January 12, 2019

During my talk with Bridgette this afternoon I discovered that this week is NEDA’s awareness week. NEDA stands for National Eating Disorders Association. For several years, I knew almost instinctually when it was NEDA awareness week. I discovered it during conversations at the hospital, or one of Bridgette’s providers might have mentioned it, or because I was reading an article on eating disorders, or maybe like a dog has a nose for a bone, I was in tuned to anything eating disorder related. That’s no longer the case. I’m glad we can celebrate that we are free from the world in which we dwelled much longer than we’d hoped, but today I felt a little guilty that I was unaware of NEDA’s week of recognition.

I recall visions of one day helping the world of eating disorders if we ever had the opportunity. It was a time that consumed us and defined so much of our lives that I was eager to be a resource should anyone ever want one. That is, if we ever got to a place where someone would consider me a worthy resource; as in, recovered. And we are. I’m still eager to be a resource, but our lives have moved beyond eating disorders and knowing the date of NEDA’s awareness week couldn’t have been further from my mind. Praise God. I don’t say that as an ordinary salutation, but with sincere praise and gratitude for the minutes, hours, days, months, and years that He held our hearts in his hands. Seven of them, to be exact. Not that he isn’t now, but I’m happy to say I’ve released my grip a bit.

There are many things that help a person walk the road of eating disorders (or any mental health). I am convinced of a couple of key elements to overcoming an eating disorder, but even with those two factors, I know I could not have succeeded without the Holy Spirit in me.

Below is a photo that God revealed to Bridgette and me on a day I was feeling desperate for relief. Relief from the lies my child told me, relief from the trust she had broken, relief from the meal plans I monitored, relief from the meals I prepared without her seeing me prepare them, relief from the meals I was forced to prepare to her satisfaction, relief from having to alter my cooking habits, relief from altering my own eating habits, relief from driving her to and from day treatments, relief from her volatility, relief from the dr. appointments, relief from the eating disorder circle up meals. If only relief could have been given from an Alka Seltzer. But God gave me much more than a pop pop fizz fizz. He gave us himself, Mary, and Joseph. One day, exhausted on every level and after pleading with Him, he appeared on a wall in the hospital in the form of Plaster of Paris. It was enough to get me through the remaining years, because even if he wasn’t showing up on a wall, through tears, anger, and disappointments, I clung to the day he appeared on the wall and peace that surpasses all understanding guarded my heart and mind. We continued to find relief in the form of an amazing dietician in Corvallis and her therapist in Portland. Two professionals that were integral in her recovery and for whom I have the highest respect and gratitude.

At St. Vincent’s Hospital, just for us.

Bridgette had the great satisfaction this afternoon of being a guest speaker at the St. Vincent’s Eating Disorder program. After years of in and out, we got to know the staff there well. At least 3 of the staff are still there. Working with a team is a very intimate vulnerable experience for the patient and the involved family, so they know the victory as well as we do. She was invited to come talk with both the adolescent and adult programs, sharing the details of the ugliness of her journey with the victory of where she is today. So many people believe that one never truly overcomes an eating disorder, but Bridgette was there to tell them differently.

Just like our behaviors and mind forms patterns of thought when we’re unhealthy, so do our behaviors and mind form patterns when we’re healthy. If one can get themselves to a place of recovery, and live in that space long enough to form new patterns, then overcoming an eating disorder is possible. Do I believe it can return? Yes, I do. Will I live in fear of that? No, I won’t.

As a mom of a now married young woman, I no longer have the same opportunities to observe Bridgette’s behaviors. I have to trust and continue to pray that this behavior is here to stay. One of the two factors I believe are critical (and pivotal) for patient recovery is the involvement of a parent. Some people might call this parent support, but it’s much more than that. It’s not a cheerleader telling your child they can do it. The parent who is involved, scrutinizing the food intake, the meal plans, eating the meals with the child, receiving the blows of the struggling child, etc. is the scenario that will be most helpful to the patient. I pray I will never go through that again. But as her mom, I will always be aware and will risk a harsh reply by checking in with her if I see something concerning. I love her too much not to.

