again! But I've also been taking Immodium and that helps too, and... gulp... I contacted my old dietitian and have an appointment with her on 13 October. I just hope she doesn't make comments on how different I look, because obviously, I look like an entirely different person after gaining 40 pounds! :\ But ANYWAY, I didn't mean to go off onto some rant, because the 4-hour run went GREAT. Yeah, it hurt soooo bad/good, but I did 20.1 miles in a total of 3 hours, 50 minutes (that's not including the long aid station break at mile 10), so it was pretty dang worth it. Afterward, most of the team gathered to toast our accomplishments in both fundraising (I'm only at around 70% though, and the rest is due in just a couple days! PLEASE... help?! Anything is appreciated!) for this amazing cause, as well as enduring this training season! The coaches brought some great grub and we all split a bottle of champagne (between us all, each of us only ended up with a small gulp)... and we got to meet a darling potential honoree for next season named Lucas! He's only 22 months, but is in remission from leukemia after being diagnosed at only 7 months old. Wow, I cannot imagine how difficult this would be as new parents, but that's why the Team in Training's fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) is so important. (Man, running has really helped me learn and grow!) Not to mention, I've gained friends who appreciate an active lifestyle! Oddly enough, my massage therapist Gina Nathan is the mother of one of our current honorees Bryna, who was diagnosed with cancer at age 3- she's in 3rd or 4th grade now, thanks to the financial support of the LLS! :D

I feel like I've left a lot out, but I'm running out of time. I've just got 15 minutes to get ready for church! ;P Take care, everyone, and oh... I <3 comments/feedback! Share my blog with friends! Heehee. You don't mind if I leave you with these awesome verses, re-translated in the Message Bible, do you?

You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally. I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

04 September 2010

Santa Rosa Half-Marathon Recap.

Ack! It really has been too long since I've posted here. Why? Because I have been working 40 hours a week at the hospital still (did I mention that I was hired full-time and I now have medical benefits for the first time in 3.5 years?!) AND training hardcore for the Nike Women's Marathon with Team in Training. I am literally exhausted by the time I get home, and there is still the issue of the eating disorder. I haven't lost any weight, but heaven knows every ounce in my body wants to. My eating habits are not balanced, that's for sure, but as Kevin put it: "You really need this running thing, don't you?" It's no longer this obsessive thing like it was, really. Yes, I get kinda crazy sometimes, but I have found that I have grown tremendously through my teammates.

On that note, one of my friends/teammates Marti and I went up to Santa Rosa (about a five hour drive north), and ran in the half-marathon there. I wrote a recap about it at Daily Mile, so... allow me to share! :)

Marti and I drove up the day before (Saturday, 28 August), which took us around 5 hours. Of course, luck should have it that Marti's beloved Kohl's was just across the street from our hotel, so we decided to walk over there and we both ended up getting new sports tops (of course! What else?!)...

On race day (Sunday, 29 August), we woke up at 530 AM, and after Marti turned on the TV, she happened to stop on this HILARIOUS music video (on public access or something)... After nearly puking from laughing so hard, we hear this BANGBANGBANG on the wall, and we realise that overnight, we had gained a neighbour in the room next door! OOPS! Of course, that led to more stifled laughing. Could you imagine what that poor person was thinking, after a night of silence, and then suddenly waking up to two chicks laughing loudly and singing "It's the weekend and it's time to PARTY!" loudly to a music video?!

We got in the car around 615 AM, and started looking around to find the starting line. Ruh-roh, we really should have scoped out the area the night before. OOPS! But we made it with plenty of time, and in fact, it was super chilly (or maybe it's because we are both so used to the 112-degree heat here in Bakersfield!) and overcast... so we WANTED to get the show on the road.

The gun popped at around 705 AM, and we were off... like a herd of turtles (turd of hurdles?). I know that 528 people isn't that many (in comparison to, say, the Nike Women's Marathon that we are both training for), but it felt like we were walking forever before we hit the starting line. I'll admit, I went out too ferociously. I did not stick to intervals, I pushed myself, and I didn't want to walk. I wanted to beat the chick in front of me, I wanted to prove myself, I wanted to be the best. Also, I'll be honest: we were quite ridiculous, considering we were the only ones who had our external speaker/mini-boombox along with us. Ahaha, I have no doubt that there were more than just a few people who were annoyed as heck that they had to run to Lady Gaga remixes, Shiny Toy Guns, and cardio versions of Abba hits. :P

About halfway through, Marti couldn't take my shenanigans anymore and handed the boombox over to me, telling me that she needed to fuel up and walk a little. :\ Sorry, Marti... So I ran on ahead... For the next several miles, I just felt drained. About half of the course was trail (which I have never run on), so many of us had to dodge big stones (and with me, I already have floppy, loose ankles, so the rolling shoulders on the gravelly path did not help any). In fact, one woman ended up slipping and put a big gouge in her head. While passing, I looked down at her (and someone who had already stopped to help her) and asked if they needed water, because her head, arms, and legs were covered with blood! YIKES!

My legs went on auto-pilot, but in the last 2-3 miles, I could feel my courage slipping. It was cool, though, because the full marathoners, who did the 13.1 mile loop twice, were running by and a couple people reassured me that I was "almost there."

This was a milestone for me. Yes, I've run more than 13.1 miles. Yes, I've run at a faster pace. But this is the second (and definitely significantly largest) event I've ever done, with my first being that "Celebrate CSUB" 5K I posted about so long ago...

I ran a 10:23 per mile pace, finishing in 2 hours, 16 minutes, and 5 seconds. I finished 350 out of 528 half-marathoners. Not exactly the winner, but I see it as a victory! Just 4 days before, I thought I had a stress fracture because it was too painful to run (though it turned out to "just" be a bone contusion/mild tendinosis instead). 10 months ago, I weighed 35 pounds less and was near death after years of suffering from anorexia nervosa/obligatory exercise addiction. 8 years ago, I was told that I wasn't good enough for track after attempting only a semester in high school. 16 years ago, I was told that I had too much energy, was "too obnoxious," and began to restrict my food intake to dull my senses...

