An Interview with Abby Kelly, author of “The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story”

Several times on this blog, I’ve mentioned Abby Kelly, author of The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story. Abby is a joy to know! She has really allowed God to work in her life in so many ways. Today, I’m thrilled to be sharing my interview with her here at Living Unveiled.

Abby Kelly small

If you’d like to read her interview of me on her blog, here it is 🙂 My answers might surprise you!

So without further ado, here’s Abby!

Brenna Kate: Tell me your book title and publication date.
Abby: The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story. The paperback was released in early March. The ebook is currently available in most formats.

BK: One word that sums up this book…. (and then why?)
A: Rescue. I like to use that word instead of recovery because “recovery” makes it sound like I did most of the work myself—I recovered. But in very real terms, Jesus rescued me. I had nothing to do with it. I had tried to “recover” from anorexia using almost every method out there. And truly, at least half of me really wanted to get better. I got over the denial pretty quick, but something else kept me stuck. It’s like Paul talks about in Romans 7, I kept doing what I didn’t want to do. But after years of trying, when I finally broke, Jesus stepped in and rescued me. I think that word also applies because I can tell you the exact day my eating disorder was triggered, but I can’t tell you the exact day I got “well.” It kind of overtook me by surprise.

BK: Is this your first book?
A: This is my first book-length project. I currently write for a lot of Christian publications, both physical and online, but those are short devotions and articles.

BK: Who is your intended audience, and what do you hope your readers take away from your work?
A: When I first concluded the book, the last chapter addressed the three demographics that I imagine will benefit most from this book: an individual personally struggling with an eating disorder, a parent of someone struggling with an eating disorder, or someone whose marriage is crumbling due to an eating disorder or another type of addiction. That said, anyone and probably almost everyone is connected to someone who has food and body image issues. Anyone in that position will benefit from this book.

I want people to feel sorrow and fear when they’re in the middle of the book. The point is to reveal the gravity of eating disorders—anorexia is the most deadly mental illness. Because our culture is so adjusted to fad diets and the term “obesity epidemic” we’re often blinded to the dangers of weight loss tactics.

At the end of the book, I want people to be buoyed by hope and feel like they know where to go next to find help for their own struggles. I want them to see Jesus as their first and last resource and to understand His love for them even in the middle of the mess, even when they’re “sick.”

BK: What was the hardest part of writing this story? What brought you the most joy?
A: The hardest part was actually asking about and listening to the honest accounts of the pain I caused other people in my illness. I wrote to each of my sisters and asked for their memories of that time—how they felt and what they thought. I knew my eating disorder had affected them, but in the process of treatment, most of the focus was on me. I was constantly searching internally and being asked what I thought or felt. But it was eye-opening and a little painful to listen intently to how others were hurt in my chaos. The most joy was definitely the end and not just because I was done writing. But the book ends at “now.” And now, I’m discovering each day afresh. Now, I am walking in freedom. Now, I am enjoying Jesus. Now, I am engaged in relationships. And now, I enjoy food 🙂

BK: Who has inspired you most in your writing career? Personally and professionally.
A: Personally, my mother. No one else in my life has been so open and honest and vulnerable with me about her mistakes, finding forgiveness, changing and growing in the Lord. From the time I was little, she showed me what it’s like to be a woman after God’s own heart. Also, when I was the most rebellious and hateful, she never turned her back on me. And when my husband was struggling, she always honored our marriage and respected him and gave us grace.

Professionally? Well, this is an eclectic list, so bear with me. First, my dad. He’s the consummate professional. He respects everyone, absorbs every opportunity to learn, innovates and leads with kindness. Second, my husband. He’s an incredible leader which is something I’m always told I “should do” and I’m never comfortable doing. Patrick is an Army officer. I’ve watched him lead humbly, from the front, fearlessly and consistently. His time management skills, creativity and innovation amaze me. He can see third and fourth degree consequences and anticipates both the best and the worst.