So, we celebrate with NEDA a day of awareness. Eating disorders are serious. It’s not just a really skinny kid who won’t eat. It’s a really skinny kid who won’t eat and is being held captive by lies they can’t overcome. And those lies can kill them. Eating disorders aren’t just anorexia. It includes over eating, binge eating, and more. If you know someone who might need help, contact NEDA, or your local doctor immediately.

Like the first doctor said when I first took Bridgette, completely unaware of what the problem could be, “We’re not playing in the sand. Get help now.” That doctor knew the signs well. Bridgette went in for an evaluation, was admitted to the hospital and didn’t come home for over two weeks.

St. Vincent’s Hospital – A welcomed visit today.

Bridgette took this picture at the hospital today. It was a place she hated and yet the staff there saved her life.

Praise God. He is the bread of life, but we have to eat bread, too!

Bridgette has her own blog about her eating disorder journey. You can find it at:

Bridgette and Goliath


I’ve mentioned before that I love to listen to audio books. It’s the best thing since sliced bread, but really better. No need for me to eat bread sliced for me to enjoy it. Productivity makes me happy and multitasking is a skill I’ve honed. Especially this time of year when I’m trying to keep up on my yard, which is looking a little amazing (I’m not saying perfect). Don’t you love the orange!!? The spring rains, lots of sun, and two years of establishment for many of the plants have blossoms exploding. I can hear them saying, “Notice me! Notice me!” I know the goodness of this season has a limited life, so I’m giving these sweet braggarts as much attention as I can.

So within the last couple of months on my walks and yard work I’ve listened to a few books that I want you to love like I do. First I want to tell you that I use two platforms. One is Audible, and the other is Overdrive which is through our public library system. Audible is great because it carries most books and when I want a book I can access it on demand. But it’s a subscription of about $14.95/month, which I think is reasonable, but it’s not an extra I can budget right now. I’ve gone back and forth in being a member when they’ve offered a promotion. I just changed my membership again to their option of $9.95/year which has very limited benefits, but it’s better than nothing. Overdrive is great because it’s free, but often books aren’t available and usually you have to put requests on hold. Once you get a book, you only have two weeks to finish it before it’s returned to the library.

Book 1: My Beloved World, by Sonia Sotomayor

The audible version that I listened to on Overdrive is narrated by Rita Moreno, who I think might be more famous than Sonia Sotomayor about whom I now know more than I do the famous Rita Moreno.

Sonia Sotomayor is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and is the first hispanic to hold this position. Growing up in the Bronx, Sonia’s family struggled to make ends meet. Her mother placed a high value on education and like a sponge, Sonia soaked up education, always thirsting for more. As a young girl she was thoughtful about her family and community, and discovered she innately wanted to contribute to what’s right and fair. The TV show Perry Mason opened her eyes to the possibiity of pursuing a career in law. Coming from a poor Puerto Rican family she took nothing for granted and seized every opportunity, while remaining loyal to her family and her culture. I loved the detail about her day to day life sharing a small apartment with extended family, the foods they would buy, the meals they would cook and the rituals they shared. From that life Justice Sotomayor found her way to Princeton and then Yale, representing the Fendi family out of law school, and then became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. I loved the book, and Rita Moreno was good, too.

Book 2: It Was Me All Along: A Memoir by Andie Mitchell

I found this book when I was desperate one night to listen to another book. I was preparing to start a big casserole and didn’t want to miss an opportunity to listen to another great book while I mindlessly diced and chopped. I wasn’t back on the Audible subscription so I was using Overdrive. I must have searched for 20 books from Oprah’s book list before I finally found one that was available. I had no idea what the book was about, but I grabbed it, figuring that if it’s good enough for Oprah, it’s good enough for me. Now I think if it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for you!

Ironically, the book I started while engaged in my sous chef activities was about food. Andie Mitchell’s memoir dates back to her young self through to her young adult life. Among Andie’s challenges is a father who is devoted when he isn’t drinking and her mother whose love language is cooking great food in mass quantities. Andie’s love language is eating the food. Through thick and thin, Andie walks us through every bite she chews and every flavor she craves with such detail that I was almost drooling. Except that her internal struggle is heartbreaking and the mood of chowing down on a cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven waned. The intensity with which she tells her story took me back to many relatables memories with my own family. Andie is sincere in exposing both her love and hate of food and herself, and we see the impact of both on her life. She narrates her story and I had to remind myself a couple of times that I was listening to a book, not a friend reliving her life with me. Although Andie thought she was defined by her eating habits, she brings much more to our world than having lived life with an eating disorder. She brings a different perspective to the subject and finds her way out as well. While I think this book has value for people who struggle with eating habits, for those who are in early stages of recovery from eating addictions, the book could be triggerig and you should consider carefully before reading it.