On that note, let me leave you with this:

I might not praise Him enough, but...
+God changes and restores the body, mind, heart, soul (Romans 12:1-2, 1 Peter 1:13, Psalm 51:10, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:16).
+He can turn back the clock and give you back that lost or stolen time (Joel 2:25).
+He is Jehovah Rapha, the Healing God (Matthew 8:17, James 5:14-15, 2 Sam. 22:1-7, Ezekiel 34:16).
+He will bring positive, healthy, honest, Godly friendships into your life, if you ask/let Him (Philippians 1:3-8; Proverbs 17:17,18:24, 27:5-6; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
+He assures us that we are already victorious, we've already won, and we CAN keep running... all through JESUS CHRIST (1 John 2; 1 Timothy 4:8, 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; 1 Corinthians 9:24-25; Philippians 3:12; Hebrews 12:1-3, Isaiah 40:31)!

And lastly, this was the porta-potty line before the event! HAHA!

The Santa Rosa Half/Full Marathon website
Race results
Photos from the event

17 August 2010

Book Review: "Gaining" by Aimee Liu.

First and foremost- do not assume that the book jacket cover photography portrays the content inside. (What's the cliche I'm looking for? Oh, that's right... "Never judge a book by its cover!")

"Gaining: The Truth About Life After Eating Disorders" by Aimee Liu is deep, and occasionally dark, unlike what the artwork might suggest. After two weeks of struggling to read 2/3 of this book, I had to return it to the library. It's definitely some very dense reading material, and is definitely geared more towards those who have struggled for years with disordered eating and eating disorders in their adolescence and young adulthood (only to find that, despite perhaps learning how to semi-function in their 20s-30s or older, they still exist with distorted views of themselves and/or their eating patterns).

I found myself truly relating to the novel research and studies Liu writes about, as well as the countless accounts of fellow eating disordered men and women. Two things really shocked me: 1) She interviewed Dr Michael Strober from the UCLA Eating Disorders program, who was my psychiatrist while in residential treatment at a different facility in the Southern California area (and who I found utterly impossible to relate to, as he came off as a total "know-it-all"), and 2) Liu tells the story of a man from Bakersfield, CA (where I live and grew up)! It was just neat to read that someone ELSE has the courage to talk about eating disorders in Kern County, of which Bakersfield is the "seat."

Yeah, it was a tough read. It was a mind-frying read. It was a slightly disappointing read (since she didn't really delve into how the people she interviewed who HAD actually been hospitalised/in treatment dealt with the "outside world"). But nevertheless, it was a psych buff's dream, so to speak.

03 August 2010

"Siren Call."

---> Snap. Awake. Eyes adjust.
Zoom in, focus, zoom out, focus.
Ears acute, hard swallow...
Dry, dairy, dribble.
Snap. Light on. Eyes burst into flame.
Squint, dare to open, see...
Peaceful sleep from co-conspirator.
Tempting calls of "real world,"
echoing rubber on cold asphalt,
spinning tires, speaking, squealing,
roaming down freeways,
free at four-fourty.

---> I miss that calling to roam (oh, yes, I do),
that unceasing appetite to search and seek,
but God gave me a clarity of mind
to see life as a spring to live instead of
a tedious leak.
So battle wages in the tempted heart,
against the lustful cries of early-rising worker bees.
And on the bulletin board of the enemy,
I am easily overcome...
but not with my Father
(who I call the "Great He")
by my side.

---> I close my eyes. Flip. Switch. Dark.
Mind grips prayers here, there, flitting phrases,
Rumbling of belly, waiting to be fed, and,
Pounding of a mending heart,
Praise Him. Honour Him. TRUST Him.

(Written at Mercy Ministries on 22 October 2009, 440 AM.)

29 June 2010

Who am I?

I am too ambitious, too loud, too competitive, too vocal, too much. I mess up... a lot. I have a tragic past, which one could assume would make my future look grim. I've hurt people. I've hurt myself. I get angry, sad, jealous, lonely... even a little crazy. I sleep too much or too little, eat too much or too little, give too much or too little, want too much or too little. I get addicted too quickly, and take too long to get "sober." I have definitely been what most could and would call a "screw-up."

"We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don't look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you.

'How?' you ask. IN CHRIST. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God."

Pretty cool, eh? :)


Bible verse: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, MSG

20 June 2010

"A Calling": A Personalised Invitation from God to Work on His Agenda, Using my Talents to Make an Eternal Impact.

It's been way too long since I last blogged. But there has just been way too much to do, and too little time to sit down and write a proper post. However, I keep feeling that it must be important to write about God's calling on my life. It's like, there has been that nagging feeling, saying that I truly need to ask myself, to dig deep to find what it is that I really WANT to do with myself. And not only that, but the same inspirational and motivational chapter of the Bible keeps coming up recently- 1 Samuel 17. (Please click the link to read this chapter, if you haven't already. Don't worry! It will open in a new window!)

We had already read about David in our Bible Study group, but then last week, Pastor James talked about God's unique call on every person's life... and mentioned that chapter in the Bible yet again. When you think of David's foe, who do you think of? Goliath, right? Well, that's just the obvious answer. But honestly, I think David's main opposition were the people that were supposed to be sticking up for him. "Okay," you say, "Who is this opposition, if it's not Goliath, then?"

1) David's dad Jesse. Yep, that's right- his dad. David was the youngest son and, unlike his brothers, tended to the family's flock of goats and sheep. His dad just couldn't see him being able to take down Goliath, let alone any powerful warrior.
2) His older brother Eliab. This guy was a trained warrior, and was not going to let the baby of the family "1-up" him by fighting Goliath. He didn't even want his brother hanging out with his warrior buddies!
3) King Saul. First of all, the king isn't even close to convinced into letting David fight Goliath, because David's just "too young and inexperienced." David counters his assumptions by explaining how he has protected his flock from predators, and though King Saul finally hesitantly allows David to take on Goliath, he unintentionally tries to burden David with heavy ill-fitted armour.

