Facing the Monster

I was walking through the mall shopping for October birthday gifts when I passed by Starbucks and thought, “No, I don’t need an iced chai with soy!” However, like so many times before, I found myself standing in line with several others wondering why this place held such power over me. As I was debating with my inner monologue, I felt someone walk up behind me. Though small, I knew they were there. Doesn’t seem odd, does it? After all, I’m in line at one of the biggest coffee stores on the planet.

I turned and with a smile acknowledged the young lady standing behind me. I turned back around squeezing my eyes tightly shut and pushing down the lump in my throat. She broke away from the line and went to the condiment bar, taking three splenda though she had yet to order a drink. She stood uncomfortably close to me now.

One by one she tore the tops of the little yellow packets and poured them down her throat.
I was uneasy. People were looking at her strangely. I don’t know if it was because of her emaciated appearance or the fact that she was swallowing artificial sweetener by the pack? I knew all too well what she was doing.

She grabbed a fat-free milk and sparkling water from the cold case. I finished paying for my drink and began walking to the other side of the counter. Everything inside me said, “Say something you idiot! Tell her that she’s going to die! Tell her what she’s doing isn’t worth it!!! TELL HER!!!” (I feel rather certain that she’s heard that before.)

The young man behind the register said, “Miss. Miss! You’re $2.20 short.”
“What?” she replied. As if not to understand.
“You’re short. You owe two more dollars and twenty cents.” He said.
She began scrounging and asking if she could put something back.

“I will pay the difference.” I said.
It just came out! What was I to do?
It was the only way I could reach out to her in a way that made sense.
It was the only way to show this stranger the love she so desperately longed for.
(I don’t tell you this so you’ll think I’m wonderful. I was a thief for much of my younger years, stealing things that I can never repay. This was a small penance for years of wrongdoing.)

Her reactions were slow. I honestly don’t know how she was holding herself up.
Her head had to be difficult to support as it was disproportionately large in comparison to her starved body. She could not have weighed more than 80 lbs. and looked to be about 5’6.

As we both turned from the counter our eyes met. “Thank you ma’am. That is very kind of you.” She said in almost a whisper.
There was so much I wanted to say. Knowing it wouldn’t matter and that she couldn’t receive it, I smiled and said, “You are so welcome.” I held her stare.
Her eyes had no light. It was like staring into a dark abyss. The life that was once there had long since departed. She was dying a slow, self-inflicted death.

We walked separate ways and I said a quick prayer. “God…I don’t know her story, or even her name, but you do. You are all-knowing. If by some chance she felt hope in the few moments we shared, please multiply it and speak truth into her weary soul. Please surround her with people who seek to understand and promote healing rather than judgement and shame. Thank you for allowing me to escape the same fate….thank you for saving me from myself again and again. Thank you…

Maybe you know someone who is starving themselves or eating themselves to death or are somewhere in-between. Maybe that person is you? It’s hard isn’t it? It feels as if there is nothing you can do. This is not the part where I tell you to “just pray about it.” It doesn’t feel like enough, does it?

My prayers during the tumultuous years in the prime of my self-destruction mainly consisted of phrases like, “God please help me. Please, please, help me.” “God, if you’re out there, show me what I mean to you. Show me that I’m not worthless and damaged.” Truth is, I didn’t know how to live life. I almost lost everything because of it. Until I learned the importance of speaking truth into my own heart and mind, my behavior would could not change.

Sometimes all people need is kindness. Sometimes a smile will do. Other times it’s $2.20 while expecting nothing in return. We must be the change. We must. Saying the right words isn’t enough and most of the time what we think are the right words, aren’t “right” at all.

Want to make an eternal difference? Take notice of the unnoticeable and spread hope.

If you want to read an incredible story about healing and hope or want more information about eating disorders from someone who survived, visit my friend Emily Wierenga at her personal site and her blog Chasing Silhouettes.

Related Posts:
It’s time to step off the Scale
Wrestling demons
Does this make me look fat?
One Word: Enough
Pardon me while I compare my insides to your outsides
Just like that, a Mother is born
I’m a hypocrite

In spite of everything…Peace

“Whenever we feel lost, or insane, or afraid, all we have to do is ask for His help.
The help might not come in the form we expected, or even thought we desired,
but it will come, and we will recognize it by how we feel.
In spite of everything, we will feel at peace.”