And yes, there’s a writer mentor too. 🙂 Bethany McShurley has edited several of Beth Moore’s Bible studies. At one point, I sent her an email because I loved her words at the front of the study. She replied to me and offered encouragement in my current writing projects and even sent me some opportunities. I want to have the characteristics of all those people in my personal and professional life.

And now, some random little things about Abby…
• Nickname as a child (and story behind it) Oh-so-many! Squilly (who knows, my dad came up with it) Abs, Ab-ner (that had to happen) Jenny (one of my sisters) even shortened my name to “A” for a while.
• Favorite color (and why) Again…so many! Green first, I think. Then blue, brown, orange—can I keep going?
• Preferred writing attire? Yoga pants usually, or if I’m coming in from a morning dog walk and the idea simply struck, then it’s my tennis shoes, jacket, whatever I have on!
• Tea or coffee? Coffee! I’m like you, Brenna, mostly decaf. I get really jittery with caffeine but I LOVE the taste of coffee!
• Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts? Starbucks all the way! I worked at Starbucks for a while when we were stationed in Washington State. Now, I’m more hooked than ever!
• Favorite author? I have no idea! Actually, wait—C.S. Lewis. That’s not because I’ve read all or even most, maybe not even many of his books. However, I am unceasingly amazed by the beauty of his writing. How he manages to combine that beauty with such deep, raw thought is beyond me. It’s like he takes questions that have never before been posited and then tumbles and spins and polishes them, providing an answer that gleams like expensive jewels.

Thank you so much, Abby, for allowing me to interview you! Mostly decaf for the win! 🙂

You can read my review of The Predatory Lies of Anorexia here (I loved it). Get the paperback or the Kindle for yourself or someone you love today!

Empty Shelf Challenge Book #7: “The Predatory Lies of Anorexia” by Abby Kelly

I finished my 7th book for the #EmptyShelf challenge.

The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story by Abby Kelly

I “met” Abby because she oversees the blog over at FINDINGbalance, where I have guest-posted. I’ve mentioned her before, and over the past few months, we’ve become fast friends.

I was THRILLED when she offered to let me read a preview copy of her book about her recovery from anorexia. I read this book almost straight through one Sunday and then had to slow myself down so I could actually write a review. That’s how captivating Abby’s story of battling the grip of anorexia is.

Since I also have overcome an eating disorder, I recognized much of myself in this story: the denial, the self-protection, the battling with family and other loved ones. But having read so many books on eating disorders, this one is distinct in two amazing ways.

The first thing that sticks out is how very well-written this book is. As someone who became a Christian as I emerged from the eating disorder’s hold, I have read many book on eating disorders by Christian authors. “Predatory Lies” is one of the best. Abby is a writer and a talented one at that. Though I was granted a preview copy, I could not think like a reviewer upon first read: I just had to read to finish. It’s not just that her story is compelling; the words she uses to capture her experiences and emotions grab your heart. I found myself needing to read the book again in order to be able to actually write the review! The parallels Abby draws between real-life situations and her recovery draw the reader in, so that even if anorexia is not your struggle, you relate. I love her honesty and willingness to not mince words. Here is one such quote: “anorexia robbed me of all ability to create and live within meaningful relationships. An eating disorder builds a shell around its victim, fending off anyone whose love might threaten it.”

The second thing that struck me is the hope. Abby clearly lives out the truth of Psalm 25:5: her hope is in the Lord all day long. And it’s not some vague “wishing on a star and pray everything comes out okay” hope. Her trust is in a living Savior who longs to help her (and you!) overcome life’s challenges. And she makes it clear in her captivating way that this hope is available to all who struggle with the lies an eating disorder speaks.

Abby has a clarity that is refreshing and necessary. The book has been released and is now available on Amazon. Read this book and sign up for her blog updates while you’re at it. You will not regret it!

You will be hearing more from Abby here at Living Unveiled in the coming weeks. She posted an interview of me in her blog, and I will be doing the same 🙂

My books so far on the #EmptyShelf challenge:
           

Empty Shelf Challenge Book #4: “Made to Crave” by Lysa TerKeurst

I finished my 4th book for the #EmptyShelf challenge.

Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food by Lysa TerKeurst

I actually skimmed this book a few years ago and decided I needed to revisit it in this season, this time reading it thoroughly.

I’ve shared here before I struggle with overeating. It’s definitely been worse since the move. It began because I had less control over my food choices, and I became in the habit of both making less healthy choices and also using food to cope with my emotions.

Honestly, despite losing 60 pounds several years ago, I never really got out of the habit of overeating.

I began a “fast” 3 weeks ago with my church. It’s not a traditional “no food” fast, as my formerly near-anorexic body does not respond well to traditional fasting, nor do my emotions. Instead, I chose to follow the Whole30 plan. I hope to get my cravings under control and more importantly once again surrender my relationship with food to God – once again.

Another reason I chose to re-read this book was seeing Lysa TerKeurst speak at a conference several months ago. She was one of the best speakers I had ever seen. She’s a gifted teacher and communicator, and I wanted to hear more from her.

Made to Crave was a timely choice.

The premise of this book is that God created us to crave Him. Yet He is often the last place we run with our longing hearts. Lysa documents her own struggles with overeating and shares with the reader how she (or he) can too be free from the battle with food.

Lysa says this of her struggle: “These are not just little issues. These, for me, are sins – missing the mark of Your best for my life” (pg. 185).

This is something I’ve tried to explain to people. Despite the fact that I am not overweight, this is a real struggle – a struggle that hinders my relationship with God.

I’m comforted to know once again that people throughout the Bible struggled with food. The original sin of mankind occurred by biting into a shiny piece of fruit. The Israelites complained about bread from heaven, pining for the meat they ate while enslaved. Esau sold his birthright for some stew. Satan tempted Jesus with food.

I don’t want to be enslaved to food. God has something so much better for me.

“Everything is permissible for me’-but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”-but I will not be mastered by anything. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”-but God will destroy them both. 1 Corinthians 6:12-13a (NIV1984)

I wrote in Learning to Walk in Freedom, “So if secular TV or sharp cheddar cheese causes you to stumble, you might consider Jesus’ instructions to ‘cut it off and throw it away’ (Matthew 5:30).” (I really wanted to write “cut the cheese and throw it away,” but I restrained myself!). This is what I’m doing with the Whole30 – distancing myself from foods that I struggle to eat reasonably. And finishing up Made to Crave during this time of fasting is exactly what I needed.

really enjoyed this book. You should get a copy. Most libraries have it if buying it is not in the budget right now. As Lysa reminds us, “We must remember we hold a power greater than any craving we face.” Thank You, Jesus! If you are tired of obeying your cravings and desire to walk in obedience to God in your relationship with food, get this book.

My books so far on the #EmptyShelf challenge:

Freedom Friday: I Saw You in Whole Foods Today

If you have struggled with an eating disorder, this post might be triggering to you. Please pause and pray before you read this if that is a concern.

I saw you at Whole Foods today.

I noticed you pretty quickly. The clothing you wore, the way you held yourself, the frenzy in which you ate.

I wondered if you had an eating disorder.

I watched you out of the corner of my eye as I reviewed some work on my laptop. I lost sight of you as I packed my things, stopping at the restroom as I left.

There, I saw you. With your drink. Going into the handicapped stall.

Then I heard you vomit.

This is clearly a skill you have mastered. You were quiet. But I knew.

I knew because I’ve been there.

I had an eating disorder for 14 years. Borderline anorexia with an addiction to laxatives (ED-NOS did not exist then). I know the tricks of the trade, even for the behaviors I never engaged in.

I saw you. And I knew.

I spoke to you in the dining area minutes later, after I fumbled with my wallet to find my card. I told you I had an eating disorder for 14 years. You replied that you had yours for 11 years, and you loved it.

As if it were a pet or possession. Or a lifestyle choice.

You took my card and turned to leave, and I followed, searching for words. I asked if I could say one more thing. You paused and I told you that Jesus loves you and wants a different life for you. You thanked me and left.

