Today I want to share my account of my 5 weeks at Luminaries Retreat in St Croix Falls, WI, beginning January 2nd, 2017.
I’ve been chubby or overweight most of my life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve searched for clothes that made me feel pretty, feminine or otherwise good about myself. Now, I know who I am in Christ, but the outside of me never really seemed to line up with what I knew on the inside of me…almost every time I had need of that special outfit for a party, or as a wedding guest, or even as a bride for my own wedding on July 4th 2012…
I’d end up in tears in the dressing room.
I’ve always had a challenging time finding the right outfit. It was always too tight here, too loose and sloppy there. Too long, too short, or showed too much of my arms - unless I wore a shrug. Which in most cases, I would run from the shrug option at all costs! They either made me look frumpy, or it was summer, and I’d get too hot in it. Shopping became an all-out trek to find something - often taking hours or even days. The amount of defeat I would feel was often overwhelming.
I cried many tears in the dressing rooms.
Most of the time, I’d leave there red and puffy faced to find solace in the one thing that kept me bound. Food. I’d find the nearest drive thru and grab something to eat, followed by a large Dr. Pepper, or a Peppermint Mocha. For a time, I’d feel better. Until the next shopping trip. Coupled with trying to be thrifty and not spend what I thought was too much on myself, shopping was torture. Until at least when I did get married, my wonderful husband was amazing at showing me love in a Christ-like way, but this “poverty spirit” had hung over my life long enough. Bless his heart for convincing me that if I found a dress that fit me well and made me feel just as beautiful on the inside as he saw me on the outside, by golly it was worth it. I was worth it.
Jackie in August of 2016
Last fall, though, I had had enough. I had gained 30 pounds since we got married. I was miserable. I never wanted to be that girl who let herself go after marriage, but here I was. After some digging around online, God lead me to Luminaries Retreat. I was so excited to find a Biblically-based health and wellness place! I’ve seen God do amazing things in my life in the past and I knew this was another way He was going to work in me to become a healthy person for His glory. I also knew I needed to be there for at least 4 weeks to really see some chains broken in my life. 30 years of unhealthy eating wasn’t going to be solved in a weekend retreat. I needed to be away from my surroundings and truly have time to focus on God and me. Not me in a selfish way, but me in a healthy way. Going to St Croix Falls removed me from all the responsibilities of life as I knew it, and allowed me to understand and address many things in my life and body that were at the root of my eating habits. As well as some underlying health issues that had gone undetected. Thankfully those health issues are not life threatening, however it certainly could’ve gotten to that point if I didn’t do something about it now.
Jackie and Amy in a weight lifting class January 2017
Anyway, I knew the basics: eat right and exercise. But what is that, really? What do I eat if I cut out simple carbs like bread, pasta, and sugar? The shopping trips and cooking demos with Amy helped me learn exactly what I get to eat and still feel satisfied. The different speakers helped me understand what is going on inside my body when I eat well, and when I don’t.
The gym experiences helped me get over my pride about being there. My thought was, “What are the fit people thinking about sloppy, old, knee-brace wearing me?” I was judging them! And the Bible tells me that with the measure I judge others that same judgment will come back to me. Stop comparing myself! I am fearfully and wonderfully made!
Getting some cardio warm-up before strength training
God truly did orchestrate my time there, with all that I learned, the people I connected with, and the lady that came on the retreat during the same time as well. I stayed in the adorable Peacock Loft and got to try many new experiences like fat-tire biking and fermented/cultured drinks and foods which contain probiotics.
Amy knows her stuff, as do all the people who are a part of this endeavor. They are all passionate about living out their healthy life style and just as passionate at helping anyone who comes to Luminaries succeed. This small community really rallied around me, so much so that I didn’t want to leave!
However, the time came to go home. I was armed with everything I needed to know. Not to mention being held up in prayer by this community, as well as Amy and her family! I even had an opportunity to share some of story at a Luminaries group retreat right before I went home.