~ Marianne Williamson ~

© Joy Cannis and Even A Girl Like Me, 2012

I am walking into a time of uncertainty.
It’s exciting and terrifying all at the same time.
It’s both beautiful and wretched.
And the thought of it makes me feel free.
Possibilities are once again within reach.
Those things that I thought had withered and gone
are springing to life
and waking the potential that the future holds.
Fear can be paralyzing
fear can be liberating.
If it’s going to come regardless of circumstances,
why not use it for certain change?
Why not seize the change that awaits?
Why not relish the opportunities that are waiting just beyond
this one act of faith?
Uncertainty is capable of breeding dissension
providing the way to enlightenment.
I choose the latter.

Releasing me


© Joy Cannis and Even A Girl Like Me, 2012.

Fear doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can be a great motivator for change. It’s when we stop moving that the fear catches up and attempts to overtake us.

It’s when we lose faith that all hope appears lost as well.

When our shadow becomes bigger than our God, we are headed for certain doom.

What is the solution?

For me, it’s about surrender. Relinquishing control on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. Opening my hands as a sign of my willingness to release what I am holding, in an effort to accept the blessings that await me.

They don’t always appear as expected, sometimes arriving in the form of pain. However, as I have seen time and time again, blessings are often the reward of difficulties endured.

So keep going. If you’re in the middle of hell, don’t stop. Just put one foot in front of the other while breathing in the divine strength of the moment and exhaling the toxic fumes of discouragement and doubt.

You were created for so much more.


Do you know what you are?


“Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe,
a moment that will never be again.
And what do we teach our children?
We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France.

When will we also teach them what they are?

We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique.

In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven.

You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel.

And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel?
You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.”

~Pablo Picasso

Finding God on the Farm

I haven’t written about Elliot in a while and I feel like it’s time.

I think of her multiple times throughout the day. I look at the sky, searching for the crosses that she always saw as “a sign from God.” The other day I was studying the clouds when I thought, “God, why won’t you give me just one Elliot sky cross?” Soon after, it’s as if my eyes were open to everything in front of me and I saw the majesty of His handiwork.
It occurred to me that I was expecting far too little from a God who is capable of so much more. Look at this sky and the earth below it! This is the artist who I so often times try to fit into the box of emotional perception when clearly He cannot be contained.

Why do I ask for an open door when He can knock down a wall? Why do I expect a morsel when I’m a guest at the feast? Why do I contemplate this earth when He has promised me Heaven?

Chris and I took the boys to a farm last week and I figured I should take my camera as I haven’t been to a farm since I was about 7. I thought maybe I could get some cool captures. What I found was tangible evidence that God knows my name, He cares about me, and He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all I could ever ask or think.

He didn’t have to use words. He used the beautiful simplicity of nature and the magnificent designs of His hands. He revealed more to me that day, on a farm, than He has in years. Or maybe I was just more open to it than I have been in years? Though there are many examples, I chose a few to share with you.

Worry, stress, anxiety…have always been a struggle for me. Truly, I think I was stressed out upon my delivery and ever since.

I felt silly when looking at this cow. Does she look worried?

No. She is completely relaxed and basking in the comfort of her Creator’s faithfulness. She doesn’t worry about tomorrow. She rolls in the grass completely oblivious to the storm clouds forming overhead. Because, what purpose is there in worry?

So then how much less do I have to worry? If a cow, one of the least intelligent animals on earth, can lie down in the field, completely exposed to all of the elements, surely I can trust my Heavenly Father.

When I am stirring through the details of this life, it’s as if He says, “Look at this chicken, how unique and beautiful her colors and feather pattern.

Do I not put so much more into the life of my children…if they let me? Upon comparison, the two don’t even come close.

Look at how the little ones run and chase and play, feeling the ground beneath their feet and the sky above their head. Trusting that the sky will not fall and the earth will not give way.

Have I not told you, be more like this…childlike. Relish the moments of pure unadulterated bliss.

How can I make it any more clear? I have painted the sky, using vibrant colors you have never seen, I have placed my creation before you to enjoy. What more do You need? How much is enough?”