Book 3: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

I had no idea what “Born a Crime” could mean. I chose the book because the review told me it was a must read. I soon discovered the meaning of the title. I’m just halfway through and I love it. What’s funny to me is that I had no idea who Trevor Noah was before I began the book. In an effort to convince my son to at least listen to a book, if he’s not going to read one, I played a small sample of the book to him, sure that he would be seduced by the delivery of the sample I’d chosen. Immediately Bradley said, “Oh, Trevor Noah? That’s cool. I know him.” Bradley went on to tell me that he’s famous, everyone knows him, he’s on this show and that show, yadda yadda. Oh well, I know Trevor Noah now.

Trevor’s book is filled with color, no pun intended. I feel his energy for the life he lived as well as the misfortune, although he never complains, but paints a picture of things most of us can’t imagine. He also paints a picture of which many kids might dream, and maybe some adults, in the boldness with which he lives his life. What a treat to learn apartheid history, the social structures, the South Africa government, and more from this talented native who is faithful to his heritage but clearly adapted to American culture. It’s fun to hear his perspective on a life devoted to Jesus as required by his fiercely independent mom. I’ve known people who have gone to South Africa for missions work and I can piece their stories into this narrative and I feel like I kind of understand their experience. I agree: it’s a must listen.

Note: I don’t use Audible links because I’m not a big Amazon fan. This is my small way, even if it’s only one reader, to support Barnes and Noble. I cried when Borders went out of business!

We’ve had a lot of special recognition days at work lately: National Professional Administrative Day, National Classified Employee Week, Teacher Appreciation Week, Nurses Day; the list is extensive. I wonder though if maybe we need these days because we treat each other crappy by our lack of kindness or show of appreciation on all the other days. I’m still practicing my efforts of kindness that I learned by The Kindness Challenge that I wrote about a couple of months ago. This could possibly replace all these special recognition days. Nah, then I would’t have gotten that awesome gift certificate for a pedicure.

I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. I like it better when make up calls occur before a date on the calendar appears. St. Patrick’s Day puts a tiny skip in my walk because I look forward to pinching people. But Mother’s Day is a little different, because mothers do feel a lack of appreciation and hallelujah, this is a day that warrants the make up call that is owed.

I am one of those moms who could talk about my kids and probably your kids for hours, especially when it comes to sports or health, being well versed in those two areas. One of my favorite memories is when our days were scheduled around playdates and rec center classes. Our days were filled with other things, but these are the things I recall with fondness, but didn’t appreciate at the time. When my son was two or three, he had a small spot in the middle back of his neck that I loved to snuggle and kiss. I’d grab his little body, wrestle it into mine, pull him tight and say, “Where’s my “favorite spot? I love my favorite spot!“ One day while on a playdate with close friends I overheard him say, “My mom loves to kiss my private spot.” EEEKS!

While some moms are looking forward to make up calls, for others this day might open wounds. You might not be a mom who takes your children’s love for granted, with a predictability of being honored on this day. You may not receive a tender word of gratitude, or have a spouse who will ensure that your child doesn’t overlook this opportunity to show his or her love. Your throat might tighten as you see proud postings on social media, suddenly wondering what the heck you’re doing staring at these expressions of love that are causing you sadness or even anger. Maybe you scoffed at the NBC report that an average of $80 is spent per person on Mother’s Day.

If you are that mother, I hope you’ll let some tears flow and ask God to restore brokenness and calm your heart. Ask for contentment when your family isn’t what you’d hoped. Remember that God says, “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Know that this day isn’t the end of your story, and neither is this world. Ask God to fill in the gaps where you fail. Ask that your children’s hearts continue to mend and that by His strength they will be overcomers. Know that in spite of the circumstances, and in your grief, there is one who loves our children more than we do, and in that obedience of lifting our hearts before God we will find success in the mess.