And of course, there is Goliath, who mocks and curses David out. What I like is that all throughout this chapter, despite people judging him by his age, his stature, his experience, and his lifestyle, David sticks to what he knows God has anointed him to do. As Pastor James said, "In order to pursue God's calling on your life, you have to pursue God's calling even when others try to put 'lids' on you." What's more is that David knew that he was only able to slay Goliath because that was God's will; it was God that gave him the strength to do it, despite the odds!

What does this have to do with my life? Well, here's the deal- I honestly feel like God has called me to do something ACTIVE for a living. I grew up with ADHD (constant, nonstop energy ball!), battled severe anorexia nervosa which entailed overexercising/restricting/extremely low body weight, was asked to do a Pilates demonstration video for my college instructor in college up north (so she could show it to future students as she was older and was unable to do the more challenging poses anymore), and as of this month, everything lined up for me to join Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society! (Please click the link to visit my training page and support my efforts!) To me, although many people think they sound like horrible "signs" of God's calling on my life, I see these few examples as proof. And... I consider those people similar to the pre-Goliath-slaying obstacles that David encountered. Unlike David, though, a lot of times I begin to doubt my abilities, doubt myself, doubt that I have heard God's promptings properly. Even now, I feel awkward and pompous by proclaiming that "I think I might just know what God's call for my life is." David knew who he was, according to God, and was not swayed one little bit by his opposition. And that is why I find 1 Samuel 17 to be an extremely motivating, inspirational, and meaningful chapter at this moment...

So, on that note, I want to just come out and say it here, despite the fact that I know a lot of people will be doubtful and hesitant to accept my innermost urgings: I have been truly thinking about becoming ACE-certified in fitness, as a personal trainer and/or group instructor. I would just love it if any of you "following" my blog who are fitness gurus could give me any advice (especially ways to save money when it comes to getting the study materials!), opinions, etc!

In the meantime, I am going to continue to battle it out with my fears, and make the conscious and never-ending effort to do everything for the glory of God. Even as I am training for the Nike Women's Marathon on the 17 October with Team in Training (TNT), I am reminded of two things:

1) Paul's letter to Timothy, advising him that "physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:8).
2) Two quotes from the based-on-a-true-story character named Eric Liddell ("Chariots of Fire"), who explains how God has fashioned his passion for running by saying, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure... I want to compare faith to running in a race. It's hard. It requires concentration of will, energy of soul... I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. Jesus said, 'Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me.' If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race."

I forgot to mention that I was hired on at the hospital as an actual employee. I'll be doing the same job, but now I'll be "on the books," so to speak! I am only considered "per diem" (though I'll be working full-time!), though, so no benefits. That's okay! All in good time, just like the fitness certification. I'll keep you all updated on whether or not that door stays open, but I would love any advice on getting certified, all the same!

I'll leave you with a recent photo of two my of TNT teammates (I'm in the middle), just after we had finished our first 5K as a team:

-Title paraphrased from a quote by Steven Graves.
-Bible verses taken from The Message Bible and The New Living Translation Bible.

23 May 2010

I Stumbled Upon This One.

Well, as some of you know, I am currently nursing a sprained ankle. That means... no cycling, no running, close to no walking. I am, as they say, a gimp.

That also means that the "Stumble Upon" button has been getting quite a workout, instead. Out of sheer boredom, I happened upon this gem. Allow me to share!

(PS: The little cartoon up there is supposed to be of a computer mouse walking on a treadmill. Get it?)

"Dad, what would happen if you ran over a ninja?" by Stacey Thornberry

That was the subject of an e-mail I recently received from my roommate. She doesn’t typically send “forwards,” so I knew it had to be good. And, oh, I had no idea!

Here are some of my favorites from the e-mail, with some commentary. There were many more I enjoyed, but some weren’t entirely “blog appropriate”…

“I wish Google Maps had an ‘Avoid Ghetto’ routing option.”
Seriously! I remember moving to San Francisco, I had my roommate draw me a “safe” route to walk to work because I had no idea where the boundaries for the Tenderloin were.

“More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think about is that I can’t wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that’s not only better, but also more directly involves me.”
This reminded me of a few people in my life. I pointed out this trait to one of them; I was surprised by how shocked they were to hear they did this. At least when I do it, I tend to be aware that I’m trying to be a one-upper.

“Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.”

“Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you’re going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going? But instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch or phone or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area thinks you’re crazy by randomly switching directions on the sidewalk.”
Yes! Why do we care so much?

“Is it just me, or are 80% of the people in the ‘people you may know’ feature on Facebook people that I do know, but I deliberately choose not to be friends with?”
I find myself clicking the little “x” that will make these people disappear. And doesn’t it always feel creepy when someone sends you a friend request and Facebook tells you “Sherry Fredster found you using People You May Know.”?

“Do you remember when you were a kid, playing Nintendo and it wouldn’t work? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would magically fix the problem. Every kid in the U.S. did that, but how did we all know how to fix the problem? There was no Internet or message boards or FAQs. We just figured it out. Today’s kids are soft.”
How did we know that? How did we do so much before the Internet?

“There is a great need for sarcasm font.”
If you know me, you know how often I use sarcasm. So, hopefully, when we communicate electronically, you know when I’m being sarcastic. But it can take years to cultivate that relationship to where someone knows without being told that no, I wasn’t serious, I was using a sophisticated sense of humor (or, as someone on urbandictionary.com says, sarcasm is “used sometimes in order to belittle someone and make them seem stupid…or equally to amuse and impress them with your mind.” - you decide). I could avoid many miscommunication snafus if I had a sarcasm font.

“I think everyone has a movie that they love so much, it actually becomes stressful to watch it with other people. I’ll end up wasting 90 minutes shiftily glancing around to confirm that everyone’s laughing at the right parts, then making sure I laugh just a little bit harder (and a millisecond earlier) to prove that I’m still the only one who really, really gets it.”
My list off the top of my head: Mean Girls (I love you, Tina Fey), Little Miss Sunshine (Steve Carrell, you genius), Knocked Up (Judd Apatow, what did we do without you?), Thank You for Smoking (just ignore Katie Holmes - this is a fantastic satire).