I have a different life now. And I remember vividly the moment when everything changed.

I was in LA. I had been “in recovery” for over 4 years, continuing to starve and abuse laxatives while receiving treatment. I thought in that moment, I could live the rest of my life like this.

Suddenly, I keeled over in pain and weakness, as my muscles cramped and stomach revolted. And in that moment, I had clarity for the first time.

Something inside me quietly said, You will die if you keep doing this to yourself.

My treatment team and my friends had been telling me this for years. I finally believed it. 

After several more years or treatment and its ups and downs, I finally began to make choices to move toward recovery. I wanted a different life for myself, no matter the cost, and I was willing to do the work needed to have that life.

I also came to know Jesus as friend and Savior a week after that moment in LA. With the strength that He provides, I have been symptom-free from starvation and laxative use for over 11 years.

And I wouldn’t trade any of it for a number on the scale.

11 years ago, as you took your first steps toward your eating disorder, I took my first true steps away. I chose life, and continue to choose it every day.

My wedding in December, 2002
My 2 boys at the start of school this year

What I don’t know if you can see is that you don’t have an eating disorder – your eating disorder has you. It controls you. It is not a lifestyle choice; it’s a choice to die. It’s a choice to never fully live.

Today, I saw you. I saw your pain, hidden under your baggy clothes and bloodshot eyes. I saw your pale skin and yellow, worn out teeth. But more importantly, God sees you; that is one of His names (Genesis 16:13). He sees you as you are and as He created you to be – and He loves you. He loves you so deeply and passionately that He allowed His Son to die for you, so that you could live a different life.

I don’t know if you will ever use my card to find this blog. If you do, know I’m praying for you. I’m praying you have a moment, as I did, where you realize the truth about your eating disorder. And when you face that truth for what it is, I want you to know that there is a friend who can be there with every tear cried, through every painful step toward health. There is a hope offered for a new life, a fresh start. You don’t have to hide behind your eating disorder anymore.

It’s OK to be seen.

Related posts:
I sold my birthright for a plate of food
Disordered Eating

Freedom Friday: Selling My Birthright

Driving to church on Sunday, I heard part of this sermon (Aug. 5th, 2012) based on these verses from Genesis 25:

Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)

Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright. ”

“Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.

So Esau despised his birthright.

red lentils

This dramatic and fairly well-known story describes the dynamics between twin brothers, Esau and Jacob, sons of Isaac and Rebekah. It was a volitile situation even from the womb, the Bible describing how the babies “jostled each other” within Rebekah. Esau was born first, but, not to be outdone, Jacob came out grasping Esau’s heel.

Yet Esau was still the first born.

We don’t have that many parallels today in Western culture as it pertains to birthrights. In Jewish culture, the firstborn child was given certain rights, privileges and inheritance simply based on the fact that he was born first. It is in Genesis and the story of Jacob & Esau where the rights of the firstborn are first talked about.

As believers, we have all been adopted into God’s family, and we are all His favorites. As His children, there are certains rights and privileges that God has given to us, promises He says will be fulfilled if we follow and trust in Him, surrendering our entire lives over to His lordship.

As I listened to the sermon, I couldn’t help but think of my struggle with overeating.

Am I selling my birthright for a plate of food? I wrote a poem that was posted 2 days ago if you missed it.

Alicia Britt Chole dissects the temptation of Jesus in her book, anonymous. You can read a Biblical account here.

Jesus has been fasting for 40 days and was genuinely hungry. Satan tells Him to turn stones into bread.

What would be wrong with that? Eating is not a sin, after all. What would be the harm in having a bite of bread?

From anonymous, pg. 65:

I find it noteworthy that Satan did not suggest that Jesus run into town and steal some food – that would have been a blatant violation of God’s commendments. But eating? Food in itself is not sinful. And here is where Satan’s lures can be deceptive. This layer was not about what Jesus would eat as much as it was about when Jesus would eat. Would he obey Father God even when obedience meant delayed satisfaction of legitimate needs?