Last weekend I got to spend Mom’s Weekend with my daughter at her school. It’s her senior year in college. I’m reminded of how fast the time has gone (or tardy I am) by the photo journal I’d promised for her high school graduation that is not yet completed (it is close!). The previous eight years seemed painfully slow at times as we navigated a divorce and the loss of our foundation as we knew it, and then Bridgette’s eating disorder. Bridgette’s final year in college is one to celebrate as she’s returned to a healthy thriving young woman enjoying what most college students enjoy: independence.

While I longed for her to be independent and fully who God designed her to be, I hadn’t yet known what that looked like, and really, neither did she. Even though I desired her independence as much for her as for me, I was surprised to learn that I had grown to depend on her dependency. I was in constant contact with her, both a prescription advised by her medical team and simply by instinct; it was my mission to help her overcome this. Evidence of all our hard work revealed itself at the beginning of this last fall, and I continued to cheer her on. But my words that were once nourishment became more like excess water that she didn’t need. Our conversations were changing. Her need for my input, coaching and encouragement was decreasing. While her mind and spirit were beautifully developing, my heart was confused that it (I) wasn’t needed like I once was.

Unlike any other relationship I know, a mother’s love will navigate the path of a child with one thing in mind: to do all we can to maintain the relationship. As I navigate the course, I talk with friends, I read, I consider, and make adjustments along the way. Moving forward and pulling back, staying true to myself and honoring them, refocusing when things get wobbly, with an eye on this relationship that God granted me.

Along the way, always praying. I began praying for them daily about 10 years ago with a group called Moms in Prayer. The dedication to this weekly event created a lifelong behavior for which I am grateful. In my prayers I am humbled, I am reminded, and as in 2 Chronicles 7:14, we are promised that when we seek God’s face, he is faithful to answer us.

I never turn down a lovely gift, my favorites being a manicure or a gift card to a favorite gardening store I might add. But the joy of this gift of prayer to my children has been the gift that keeps on giving (sorry; I’m a Christmas Vacation fanatic). It’s the gift that gives back to me, bringing me reassurance and a contented heart. It’s success in the mess.

May you be filled this year with the same, and with a hopeful heart on Mother’s Day.

Bridgette posted a new blog on her site the other day that I’m so excited to share. I will let her post speak for itself, but above all, it gives hope to anyone who is suffering from an eating disorder, and encourages anyone who suffers with mental illness.

Bridgette and Goliath

There aren’t many opportunities for me to write about eating disorders these days. The day-to-day pre-occupation that clouded my days are gone. There was a time that I didn’t even fantasize about a time like this. I hoped and worked toward Bridgette’s full recovery, but I discovered early on that there were no quick fixes. Most days we plodded along in a trance, obedient to the treatment plan, Bridgette as the patient, me as the mom who helped keep her accountable. Some days we plowed through the junk that suffocated us, grasping for fresh air.

Her healthy body giving life to someone else.

While the memories are solidly imprinted in my mind, I don’t linger there. But still, I don’t take anything for granted. The most ordinary developmental behaviors and experiences of a teenage or college age child were elusive for a long time. This year I am celebrating Bridgette’s senior year of college and her experiences. And today, we had a first. Bridgette was able to give blood.

Bridgette has been interested in giving blood since her early years in high school. But since her eating disorder started at 15 and lasted until this last year (with intermissions), her weight never qualified her. In high school she managed the school wide blood drive twice and thrived at managing the event. She was invigorated at the concept of the Red Cross and what they accomplished for so many people.

Today she saw a blood drive being promoted on a street corner, and then saw a couple of friends who were working at it fulfilling volunteer hours. As she made pleasant conversation with them she settled into the old mentality of which she’d become accustom. She didn’t consider she could donate. But suddenly the light bulb went off and she realized that, yes, she could donate blood! Her schedule has been stretched as of late with school and work.

But for this she adjusted her schedule for the 1 1/2 hour appointment and did what she hadn’t yet ever done. She gave blood, and saved 3 lives, as she pointed out.

I would never wish that another parent walk the road of an eating disorder. But it’s true that when something is elusive we appreciate it more. Oh what a bloody good day. Sorry to use my weird sense of humor on this!