by Ralph Nelson Willett
The title of this posting might seem a bit far fetched but I can tell you that I’m convinced that one book I wrote actually saved my life.
The book is “The Rose Stone”. You can hear the audio book version here.
The story of how I believe that writing “The Rose Stone” saved my life involves a faith healer, Marvel Universe Live, Celebrate Recovery and a change in doctors.
If you want the short version so you can move along, here it is:
Because I wrote the book I discovered that I’m a food addict.
That’s it. Thanks for stopping by. You can move along now.
Here’s the long version:
I was almost 300 pounds. I never felt that big but I was starting to have problems breathing when I simply tried to tie my shoes. My wife noticed that I was beginning to have trouble walking up stairs and my knees and feet hurt quite a bit.
Very early in 2015 I decided to try and take some action. All that weight couldn’t be good for my heart so I began to investigate bariatric surgery. This freaked my wife out. First of all, through her own investigation, she found that the divorce rate among couples where one member had the surgery jumps substantially. Secondly, there are some very severe health risks to the surgery.
I decided that the risk were worth it to extend my life. My wife and I finally came to an agreement that if I wasn’t able to drop any weight by the fall of that year that I would actively seek the surgery.
~ The Faith Healer ~
Now jump forward to June 14, 2015. Here’s a little bit of setup so you’ll understand this part. In July of 2014 we moved to a new city to help take care of my elderly mother. This was the town I grew up in and moved away from 35 years earlier. My wife and I actively began seeking out a new church. I thought the church we would attend would be the same one I grew up in, the same one my mother attended at the time. That church turned out to be a bad fit for us, (That’s another story) so we started looking for a new church.
The Church we found was a “mobile” church. That means they set up and tear down everything every Sunday. They meet in the local High School auditorium. We checked out the church and loved it.
The church itself was only three years old when we started attending. This church breaks down into sub-groups called ‘life groups’ where groups of people get together each week for “Fellowship and Bible Study”. (There’s more to it than just that but you get the idea.) Prior to us joining one of these groups a faith healer from Uganda met with them. One of the men in the group wore an eye patch because one of his eyes pointed off in another direction. The faith healer prayed for him and his vision was corrected. He never wore the eye patch again.
This was part of the “legend” that we stepped into when we started attending the life group. I heard the story many times and I got to know the man involved. I never had a reason to doubt the story.
So, now that I’ve explained the setup for this story I’ll tell the rest of it. The faith healer travels all over the world. In June of 2015 the faith healer came back around to our little town. A ‘healing’ service was to be held that Sunday night in the Cafe down town. My wife wanted to go so I agreed to go with her.
At this healing service, the faith healer prayed for the feet of one of my friends. My friend had damaged his feet so badly that he couldn’t walk without a walker. The Friday before this, his wife posted on Facebook pictures of his feet. The skin on the top of both feet was completely missing. Yes, I wrote that correctly, the skin was completely missing. After the faith healer prayed for him he was walking around without his walker like nothing happened. I knew this guy. He wasn’t faking it.
At this point I talked myself into having the faith healer pray for me. Oddly enough I was standing right in front of him trying to get his attention. It wasn’t until someone else intervened that I was finally able to tell him what I wanted him to pray for. I wanted him to pray for my weight. He did.
The next day, Monday, my friend’s wife posted new pictures of his feet. They were almost completely healed. The difference between what I saw on Friday and what I saw on Monday was incredible, hard to believe. I posted on Facebook that “Normally I’m a skeptic about this type of thing but I was there and I saw it”.
The faith healer saw my comment on the post and contacted me. He said, “I get to talk ‘healing groupies’ all the time but I rarely get to talk to skeptics.” He asked me to come and talk to him. I agreed.
We met the next afternoon and talked. I explained that I am a skeptic of faith healing. We talked for a while and then he prayed over my weight again. He then said, “The next time I see you, I am convinced that I will see a much smaller man.”
Nothing happened. I remained at almost 300 pounds and might have even gained some.
Enter the Super Heroes
At that time my son traveled around the country with the largest arena show in the country, Marvel Universe Live. He was one of the guys that made the super heroes fly around the arena. Because he worked for the show I could get free tickets. He was in Chicago, not too far from us, so we decided to invite our minister and his family to come along with us to see the show. They did. We got a backstage tour. It’s a fabulous show. If you get a chance, go see it. That was September 11th, my birthday.
At some point, I don’t know when, I gave two of my first audio books that I wrote to our new minister. Looking back on those stories now, I can see how poor the quality of the recordings were. The stories were interesting and even cute but lets say I’ve learned a whole lot since then. In spite of this he liked the stories.
