Sunday, March 1, 2015

It's a brand new life for me!

Today is March 1st…..a day of celebration and gratitude for me, for several reasons. Today is the anniversary of my New Life journey. Four years ago today, my life was very different. I weighed 428 pounds, could barely take more than a couple of steps without the use of a mobility device or walker. I was barely functioning and was living in a very dark place, both physically and emotionally, and yet, God, in His great goodness, chose to bless me with a miracle and change my life in ways that I never even imagined possible. You know the story….you know the pain….you’ve seen the pictures…..of the old life I left behind. (If not, check out my website  .  I am overwhelmed with gratitude to a God who rescued me from the darkness of despair and hopelessness, and set me free from the fear, shame, obesity, pain, and sadness that once weighed me down.

Those of you that know my story are aware that my life has changed dramatically over these past four years, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually, but my every-day life has changed as well because of the media coverage and publicity my miracle has generated.  It’s been both fun…and challenging….to share my story around the world via TV, magazines, radio, and internet….but never, in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that the media coverage of this miracle would alter my future as it has today.  Let me explain…..

A little over a year ago, on Thanksgiving Day 2013, chose to pick up a feature story that I did for CNN and run that story on the front page of their website.  It was a re-run and I was not notified that the story would circulate again, but I quickly discovered it when my e-mail box was suddenly flooded with hundreds of new e-mails. Every time the story is printed or told, it generates an influx of new mail.  Thanksgiving night was no exception.  The exception, however, was that over ALL THE E-MAIL I received that night, I only opened ONE: a note from a man by the name of Bruce Starkey from Columbus, Ohio.

The words that Bruce wrote in his e-mail stirred my soul and I invited him to follow my blog and join my Facebook group: WE CAN CHANGE OUR LIVES.  He did, and began to read my words and follow my story each day. A few weeks later, he called me on the phone and we spoke for several hours that day. We quickly became friends and have spent the past year developing a special friendship, sharing our individual stories and getting to know each other through hours and hours of phone conversations each day, letters, and texts, all while continuing to live our separate lives in separate states; neither of us looking for or expecting anything more.

During this time, however, God was preparing our hearts for a new kind of journey….a journey full of love, hope, and commitment…and when we met for the first time in the same room, we both knew that our lives would never be the same and that God had used my ‘weight loss journey” to bring us together for a new journey as a couple.   And so…this weekend….on my “new life” anniversary weekend, Bruce asked me to spend the rest of my life as his partner….his companion….his wife…..and I said, “YES!”  I am incredibly happy, but somewhat apprehensive to think about getting married for the first time at age 51, but completely overwhelmed with gratitude to a God who blessed me with a truly loving, caring, and kind man who has treated me with love and respect.  I have been abundantly blessed once again!

The road ahead is unknown because we have many things to figure out. Bruce is still living in Columbus; I am in northern Michigan and we only get to see each other on weekends. We each have jobs and homes to consider. We have separate lives to join together and are uncertain where we will live, what we will do, when we will marry, etc…but we share a faith and a belief that the God who brought us together in such a unique way will direct our steps and lighten our path….and regardless of where the road leads, we are grateful to be traveling it together.

Four years ago today: Obesity, immobility, despair, and pain.  Today: Freedom, improved health, hope, joy, love……with an incredible man to share my journey…to walk beside me….to bring out the best in me…and to encourage, support, and love me along the way.  Today I rejoice….and give thanks…..first to my God who set me free and gave me the grace  to change my life…..and to Bruce, whose persistence, patience, compassion, and love has changed my future.  To God…be the glory….today and always!