Eating Disorders

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Joy, Denver CO

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On paper, it looks like Joy and Will’s relationship should never work out.

They met at a rehabilitative center, both struggling with mental illness and grasping at stability. With judgment clouded by circumstance and logic overruled by passion, they fell in love.

Joy was seeking treatment for an eight-year struggle with anorexia and depression after years of sexual abuse from six different men. Will was finally receiving diagnosis for lifelong mental disorders. But this quick, 10-day program provided little more than heavy medication and was a small band-aid on severe wounds for both of them.

They left the treatment facility together and started living in hotels, rented trailers and friends’ houses. Within a couple weeks Joy found out they were pregnant, so they moved to Texas to stay with Will's parents.

Shortly after the move, Will had a breakdown. Joy had weaned herself off her own medication and as she watched Will slide into his old patterns, a fog lifted. “There was a voice in my heart telling me that I needed to leave. It was so scary. I didn't know what was going to happen next or where I would go, but I had to leave,” Joy remembers.

Her dad bought a plane ticket and she came back to Colorado. She stayed on her mother's couch, praying
for God to show her the next steps. Her mother delivered some tough love. Joy says: “My mom told me, ‘You can't raise a baby while living on my couch.’ And she was right.”

Joy had been turned away from countless maternity homes, but then her dad found Champa House. At five months pregnant, Joy filled out an application and went through orientation. “When they called me, I knew that I was going to get in. This was my last chance; all other doors closed. It really needed to happen. I was walking around my house crying and thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, things are finally going to change.’”

And things did change. She had her baby, Xander. She began spending time reading the Bible and praying. “God is so incorporated into everything at Champa. The staff prays for us, meets with us and gives us shoulders to cry on. Having that kind of support in my life was so good for me. Before, I pushed everyone away who tried to support me. But I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I started taking responsibility for things,” Joy explains. One of those responsibilities was for errors in her relationship with Will.

“The staff asked me, ‘What can you take responsibility for?’ I started praying. I knew in my heart that God was going to do something really big and my relationship with Will would be a big testimony for Him. All I wanted was for God to be glorified,” she says. Joy wrote letters to people she hurt—to Will and to his family. After months of anger and resentment, her heart opened up to the idea of being with Will again.

“During the nine months of not speaking, I learned how much I wanted God, and I was seeking Him because I realized it was the most important thing to do. When I got her letter, it felt like life was possible again; I felt hope,” Will recalls.

Joy felt hope too: “I spent such a large portion of my life trusting in my own understanding. A huge part of being at Champa was learning to trust other people's counsel. Throughout the whole process with Will, I've had people to go to. I've never done that before with anything in my life. I had no idea what it felt like to be led by God.”

Now, Will and Joy are getting married. With so many factors trying to work against them, they have found rest and comfort in the fact that they serve a God with much bigger plans than they could ever imagine. They believe that God brought them together not to hurt one another, but to heal and restore.

“We both represented each other’s greatest fear and greatest hope. But the whole time we were following
God through it,” says Will.

God has blessed them with emotional stability and financial security. Joy is staying home with Xander, but they think about the future constantly. They want to foster children and adopt them. Together, they want to show others the unfailing love, forgiveness and redemption that God has shown to them.

For now, their main priority is being stable parents for Xander, but they are already pursuing ministry involvement in their church. Joy is looking to find a place in the women’s ministry where she can show other women how to overcome struggle. Will misses leading worship and is beginning to look into becoming part of the church’s team.

Joy says, “At Champa, they don't convince you to get better—they love you until you are better. The reason I've been able to so radically forgive is because I understand how radically forgiven I am. I've hurt so many people and done terrible things. I was a vicious person. I had so much anger and fear that I lashed out at people. The fact that God still wants to be with me and be my Father makes me want to try really hard to forgive those who hurt me.”

“The Mission’s whole thing is self-sufficiency, but they teach that the only way to be self-sufficient is to be totally dependent on God,” says Joy. Together, Joy and Will have put their dependence on God and through Champa House, they’ve laid a foundation to keep it there.

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Caitlin Fischer, West Chester PA

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Children of men and women who make the military a career must frequently move from state to state after only a short stay in any one location. There is never enough time to build trusted relationships that will last a lifetime. To make things more difficult, the child must continually play the role of the “outsider”, the new person in the neighborhood and school who doesn’t fit in. Except for the bond with family members, it can be a very lonely childhood.

Caitlin Fischer had such an experience. Her struggle with depression and loneliness was profound and, as so many of us do, she found an escape from the pain. For her, that escape became food.

Baggy clothing and an aversion to acting feminine helped mask the real effects. It became a shameful indulgence. The high experienced while consuming food evolved into a regret after having finished. Taking the coward’s way out, I ignored the reality of the problem. I denied the fact that I was gaining weight and played computer games on school nights and weekends instead of going out and being social.

At the age of 16, her mother encouraged her to conquer her emotional attachment to food. Caitlin lost 30 lbs in one month. This gave her a deep sense of accomplishment that inspired her to work even harder to accomplish more things. She invested her energy into her school work and graduated from West Chester University Magna Cum Laude. Caitlin is fluent in Spanish and conversational Italian and French. On her short list of additional languages to learn our Arabic and Russian. Caitlin is currently employed in the computer technology field, helping corporations keep their computer hardware, software, and networks functioning at maximum efficiency.

Caitlin credits her mother with changing her life.

My mother pulled me out of depression. That started me on the road of recovery and I keep climbing. She lit a fire inside me to improve myself. I overcame my adversity by struggling to better myself and not focusing on what other people think of me. I grew more confident in myself and I always try to help people in any way I can. One never knows what impact one can have in someone else’s life. It’s the little things that I started to appreciate, which is now my motivation in life.

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