“The only time I look forward to a red light is when I’m trying to finish a text.”

“LOL has gone from meaning, ‘laugh out loud’ to ‘I have nothing else to say.’”
I think this captures why I’ve come to despise “LOL.” My best friend and I often discuss how much we hate “LOL” and are much more “haha” people. Who knew we could be categorized as such? One caveat: I love when my senior vice president uses it. Side note: My dad uses “LOL” to mean “Little Old Lady.” How times have changed.

“I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.”
For years, I’ve told people, “When I’m bored, I either sleep or I eat.”

“Answering the same letter three times or more in a row on a Scantron test is absolutely petrifying.”
Remember thinking, “There are three C’s in a row. That can’t be right. I must have answered one wrong!” and then second guessing yourself and agonizing over the pattern that had appeared on your Scantron?

“Whenever someone says ‘I’m not book smart, but I’m street smart,’ all I hear is ‘I’m not real smart, but I’m imaginary smart.’”

“How many times is it appropriate to say ‘What?’ before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear what they said?”

“While driving yesterday I saw a banana peel in the road and instinctively swerved to avoid it….thanks, Mario Kart.”

“Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.”

“Bad decisions make good stories.”
Oh, so true.

“Whenever I’m Facebook stalking someone and I find out that their profile is public I feel like a kid on Christmas morning who just got the Red Ryder BB gun that I always wanted. 546 pictures? Don’t mind if I do!”

“You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you’ve made up your mind that you just aren’t doing anything productive for the rest of the day.”

“Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don’t want to have to restart my collection.”
Please, please, please…let’s join forces and resist any new technology so I don’t have to waste my money on some new format.

“I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Microsoft Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.”

“I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Ugh!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What’d you do after I didn’t answer? Drop the phone and run away?”
I have one friend I do this with constantly. I never understand how this actually happens! Ridiculously frustrating.

“I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.”
That just happened to me the other day.

“I like all of the music in my iTunes, except when it’s on shuffle, then I like about one in every fifteen songs in my iTunes.”
Exactly. Then, I just don’t want to hear classical music or the thousands of They Might Be Giants songs I downloaded because I saw them in concert once or the Broadway showtunes that litter my playlists. Skip, skip, skip.

“Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch three consecutive times and still not know what time it is.”
How is that possible? I do it and I still don’t know.

“I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.”

“It really irritates me when I want to read a story on CNN.com and the link takes me to a video instead of text.”

“The other night I ordered takeout, and when I looked in the bag, saw they had included four sets of plastic silverware. In other words, someone at the restaurant packed my order, took a second to think about it, and then estimated that there must be at least four people eating to require such a large amount of food. Too bad I was eating by myself. There’s nothing like being made to feel like a fat glutton before dinner.”
This happened to me when I ordered room service in Phoenix. I ordered chocolate covered strawberries and a chocolate lava cake. The room service staff member asked, “Is this for two?” I said, “No, just me…” And I ate it all.

And the one that inspired the title of the e-mail:

“My 4-year old son asked me in the car the other day, ‘Dad, what would happen if you ran over a ninja?’ How on earth do I respond to that?”

Hope you got a giggle out of this. :)

15 May 2010

Oh DANG, I need to update!

Since I last updated, so much has gone down. I've now worked at San Joaquin Community Hospital for a full month, celebrated my 24th birthday (my mom gifted me with a brand new Specialized Sirrus hybrid bike!), planted a bunch of new fruits and veggies in our garden, volunteered at the 5th Annual Bike Bakersfield Downtown Criterium bike race, and today we celebrate my husband's 25th birthday! Isn't it crazy that I've known him for 10 years? :)

My work badge.

Taking a break after my ride out to Enos Lane on my new bike.

Our new Asian pear tree.

Registration for the Downtown Criterium.

The funny Facebook event profile photo for our group birthday party.

At any rate, I'll be honest- it has NOT been easy. I have had a lot of doubts, ups and downs, and been overwhelmed with really negative feelings. But isn't that life? Life just is not perfect, nor is it full of excitement and novelty every single day. I'm just thankful to God that I am able to walk out of this...

21 April 2010

One Fruit I Forget to Eat...

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control..." (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)

I need to focus more. In this world, it is certainly easy to let my mind wander- "Wouldn't it be nice if I had...?" Jesus said it was simple: Just keep your eyes on the Father, and your nose stuck in His Word (not in other peoples' business!), and the fruit of the Spirit would just naturally emanate from you.

The other day, I was commenting that I "need to remember" that patience is a Godly trait. My friend Daniel reassured me with this: "We sometimes think about the fruits of the Spirit as things we need to work on, but in reality the analogy the apostle Paul was making is that these things just naturally flow out of our relationship with Christ, because the grower doesn't try to make fruit appear on his tree; he has to focus on the tree itself (the relationship with Christ) and the bearing fruit follows when that is healthy."

At any rate, you and I should realise that our growth as Christians is a journey- not to arrive at perfection, but to get to know the Perfect One more intimately.

So why am I talking about patience being something I'm lacking? Well...drumroll, please... I GOT A JOB! On Monday, I started working at San Joaquin Community Hospital in the Health Information Management (HIM) department. I work as a "Document Imaging Specialist" from 1 - 930 PM, Monday through Friday.

But what does this mean? Here is the job description:
Summary of Duties-
The Health Information Management Document Imaging Specialist is responsible for preparing the medical records to maximize scanning efficiency. This position is also responsible for prepping and scanning all paper documents into the electronic document imaging system according to established procedures, guidelines, and productivity standards. The Document Imaging Specialist must understand the validation and completion of the Quality Control process, ensuring the integrity and legality of the EHR. This position is responsible for reviewing scanned documents for overall image quality and the accuracy of indices assigned during the scanning process as well as according to the time-frame requirements. Also responsible for the maintenance and preservation of confidential patient records. Conducts analysis of the electronic medical record for quantitative and qualitative completeness based on Medical Staff Rules and Regulations, State, The Joint Commission, and Federal Guidelines. Also responsible for the retrieval and filing of old paper records required for patient care, audits, release of information and other health care operation purposes.