In the layer of appetite, we witness Satan’s skillful use of a most effective lure: immediate gratification.

Imagine where we’d all be if Jesus sold His birthright for a plate of food.

Your issue may not be with food. It may be with gossip, crass talk, pornography, stealing, or subtle lying. Those could all be considered “false foods.”

What are you selling your birthright for a plate of? What false food do you run to in order to try and satisfy legitimate needs in illegitimate ways?

It is not likely that Esau was literally going to die of hunger, as he dramatically stated. Yet he was genuinely hungry.

Often when I run to the cabinets, I too am genuinely hungry.

But my hunger is not for food.

I desire comfort, escape. I am tired, lonely, bored, in pain, and am looking for a way to forget, to flee those feelings.

My need is legitimate, but it cannot be meet with food. My need is for God, spiritual strength, companionship, laughter, joy, peace and rest.

Think for a minute.

Are we despising our birthright, as Esau did, because we choose to run to false food instead of Him?

Are we missing out on the fulfillment of God’s promises – His presence, His provision, our inheritance as His child – in favor of more immediate gratification?

Is the pay-off, the “reward” really worth it?

I sold my birthright for a plate of food.

I sold my birthright for a plate of food.

Wandering the pantry, the fridge, the cabinets.
Grazing for just the right thing, the one morsel to satisfy
The craving, the longing, the pain.

But the need was like a monster.
With every bite, the pit of desire grew.
Larger. Deeper. Wider.
Never full. Never satisfied.

I sold my birthright for a plate of food, and I wasn’t even hungry.

I sold my birthright for a pretty picture.
Faces on the screen, looking deep into my eyes,
But never really seeing me.

And I looked and I looked and I looked
Until it wasn’t fun anymore,
Yet I couldn’t turn away.

I sold my birthright for a pretty picture, and I wasn’t even seen.

I run everywhere else first.

The pain of longing comes and overwhelms,
Yet I take it on, allowing it to drown me.
Forgetting Your power, Your provision, Your presence are always there.

Then somehow, when my feet tire and my brain aches from trying to make sense,
I remember.
You are there.
Available, present, ever welcoming.

If I stop.
If I am still and hand the cravings to You.
They are too heavy to carry.
You say, Come. Rest. My burden is easy. My yoke is light.

Sitting with the pain,
Pushing away the longing,
Pressing our desires into Your heart,
None of this comes naturally.

How often I sell myself short,
Ignoring what You declared rightfully mine
In favor of something I deem gratifying.

I’m always wrong.
Still, You are true. Only You can satisfy.

Teach me, Lord, to welcome the uncomfortable,
To sit with the ache,
And rest in Your arms.

All that I have is yours, child, if you will just come to me.

I sold my birthright for a plate of food, and I wasn’t even hungry.

This poem is a response to a sermon I heard a portion of this past Sunday. I hope to share more about overeating and surrender in the coming Freedom Friday.

Freedom Friday: What’s in a Name? Part 1

A Christian speaker recently reminded me that words are a container for power. The book of Proverbs says “reckless words pierce like a sword”, “the words of the wicked lie in wait for blood”, and “when words are many, sin is not absent”. In the Bible, words & names are very important. Throughout my life, I allowed people and circumstances to label me, name me, and define who I am.

I was born prematurely in May of 1975. I was given a 50% chance of survival and rode in an ambulance to a hospital 50 miles away since the hospital where I was born did not have premie facilities. I was born without a name. My parents didn’t know if I would be male or female, and certainly weren’t expecting my arrival almost 2 months early. I spent the next two months, isolated in an incubator. During those years, premature babies were not touched or held. I was so sick that they ran out of places to stick needles, and had to have my head shaved for more needle ports. The names I picked up were: abandoned, rejected, unloved, shameful, worthy of pain – as good as dead.

Mohawk Baby Brenna

My mother is an alcoholic and when she drank, she would recount those days, saying‚ “You were bought from hell.” What she was trying to express to me was the trauma of my birth and the extreme circumstances I was rescued out of. What I heard, from my already broken filter, was: inconvenient, bothersome, a burden.