While reading the latest entry on Elliot’s Caring Bridge site, one of the main excerpts her father wrote that stood out to me was, “I often asked myself, “What did I expect God to do?” “What did I expect the doctors to be able to do?” “What did I expect us to do as we dealt with a monster we could not see (except on a scan, and even then only if it were big enough to ‘show up’).
So often I get caught up in my unrealistic expectations. “God, I know you have formed everything from nothing and yet my worldly expectations have not been met to my liking.” (That’s rather embarrassing to write out for you to read.)

There are monster’s all around. They can be as big or as small as we allow them to be. We can be shaken and paralyzed by their threat or we can open our hands to the heavens saying, “Here. I don’t want this. I can’t handle it anyway. Here. God, I’m going to rest a while in Your presence with the utmost confidence that, (as Elliot would say), You’ve got this.

Elliot wrote in an email to her dad last fall, “…the C-word for me is not cancer, it’s Christ.”

She understood the faithfulness of an unexplainable God. She embraced the mystery of heaven. She loved as if nothing else mattered. It doesn’t, does it? When it all comes down to recognizing what truly matters, it’s how we love.

One day I will write a letter to her children and tell them of the incredible faith and perseverance that their mother so gracefully displayed. I will tell them of her love and commitment…of her loyalty…the way she loved. I will tell them what an extraordinary woman she is and that because of her, there will be more people in heaven. I will tell them that I am no longer afraid of death…because of the way she courageously met it after living a life of faithfulness.

“Elliot is more alive today than she ever was living in Vestavia Hills, Alabama.” I agree with you, Ed. And her legacy will live on long after we are gone.

1-Minute Meditation: Merton Prayer

In Thoughts in Solitude, Part Two,
Chapter II consists of fifteen lines that have become known as
“the Merton Prayer.”

“MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and
the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that
I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and
you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude”
© Abbey of Gethsemani
Thomas Merton
1915 ~ 1968

The Merton Prayer Translated Into Other Languages

Spanish Merton Prayer
Dios, Señor Mío, no tengo idea de adónde voy. No veo el camino ante mí. No puedo saber con certeza dónde terminará. Tampoco me conozco realmente, y el hecho de pensar que estoy siguiendo tu voluntad no significa que en realidad lo esté haciendo. Creo que el deseo de agradarte, de hecho te agrada. Y espero tener ese deseo en todo lo que hago. Espero que nunca haré algo apartado de ese deseo. Y sé que si hago esto me llevarás por el camino correcto, aunque yo no sepa nada al respecto. Por lo tanto, confiaré en ti aunque parezca estar perdido a la sombra de la muerte. No tendré temor porque estás siempre conmigo, y nunca dejarás que enfrente solo mis peligros. ···

– Thomas Merton, “Pensamientos en la Soledad”
© Abbey of Gethsemani

Portuguese Merton Prayer
SENHOR, MEU DEUS, não tenho idéia para onde estou indo. Não vejo o caminho adiante de mim. Não posso saber com certeza onde terminará. Nem sequer, em verdade, me conheço. E o fato de eu pensar que estou seguindo tua vontade, não significa que realmente o esteja. Mas acredito que o desejo de te agradar te agrada, de fato. E espero ter esse desejo em tudo que estiver fazendo. Espero jamais vir a fazer alguma coisa distante desse desejo. E sei que, se agir assim, tu hás de me levar pelo caminho certo, embora eu possa nada saber sobre o mesmo. Portanto, hei de confiar sempre em ti, ainda que eu possa parecer estar perdido e sob a sombra da morte. Não hei de temer, pois tu sempre estás comigo, e nunca hás de deixar que eu enfrente meus perigos sozinho.

– Thomas Merton Na liberdade da soli

French Merton Prayer
Seigneur mon Dieu, je ne comprends pas du tout où je vais. Je ne vois pas la route devant moi. Je ne puis savoir avec certitude où elle aboutira. Je ne me connais pas non plus en réalité, et le fait que je pense me conformer à Votre volonté ne produit ni ne signifie mon obéissance effective. Mais je crois que le désir de Vous plaire Vous plaît en effet. Et j’espère avoir ce désir en toutes mes actions. J’espère ne jamais rien faire sans ce désir. Je sais que si j’agis ainsi Vous me conduirez par le droit chemin, même si je n’en sais rien. Aussi mettrai-je toujours ma confiance en Vous, même si je me crois perdu et dans l’ombre de la mort. Je ne craindrai pas, car Vous êtes toujours avec moi, et Vous ne me laisserez jamais seul en face du danger. ···

– Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude”
© Abbey of Gethsemani
© by Edition d’Histoire et d”Art por la traduction française

Swahili Merton Prayer
Bwana Munga Wangu, sijui niendako, nashindwa kuiona njia mbele yangu, wala siwezi kujua kwa hakika kwanba njia hiyo itakomea wapi. Kwa kweli hata mimi mwenyewe sijifahamu, na yale ambayo nafikiri nafanya kufuatana na mapenzi yako, inaonekana sina hakika nayo. Lakini naamini kwamba tamaa ya kukupendeza wewe kwa kweli ninayao. Natumaini kwamba ninayo tamaa hiyo katika yote nifanyayo. Naamini kwamba sitafanya lolote nje ya tamaa hiyo, na kamwe sitafanya hivyo. Wewe utaniongoza katika njia iliyo sawa ingawa sijui lo lote. Kwa hiyo nitnakuamini daima ingawa naweza kuonekana kupotea katika kivuli cha mauti. Sitaogopa kamwe kwa kuwa wewe upo pamoja nami daima, na wala hutaniacha katika hatari peke yangu. Amina.

Translated from English into Swahili by Sr. Christa Kimashi & Sr. Frieda Kisaka

For more translations click here

Related Posts:
1-Minute Meditation: Brennan Manning
1-Minute Meditation: Wendy Moore
Scriptures for a Sound Mind

Beauty, the Beast and the Product of the Week: Moisturizer

This week’s product comes from the beautiful and talented, Tara Shaia. She was recently featured on the cover of Little Black Dress magazine. I am privileged to call her friend and blessed to be exposed to her influence. She is beautiful inside and out. When Tara offers a suggestion or beauty tip, I listen!

What? Clinique Age Defense BB Cream SPF 30. I have not worn Clinique products in years, but this morning routine product is amazing!!

Where? You can find it at any Clinique counter in department stores, at Sephora, online, etc. It’s not hard to get your hands on this gem!

Why? What’s not to love?! It’s a lightweight tinted moisturizer (moisturizes and covers blemishes), makeup primer, antioxidant cream for age prevention, and offers SPF protection, all in one little tube! I’ve been using it for about a month now, and it’s done great things for my skin. At first I was a little apprehensive. I mean, with all that stuff inside it, how in the world would this not break me out? But in fact, the results were just the opposite. I’ve not had any breakouts, my skin has felt smoother, and I’ve been able to wear less make-up!

Cost? Around $37, but for everything it does, I think it’s a steal!

I will be heading to the nearest Clinique counter today to pick up a tube.

About this whole beauty thing… It’s easy to play. Here’s what you do:

1. List your favorite product or routine in the comments section below (it has to be something that you have tried.) Answer these 4 things, 1. What (Is the product or routine?) 2. Where (can you find it?) 3. Why (do you love it?) 4. Cost (ballpark figure, less than $10, less than $20, and so on.)
2. You may have 100 things, like I do when it comes to mascara, moisturizer and the things we would have a hard time choosing between if asked, “Out of these things, what 1 thing would you take if stranded on a desert island?” You can list a new one each week. Start with your favorite.
3. Before you know it, we will have an amazing list of products loved by real people. We will pick one favorite each week.

Please share this with your friends and in no time we will have a list to rival anything that the magazines are flashing.

Before you go, if you would like to participate in the beauty question poll click here and scroll to the poll at the end of the post.

The scoop on Tara:
She is wife to Jeremy and mom to two beautiful girls. She is a homemaker, photographer, avid exerciser and always on the move. When I am able to spend time with Tara, I always leave feeling better than before I came. She is a burst of energy, a wealth of knowledge, a source of godly wisdom and a loyal and trusted friend. Whether in front of the camera or behind it, her beauty and creativity shine through and those who are blessed to be around her are better for it.

*Photos of Tara were taken from

Other weekly beauty picks:
Beauty, the Beast and the Product of the Week: Lips
Beauty, the Beast and the Product of the Week: Brows
Beauty, the Beast and the Product of the Week: Mascara
Beauty, the Beast and the Product of the Week