Qualifications Requirements-
+1 year experience in a health information management position preferred
+Ability to communicate effectively (verbally and written)
+Ability to adapt to a rapid change in both internal and external environments
+Works well with others in a team-orientated environment, including support of other co-workers’ job duties in a manner that further advances the goals and objectives of the whole organization
+Ability to work independently and perform effectively in a fast-paced, high-growth, rapidly changing environment
Now, this is all very new to me. You might have noticed that it says "experience in a HIM position preferred." Well, because I do NOT have that kind of experience (just experience in general office tasks), the last two days have been spent learning like crazy. I've found myself lacking patience with myself, I start up with the self-deprecation... and man, that just makes the work day miserable. I spent the first half of Monday really getting down on myself because I kept making little mistakes (well, duh, it's my first day!). After meeting Kevin for my dinner break, I decided that I was going to be positive, even if I mess up- and, can I just say, that made all the difference. Day two went by a lot quicker, and I wasn't so hard on myself. Like I mentioned above, this is NOT a journey to perfection! ;P

Anyway, I am really glad to be alive right now. I'm enjoying getting out on the bike, but most of all, I'm loving spending time with my mom (who has been coming out on rides with me). On Sunday, we went on a 25-mile ride, but on our way back, we stopped at the Elephant Bar for some snacks and something to drink. It was nice spending the day with her...and even the evening, because she has started coming with me to church! :) I tell you what, though- our "in-betweeners" (as my mom calls them) were certainly very sore! Haha.

Well, day 3 at work starts in a few hours. (Happy Administrative Professionals Day, as a side note!) I am looking forward to all that I learn today. What are YOU looking forward to today? ;)

Rest in Peace, Cousin Richard.

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned the death of my 48-year-old cousin Richard. Well, I thought I would share an article that the Sacramento Press recently wrote in his honour. In short, my cousin almost single-handedly prevented the beautiful and historic Sacramento Memorial Auditorium from being remade into a more "modern" theatre. Though he struggled with his own demons, he was truly a man who made an impact in his community. If you need anymore proof, just check out some of the community's comments (at the end of the article)! (Just a side-note: the photo to your left is of Richard back in 1987, I believe, playing with little baby me. Teehee!)

Advocate for Memorial Auditorium Dies
by Kathleen Haley, published on April 8, 2010 at 8:05PM

A community activist who was at the center of a campaign to maintain Sacramento’s historic Memorial Auditorium has died.

Richard LaVoie of Sacramento died April 2 from heart failure. He was 48.

LaVoie was the organizer of a campaign in the early 1990s to renovate Memorial Auditorium while staying true to its original design, said Bob Rakela, a member of the nonprofit group Friends of Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.

Today, the interior of the building looks impressive, Rakela said. And that’s largely because of LaVoie’s efforts and his fight to “keep it in its original configuration,” he added.

LaVoie pushed for passage of Measure H, the 1992 ballot initiative that successfully prevented the city from carrying out a plan to remake the auditorium into a fixed-seat theater, said Richard Clowdus, a member of the nonprofit group.

LaVoie was committed to preserving the auditorium as a “historic treasure,” Clowdus said.

Noelle Young is also a member of the nonprofit organization that LaVoie founded. “He was a very unique individual, and his loss was huge,” Young said. “He was a wonderful person -- very inspiring in a quiet way.”

Joanne LaVoie, Richard LaVoie’s mother, said phone calls have been pouring in from people who knew him. “I had so many people calling; I don’t believe it,” she said. “It’s just fantastic.”

The graveside service will be held at Sierra Hills Memorial Park and East Lawn Mortuary in Citrus Heights at 2 p.m. April 20, said Joanne LaVoie. After the service, a catered reception will be held at the Sierra Hills Reception Hall, she said. Sierra Hills Memorial Park is located at 5757 Greenback Lane. The public is invited to attend the services.

14 April 2010

Honesty Time...

Man, I'll be honest: Being an "on-fire-for-God" Christian is HARD. You might be saying, "Oh, come on, Lily- how hard is it to love God, go to church every Sunday, and read the Bible?" Well, for those of you who don't know, I used to be a hardcore, ready-to-throw-down, staunch atheist. I was one of those kids, at age 10, on the playground telling kids they were stupid for going to church with their parents. Thank God (like, seriously) that I am not that person anymore, but I was not saved until after I was married to an atheist and had multiple friends who were also vocally atheist. So, yes, I am struggling with that- but I praise the Lord that I have Him to walk me through it, placing Godly people in my life.

On that note, I will also be honest and say that it's really difficult to move on with my life and just live free of my "defining" past of anorexia. Even Godly friends/family members, who understand the concept of 2 Corinthians 5:17 will start getting "worried" about how much I am enjoying bike riding. I have to say, though- God is so freakin' awesome. I was flipping through one of my Bibles during an evening where people were especially coming against me (I had three friends attack my beliefs, and family members expressing unnecessary concern about me to the point that, I don't like to admit, I started doubting my own healing), and I guess I had dog-earred these verses; the pages immediately jumped out of my hands and to Job 33:19-30 (The Message version):

God might get their attention through pain,
by throwing them on a bed of suffering,
So they can't stand the sight of food,
have no appetite for their favorite treats.
They lose weight, wasting away to nothing,
reduced to a bag of bones.
They hang on the cliff-edge of death,
knowing the next breath may be their last.

"But even then an angel could come,
a champion —there are thousands of them!—
to take up your cause,
A messenger who would mercifully intervene,
canceling the death sentence with the words:
'I've come up with the ransom!'
Before you know it, you're healed,
the very picture of health!

"Or, you may fall on your knees and pray— to God's delight!
You'll see God's smile and celebrate,
finding yourself set right with God.
You'll sing God's praises to everyone you meet,
testifying, 'I messed up my life—
and let me tell you, it wasn't worth it.
But God stepped in and saved me from certain death.
I'm alive again! Once more I see the light!'

"This is the way God works.
Over and over again
He pulls our souls back from certain destruction
so we'll see the light—and live in the light!