As a child, I even remember being hyper-focused on the lyrics to the songs my parents listened to. I’d zero in on themes of abandonment, and I carried those feelings of fear and shame into adulthood. I heard: be on your guard, you will be rejected and alone.

During my youth, my family attended liberal churches, serving on various committees and singing in choirs. I always believed in God, but it had little effect on my daily life. My mother continued to drink, ranting at me about the evils of men, what a bad child I was, and continually favoring my sister. What I heard: I was not worth protecting, the castaway, again a burden.

I began experimenting sexually with girls at a young age. This continued until, as a high school freshman, I found myself in a physical relationship with my best friend. I also developed an eating disorder and a struggle with self-injury. About a week into my high school relationship, I secretly looked up “homosexuality” in a health book. The book said that if you had attractions for someone of the same gender, then you were gay. I remember thinking, “There it is, in black and white. I am a homosexual.” I already felt: unlovable, out of control, too much and now a dyke.

The summer after my high school graduation, I was asked if I was interested in going to church with someone I met in a coffee shop. The church was quick to tell me that homosexuality was a sin that would condemn me to hell. Every night I would cry myself to sleep, praying, “God, change me! Why did you make me gay if that means I have to go to hell? Is it true that You want me to be forever separated from You?” The church I was attending did not share the hope for change that the gospel offers to those struggling with same-sex attraction. Their stance was change first: then God will accept you. In my mind, I had asked God to change me, and He hadn’t. And so I embraced my lesbian identity, all the while the labels were being reinforced: rejected, abandoned, unheard, miniscule, unlovable – even by God.

After three and a half years together, my first girlfriend and I broke up. I then met an older married woman, dropped out of college and moved across the country to live with her and her husband. She and I had a mock wedding ceremony and from then on, she introduced me as her “wife.” I lived with this couple for close to two and a half years. During this time, I was repeatedly taken advantage of by a man in my life. The names kept coming: worthless, voiceless, ashamed, only good for one thing – sex.

My “wife” and I eventually decided it would best for me to continue my schooling, so I moved to Boston to attend a prestigious music school, the same school from which my “wife” had graduated. Though I was in an environment where my sexuality was affirmed, I was far from happy. My relationship with my “wife” continued to crumble until it ended 10 months after I moved. My eating disorder spiraled out of control. I was afraid & alone.

Christians seemed to pop into my life to share with and pray for me. They never took it upon themselves to point out my sinfulness or say that I should not be a lesbian. They just pointed me to Jesus. Like everyone else, I was a sinner in need of Jesus in my life. My sexual choices were only one of many indications of this need.

Things continued to worsen. I knew that I needed help with my eating disorder, or I was going to die, but I felt I had tried everything and nothing worked. A friend in recovery suggested I try to pray. I thought, “That’s the one thing I haven’t tried!”―so I started praying.

Around this time, a friend gave me a music CD by a passionate Christian artist. One night while listening, the words of a song gripped my heart. I felt all alone, and my heart was so hard. The voice sang of a friend who was always there, with every tear cried, a friend who would give everything for him. That friend was Jesus – the son of God, who died on the cross to take away my sin, my pain, the false labels and to declare my worth. In the midst of that song, I cried out to God saying, “I want what he has!” God, in His great mercy, met me on that day in January of 1999. I felt: hopeful.

But the names did not disappear. I felt doomed to carry the labels forever. I knew logically that Jesus called me by name for a reason: freedom. At that time, I chose to hold on to hope that He had more for me.

I know many will likely connect deeply with my testimony. Your own names & labels may have been flashing through your mind. I hope you return Monday to read the second part of my testimony and experience, as I did, the truth of Romans 8:24 says, “Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what He already has?”

Freedom Friday: You Are God’s Favorite, Part 1

I tell my kids all the time that they are my favorite.

One is my favorite Bear, the other is my favorite toddler. One is my favorite 4 year-old, and the other is my favorite fuzzy head.

