Perhaps you are wondering if The Daniel Plan can really work for you. You may be frustrated that other programs haven’t worked in the past. Regardless of your starting point, there is great hope for change. Thousands of people across the world have experienced success, enjoying a new way of healthy living.
Dee Eastman is one of those people. Although her journey is scattered with highs and lows—times of great joy and moments of tremendous grief—Dee has applied the practical principles of the five Essentials. She has created new patterns that are lasting, ways of responding to life that reduce stress rather than create it. The Daniel Plan has become her daily practice, and we are confident it can be for you as well.
Life holds challenges for everyone, and Dee’s journey has been no different. Her first daughter was born with severe genetic abnormalities and endured several surgeries. But after four short months her baby passed away. In an instant, hopes and dreams of a family were stolen. Dee struggled to understand why God allowed this loss in her life.
Despite tremendous grief and unanswered questions, Dee and her husband moved forward with the dream of having a family. Within a year came a healthy son, and two years after that a healthy daughter. Then, shortly after, the surprise of a lifetime knocked on their door. Dee was pregnant with identical triplet girls!
Spinning with joy over the news, they had no idea how they would juggle five kids under the age of five. The pregnancy was complicated, and the girls were born early at twenty-eight weeks. Dee learned that two of the triplets had cerebral palsy, and the doctors said one daughter may never walk.
In the years ahead, striving to find a new normal, Dee tried to adjust to the girls’ medical issues and the growing needs of her family. But with her still carrying so much grief over the loss and too much to juggle, her health started to suffer. The emotional stress felt overwhelming. Sinking into depression, she developed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The physical stress was mounting.
Dee turned to a friend, and that’s when the healing began. She experienced firsthand the power of friendship. The Bible talks about this in Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
That friendship led her to a small group that encouraged her to honestly share her struggles. Adopting the Friends Essential while entering into authentic community became Dee’s first step. “I had to learn how to receive, rather than always being a giver. I had to learn how to talk about the difficult things in my life, instead of keeping them hidden.” This transformational concept is something that Pastor Rick frequently teaches: We are only as sick as our secrets. To get healthy, we need to share our struggles and be willing to receive help.
Dee’s community moved her forward:
I had hidden my anger and disappointment for all the difficulties God had allowed in my life, but I decided to open up and begin working through my feelings. I realized that I had put God in a tiny box and that the box needed to be blown up. I needed to embrace the mystery of who he is and trust him, even though some of my questions weren’t answered. I made the decision to refocus on him, sit still before him, and meditate on his promises. I have learned to live with intention, to notice that in the midst of stress and strain, God can still be in the center.
One way Dee worked on this was to purposely reflect on the goodness in her life. She kept a journal in which she poured out her feelings and ultimately focused on gratefulness, even as life threw curve balls her way. “This has become a moment by moment choice for me, and it comes down to how I manage my thoughts throughout each and every day. Proverbs 4:23 says, ‘Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life’ [NCV].”
With help from a functional medicine doctor, a new eating plan, and a desire to move and regain physical strength, Dee continued making progress. Step by step with practical advice, her physical, spiritual, and emotional health started to improve. Her depression lifted, and within a few months all the IBS symptoms vanished for good.
One healthy step led to another. Dee got out to walk, and she eventually ran, approaching exercise not out of guilt, but because of the healing effect it had on her body. She then ran a 5K, later a 10K, and eventually a marathon. Today she continues to discover all types of movement she enjoys.
Dee’s experience is ultimately what made her say yes when Pastor Rick invited her to be the director of The Daniel Plan. The foundational principles in The Daniel Plan have radically impacted her life for many years now. And in her role as director Dee has witnessed people from all walks of life, young and old, embracing the five essentials to become healthy and strong. It is these stories of transformed lives and the solid principles of the lifestyle that provide a firm foundation for your growth and the ongoing inspiration for your success to be built on.