Debi...after attending the 2007 Women's Retreat, I felt God telling me I needed to do something. I didn't know if the chair would hold me... This is my story!
In late spring 2007 I got a call from my friend Laura, who is like my mom to me, informing me that she purchased tickets for us to attend the Nazarene Women’s District Retreat in Ft Wayne. At first I was excited to go, but as the retreat grew closer, dread started to set in. Would the chair break under my weight in front of all those ladies? Would they stare at me because of my size? Would they whisper behind my back? They wouldn’t know that I was heavy because of medical problems. All they would see was a person that ate 24/7. I wanted to back out of going and run and hide, but GOD kept tugging at my heart. He told me that I had to go, something was going to change in me, and that I had to be there.
As I entered the dinning room, Friday night of retreat, I was racked with fear. I didn't know if the chair would hold me. What if it folded under me in front of all the ladies? I could hardly walk but I made it to the chair. After dinner, Sylvia Harney, special speaker for the event, began to speak. From the moment she started talking I felt like it was just her and I in the room. I felt like she was talking to me, just me. Everything she said went straight to my heart. When I went to my room that night my heart was heavy; I was restless and unable to sleep. The next morning there was a full blown storm raging inside of me. I knew GOD was talking to me and I knew that God was using this retreat to help me find my way back to him. As we sat eating breakfast that morning I wondered if anyone else was affected like me? I wondered if anyone besides me was going though a raging storm inside their heart?
God’s presence didn't end when I left the retreat Saturday afternoon; it kept brewing and growing. God gave me a very clear message, that I had to loose weight, and that He had a plan for me. But I didn’t understand how it would happen. I began trying all the weigh loss programs that I could find, but nothing worked. Most of the time these plans caused me to gain weight.
As usual I tried to do it alone (I can be as hardheaded as the Israelites.) By Thanksgiving all I did was cry. I knew that if I didn’t loose weight, I would not live to the end of 2008. I knew that I would not be alive to watch my children and grandchildren grow. These thoughts brought me to my knees in prayer. After spending much of my days in prayer, I surrendered it all to GOD.
I had known for years about lap band surgery, and I also knew without it I would die. There was no way I could get the surgery because our insurance refused to pay for any type of weight loss surgery. I kept asking God to show me HIS will. At this point in my life, I was 450 pound and dying a little bit each day. I could hardly walk to the bathroom or go anywhere outside my home without help from someone.
As Christmas drew near, I was at a point of complete desperation, what was I do? I cried out to God, please let YOUR will be done. I felt God wanted me to live after attending the Women’s Retreat, but I did not know how it would all work out. I cried through Christmas and was filled with deep desperation. My prayer was a prayer of surrender to GOD, and for HIS will to be done.
Then on December 27, 2007, I was given the gift of a life time. I was given the money to go to Mexico to have the lap band surgery. From this point, everything happened in fast forward. I had researched a doctor in Mexico for several years and I knew he had good credentials, so I contacted him. He wanted to see me quickly. I started on the pre-op diet immediately, and the surgery date was set for January 8, 2008, Juarez, Mexico. My husband and I flew down on January 7, 2008 to El Paso, Texas, and stayed the night. The next day we drove to the hospital in Mexico, a hospital that had just opened November 2007. It was an awesome place. I had surgery later that day. When I woke from surgery I had major problem with pain because of other health problems, so the doctor stayed with me all through the night and through the next day. He was amazing. I was released from the hospital after the 2nd day and my husband and I stayed in Texas five more days to give me time to heal before we flew home.
I enjoyed the 2008 NEI Women's Retreat this year, especially after loosing over 130 pounds. As I continue to loose weight, it is hard to believe how much GOD has worked in my life this past year. God started something great in my heart at Women’s Retreat 2007 and he continues to work in my life. In the past, I was busy in worldly thing, and I overlooked God's wonder and precious gifts. My trials have changed me; my walk with Christ has gotten sweeter! I have a new saying that I try to live by, "Don't tell God how big your problem is; tell your problem how big your God is." Now I am more aware of His amazing, wonderful blessings that I receive each day. No matter how big or small, I know that He blesses my life each day. I am in awe of how God works in my life.
By Debi Jenkins, Fort Wayne Grace Point Church of the Nazarene