In the Fall of 2002, my family and I moved to the country to fulfill a life-long dream I had of owning horses. All the work of preparing the land, fences, including the moving of tons of rock (literally) by hand caused me to work my tail off (literally) outside. When we moved, I weighed in at 230 pounds. But I quickly began to shed extra weight primarily because I was working outside so hard. The physical demands being placed on my body were more than the amount of food I was putting in, so I began to shed weight relatively quickly. I deceived myself into thinking I was now applying the TW principles. I got down to 170 lbs, patted myself on the back and arrogantly reconnected with folks at Thin Within, including the Hallidays.

I again began to write articles for Thin Within’s ThinLine magazine. A few pieces were published, but, honestly…they were devoid of heart. I wasn’t living the message, and this time God wasn’t going to let me get away with not living the truth. It wasn’t about weight. It was about my heart which I continued to withhold.

I should have gotten the hint when a piece I wrote on the Abundant Life didn’t make the cut for the magazine. In my arrogance and pride, I refused to see what God was saying. I even tried participating in online support groups, but these experiences, too, were cold–devoid of heart for me. My heart was rock solid—frozen…HARD. I wanted God to snap me out of it, but He was calling me to live according to the truth that He had already revealed to me. He had done so much for me…and yet I continued to insist that He do more. I was not yet willing to make the hard choices.

I still hadn’t surrendered food and eating to the Lord. I definitely hadn’t surrendered my son’s autism…and it continued to be a heartache to me.

Not only that, but issues with my mother intensified at that time, causing even more bitterness—reopening the wounds that God had done so much healing of in the summer of 2001. Unfortunately, rather than apply what I knew to be true—that I needed to keep short accounts and walk in forgiveness moment by moment—I stored up bitterness. The wedge intensified, not only in my relationships with people (including my mother), but also in my relationship with the Lord.

I chose not to deal with this at its root—a big mistake.

God used the horses to minister to my soul and to Daniel’s. Below is a video showing a special connection between Daniel and our formerly abused mustang, Dodger. In the video, you can see where my weight had gotten. That wasn’t even my heaviest…it was on its way down! I wrote about the special connection Daniel and Dodger had and that piece was published in the Chicken Soup for the Horse Lover’s Soul Volume 2.

As the big outside work projects were completed, the winter began and my body was no longer called on to do as much physical labor outside, the weight began to pour back on. The truth was evident. I hadn’t dealt with the heart issue…my heart was still chained to food—as if there had been any doubt! Shame intensified again…and I once again withdrew from friends that might remind me of the Thin Within message.

Stubborn. Rebellious.
It wasn’t that I didn’t *know* what to do! I knew all right. But I remained content (in a manner) with my arrogance and pride, refusing to surrender. I got angrier and angrier at the Lord.
My blood pressure had become an issue even while I was thinner and more active—before we had moved. Now it was off the charts and I needed more medication to manage it. I would fall asleep at night wondering if I would wake up or have a stroke and die in my sleep…or a heart attack. We live on the side of a steep hill and three times a day I went out to spread hay all over the hillside for the horses…and there were times I wondered if I would keel over down there and how long it would be before my family would notice that I hadn’t come back in…and I would be out there dead in my tracks. 🙁 You know…that isn’t the abundant life that Jesus came and died to give to me. And it is NO way to “live.”
In late 2005, when I reread an email I had sent off to my sister in an emotional frenzy, I was shocked at the absolute hatred I verbalized for our mother. God used that to knock me soundly upside the head. I was shocked at what I had become. Not just physically…but inside, too! After all the “forgiveness work” I had done in 2001, what had happened? It was a reflection of the deterioration of my heart that was visible outwardly in what I had allowed my body to become as well.

God used that exposure and a series of events to begin to peel away the hard callus over my heart. My Mom ended up in incredible emotional and physical need. God used this to show me what “faith choices” really were. I could step out in faith and choose with an act of my will to do that which I didn’t FEEL like doing. I discovered, as I stepped out in faith and believed Him for what He wanted to do, that my heart softened to my Mom who had so great a need for the first time in her life.

This was a difficult time as I lost my Mother-in-Law with whom I was incredibly close. In a very real way, Phyllis had been the godly loving Mom I had never known in my own biological mom. She was a prayer warrior who loved Jesus and she was my best friend even before I met her son :-). To lose her at the same time that my own Mom needed me—I knew it was no accident.

God had greater things in store.

Part 6 of Heidi’s TW testimony is here