Seriously?! I mean, WOW. If there is one thing (and really, there are MANY things) I have learned over the last six months, it's that God gives us hope for and direction in ALL circumstances! Yeah...wow.

11 April 2010

"Rollin' Wit My Top Down, Listenin' to This Jesus Muzik..."

Yeah, back on the grind again- I know it's been a lil' while, but it's time again
Folks askin' Crae, "When ya gonna rhyme again?" I'm like, "Hold up, give me time, my man!"
See, a lot of thangs change, some stay the same- went from "H Town" to "D Town" to "Memphis", man
One thang that's "fasho", everywhere I go- people caught up in "theyself", money, cars, and clothes (yep)
They talk about it all the time and put it in they songs
They drive around and play it loud like it ain't nothin' wrong
And all they talk about is sinful stuff, got everybody actin' bad, thinkin' that they a thug (weeelll...)
They tryin' to drown me out, but nah, they ain't gon' count me out
I got a backpack full of tracks, plus I keep a Johnny Mac so we can pound it out
Plus I'm bumpin' these JESUS BEATS whenever they SEEIN' ME
People lookin' all confused, 'cause every one of my tunes is screamin' "JESUS", peeps
I was bumpin' dat TRIP LEE, BJ rollin' WIT ME, both our heads noddin' like we dozin' or we TIPSY
But we ain't been drankin', man- nah, this song just bangin', man
Got us screamin' "JESUS" out the window while we changin' lanes, while we're just...

[Chorus: x3]
Ridin' wit my top down listenin' to this Jesus music
Ride-ridin' wit my top down, down top, top down, ridin' wit my top down
Listenin' to this Jesus music

[Trip Lee:]
If you hear that the bass bang and you see us in ya streets
That stuff ya boy's playin', man, it's gon' be dem Jesus beats (y'all ready)
That stuff we bumpin' ain't that "lean wit it, rock wit it" (nope)
It's that "change ya life and please let the Rock hit it"
Now that stuff that we bump bring the sound of Christ (Christ) 116 our prayer to Christ was once lost, then found- now we down wit Christ
In the dark hearts stop, but we found the light- now it's soundin' right
Suicide to the good and the phantom life 'cause the gospel is good
In the past I don't think y'all understood- now ya got it messed up
Let us outta ya hood, we got the windows down and when we find a cruise
We tryin' to glorify the Lord with what we listen to (OK)- we bump dat Cross movement
We bump that Lampmode (Lampmode); we 'bout that Jesus music
Get up yo' hands, bro (get up yo' hands, bro)- yeah
It might be screwed and chopped; it might be east coast
Either way this Jesus music's hot- bump this in ya speakers, bro
The Lord ain't pleased wit that money and weed
So if you hear them "'sup" and ya see us up in ya streets
I might be...

[Chorus: x3]
Ridin' wit my top down listenin' to this Jesus music
Ride-ridin' wit my top down, down top, top down, ridin' wit my top down
Listenin' to this Jesus music

You like music, from rap to gospel- but ya prolly never heard nobody rap the gospel
Different sound but the truth's the same- no choirs, no bands, but the truth remains
We got fam' and the clique set the booth on flames, St Louis, others, Philly
Like Duce and Flame's- if ya lost in the flow, don't lose the name
It's Jesus Christ, the King of the jews, my man
This ain't entertainment, dawg, it's timeless truth
Would you rather hear a song about shiny coupes? (nope)
Non-fat, non-gat, non-killa rap, 100% "Christ da Blood Spilla" rap
Y'all feelin' that? Rap wrapped up with the gospel; 'ey, Trip, dawg, run it back
Y'all feelin' that? Rap wrapped up with the gospel; 'ey, Trip, dawg, run it back

[Trip Lee:]
If in our car you hear that boom-bep, and you hear some dude's rep
It ain't dem folks that boast, it's folks that tell you where the truth's at
We don't wanna hear about dimes and dope (nope)
We don't wanna hear about nines and smoke
We don't wanna hear about movin' packs and foolish cats
Who lie and boast
We do wanna hear about Christ the King
Do wanna hear how lives is changed
We do wanna hear how God is pleased
And theology of the Bible, man
This Jesus music turn heads, so turn it up and let 'em know
In all we do He's first and this Jesus music's better, bro (yeah)

[Chorus: x3]
Ridin' wit my top down listenin' to this Jesus music
Ride-ridin' wit my top down, down top, top down, ridin' wit my top down
Listenin' to this Jesus music

10 April 2010

Asthma and COPD Education Center (ACEC) 20-Mile Family Fun Ride

Mom and I went out for the ACEC ride this morning at 9 AM. It started at the registration table at CSUB, then we got onto the Riverwalk bike path and rode out to Enos Lane. That's about 10 miles, where we got some snacks and water, and then rode another 10 miles back. (Here is the interactive map.) At the end, we got to have some yummy BBQ chicken, beans, salsa, rolls, and salad! The weather was seriously awesome, though on the way back the headwind was pretty strong. Mom donated 100$ to the ACEC, so they ended up giving her 100 raffle tickets (yes, I'm serious!)... I'm pretty sure one of us will be getting a winning call tonight or tomorrow. Haha.

I got some photos while we were out:

09 April 2010

Satan Has Been Defeated!

So, as you might not know, I was away at Mercy Ministries for just short of 6 months. They posted my very condensed testimony on their website here: Nine Mercy Graduates Celebrate in Nashville, St Louis, and Lincoln!

I was hesitant about sharing my full written testimony, but after talking with a friend (and waiting a few weeks for God's discernment), I am going to post it here with the hope that people hear what I went through- and then see how I came through it all, with God on my side... "I would think any girl could read that and feel loved." (That quote came via my friend, if you're wondering.) As a side note, I'd like to mention that I have not posted any photos of me before I went to Mercy Ministries. This is because most of them only serve[d] to drive myself (and others!) further into that sort of disordered, victimised thinking. However, there are three "before, during, after" photos. If you click on them, it will navigate you away from my blog (to the original photo), and end up interrupting the music player. :( But anyway, with that clarified, here is my testimony...