Or I just say it plain, “You are my favorite!!”

Because they both are.

I love the way they talk, the things the say, even the ways they get sassy with me. I like the sounds they make (for the most part!), the silly games they make up & play, and the way they walk. I love seeing how they play at the park, taking them to the library, watching the toys they gravitate toward, and the shows they like to watch.

I love to tell them: “You are my favorite!”

Later they may ask, “How can we both be your favorite? Doesn’t ‘favorite’ imply that there can only be one?”

What a great question!

A long time ago, I wrote a teaching entitled, “You Are God’s Favorite: Living in the Reality of God’s Fierce Tenderness”. I thought this was a great time, given the recent posts about being God’s child, to pull out that teaching and re-visit it for this blog.

1 John 3:1 says “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

John, the writer of the above, was one of the 3 disciples closest to Jesus, one of His intimate friends. As I share in the post, “Is Having One Best Friend Biblical?“, Jesus did not have a single best friend; He had 3 intimate friends. John was one of these 3.

From what we know, John didn’t begin writing about his experiences with Jesus until very late in his life, as historians believe he wrote his gospel and letters over 50 years after Jesus died.

The Gospel of John was written with perspective. He had decades of reflecting on Jesus, His time on earth, and what the Christian walk was about. I believe it was because of this perspective that in his gospel, John referred to himself as “The Disciple whom Jesus Loved”.

“One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved” by Ary Scheffer

Some people feel that this is just a prideful statement for John to make. Really? You are the disciple whom Jesus loved?

I don’t hear it that way at all.

John was intimately familiar with the special place that Jesus had in His heart for all believers. John was the disciple who had literally rested his head against God’s heart at the Last Supper when he leaned on Jesus’s chest. Thus, John did not define himself solely as a disciple, or an apostle, an evangelist, or a writer of truths about Jesus – he didn’t even call Himself by name in the above mentioned passage (a very important thing during that time).

Instead, he based his entire identity on the fact that he was loved by God.

I’m sometimes asked to define myself with labels. I am Brenna, I simply respond.

I used to call myself a lesbian-identified bisexual. It was important to me that people got that label right.

I also called myself anorexic, or that I “have an eating disorder”, though the eating disorder I actually had, ED-NOS, did not exist at the time.

When I was in a relationship with a married woman, it was very important to me (and her) that I be referred to as “her wife”.

Now people want to know: are you gay? Bisexual? Straight? Post-gay? Ex-gay? Do you have an eating disorder? Are you fully recovered or still in recovery?

I’m with Paul when he says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

All the former labels that were so important to me no longer matter.

I solely define myself as a Child of God.

That’s the core of what I’m saying today – our position is the same as John’s. If we are followers of Jesus, we are the beloved (favorites) of God.

If we lived out of that truth, that we are truly God’s favorite, our lives would be changed forever.

The question I want to leave you with today is this: do you treat yourself as if you are a cherished, precious possession of an all-powerful, all-loving God?

Do you live in and walk out that truth?

Come back next week to hear more 🙂

You Are God’s Favorite, Part 2

Internet in & out

There was a power outage yesterday, so the internet hasn’t been working very well. There’s not much to update on yesterday. It was Freedom Friday, and we had no scheduled activities, so we hung out in Asheville for a while. I ate at Earth Fare, and most everyone else ate at Sonic 🙂 Not only did I find some healthy, filling food at Earth Fare, I found gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free donuts! They are made by Kinnikinnick, and oh my goodness, they are so good.

Though Ridgecrest has been very helpful at making me special meals, I’m hungry all the time.
I realized yesterday that it’s because most of my meals have almost no fat. Lunch & dinner is always steamed or boiled meat with potatoes or rice & a steamed veggie. At home I’d put olive oil or something like that on it, but here I don’t have access to any oils. So yesterday, I ate a bunch of Bear’s avocado 🙂

So off to lunch, and then the Assemblies of God Special Interest Group is this afternoon.