On the way back home from Chicago my minister and I were talking. I had the following week off work as a vacation. My minister asked what plans I had for that week. I didn’t have any other than hanging out around the house. He said “why don’t you write another story?” I balked. I explained that it wasn’t that easy to just write another story. I had tried several times since writing the ones I gave him and failed, going down in smoking ruin. He just encouraged me to give it another try.
The following Monday my wife and I went to the state park beach on Lake Michigan. She likes to sift through the stones trying to find little pieces of beach glass. I usually just sit in a chair, listen to an audio book and smoke a cigar while she does that. This time I decide to walk the beach for a bit.
As I was walking the beach I saw a small reddish stone in the sand. I reached down to pick it up and (I swear this is true) by the time I stood up I had the entire “Rose Stone” story in my head. I spent my vacation week hammering out the first draft.
As part of writing the book I had to understand a few things. One of those things was alcohol addiction. My brother is a struggling alcoholic. When I told him what I was doing he told me what it was like to be an alcoholic. Much of what he told me made it into the book.
I also happened to know the leader of the local chapter of Celebrate Recovery. It’s another 12 step program like AA. By accident I met him at the Living Room Cafe and we sat and talked for a while. The cafe is where Celebrate Recovery meets. He told me he would see people pacing the sidewalk across the street trying to decide if they were going to come into a Celebrate Recovery meeting or not. That made the book.
The New Doctor
In September we received a letter from our doctor that she was leaving town and I need to find someone new. So we set up an appointment with a new doctor. Someone we actually knew from church. We met with her in early October.
Remember my promise to my wife that I would hold off on getting bariatric surgery? It was now time to start looking for the best place have it done. My weight hadn’t changed at all. When we met with or new doctor I told her that was what I was going to do. She said, “Hold off for a bit. There’s a new drug out there that has shown some good results with weight loss.” She suggested that I do my own research on the drug and then meet with her again in a month let her know if I wanted to try it.
I did the research and the drug looked promising. It’s a combination of two drugs, an anti-depressant and a drug that narcotic addicts use to reduce the cravings. I met with my new doctor at the end of November and she put me on the drug.
The drug had immediate effects. The weight started peeling off. What it does for me is reduce the cravings I had for food. To me it’s a miracle drug.
Back to The Rose Stone Book
By the end of November I had hammered out my final draft of “The Rose Stone”. I wanted it reviewed by the head of Celebrate Recovery so I gave him a copy. Since it deals with addiction I thought he would have some insight into the story.
By the end of December I was still loosing weight. I reminded the head of Celebrate Recovery that I still wanted him to read it. A couple of weeks later he sent me an email:
I found myself strangely procrastinating reading your manuscript. So today I decided to take it to work with me… I couldn’t peel my eyes away from it. I found myself thrown into the life of Rosie, hearing and even feeling her pain and struggle with despair. You have an amazing talent. I had to force back tears(only because I’m at the shop). I hope you consider putting this to print, simply because I’d use it for training and ministry in C.R..
Thank you for the honor and privilege to read this book.
You are blessed and highly favored,
The next time I saw him we talked about it again. He said, “for someone who doesn’t have the problem you nailed it.”
I responded, “Alcohol isn’t my problem, food is.”
It was that statement, that confession that finally put it all together for me. I am a food addict. That’s a socially acceptable addiction but I’m still an addict. I do many of the same thing any addict would do – except I do it with food. I would find myself eating when I wasn’t hungry. I would discover I just ate something and couldn’t remember making the decision to. I could have a single drink with no problem but I couldn’t have a single slice of pizza; I had to have the whole pizza. It took putting me on the same medication that narcotic addicts use to help them with their addiction to help me with mine.
Now that I understand what my problem is. I was in denial for a very long time but now I can learn to deal with it. As I write this I now down 65 pounds. If you need a visual for what that means, take a look in your refrigerator. See that one pound tub of butter? Stack 65 of those together and that’s how much weight I lost. – And I’m still losing. My total goal that I’ve set for myself is 85 pounds.
I’m still learning to deal with my addiction. I’m learning my triggers and what to stay away from. (Oddly, Tobasco Sauce is a trigger for me.)
So concluding, I credit writing “The Rose Stone” for saving my life. If I never would have wrote it I would have never come to the understanding that I am an addict. I got my miracle from the faith healer. I can see how God brought so many pieces together to finally give me the answer that I had been praying for. I am now a “much smaller man.”
That’s the long story. Thank you for sticking with it through the end.
[Update September 21, 2015]
I have made the entire Rose Stone story available on this site. It can be heard here –The Rose Stone–