Let’s rewind 15, nearly 16, years. At that point in time, I was Lily Berger, age 8. I was short, with blonde hair and bright green eyes...and I was hyper beyond all means. I had already become the school outcast, lost friends, irritated adults, and exasperated my parents. I quickly realised that I needed desperately to calm myself down in any way possible. I had noticed that when I didn't eat lunch, or didn't have a full meal, I would start to drag in energy after awhile. It made me less of an annoyance, less "obnoxious," as I was often described. And so it began. Throw away a juice box here, a sandwich there.

By age 12, I had extremely low self-esteem, due to a childhood of frequent physical, verbal and emotional abuse. My view of what it meant to be Christian was also warped by my staunchly atheist upbringing. Although my parents provided my sister and me with a constant whirlwind of extracurricular opportunities that their parents were never able to afford, they also expected perfection. As I had many female family members who often vocally expressed their dissatisfaction with their weight, I began to use that perfectionist mentality on my physical looks, as well as to determine my worth as a person. Now the eating disorder was not just about calming my hyperactive mind; I was restricting and throwing things away in order to slim down my legs.

At age 15, the abuse and trauma that I had been experiencing heightened, and my thoughts became more and more suicidal. I even made a pact to myself to lose weight, lose my mind, and then lose my life by age 20. I began self-inflicting as a secondary way to punish myself for reasons only known to me. I never felt like I could do anything well enough, and thus, I couldn't be worthy of happiness. I began restricting and purging on a daily basis, taking illegal diet drugs, and covering up self-inflicted pain by downing sleeping pills and cough syrup. I spent my days in either a fog or in rapid motion, running at a 100 MPH. I felt like I was in a perpetual cycle of exhausting pain. I had to find an alternative, it seemed, but I had no clue what that could be.

A month after my 17th birthday in May, I went on my 1st date—the prom—with Kevin Mershon, who was a year older than me. Four months later, Kevin moved from our hometown of Bakersfield to go to San Jose State University, and we began a long distance relationship. A year and a half later, I graduated high school, began attending Bakersfield College, and started working at Starbucks.

When I was 19, Kevin and I got engaged. I was elated and moved up to San Jose to be with him. Finally free from the control and abuse at home, I drank constantly, skipping school in favour of vodka. I could keep things "under control" until my 20th birthday, when I bought my own scale. The next day, my descent into restrictive anorexia nervosa began spiraling out of control. I was also terrified that I had lived past my 20th birthday, even after multiple previous attempts to take my own life. Fear dominated my thoughts and actions.

Within 6 months, I had become dangerously underweight. During that time, I had also taken a second job as a student assistant in the department of foreign languages at San Jose State University, where I was also a full-time French student. Kevin eventually convinced me to see a university counselor, as I was slipping at work, fainting, and though I was still getting straight A's in school, I couldn't concentrate. I had also begun to isolate and beg co-workers for prescription pain medication...just to get out of my head. I was literally starving myself to death, and every moment seemed too bright, too warped to handle. Though the counselor was nice, I lied my way around her questions, trying to “fix myself” on my own.

Kevin and I were married on the 21 December 2006, during the university's winter recess, in the courthouse of Bakersfield, CA. I felt like maybe I could finally be happy, feel loved. Three months later, however, I admitted to my counselor that I was taking sleeping pills in large amounts to numb my mind, and she had me admitted to a psych ward immediately. After a month in the hospital, Kevin and my parents were informed that I no longer had any insurance coverage left. I was discharged in April and immediately admitted to a residential facility for eating disorders. My father informed me sternly that I needed to get better because they were going to pay out-of-pocket for me. I had finally gotten my parents’ attention, and began to believe that the only thing that made me unique or I could be good at was being “the sickly anorexic daughter.”

The next 2.5 years were spent in and out of hospitals for seizures, heart problems, and near kidney failure. Again, my parents poured money into 2 more inpatient facilities. These last two stays were at Christian facilities, and my eyes were opened to who God is. However, I continued to be ruled by my “anorexic victim” identity and the doubt and skepticism of atheism. God simply wasn’t real for me—He worked for other, more carefree people—and He certainly couldn’t miraculously “heal” people of a “medically-documented psychiatric illness like anorexia nervosa." These traumatic experiences also only planted more fear in my heart.

After my last inpatient stay, I spent my time trying to help others get into treatment. All the while, I was starving myself and spent several hours per day running and walking around town, just in order to be “good at something” and to somehow find something to fill the empty loneliness I felt deep in my heart. It was only when I was looking for free-of-charge treatment for another woman that I stumbled across Mercy Ministries’ website. When I attempted to convince a friend to sponsor me for the 2008 Run For Mercy, she refused, saying that the only way she’d donate is if I was a resident!

Almost exactly a year later (October 2009), I walked though those front doors, both physically and spiritually emaciated. I was full of bitterness, anger, and literally had no hope of being free from the bondage of anorexia.

Taken only a couple weeks into my stay, with a former resident. I was still rebelling by exercising at any chance I got, despite the staff's audible concern about my failing health.

BUT! In those 5.5 months, God completely transformed my life! Within the first week, He completely delivered me from a pack-a-day smoking habit and a reliance on multiple psychotropic medications. As I continued to immerse myself in the Word, I began to see myself as God does—uniquely made, inside and out, for an awesome purpose that I cannot even truly fathom! He showed me, through the staff at Mercy, that His perfect and unfailing love pours into and out of me, casting out all fear. (The staff also taught me all about respect, humility, and submission to Godly authority, too! :D)

Taken a month into my stay, during the grand opening, with my parents. That day, I expressed my unconditional forgiveness and asked for their forgiveness, as well.

By God forgiving me for all the pain I’ve caused others, I have been able to forgive myself and those who hurt me in the past. I no longer have to identify myself by what others say or do to me, because God does that for me instead! I now know who I am in Christ—capable, accepted, joyful, strong, confident, and healed, a unique piece of His beautiful handiwork, and a totally new creation! At Mercy, I learned to trust in God’s promises to take everything I went through and use it solely for my good. I can see now that He used all those negative experiences to get me to Mercy Ministries where He could hold me close and show me that He is my Protector, my Healer, and the only one I should seek approval from. Through it all, I was sheltered by the covering of His Son’s precious blood. He was nailed to the cross, so I could live freely, not just “coping” or maintaining a façade. What’s more, God became my Rock—I no longer have to be self-reliant, nor do I have to continue in the victim role because He empowers me to make that choice between life and death. I realized that even though I felt like my way was working just enough to get me through the day, that path led not only to mortal death but eternal death as well. His grace has become sufficient for me. I am finally able to sleep through the night, because I am wrapped up in His peace. As I seek out God’s will for my life, He has continued to provide, and when I give everything over to Him, He opens doors I doubted could ever even be unlocked. My life wasn't and isn't perfect, nor will it ever be, but I don't need to be scared of that. It's so awesome to know that God will always and forever be there to guide me, even if I don't get what He's doing in my life. My favorite verse, 2 Timothy 1:7, sums it up best (I’ve paraphrased just a bit): “God didn’t give me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind!

While at Mercy, my aimless, unceasing running in search of something to fill a void has charged its course— I am now running for the prize of eternal life!

Taken on 24 March 2010, after graduation, with programme director Cheryl Bangs and two other graduates. I'm the one in white! Read more about Beth's (right) journey here!

Later edit- Read more about God's awesome and transforming power here: "Who Am I?"

08 April 2010

There... I Fixed It! (Epic FAIL!)

(I just thought y'all could use a laugh...)

07 April 2010

God is GOOD!

Eh, we hear it time and time again... "God is so good!" And sometimes, we start getting irritated with how cliche those four words have become. But, I mean, really- God can do so many awesome things when we just give "it" up (whatever your "it" is) to Him. I'll be honest, it's not been easy adjusting to my "new" body, but He never assured us that any change would be a cinch. And honestly, we never learn to appreciate how far we've come if letting go of the old junk is an easy process.

Since I last wrote, I found out that my cousin, age 48, fell over and died from a heart attack while waiting at the bus stop. I didn't know him very well, as he was pretty introverted, but his death got me thinking:

We really DO need to take care of ourselves, because even if we don't see the immediate consequences from our actions (in his case, years of heavy smoking and morbid obesity), it will eventually catch up with us (many times, without warning)!
2) I know my grandma, my aunt (my cousin's mother), and my mom are in deep mourning over his death. I keep coming back to my aunt, though- I couldn't imagine what it would be like to lose a child after 48 short years, where he lived in constant self-doubt and self-condemnation. And that brought me to the remembrance that I, myself, nearly up and died from almost the exact same thing! Anorexia and heavy smoking is just as dangerous as the latter and obesity, and yes, it can cause one to keel over from a heart attack (especially considering the miles of walking and running I did in the 105-degree summer heat). But that's not really what concerns me; what saddens my heart is knowing that my mother would have had to deal with that, just as my aunt is grieving the death of her son. And I've lived 25 years LESS than my cousin did! That being said, I'm determined to start living my life, and spending more time with my mom, even if it means feeling a bit uncomfortable sometimes. Just like I said above... LIVING LIFE ISN'T NECESSARILY EASY!

Anyway, Easter was, as it should be, a big day of celebration, though I didn't really go to any egg hunts, scarf chocolate, or eat tonnes of ham with generations of my family. I spent the morning at Westside Church of Christ with my mom-in-law so she wouldn't have to go alone (my dad-in-law is away for work, and my husband won't go to church). Afterward we picked Kevin up and went to lunch at Cactus Valley. Later that night, I picked my mom up, and we both went to my new church called New Life Center. The worship there is a lot louder, instrumental, and charismatic than Westside. I'm actually going to their women's Bible study for the first time tonight- the workbook we are starting is called "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality"... sounds good, eh? But yeah, I was really glad that my mom came with me, since she had spent the day in bed, depressed about the passing of my cousin. Sometimes getting out helps to get your mind off things...

At any rate, I think the service helped remind my mom (and myself!) that she is not condemned by her past because the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ covers us all- I started crying when Pastor James drove that point home, because I certainly have screwed up in the eyes of a lot of people. God is so good, though! (There I go... saying that phrase again!) I just refuse to be defined as the anorectic anymore, and it's like, I don't even really want to associate with people who are choosing to stay stuck in that mentality. (This, however, gets me a little torn up because I don't want to associate with those people who continue to make the wrong decisions for my own sake, but then again, I know that if the staff at Mercy hadn't firmly persisted in breaking through to me, I would be dead! It's one of those things that you really have to patiently wait on the Lord to give you discernment on what to say or do, you know? :/)

Exciting news! On Monday, I rode my bike to the Starbucks I have been hoping to get a job at, and had a short interview with Ally, the manager. At the end, she said that she wasn't sure how many hours she could start me off with, but that she really wanted me on her team no matter what, because I have "great energy" and she felt like she had known me forever (her words!)... Awesome! It's amazing how God really works through you- when you let Him! So yeah, on Friday, she's going to call me with my training schedule and I'll start working within the next couple weeks! WOOHOO!

Later on Monday, my mom and I rode our bikes downtown, so she could get her lymphedema arm sleeve thingie measured. We ended up having lunch at the Garden Spot, and then rode home. On the Kern River Parkway path, though, we got flagged down by a newscaster and interviewed. The video of it is below, and we were interviewed around the 3:15 and 3 minute points. Haha...

Yesterday evening, we had our friends (a couple) and their 1.5-year-old son over for dinner. It's amazing how utterly grown up their little one is now! The last time I saw him, he was JUST starting to roll over on his own. Now he can say words, stand, walk, and even run! He knows all his body parts, and definitely knows how to be mischievous! >:D He's so precious, and yes, it was great to get to see my friends, as well!

Anyway, as I sit here on the couch with my big boy cat snoring next to me, listening to great worship music on the Contemporary Christian music channel, I will leave you with these awesome verses (Psalm 118:5-6) that I re-read today:
"In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"